A Virtual Celebration for the Class of 2020

The staff on the YSJU English Literature Programme have put together a very special farewell video for the Class of 2020. The video is introduced below by Third Year Level Co-ordinator, Dr Jo Waugh. 

It is a truth almost universally not acknowledged that sometimes endings can feel a bit anticlimactic. This year, however, that feeling must be especially powerful: this was never how it was supposed to be.

We’d have liked to be doing this in person, but we’ve tried our best to express in this video how proud we are of you, how sorry we are to see you go, and how much we hope you’ll carry with you the things you’ve learnt during your time as a Literature student at YSJU.

So let us take you, just for 43 minutes, to a place of virtual celebration. If you want to recreate the atmosphere, you could place some pizza and chips nearby, but forbid yourself from queuing for them until the speeches are over. Pour yourself a glass of wine, grab a bottle of beer, or whatever you might have been drinking. When you’ve finished watching, you could play some jungle music (Fraser’s playlist last year), and imagine you’re either hiding when the camera comes near you or posing for it with your arms round your friends. Endings are important, and you should mark this one while you also think about the new beginnings that are opening up in front of you.


Every day right now, something is happening that requires – demands – you to use the skills in critical thinking and analysis that we hope you’ve honed in the last three years. There are narratives circulating all around us, many with holes, gaps, and ambiguities that desperately need people like you to question and interrogate them.

This is what a degree in English Literature does for you, and this is why the world really does need you, a Literature graduate, so urgently. Recognize and embrace your power and your privilege here: as a critic, as someone who’s read about historical precedents for some of the dynamics we’re seeing unfold  right now (cough Sick Novels), who’s studied the ways in which forms of power and oppression intersect, and been invited and encouraged to question everything – and keep on questioning, arguing, thinking, critiquing, all your life.

Dr Jo Waugh, Level 6 Coordinator

Literature in Lockdown: Zooming Through The Taming of the Shrew (Estela Green)

Literature in Lockdown is a special blog series in which our students share what they’re doing whilst face-to-face teaching is suspended at YSJU. In our latest post, Shakespeare: Perspectives student Estela Green shares her review of The Show Must Go Online’s Zoom production of The Taming of the Shrew. She watched this in lieu of our cancelled trip due to the closure of theatres back in March. There are silver linings after all. 

(The Show Must Go Online Taming of the Shrew is available for free on YouTube here. Donations also welcome.)

Screenshot from: “The Show Must Go Online: The Taming Of The Shrew.” YouTube, streamed live by Rob Myles, 26 Mar. 2020

Continue reading “Literature in Lockdown: Zooming Through The Taming of the Shrew (Estela Green)”

Autism Awareness at YSJU creative writing event TONIGHT

Today, on Thursday the 12th at 6.00 in HG 101 there will be a creative writing evening themed around Autism Awareness to help generate ideas for the next Autism Awareness Day on the 4th of April, 2020 – please come along and get involved.

The following week on Thursday the 19th at 6.00 in HG 101 there will be a more general evening for queries and questions about the event and any ideas people want to discuss for it.

People can submit their work to autismsuccesspathway@yorksj.ac.uk. 

When the booklet is made they will receive a electronic copy.

Could people only submit either pdfs or word documents. 

Thank you!

Dissertation Corner with Rose Kirby: Political Lesbianism and Fetishization

In this week’s instalment of Dissertation Corner,  Rose Kirby tells us about her project on political lesbianism and fetishisation in early twenty-first century fictional realism.


What is the topic of your dissertation?

Political lesbianism, orientalist, sexuality and fetishes. A lot! 

How did you choose the texts for the project?

I studied both of my dissertation books at different stages of my education. One was at AS-level Literature and Language, and the other I came across whilst I was studying ’Ecopoetics’ (ecocriticism, scientific papers and literature on the environment) on my exchange abroad in Stockholm.

Has your dissertation changed much since submitting your proposal?

Definitely! It’s expanded to include more ideology and methodology than I thought at first.  

What have you enjoyed most and what have you struggled most with?

 I have most enjoyed the freedom to research and get stuck-in with the subject matter surrounding my topics, and realising how much I love it! This is a double-edged sword though, it has been a challenge to keep on top of both researching independently and being a third year student with other commitments. 

What has it been like working closely with an academic supervisor?

It has been really engaging and reassuring, to be able to have an intellectual conversation, where you are able to be influenced and encouraged by their expertise and support has been invaluable.


Spoken Word – All About Respect

Here at All About Respect we are hosting a spoken word event to shine a light on sexual, abuse, violence and harm.

The event will be held on the 18th March at Spark, door open at 6.30pm and starts from 7-9pm.

We are looking for people to come a read their pieces of work produced and created around sexual abuse, violence and harm.

We are calling any creative writers, poets, drama, music students or anyone willing to take part.

Please email: molly.catterall@yorksj.ac.uk if you would like to participate.

If you would like to find out more about All About Respect, head to the Report and Support Website for information on campaigns, support materials, anonymous and direct reporting, training, and more.

All About Respect Paid Internship Opportunity

We have two exciting, paid student intern opportunities for students to work as part of the All About Respect team.

You can find out more about these opportunities and apply here: www.yorksj.ac.uk/internships

Closing date is midnight on Thursday 17th October.#

Get some great work experience to boost your CV and kickstart a potential future career by applying for an exclusive YSJ Student Internship.

You can find out more about the All About Respect project here

Shakespeare Trip 2019 from a non-Shakespeare Student, by Amy Langton

Amy brings to life the Shakespeare: Perspectives Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon from earlier in the year, and talks about how it inspired her to find out more about Shakespeare. Read here her response to the Royal Shakespeare Company performance of As You Like It, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust post-performance talks, visiting the house Shakespeare was was born in, and going backstage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

This year, I went on the Shakespeare Perspectives trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Although I didn’t do the module itself, places opened up, and Revolution and Response students were asked if they wanted to go. Having studied Shakespeare both on this module, and in previous modules, I was really interested in going on this trip so booked as soon as possible. On the trip, we did many things packed into the short amount of space of two days, meaning it got very busy and tiring, but yet being surrounded by lovely individuals who I share my course with the two days were great. 

We went to the Royal Shakespeare Company to watch one of Shakespeare’s comedies, As You Like It. I knew nothing of the play beforehand other than the title, having not studied it or even picked it up in a shop and yet, I was excited. I was excited to delve into the world of something new and ready to have a good time. 

The company clearly used meta-theatre which was the great choice, as those who know the play well or even those like me who didn’t knew the most famous quote ‘All the world’s a stage’. Through this use, the intimacy level was upped, as the actors engaged with the audience throughout, even at one point bringing members up to the stage themselves which added greatly to the comedic effect. 

In our post-performance discussion at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with Dr Nick Walton, many members of our group mentioned the roles of Rosalind/Ganymede and Celia in a lively discussion. While some felt Celia overpowered Rosalind, which is contradictory to what her role is supposed to do, I personally felt that Rosalind was the true star. Lucy Phelps, who portrayed her, gave the character an energy that made her easy to love and easy to sympathise with. Her humour was perfect: her character made me laugh the most because of the way that she presented this lovable person, this lovable woman.

The play defied all expectations, the characters were likeable, the actors even more so. It felt like an evening with a family rather than a crowd of strangers.

Another thing we did on the trip was visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace which was an amazing experience as the house in which he was born had so much history behind it. I could see this in the way it was presented and the ways in which the staff interacted with tourists and members of the public, giving them extra information, and really immersing them into the world and time in which this iconic playwright lived. We also got to watch amateur actors performing certain scenes from different Shakespeare plays outside in the garden. This was an amazing experience as it was brilliant to see other ways in which Shakespeare could be performed. The two actors were incredibly talented and gave off just the right emotion and power to once again immerse you into the plays.

Probably one of the most exciting things we did on the trip was get a backstage tour of the theatre. This was incredibly insightful as the way the plays are done is so incredibly clever. We saw things such as costumes, lighting and all sorts of accessories used such as fake blood! This was so amazing as you really saw how much work is put in to performing Shakespeare in a modern-day setting. In Shakespeare’s time, you can imagine the way in which it was performed is much different to how it is today, so to see the way in which time has developed is brilliant in being able to immerse yourself fully into the plays.

The trip was brilliant also in the social aspect of things as I got to be with a lot of my friends that I didn’t do modules with but that were on my course. I also met and got to talk to new people which I found really incredible. I also met Saffron properly, who I’ve never met and haven’t been taught by but it was amazing meeting her and to be inspired by her love of Shakespeare. Julie’s tremendous love of Shakespeare also inspired me and having these two incredible dedicated women leading us on this true Shakespearean journey was an incredible experience.

If anything, the trip mostly made me wish I had done the Shakespeare module and has inspired me to go on to try read other Shakespeare texts with my specific interest now being Hamlet and a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, which I have already purchased and am ready to read!

In conclusion, thank you to Saffron, Julie and York St John University for giving me the chance to go on this insightful, brilliant trip and also the chance to write for this blog. This trip really helped me expand my love for Literature even more!

All images (c) Amy Langton apart from the final performance image (c) RSC

YSJ Blogs Shakespeare


By Caroline Carlson and Charlotte Crawshaw

On May 9th 2019, York St John University kicked off the York International Shakespeare Festival with a Shakespeare Blogging workshop. University lecturer Saffron Vickers Walkling led the discussion on various blogging topics, tips, and websites and announced a unique opportunity for students to blog the upcoming festival. Thanks to Festival Director, Philip Parr of Parrabola, Students may attend most festival events for free if they review the event for the YSJ Words Matter blog. Simply turn up to the events at the pop-up Dogrose theatre and say ‘I’m here for Words Matter’ (with the exception of the Richard II film which is sold out), where Tom Straszewski has set aside a couple of tickets per performance. He’s also directed some of them. Likewise, for events at  Friargate (https://ridinglights.org/yisf/), there are review tickets for most productions. Call ahead to let them know you are coming: 01904 613000. For events at York Theatre Royal, email press officer Steve Pratt for a complimentary press ticket (subject to availability): steve.pratt@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk 

According to the festival website ‘the festival features exciting and adventurous artists both from around the world and from closer to home, with a focus on the Shakespeare of the North.’ Performances will be held from May 9th until 19th all over the city, in theatres, streets, parks, churches and wherever you would least expect. 

Visit their website at http://esfn.eu/festivals/york#full-gallery-anchor for more information.

General public tickets are available via https://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/ There are student discounts available.

Festival Shows include: All’s Well That Ends Well, Sonnet Walks, Feast, The Alchemist, Boris Rex, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Love Deadline (Desdemona), Be Not Afeard, Hamlet (An Experience), The Buds of Maybe, Outrageous Fortune, The Winter’s Tale, She Wolf, Into the Breach, Ten Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew, Battle of the Bard

‘Feast’ directed by Phillip Parr