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School of English Events

The School of English hosts research events through its four research groups, Medieval and Renaissance, 18th century, Romantic and Victorian, Modern and Contemporary and Creative Writing.

Events are open to members of the School and to the public and are usually free of charge unless otherwise stated. For further information, please contact the School of English office, telephone 01334 462666.

Unless another venue is specified, events take place in the Lawson Lecture Room, Kennedy Hall.

Events, Semester 2, 2018/19


Thursday 2 May - 5.15pm

Dr Gillian Dooley (Flinders University, Australia) - Marianne and Willoughby, Lucy and Colin: betrayal, suffering, death and the poetic image

Many of the song lyrics in Jane Austen’s personal music books (some collected or transcribed by her, some inherited or passed on from family members) are couched in the sentimental poetic diction prevalent in the eighteenth century, with highly conventional pastoral settings and imagery. I have been particularly struck by a long ballad in seven parts titled ‘Colin and Lucy’, which is a 1783 setting by Tommaso Giordani of a 1725 poem by Thomas Tickell (1685-1740) describing the betrayal, death and revenge of a wronged woman. The printed music of this ballad is bound in a book inscribed by Jane Austen, and it seems likely that she was familiar with it and probably sang and played it herself. Several incidents included in the song are echoed and perhaps deliberately parodied in Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility (1811), although the rhetoric and imagery are strikingly different. The novel’s language, though often dramatic, is matter-of-fact and literal. In this paper I will discuss the ballad’s musical and lyrical rhetoric and how Austen alters and undercuts its poetic imagery in her treatment of similarly dramatic (though not fatal) events in the novel.

Past events:

Thursday 18 April - 5.15pm

Dr Katie Muth (University of Durham) - 'I am a bestselling writer': Octavia Butler, Human Potential, and Afrofuturism

Thursday 11 April - 5.15pm

Theoria Seminar: Chris Weedon (Professor Emerita Cardiff University) - Social Realism and Civil Rights: Black and Asian Narratives of Survival 1959-76

This talk looks at social realist writing published between 1959 and 1987 by Indian- born Kamala Markandaya (1924–-2004), Guyanese- born E. R. Braithwaite (1912-1917–2016) and Beryl Gilroy (1924–-2001), and Nigerian- born Buchi Emecheta (1958–-2016), pioneers of post-war writing who focus on the first-generation, adult, migrant experience. These authors use realism to address the effects of the widespread culture of interpersonal and institutional racism in post-war Britain. Like later British black and Asian writers, they draw on autobiographical, family, and community memories of migration and settlement. The talk highlights how thematic, contextual, and stylistic correspondences emerge across a range of different writers whose primary concern is exposing the racism shaping seven decades of black and Asian experience from 1920 to the beginning of the Thatcher era in 1979. It contests any easy narrative about the struggle for a tolerant, multi-ethnic Britain, evoking a history which remains highly relevant for understanding the present. 

Wednesday 10 April - 5.15pm

Professor Vincent Gillespie (Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford) - The Moderhede of Kynd Love': Conception, Labour, and Delivery in the Theology of Julian of Norwich

The mutual regard of mother and child, the open, trusting, shared, guileless, and utterly selfless beholding that they share, becomes a paradigm for Julian’s own model of beholding God with the wilful abiding and radical trust of Mary in the Annunciation. 

She comes to see it as a way of contextualising and philosophically situating her sense of the travails and pains of earthly life: as St Paul says in Romans, all creatures are labouring to give birth and to become sons of God. But she also uses it to represent the unconditional love, protective care, and nurturing power with which divine providence gazes on fallen humanity. In all these temporal dimensions, the kenotic power of motherhood is the generative model for Julian’s theology. 

Tuesday 9 April - 5.15pm

Kelly Sultzbach (University of Wisconsin, La Crosse) - Green Thinking: How 20th C British Environmental Literature Shapes the Story of Climate Change

This project considers how the experience of a muddy, apocalyptic war and the metroland octopus of suburban development influenced the pastoral imagination of environmental writing between the wars. In some ways, it is a corollary to my first book, which examined how the formal innovation of high modernism fractured boundaries between human and non-human, inaugurating questions about phenomenological intertwinings of material bodies and the animate agency of non-human life.

While my first book linked writers such as Virginia Woolf and W.H. Auden to a 21st century ecological awareness, my current research looks at popular literature and nature writing, much of it penned by veterans of the First World War, including Edmund Blunden, J.B. Priestly, and R.C. Sherriff.  Their stories raise messy questions about rural nostalgia, preservation and prejudice, as well as the fickleness of human nature when confronted with choices about our own consumerist desires and what is best for a thriving countryside.  These stories are less engaged with the progressive posthumanism of contemporary scholarship; instead, they illuminate some of the more contested social struggles of 21st century climate change:  What kinds of narratives motivate people to support environmental agendas?  Are the reasons most of us love and cherish nature compatible with preserving it?  How do we create stories that don’t just speak to fellow activists, but subtly, compellingly, begin to listen to and cultivate wider fields of green public thinking?  Using examples from both my published work and new research, this talk will explore the continued relevance of environmental modernism to a 21st century Anthropocene awareness.

Thursday 4 April - 5.15pm
George Jack Memorial Lecture

Professor Francis O'Gorman (University of Edinburgh) - Yeats's presences

This lecture considers unusual moments in W.B. Yeats's poetry when language is more in contact with the 'presence', the felt reality, of places, people, or things. Yeats had a difficult relationship with his father, the artist John Butler Yeats, but every now and again, especially after the Easter Rising, his poetry touches on portraiture, with as vivid a touch as his father’s art. This lecture explores the nature and implications of this occasional turn in Yeats’s work.

Tuesday 2 April - 5.15pm
Early Modern Play Reading Series: Fuimus Troes, or The True Trojans

All are warmly invited to the third and final early modern play reading in this semester's series, 'European Unions: Nation and Empire'. On Tuesday of Week 8 (April 2nd) we will be reading Fuimus Troes, or The True Trojans (1633) by Jasper Fisher. It is spring in ancient Britain: the Druids are looking forward to their seasonal rites, the Belgian refugee Rollano believes he has found safety in England (whose inhabitants are known for their hospitality towards foreigners on the run), and Eulinus has fallen for the beautiful Landora. But a Roman invasion is about to complicate all of their plans. Cassibelane is hailed as a national hero for his successful resistance to continental authority, but his bid for British independence isn’t the end of the story. Expect more ghosts, gods, and questionable historiography in what turns out to be a comedy of international cooperation.

The reading will take place at 5.15pm in the Lawson Room; wine and soft drinks will be served. All are very welcome to attend either as readers or spectators – to guarantee a script and speaking part, please RSVP to Harriet Archer ( by noon on Tuesday 2nd.

Wednesday 13 March - 5.15pm

Dr Alexandra Lawrie (University of Edinburgh) - Ben Lerner's 10;04 and Literary Antecedents of the City

This paper, on Ben Lerner's 2014 novel 10:04, considers its narrator's experience of twenty-first-century New York as a modernist 'Unreal City', and his turn instead to an earlier, redemptive image of urban collectivity offered by Walt Whitman. 10:04, Lerner's second novel, offers us a strikingly contemporary depiction of New York, and yet the issues it exposes are much more associated with modernist writers: the narrator, also called Ben, repeatedly seeks to evade clock time and retreat instead to the alternative temporal zone offered by narrative – whether films, literature, or personal histories. The paper examines the points at which Ben privileges narrative time, and draws on Lukács and Fredric Jameson to identify these as examples of modernist resistance to the dehumanising rationalisation of daily life. It also demonstrates how Lerner's novel replicates urban chaos and confusion at the level of form, through a series of fragmentary impressions that create a collage-type effect, and which contribute to Ben’s sense of alienation. And finally it considers Ben's turn away from modernist figures like Eliot, Woolf, and Pound, and towards Walt Whitman instead as a remedy for his feelings of urban and temporal dislocation. It considers how Whitman's Specimen Days (1882) and his 1856 poem 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry' provide a redemptive vision of New York for Ben which encourages him to recast his place in the contemporary city.

Monday 11- Wednesday 13 March - 7pm, The Byre Theatre

St Andrews Opera Society: The Marriage of Figaro

The University of St Andrews Opera Society is excited to present their production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Perhaps one of the most famous classical operas, it features famed and well loved arias such as Voi Che Sapete, Non So Più Cosa Son Cosa Faccio and Sull'aria. Susanna's plans to marry Figaro are almost foiled by the Count's desire for her, until she joins forces with the Countess to fool him and save her marriage. For tickets and more information please visit the Byre Theatre's webpage

Sunday 10 March - 8pm, The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street - Auditorium

The Music of Edward Lear (StAnza)

An evening of song by the king of nonsense, Edward Lear presented by Sara Lodge with award-winning musicians David Owen Norris and Mark Wilde

Edward Lear revelled in nonsense and is now mostly remembered for his playful verses, such as 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. As well as a poet, he was a composer, a visual artist, a naturalist and also a travel writer. In her new book, Inventing Lear, Sara Lodge draws on Lear's diaries, letters and new sources to explain his engagement in the intellectual, social, and cultural life of his times. For StAnza 2019's final evening, she is joined by musicians Mark Wilde and David Owen Norris to present a glorious celebration of Lear in word and music. View the Byre Theatre website for tickets and more information.

Sunday 10 March - 12pm, The Byre Theatre

Laughable Limericks (StAnza)

A children’s workshop in which we create our own nonsense verse

The poet Edward Lear revelled in nonsense and laughable limericks. His poetry is peopled by such original creatures as the Quangle-Wangle, the Pobble, the Scroobious Pip, and the Jumblies.

In this workshop for children, led by Sara Lodge, we’ll be playing with rhyme and rhythm, nuance and nonsense, and enjoying Lear’s limericks in order to write and illustrate our own. Children will also have the chance to create their own illuminated alphabet letter and verse, inspired by Lear’s nonsense alphabets. View the Byre Theatre website for tickets and more information.

Saturday 9 March - 3.30pm, The Byre Theatre

Meet the Artist – P. MacAoidh, A. Martin (StAnza)

The anthology An Leabhar Liath / The Light Blue Book collects five hundred years of Gaelic love and transgressive poetry. Dip into some blue Gaelic poetry and song with poet Pàdraig MacAoidh (Peter Mackay), who co-edited the anthology, and Gaelic singer Anne Martin.

Saturday 9 March - 11.30am, The Byre Theatre

Round table - John Burnside (StAnza)

This year's Saturday morning session offers a special encounter with the multiple prize-winning Scottish writer, John Burnside, whose work is underpinned by a sense of the dream-like and the transformative. His many honours include both the T.S. Eliot and the Forward Prize. Places are limited for this event, so book early to avoid disappointment. View the Byre Theatre website for tickets and more information.

Friday 8 March - 3.45pm, The Byre Theatre

Round table - Robert Crawford (StAnza)

Our popular Round Table events present intimate readings in unusual settings. Today, Robert Crawford will be reading from his most recent collection, The Scottish Ambassador (Cape, 2018). One of Scotland’s most celebrated poets, Robert has received a number of his awards for his work, including the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year Award. Places are limited for this event, so book early to avoid disappointment. View the Byre Theatre website for tickets and more information.

Thursday 7 March - 5.15pm

Deborah Morse (William & Mary) - Burning Art and Political Resistance: Anne Brontë's Radical Imaginary of Wives, Enslaved People, and Animals in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

Anne Brontë's art exposes the legal and cultural privilege that connects male acts of violence against women and animals.  Brontë also evokes the history of chattel slavery through language and plot, as well as by setting The Tenant of Wildfell Hall during the 1820s, the decade of most fervent parliamentary debate upon British West Indian slavery before its abolition in 1833.  Brontë connects violence toward women's bodies and the enslaved bodies unrepresented in Tenant, Sutherland's 'unnarrated hinterland' of the Victorian novel—erased bodies repeatedly called forth by the shared, echoing language of feminist and abolitionist discourses.

Wednesday 6 March - 5.15pm

Professor Nicholas McDowell (University of Exeter) - 'The Darling Pleasure of Men of Sense': Translating Lucianic Satire from Thomas More to John Dryden

This paper considers the translation and imitation of Lucianic satire in the Renaissance and early eighteenth century in the light of what has been called Lucian’s ‘double personality’ in early modern Europe: for some he was an erudite, witty and moral satirist of hypocrisy; for others, a dangerously irreligious scoffer and sceptic who brought Christian morality into doubt. By the second half of the seventeenth century, he was more usually regarded as both these things—as well as an exemplary prose stylist—and his scepticism was no small part of his appeal as a satirist. However, the rise of Hobbesian philosophy and deism at the end of and their association with subversive religious satire encouraged a perception of Lucianic wit as a weapon of the deists, and this association was not merely impressionistic: the first English Works of Lucian, published in 1710-11 but the work of several decades, included among its contributors several prominent deists.

Tuesday 5 March - 5.15pm

Early Modern Play Reading Series: Cymbeline

We will be reading a lightly abridged text of Shakespeare's late comedy, Cymbeline. The British king Cymbeline – following the lead of his sinister queen, and the entitled prince Cloten – refuses to pay tribute to ancient Rome, and instead advances an isolationist vision for his island nation. He exiles his daughter Imogen's Roman husband Posthumous to the European mainland, and things get complicated when Posthumus falls in with some suspiciously early modern Italians. Can Imogen convince Cymbeline to abandon the reckless nationalism and familial conflict which seem to have set Britain on the path to self-destruction?

To guarantee a copy of the text and a speaking part, please RSVP to Harriet Archer ( by noon on Tuesday 5th

Wednesday 27 February - 5.15pm

Professor Julia Boffey (Queen Mary University of London) - Chaucer's lyrics: short poems and the Chaucer canon

The twenty short poems conventionally attributed to Chaucer aren't generally given much prominence in editions his works. But they invite study on a number of grounds, whether as formal experiments, as small samples of interests explored more fully in longer works, or as demonstrations of the difficulties of ascertaining authorship. This talk will explore what the texts and early copies tell us about the circumstances in which Chaucer's lyrics first came into circulation, looking also at who read them, and how they contributed to the formation of a Chaucer canon in the years after 1400

Friday 1 February - 5.15pm

Professor Lytle Shaw (New York University) - Third Personism: The FBI's Poetics of Immediacy in the 1960s

Drawn from Narrowcast: Poetry and Audio Research (Stanford, 2018), this talk positions the tape recording Allen Ginsberg undertook in his VW van on a cross-country trip in 1966 in relation to the surveillance recordings performed by the CIA and FBI on poets associated with the New Left including Ginsberg himself. Reframing this surveillance as a form of research, the talk demonstrates how, when the state's Yale-trained literary critics "overheard" poets, they confronted problems similar to those encountered by poets using tape, especially the bleeding of voice into sonic environments that overwhelmed audibility. Designed to immerse Ginsberg in pro-Vietnam war radio broadcasts and capture this toxic ambiance on his new reel-to-reel, his 1966 tape in fact relativized Ginsberg's voice to the extent that the poet translated his project from the medium of tape to that of print. What does it tell us about the social life of tape recording in the 1960s, then, to compare Ginsberg and the state’s responses to tape's relativization of voice?

Lytle Shaw is professor of English at New York University and a founding contributing editor for Cabinet magazine. His books include Frank O'Hara: The Poetics of Coterie (2006), The Moiré Effect (2012) Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics (2013), and Narrowcast: Poetry and Audio Research (2018).


Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2017-18 (Word, 269 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2017-18 (Word, 269 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2016/17 (Word, 269 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2016/17 (Word, 267 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2015/16 (Word, 77 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2015/16 (Word, 94 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2014/15 (Word, 90 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2014/15 (PDF, 112 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2013/14 (PDF, 104 KB) 
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2013/14 (Word, 74 KB) 
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2012/13 (Word, 90 KB) 
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2012/13 (PDF, 57 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2011/12 (PDF, 98 KB)  
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2010/11 (PDF, 82 KB)  
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2009/10 (PDF, 86 KB) 
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2009/10 (Word, 66 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2008/09 (PDF, 141 KB) 
Research Events Programme, Semester 1 2008/09 (PDF, 61 KB) 
Titles and Abstracts for Seminar Series 08/09 (Word, 48 KB)
Research Events Programme, Semester 2 2007/08 (PDF, 105 KB)