Black History Month 2021 Event!

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Join us for a fascinating discussion on feminism, systemic racism, and identity with Sophie Williams, acclaimed author of Anti Racist Ally and Millennial Black. Sophie will be in joining our Associate Professor in Literature Dr Janine Bradbury in conversation to explore how we can make space for racially marginalised people and how small conversations can spark big change.

To book your free place for this online event click here.

About Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams is a TED Speaker, leading anti-racism advocate and author of Anti Racist Ally and Millennial Black.

She has written for publications such as The Guardian, Cosmopolitan and Elle as well as delivering sessions training for major organisations such as Apple, Sky, Cambridge University and UK Civil Service.

Prior to her writing career, she had a career in advertising, holding positions including Head of Production, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. She is now a Manager at Netflix, leading Production Planning throughout EMEA.

Event: Words Matter Lecture 2021

man holding wind instrumentWe warmly invite you to join us for the Annual Words Matter English Literature lecture – it is free and open to students, staff, alumni, and members of the public!

Hamlet is, according to UNESCO, the most famous and most translated play in the world. This year, Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling introduces three contemporary global productions of Hamlet and explores how they appropriate Shakespeare’s play to speak to a seismic moment in history: 1989, the year that saw the ending of the Cold War. Lin Zhaohu’s Hamlet (1990/1995) from late communist China and Jan Klata’s H. (2004/2006) from post-communist Poland both hark back to the legacy of that moment of history, particularly its economic legacy. Additionally, Dr Vickers Walkling explores Sulayman Al Bassam’s The Al-Hamlet Summit (2002/2004) which is set in a non-specific country in the Arab world, over two decades later, as the West turned its gaze from the Cold War to the “War on Terror”. In true Hamlet style, each production holds “a mirror up” to their respective local tensions and ideological shifts in a rapidly changing world, and whilst viewed together combine to reflect the splintering and reconfiguring new world orders. Please do join us for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of Shakespeare’s most famous play.

To read more and book a place, click here

 

Student Blog Post: Megan Sales discusses Morality in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

woman in red sweater holding red bookI am currently conducting research for my dissertation project which aims to explore representations of the mind and soul within texts written during the long eighteenth-century. 

John Locke’s very influential text ‘An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding’ explores the concept that the mind is formed through experience – nothing is innate. Continue reading “Student Blog Post: Megan Sales discusses Morality in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”

Hello and Welcome Back!

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It is the start of a new semester here at York St John! If you’ve just joined us, welcome to our Words Matter Blog where you can read student writing and find out more about what is happening on the English Literature Programme. And if you are a returning student, welcome back! And if you are part of the broader YSJ community – a warm hello to you too.

We’re wishing you the happiest of starts to the academic year!

Rainbows of Hope: Brooke Williamson reflects on The Masked Singer

As we are now able to meet with friends, sit in a café, or go to a film, Brooke Williamson looks back on her “comfort viewing” at the beginning of the year when we were at the height of a lockdown. It seems a fitting reflection in Pride season and when we are still thanking our NHS for their work in a difficult time. Here’s to rainbows and hope!

masked singer contestants dressed as dragon, chicken, clock, packet of fries etc.
The Masked Singer Season 2 (c) ITV

During lockdown it was easy to be a victim of Saturday night television, and I for one know, having been completely sucked into ITV’s primetime The Masked Singer UK back in February. The idea of the show, for those who escaped the tension and suspense, was that 12 celebrities transformed themselves by hiding their identity behind a creature or animal and performed songs, whilst battling it out to retain their mask – and consequently, keep their identity a secret. From the photograph of this series’ contestants there was one character, in particular, that caught my attention. This was the Dragon, who was later unmasked as Sue Perkins of The Great British Bake-Off. Continue reading “Rainbows of Hope: Brooke Williamson reflects on The Masked Singer”

The Winner of the YSJ Big Summer Read 2021 is…

Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019)

Find out more about this award-winning book from the acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong and listen to a sample here.

Over the Summer months we’ll be posting updates and links to materials both here on our blog and via Twitter (#YSJBigSummerRead2021).

Copies of the book are available in our campus library and regional libraries, and an audiobook is also available via Overdrive and other audiobook suppliers.

Reading together brings us together. We’d love for you to join in – whether you are a past, present, or prospective student, a member of staff, or part of our extended community – read the book and share your reflections using the hashtag above.

More to follow…in the meantime, here is an interview with the author on the key themes and ideas in the novel. Enjoy!

Comfort Read: Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877) by Megan Sales

In the latest in our Comfort Reads series, second year student Megan Sales reflects on a childhood favourite… 

Re-reading one of my favourite childhood books wasn’t something I considered until my younger sister recently returned my copy of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877). It sparked memories of the me being so excited when I opened the book one Christmas Day that I raced upstairs to read it, unable to wait. When my sister returned the book, I opened it smiling, reminiscing, and re-read the whole book by the next day. Continue reading “Comfort Read: Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877) by Megan Sales”

The Shortlist! The YSJ Big Summer Read 2021

Our Big Summer Read team have shortlisted the nominations for this year!  Thank you to all of you who nominated books. All of the suggestions were fantastic and we hope the shortlist reflects a wide variety of styles, forms, and experiences. The shortlist is:

 To cast your vote for the 2021 YSJ Big Summer Read click here.

To find out more about the YSJ Big Summer Read click here.

Voting closes at 23.45 on Friday 25th June 2020 and the winner will be announced here and on Twitter in early July.    

And to find out more about each of the shortlisted texts please read on….

Continue reading “The Shortlist! The YSJ Big Summer Read 2021”

Recognition for The English Literature Programme at the YSJU Awards 2021

This Friday evening (28th May 2021), York St John Students’ Union will be hosting the annual Student Union Awards Ceremony online! Not only was the English Literature programme nominated for Course of the Year but individual colleagues were also nominated for awards recognising their invaluable teaching and support.

Our Associate Head, Dr Anne-Marie Evans has been nominated for the Best Feedback and Most Support Supportive Staff Member awards. Dr Fraser Mann was nominated for his Inspirational Teaching.  And Dr Janine Bradbury was also nominated for Best Feedback.

Congratulations and good luck to all who have been nominated this year!

For more information on the awards and to book a place to attend, visit:  https://ysjsu.com/events/1197-su-awards-2021

It’s that time of year! Nominate a book for this year’s YSJ Big Summer Read 2021!

Every year the English Literature programme hosts the #YSJBigSummerRead, in which prospective students, current students, and our alumni – are invited to join staff across the University in all reading the same book over the summer.

Previous Big Summer Read selections include:

Previous Big Summer Reads

  • Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie (Big Summer Read 2020)
  • Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (Big Summer Read 2019)
  • Anna Burns’ Milkman (Big Summer Read 2018)
  • Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary (Big Summer Read 2017)

Which book would you like to nominate this year? We welcome nominations of short story collections, novels, and poetry collections.

Nominations close at 11pm on Monday 31st May, the shortlist will be announced in early June, followed by your votes for the YSJ Big Summer Read 2021!

To nominate a text click here.

Blog Post: Reflecting on “A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft” by Megan Sales

In a recent lecture and seminar for our module Revolution and Response, we discussed Mary Wollstonecraft’s text The Rights of Woman (1792). Two important points were raised to do with the context of this work; the first is that the concept of gender, as we understand it today, did not exist when Wollstonecraft was writing and the second being that feminism did not exist as a term then either. Wollstonecraft is considered by many to be the mother of feminism and even though the term did not exist during her time, her views on gender equality were pioneering. She discussed how women are satirised by male writers for being ignorant while these same men denied women access to education. Furthermore, she discusses how women are objectified and are led to believe that their only worth lies in their beauty and ability to please men.

The debate surrounding Maggi Hambling’s “A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft” [pictured] erected in London in November 2020 has become a focal point for discussing some of these issues. Continue reading “Blog Post: Reflecting on “A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft” by Megan Sales”

Blog Post: COVID 19: One Year On. How can Shakespeare’s portrayal of Time alter our perspectives? By Annie Denton

We have recently marked one year since the UK went into a national lockdown. I keep thinking about how quickly it all changed. In Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Time is a character, who struts upon the stage to say: “I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error, Now take upon me, in the name of Time, To use my wings. Impute it not a crime To me or my swift passage” (The Winter’s Tale 4:1). These lines stuck with me when I read the play for the module I’m taking on Shakespeare. It altered my perspective. I realised that I have it all wrong: a year passing is not a bad thing at all. Of course, I could get political and complain about how we should not be in our third national lockdown, or that I was just getting settled in at university before it was all taken away. We can be pessimistic about ‘losing a year’ of our lives, but I like Shakespeare’s personification of Time. There is nothing that resonates more than “please some, try all, both joy and terror of good and bad…” when we all consider the last 365 days. Yet, Time begs us to “impute it not a crime” that time is passing. I understood this as acceptance. Time will use its wings to fly by us, and by accepting that the passage of time is life – whether it be good or bad, joy or terror. I choose to take the perspective that Time is inevitable and will “try [us] all” and that’s okay. We can’t neglect the year we have had, choose to ignore it, or tell people we have ‘lost’ a year. We lived through it all, and hopefully, we are better people for it, and strong enough to face whatever errors Time will throw at us next.

 

Annie Denton is a second year student at York St John University taking our second year module Shakespeare: Perspectives.

PROGRAMME EVENT! English Literature Research Showcase (13 May 2021)

Photo of books
Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

You are warmly invited to come along and hear staff present short papers on their current research and chat about research during the time of lockdowns, remote working and endless zooming.

You will hear members of the team talk about magical women of Arthurian romance, representations of the architect in twentieth-century novels, Virginia Woolf’s representation of early eighteenth-century essayist Joseph Addison in her 1928 novel Orlando, the legacy of Andrea Levy, the challenges in guest editing a special edition journal, renovating My Beautiful Laundrette for the 21st Century, honesty in the work of C.H. Sisson, speculative genealogies, and the social value of writing about independent music space. All in one evening!

This range of subjects reflects the breadth of research within our fantastic programme. Our staff look forward to giving you a snapshot of their specialisms. We hope you’ll come along.

To book a place click here.

How Did Lockdown Help Me Come Out As Non-Binary? by Ripley Cook for Trans Day of Visibility

In this post by one of our YSJ literature students, Ripley Cook, they explain how lockdown helped them understand their neurodiversity and their gender identity. 

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The non-binary flag via Stonewall

For most of my life I can honestly say that I was never comfortable in my own body. I put it down to a lot of different reasons: how men perceived me and the sexism that came with that, basic insecurities, and the bullying I experienced because of my appearance in high school. It never occurred to me that it was more than that, at least not until lockdown. Continue reading “How Did Lockdown Help Me Come Out As Non-Binary? by Ripley Cook for Trans Day of Visibility”