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News and events archive - June 2014

School hosts 'Bannockburn 1914'

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On 14-15 June, the School of English will host a conference entitled 'Bannockburn 1914 : Anniversary Culture, War and National Identity in Scotland'. 

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What did war look like in the cultural imagination of 1914? Why did men in Scotland sign up to fight in unprecedented numbers? What were the martial myths shaping Scottish identity at the end of the 19th century? How had war been mythologised in the construction of Scottish national identity? What did the Scottish soldiers of the First World War think they were fighting for?

2014 will see the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The importance of these two events for Scotland cannot be overstated: in 1314, a small Scottish army defeated a much larger English force in an action that would acquire mythological status in the history, literature and politics of the nation; in 1914, Scots signed up in disproportionately large numbers to fight in an imperial conflict that arguably brought about the collapse of hopes for Scottish home rule. Both events generated a literature, and in the case of Bannockburn, that literature became part of a myth of a national identity and martial prowess that would, in 1914, motivate young men to undertake the adventure of war. This colloquium will examine the cultural significance of Bannockburn alongside the events, literature and memory of the First World War in Scotland and beyond, exploring how war was imagined, represented and commemorated within a specific national context.

Speakers include: Prof Fran Brearton (QUB), Dr Michael Brown (St Andrews), Prof Robert Crawford (St Andrews), Dr Stefan Goebel (Kent), Dr David Goldie (Strathclyde), Prof Margaret Higonnet (UConn), Prof Carolyn McCracken-Flesher (Wyoming), Dr Catriona Macdonald (Glasgow), Dr Peter MacKay (St Andrews), Dr Carol Symes (Illinois), Prof Jay Winter (Yale).

Drs Jones and Johnson Collaborate in Heaney/Henryson Aesop’s Fables App

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Drs Chris Jones and Ian Johnson from the School of English have collaborated with Flickerpix Animations and Touch Press on a new multimedia iPad app of Seamus Heaney's translation of 'Five Fables' by the medieval Scottish poet Robert Henryson.

Five Fables

Henryson was a master of the craft of verse, who probably lived and worked in Fife in the 15th century. Henryson's astonishing poetic imagination, his linguistic inventiveness, his practically-minded moral vision, and his sheer sense of fun make his versions of Aesop's Fables a high point of Scottish literary tradition. Towards the end of his life Seamus Heaney translated several of Henryson's poems into modern English, with a view to renewing interest in this neglected genius. This app features animated versions of Heaney's translations of Henryson's verse adaptations of Aesop's fables, which Heaney was working on at the time of his death in August 2013.

Dr Ian Johnson, an expert in late medieval literature, was recorded reading aloud the medieval Scots of Henryson in original pronunciation. Users of the app can switch between hearing Johnson's interpretation of Henryson and Billy Connolly's performance of Heaney's modern versions. Dr Chris Jones, who has carried out extensive research into the use that modern poets have made of medieval literary sources, was commissioned to write a detailed set of interpretative notes set to both Henryson's original text and Heaney's adaptations.

A BBC TV serialisation of the fables, featuring Drs Jones and Johnson, has been shown in Northern Ireland and will shortly be shown through the rest of the UK.


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Ruth Thomas's novel is published in paperback; Dr Emma Sutton publishes an essay on Virginia Woolf and Wagner; and Polish translation for Professor Susan Sellers.

The Home Corner

Ruth Thomas's novel The Home Corner has been published in paperback by Faber, and over the coming months Ruth will be touring Scotland to read and talk about her novel in conjunction with the Reading Agency. Ruth has also written a number of articles to accompany publication, including 'The Importance of Being Lonely' for The New Statesman and 'Tips for Writers' for Bookanista .

Dr Emma Sutton has published 'Flying Dutchmen, Wandering Jews: Romantic Opera, Anti-Semitism, and Jewish Mourning in Mrs Dalloway' in Virginia Woolf and Music. The essay traces Woolf's knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish religious practices, and proposes that they are used in Mrs Dalloway to critique the anti-Semitism and gender politics of Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman.

Professor Susan Sellers' novel Vanessa and Virginia is published in a Polish translation.


Talks by Drs Nora Bartlett, Ian Johnson and Profs John Burnside and Don Paterson.

On May 14 Dr Ian Johnson delivered a talk entitled 'Medieval Academic Literary Theory And Vernacular English Texts: What They Did To Each Other' at the English and American Studies Seminar, University of Padua.

On May 17, Dr Nora Bartlett gave a talk on Lady Susan to the Scottish Branch of the Jane Austen Society at the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow.

On June 9, Professor John Burnside will give a talk at the British Library as part of his Eccles Residency. On June 28th, he will read at the East Neuk Festival in Fife.

On June 12-15, Professor Don Paterson will take part in the Bridlington Poetry Festival.


Postgraduate News

News from Rachel Holmes, Christian Livermore, Claudia Daventry, and Adam Welstead.

Congratulations to Rachel Holmes who has won the Principal's Medal for Outstanding Endeavour and Achievement for 2014. The award was made for Rachel's exceptional academic success and for her contribution towards the St Andrews 600 celebrations.  Rachel was also awarded her Ph. D. this month for her thesis 'Casos de honra: Honouring Clandestine Contracts and Italian Novelle in Early Modern English and Spanish Drama.'  

Christian Livermore has been awarded funding from Santander's Research Mobility Scholarship to enable her to go and study manuscripts in Germany this summer as part of her work on 'Dancing with Death: Following the trail of supernatural tales to Danse Macabre'.

On June 7-8, Claudia Daventry's libretto 'Selkie Song', set to music by Scottish composer Professor Rory Boyle from the Glasgow Conservatoire will be performed a capella by the Glasgow Chamber Choir in a Commonwealth 'Choral Marathon' at various venues in Glasgow (including the airport and the Tall Ship at Riverside Museum). The piece was commissioned by the Arts Council for the Commonwealth Games and will be heard alongside new work by James MacMillan, and also choral works by Rachmaninov and Britten. 

On June 16, Adam Welstead will be presenting a paper entitled "Breaking the 'Two Worlds' Dichotomy: Heterotopia and the Contemporary Dystopian Imagination" at Alternative Spaces: A Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference (Reid Hall, Paris). On June 20, Adam will be presenting a paper entitled "Contemporary Dystopian Fiction and the 'People to Come'" at Current Research in Speculative Fiction 2014 (University of Liverpool). 

Alumna news

Former School of English alumna Marina Cano Lopez has been granted a Visiting Fellowship at Chawton House Library to continue her research on Jane Austen's Victorian reception.