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School of English news - January 2015

John Burnside named as Man Booker Prize judge

Prof John Burnside

The judges for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction have been announced. John Burnside is a novelist, short story writer and poet. His poetry collection, Black Cat Bone won both the Forward and the T.S. Eliot Prizes in 2011, a year in which he also received the Petrarch Prize for Poetry.

Plays for Zinnie Harris

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Works by Zinnie Harris playing in Scotland and in Turkey.

Zinnies plays

‌A two-handed opera written by Zinnie Harris with John Harris called 'The Garden' opens at the Citizens Theatre on 22 January, playing until 24 January. More information is available here:

‌Harris’ play 'Midwinter' is being performed in Turkish by Dot Theatre Company (Dot Tiyatro) in Istanbul, opening in January 2015 and directed by Murat Daltaban. Dot has a reputation as one of the most interesting and forward-thinking theatre companies in Turkey. Harris’ collaboration with Dot began with a British Council/Royal Court project in which Harris worked for a year with Turkish, Kurdish and Iranian writers to develop their playwriting craft.

Talks and Broadcasts

Talks by Gill Plain, John Burnside and Don Paterson.

Professor Gill Plain will be speaking at the American Historical Association 2015 conference being held in New York in January. This year the conference theme is 'History and Other Disciplines' and Gill will be bringing a literary perspective to the panel 'Ghosts, Grief and Gas Masks: Subjectivity and Materiality in Britain's Total Wars, 1914-1945'.

The panel, featuring cultural historians Martin Francis (University of Cincinnati), Lucy Noakes (University of Brighton) and Susan R. Grayzel (University of Mississippi), will explore how the history of war has been written, and how it might in future be enriched by dialogue with disciplines such as literature and anthropology. Drawing on both archival records and insights from poststructuralist and psychoanalytic theory, the session will examine the limits of commemoration and the tensions obscured by dominant discourses of public memory. It will also ask whether an examination of emotions and objects enables a different history of war to be written.

Approaching the Second World War through an exploration of grief and the debates surrounding the production of a material object, the gas mask, changes our understanding of war's insidious cultural impact – and demonstrates the extent to which the home front is, throughout this 30 year period, haunted by the spectre of World War One.

Professor Don Paterson appeared on The Echo Chamber on Sunday 14 December on BBC Radio 4 at 16:30, reading poems by Michael Donaghy ten years after the poet’s death. Greta Stoddart, Sean O’Brien and Don Paterson also read poems of their own that speak to their memory of Donaghy.

Don Paterson also performed at an evening of music and spoken word, ‘There’s no place like…’ on Sunday 14 December. The event took place at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews with special commissioned works for the event by Rupert Thompson, Don Paterson, Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum.

Professor John Burnside will read from his collection All One Breath at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 11 January, along with other shortlisted poets for the 2014 T.S. Eliot Prize, Fiona Benson (a former St Andrews alumna), Louise Glück, David Harsent, Michael Longley, Ruth Padel, Pascale Petit, Kevin Powers, Arundhathi Subramaniam and Hugo Williams.

Exchange with Presidency University, Kolkata, India

Dr Anindya Raychaudhuri and Professor Susan Sellers will take part in an exchange with Presidency University, Kolkata throughout January.

This interdisciplinary research project will explore the complicated network of exchange of people, ideas, technologies and capital which mark the colonial legacy in India and in Europe from a variety of approaches.

The project will include four interlinked strands: Partition, Migration and Independence; Francophone Exchanges; Scottish Cemeteries and The Jute Industry. These strands will together shed new light on the complex power-dynamics that characterise the colonial and post-colonial world.

Both Scotland and West Bengal are regions that have been and continue to be hugely influenced by both outward and incoming migration. Links established through industry, military and colonialism, and missionary activities lead to significant migration between Scotland and West Bengal from the mid nineteenth century onwards. The story of Empire in Scotland is further complicated through its ambiguous position in relation to the other more established Imperial powers such as England and France. These complex interconnections have left complex traces of cultural memory, archival records, and a legacy of literary and cultural production that need to be studied using a comparative and interdisciplinary approach.

The project’s approaches to the study of colonial and postcolonial migration and exchange will involve focusing on comparative migration narratives in West Bengal and Scotland, including literary and cultural representation and stories collected from ethnographic research in order to examine the similarities and differences in the ways in which reconfiguring national borders affect the ways in which people try to cross them.

The project will also conduct oral history and ethnographic interviews in Bengal and in Scotland, in order to compare the legacies of these two different examples of partition and independence, and work to reconceptualise colonial India as a multilateral network of migration and exchange.

More information about the comparative partitions project can be found at

Postgraduate news

News from Susan Garrard.

Susan Garrard has been awarded the 2014 Clan Donald Educational and Charitable Trust grant for an American student studying at a Scottish university and researching a topic of Scottish relevance.

Alumni news

News from Kristin Lindfield-Ott and Dr Ian Blyth.

Dr Kristin Lindfield-Ott has been appointed as Programme Leader for the University of the Highlands and Islands BA (Hons) Literature and BA (Hons) History & Literature. The programme currently encompasses approximately 50 students across the Highlands and Islands, from Shetland to Perth.

Dr Ian Blyth has been appointed lecturer in English/Literature at Inverness College UHI. Ian will be teaching Contemporary Poetry, Nature Writing, Psychogeography, Science Fiction and Literary Theory in the Literature programme as well as courses in Philosophy.