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School of English News - Jan-Mar 2018

New book on women and Arthurian romance

Katie Garner book cover

Dr Katie Garner's Romantic Women Writers and Arthurian Legend: The Quest for Knowledge has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book reveals the breadth and depth of women's engagements with Arthurian romance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, exploring the Arthurian interests of the best-selling female poets of the day, Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and many of their contemporaries. Tracing the variety of women’s responses to the medieval revival through Gothic literature, travel writing, scholarship, and decorative gift books, it shows how the Arthurian myth in the Romantic period is a vibrant location for debates about the function of romance, the role of the imagination, and women's place in literary history 

Best research book of 2017

The light blue book

Dr Peter Mackay's co-edited anthology with Iain Macpherson of Gaelic love and transgressive verse, The Light Blue Book/ An Leabhar Liath, won research book of the year at the Saltire Literary Awards. The anthology presents 500 years of a side of Gaelic culture that is often left out of the history books.

New 10-part radio drama for BBC

Oliver Emanuel 10 part series

Oliver Emanuel has a new 10-part drama series starting on BBC Radio 4. 'The Truth About Hawaii' is set in a near-future in which doctors can no longer prescribe antibiotics. The first episode is on Monday 22 January at 10.45 (repeated 19.45) and the full series is available on BBC iplayer. The play was developed in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Experimental Stories project and follows Oliver's award-winning adaptation of Emile Zola: Blood, Sex & Money last year.’

Crunching Data: 200 Years of Crisps

iplayer crisps

Dr Sara Lodge appeared on BBC Radio 4's 'The Food Programme', uncovering the nineteenth-century history of potato crisps and the long-standing British passion for this salty snack. One of the first published recipes for crisps appears in Dr William Kitchiner's The Cook's Oracle (1817), an eccentric, opinionated and ground-breaking cookbook, and in the programme Sara reads aloud Kitchiner's recipe for crisps and discusses with presenter Sheila Dillon what made The Cook's Oracle such a remarkable and influential book. The programme can be heard on BBC iplayer where it is also available to download.

Verse biography of Ronald Drever

Professor Robert Crawford will read a specially commissioned verse biography of the Scottish physicist Ronald Drever (1931-2017) in a programme dedicated to Drever on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 10 February at 9.30 pm. Drever's work in Glasgow and California was crucial to the recent discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO project, some of whose members shared the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics. In addition to Robert’s verse, the programme includes interviews with Drever's brother and with physicists working on gravitational waves, as well as music composed by Jeremy Thurlow.

New translation of 'The Dream of the Rood'

Professor Robert Crawford has published a new translation of the old English poem under the title Holy Rood, in a limited edition box set that includes seven original images by photographer Norman McBeath. The box set is published by Easel Press but selected pages can be viewed online here:

American production of Flight

Flight - promo image

Oliver Emanuel's play Flight, in a production by Vox Motus, is transferring to New York following a sold-out and award-winning run at the Edinburgh International Festival this summer. Flight is based on Oliver's adaptation of Hinterland, a novel by Caroline Brothers, and will be performed at the McKittrick Hotel for eight weeks, beginning on 30 January.

Woolf and Music

Virginia Woolf & Music

The Virginia Woolf & Music Project, directed by Dr Emma Sutton, is organising concerts, public talks and a marionette presentation inspired by a 'pacifist concert' during World War 1. The events spring from the recent discovery that Debussy's short children’s ballet 'Boîte a Joujoux' ('The Toy Box') was premiered at the Omega Workshops in London in 1915. The concert was part of a series of 'pacifist concerts' organised by members of the Omega and Bloomsbury Groups (supported by Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell) during the First World War to raise money for Belgian refugees who themselves made up the orchestra. The ballet was performed not by dancers but by cardboard marionettes, designed by Omega members, which may have been as large as 8 feet tall.

The events include: a concert preview at St Clement Danes in the Strand, London, on January 30th; two concerts at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, on 8-9 February (one of which is a free matinee and marionette show by the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre for 200 Fife primary school children); and an extended performance developed in collaboration with Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute) at the International Virginia Woolf conference (Canterbury, June 2018).

Virginia Woolf's essays

Professor Susan Sellers has published 'Virginia Woolf and the Ordinary Mind' on Woolf's non-fiction, in a new collection of essays entitled Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe for Oxford University Press.

Public lectures and talks

regiam repairs

Dr Margaret Connolly and Rachel Hart were invited to present their research on the late medieval Scottish notary, Robert Ewyn, at the 61st Conference of the Society for Scottish Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Cumbernauld, on 6-7 January. They gave a paper entitled 'A late medieval book and its covers: the Marchmont manuscript of Regiam Maiestatem and its scribe(s)' which explored what the material object can reveal about the process of its own making and early use by examining both the paper manuscript and its parchment covers.

Professor Jane Stabler gave a paper at a two-day conference 'Byron Among the Poets', at All Souls College, University of Oxford, on 13-14 January. The aim of the conference was to explore Lord Byron's literary relationships to poets ranging from Virgil to Auden.

Professor Robert Crawford is taking part in various events connected with Robert Burns including, on 25 January, speaking at a conference entitled 'Immortalized Memory: Interactions and adaptations of the work of Robert Burns' at the St Andrews Institute of Historical Research, and, on 27 January will be in conversation with sculptor David Mach as part of the 'Burns Unbroke' series.
Robert is also talking about Seamus Heaney and Burns at the Seamus Heaney Home Place in Bellaghy, N Ireland, on 17 February.

Professor Gill Plain will be giving a paper titled '"A Difficult Sort of World": Remaking Men in the Postwar' at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge on 5 February. Gill currently holds a visiting fellowship at Fitzwilliam College.

Dr Gregory Tate will give two public talks on poetry and science in the coming months: the first at the Royal Institution on 6 February ( and the second (with the poet and physicist Iggy McGovern) at the Scottish Poetry Festival StAnza on 8 March (

Dr Emma Sutton will be speaking about William Faulkner's early drawings inspired by Aubrey Beardsley for a symposium marking 120 years since Beardsley's death: 'Beardsley and Faulkner's black and white minstrels', at 'The Eve of St Aubrey', Birkbeck, March 16th 2018. Link here:

Postgraduate news


Patrick Errington's poetry chapbook, Glean, will be released on the 14 February. The chapbook is one of three (the others by Mary Jean Chan and Lily Blacksell) launching Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre's new Ignition Press, which will be hosting readings by all three poets at the Poetry Café in London on 7 March, in Oxford on 8 March, and at the Oxford Literary Festival on 25 March. and