Whitby trip

 Second Year English Literature student Jenny Prout reflects back on her trip to Whitby last semester as part of the Literature at Work module.


On Monday 14th March I set off with my fellow Literature students for a day trip to Whitby.  Once we arrived at half ten we split into groups to have a wander around.  I went and walked along the pier and then had a nosey around the shops.  As we were walking along the cobbled streets, Kaitlin spotted a book shop, and as English Literature students we couldn’t help but go in! I picked up a book about the lives of the Brontës and read for while until it was time to meet up at St Mary’s Church.


At the church, we headed to a classroom where Dr Liesl King and Dr Janine Bradbury ran a workshop.  We worked in groups to close read a passage on ‘Yorkshire air’ from A.S. Byatt’s novel Possession.  Then Liesl explained different ways of referencing and we had a go at putting these into practice.


When the workshop had finished we all separated into our previous groups and had a look at the ruins of Whitby Abbey.   The abbey itself is a wonderful example of gothic architecture and this led us into discussion of Dracula, a novel some of us are studying in the Gothic and Horror module.  Bram Stocker knew Whitby well and used the abbey as a backdrop for parts of the novel. During our visit the fog contributed to the uncanny gothic atmosphere, as you can see from the photo below of the adjacent church grounds.


whitby church


Next, we headed to the award-winning Quayside on the water front for fish and chips. They did not disappoint! We returned (slowly!) to the bus, stuffed full, and headed to Robin Hood’s Bay, where Janine took a group photo of us all on the cliff top.

Whitby group
Dr Janine Bradbury’s group photo of the Whitby trip.



We strolled down the steep path to the beach to collect some shells, and then back up the cliff for fifteen minutes walk towards Boggle Hole. The location is featured in Byatt’s Possession, so I wanted to go and see it for myself.boggle hole Local folklore has it that the crevice is haunted by a ‘boggle’, or goblin.



Talk on artist Tom Phillips’ “A Humument” project, 10 May

Lunch Time talk by

Patrick Wildgust and Lucy Shortis

On the work of


Tuesday 10th May

12.30pm in Lecture Theatre QS111


We are delighted to welcome the curator of the Lawrence Sterne Trust’s Shandy Hall Patrick Wildgust and Phillips’ creative producer Lucy Shortis to York St John University to talk about the work of Tom Phillips and his extraordinary work A Humument.

A Humument  03

A Humument has been a work in progress since 1996 when artist Tom Phillips set himself a talks: to find a second-hand book for three pence and to alter every page by painting, collage and cut-up techniques to create an entirely new version.


The talk will share Tom’s work in progress and offer students the opportunity to treat a page to enter into a gallery exhibition of Tom Phillip’s work at the Shandy Hall Gallery Coxwold, from 8th May – 26th June.

“Ezra Nazi?” Prof. Matthew Feldman 27 April


Our Talking Literature, Talking Theory programme continues on Wednesday 27th April, when we welcome Professor Matthew Feldman, Professor in Contemporary History and co-director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University. Matthew is an expert on fascist ideology and the contemporary far-right in Europe and the USA.He has written widely on these subjects, as well as on the interaction between politics and faith in the modern world.


Matthew will be discussing Ezra Pound from first to second generation fascism in the seminar. His lecture, ‘Ezra Nazi? Reassessing Pound’s fascist politics, 1933-1958′  will present an empirical reassessment of Pound’s fascism.


The programme for the afternoon is as follows:

1330-1500: Seminar, DG/119. Preparatory reading to follow shortly. All are welcome to this event – all undergraduates students, postgraduates and staff.

1500-1530: Refreshments, DG/080 (foyer)

1530-1700: Lecture, DG/125 All are welcome to this event – all undergraduate students, postgraduates and staff.


We hope you can make some or all of these two events. For more information please email s.lawsonwelsh@yorksj.ac.uk

Cityscapes: Media Textualities and Urban Visions. Registration now open!


Saturday 23rd April, 8.30am – 6pm


York St John University is hosting a one day conference exploring representations of the city and urban spaces in literature and media, organised by Dr Kaley Kramer and Dr Anne-Marie Evans. Drawing on the recognition of York as a UNESCO City of Media Arts and a member of the Creative Cities Network, this one day conference will provide a space for ongoing discussions about the representation of cities in literature and narrative arts, media, theory, and practice.


The event is FREE for YSJ students, and you can access the conference programme on the blog here: https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/cityscapesconference2016/conference-programme/


If you would like to attend and book a place, please register here: http://store.yorksj.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&deptid=7&catid=6&prodid=428


If you have any questions, please email Dr Anne-Marie Evans (a.evans@yorksj.ac.uk) or Dr Kaley Kramer (k.kramer@yorksj.ac.uk )

MA Information Evening, Thursday 21st April

Literature Create 14sml

MA Information Evening, Thursday 21st April, 5.30pm in DG 125 (De Grey Building).



If you’re interested in studying for an MA in either Contemporary Literature or Creative Writing at York St John, please do come along to our Information Evening. You’ll be able to hear more about how the MA works, and learn about the range of modules on offer. Staff will be available to answer questions, and you’ll also be able to hear from some former MA students.

This event is FREE and wine and nibbles will be served.

If you have any queries, please email Dr Anne-Marie Evans: a.evans@yorksj.ac.uk

You can book your place here: http://store.yorksj.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&deptid=7&catid=17&prodid=1145

Scarborough Writing trip

By Rachel Louise Atkin


Gothic fiction is actually pretty great. In YSJ Creative Writing society we talk about it a lot, as many of the novels in the genre make up a lot of our favourite books. We like to see Gothic fiction as something to do with the supernatural, contamination and Victorian repression, and with two of the committee members studying the ‘Gothic and Horror’ module, it has become a genre we are confident talking about and exploring.


In February we took a day trip to Scarborough with the University of York’s own creative writing society, the Inklings. Initially, we went for inspiration (or really an excuse for a day out), but we ended up taking more away from the trip than we hoped we would.

The weather was overcast and windy without raining, making it perfect kite-flying weather. We ran around for a while on the beach first, writing our names in the sand and dipping our toes into the water which was way too cold to swim in. Far behind us was the seafront, revealing a stack of homes and winding streets which run all the way up a steep hill to Scarborough castle at the peak. The castle looks across the whole beach like it’s staged for a photograph, but it has been there since the 12th century and was used through the English Civil War. It’s open to visitors during the day, and once it closes it’s nice to have a stroll outside its deserted walls.


A trip to the sea wouldn’t be complete without arcades, and so we spent a little of our time getting frustrated at 2p machines and getting our fortunes told. Stopping for lunch, we swapped writing tips with the Inklings. We discussed how we generate and organize our ideas, as well as sharing our favourite books with each other. Poems were written and read out using the sounds of the shore as inspiration.

Moving further along the literary trail, the five of us from YSJ headed to Waterstones (inevitably). After purchasing some books we began climbing the hill towards the castle and St. Mary’s Church which is home to the grave of Anne Brontë. It was here where we started making connections with Scarborough and the Gothic. We stood amongst the graves and looked down at the water lapping against the sand, hearing the whistling of wind through the branches above us. It was easy to see how people like Bram Stoker and Emily Brontë had become inspired by landscapes similar to this one.


Walking up to the castle and finding it closed, we sat on a bench at the bottom of the cliffs and looked out to the sea, sharing story ideas and brainstorming ideas. The five of us didn’t really want to leave this spot. Though it was cold and I could hardly hold my pen, the atmosphere was like a machine for generating ideas between us. We were desperate to get indoors so we could write down everything we’d experienced.

The day rounded off when both universities sat together in a pub and discussed everything they’d enjoyed about the day. 90% of people sat with notebooks and were scribbling things down about graves, trees, ruins and haunted mansions. It seemed quite funny that although we’d joked about going to a place like Scarborough for inspiration, we all came out of there with something we were completely itching to write about.

It’s amazing how we manage to find literary connections everywhere. Scarborough seems underrated compared to its neighbour Whitby, but I found its seclusion and uniqueness to be something akin to the isolation and individual feel to books of the Gothic genre. We hope to recreate the experience by heading out on more day-trips, and hopefully uncover more of the hidden literary world as we go.

Visiting speaker: Veronica Barnsley (Sheffield) 16 March

The Literature and Creative Writing programmes’ research series continues with a seminar and lecture by Dr Veronica Barnsley from the University of Sheffield, who will be discussing the status of disaster studies and the concept of the Bildung in postcolonial criticism.

This includes a lecture at 15:30 in De Grey 124, entitled

Chasing the Postcolonial Child: Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People


Image: Animal by Eleanor Stride http://www.indrasinha.com/books-2/animals-people/animal-by-eleanor-stride/

Undergraduates and postgraduates are particularly welcome to attend. For more information, please contact a.beaumont@yorksj.ac.uk.

“Just Do It!” Sophie Nicholls Guest Lecture For Our ‘Contemporary Writing’ Module

By Heloise Pearson-Child (English Literature yr 1)

Have you ever been inspired to go out and help others? To write that book? To meet those people? To do that charity idea? Well after spending just 40 minutes with Sophie Nicholls, a poet whose writing has raised awareness to the plight and strength of refugees, I saw an entire class of Literature students absolutely alive with encouragement. Never since the Viral Motivational Speech by Shia LaBeouf have a group of people been so ready to ‘Just Do It’. But why wouldn’t they be? Sophie Nicholls is living proof the power literature still holds in our world. During a time of rapid technological change and internet everything, words upon a page are as vital to society as they have ever been, as proven by Sophie Nicholls’ book of poetry, Refugee.

How often have we seen refugees as a group of victims? How often have we pitied them? Let’s face it, we all have, and that’s our biggest mistake. We see refugees as a collective group. As Victims. But worst of all, we simply ‘see’. We never take part, try to get to know their stories, or even actively try to change the situation. Yes we all can comment on a quote by David Cameron. We can all share that post about raising awareness. But we could be doing so much more!

Sophie’s poetry does more than these posts could ever do, because she brings us into the lives of the refugees. The group of people become individuals, each with their own inspiring and tragic story of survival, strength and cruel misfortune at the hands of others. Those ‘victims’ become strong, independent human beings, who deserve not our pity, but our help and kindness. They deserve a place to belong. They deserve a home. A community. A job. And basic human rights. They need us not to just see, they need us to talk about them, write about them, raise awareness about them. Writing is one of humanity’s greatest tools. It’s the permanent engraving of our own language, which allows us to tell and order our own stories that couldn’t be told without it. For refugees it can help them conquer the torture and torment they faced. For readers it gives us a connection to those suffering. It breaks down the boundary and makes their plight personal. And for a country, it can be spark that lights the fire of change.

So why not become that change? Well after seeing the way my seminar group reacted to Sophie’s lecture, we might just be. To see a group of students discuss the issues of politics and humanities in a way that would floor politicians has raised awareness of the power we all have. We all could be those people writing books and getting the word of the suffering out. We all could be that activist helping refugees write about the trauma, and just simply being a friend to them. We all can be that voice to tell government and law makers how we feel about the degradation of others.

Why let media control our lives, when we can control media! Sure we can’t control the news, but we can make news. Instead of sharing the photograph about refugees, be the person in the photograph, talking and helping refugees. Instead of commenting on the disgraceful quote by yet another prime minister, be the person in the quote. Be the inspiration that appears on people newsfeeds and encourages them to ‘Just Do It’! Finally, instead of liking some post about a shocking new book, art, news story etc. Be the one making that post. Write a controversial book. Do eye-opening graffiti that’ll annoy a community. Be the protester on the news. Be the blogger that doesn’t believe in the government. We can all be Sophie Nicholls; we all have our talents and strengths. So instead of sitting on our sofas, listening to everyone else and giving away useless pity; let’s be the leader of a change. One that sees humans not a swarm. Strength instead of weakness. And people with real stories that deserve our respect.

Today I watched a group of students become inspired to make a change. But who will inspire the students to follow? It could be you.

Women’s history in York map launch: Saturday 5 March


Map Launching Event - advert materials


Saturday 5 March 2016


York St John | Arts Foyer, Quad South


Come along to York St John University to hear about the creation of a new York map that charts the history of the city in terms of women’s achievements. Famous figures such as Margaret Clitherow, Mary Ward, Grace White, Elizabeth Inchbald and the Brontë sisters all claim some connection with York. Learn more about these brilliant women, and hear about the development of the project before setting off on your own self-guided tour of York.

To book your free ticket:

This event is organised by Dr Elodie Duché, Dr Anne-Marie Evans, and Dr Kaley Kramer

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Brideshead…” 3rd Year Trip to Castle Howard



On 2 December Dr Anne-Marie Evans, Dr Jo Waugh and Dr Adam stock accompanied students taking our Writing the 20th Century module (3EN300) to Castle Howard in North Yorkshire.


Castle Howard was an inspiration for the ancestral seat of Sebastian Flyte and the Marchmain dynasty in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited (1945). But as our guide from the Castle Howard Estate Stephen pointed out, the novel was by no means faithful to all of Castle Howard’s features or geography. Not only did Waugh transpose the location from North Yorkshire to Wiltshire in the novel, but as our guide Stephen told us, the paths which characters take around the house and grounds in the novel are fundamentally incompatible with the topography of the house as it is. Waugh did visit Castle Howard in 1937, but when he sat down to write about a Baroque house with a dome and an “artsy chapel” (as the hapless Hooper puts it) seven years later he was inventive and creative in his approach.


Neither are the Howards the inspiration for the residents of Brideshead. Notwithstanding Waugh’s curious disavowal on the inscription page, “I am not I: thou art not he or she: they are not they”, the dubious honour of providing some of the family dysfunctions at the heart of the narrative goes to Waugh’s friends the Lygon family, whose country estate was near Malvern.

 iPhone-2015.12.02- perfect? The way we view Castle Howard in relation to Brideshead Revisited

has been framed by the 1981 ITV series and the 2008 Miramax film

But Castle Howard does remain an important place to improve our understanding of the novel. Inside the short frame narrative the entire story is told by a process of reconstructing memories, and the sub-title of the novel, The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder alludes to the two key themes of religion and memories. Brideshead is a means of anchoring these memories to solid and material spaces. Just as Charles’ Ryder’s career as an architectural painter is spent trying to capture the majesty of stately homes before they are lost to ‘progress’ and social change, so too the fountain, the chapel and other key places around the house give Charles’ memories a real depth of perspective.iPhone-2015.12.02-

Spending a day at Castle Howard was a great way to think about how novels engage with space, place and memory. We all thoroughly enjoyed walking around the house and grounds and taking a little bit of time out from the busy end-of-semester period to think about key ideas from the module from a different perspective.


Storify of the day

Start Your Essay Day @Fountains computer lab

Deadlines looming?


Come to Start Your Essay Day!


Wed 2nd December 1-5pm in FT/114

Work away in the computer lab with Study Development tutors and librarians on hand to provide guidance, answer questions and give input:

  • 1-2pm: Essay Survival Kit workshop — a guide to assignment writing
  • 3-3:30pm: Database searches

Stay all afternoon or just drop in!

Book your place at the Student Advice Desk in Holgate or email studydevelopment@yorksj.ac.uk

Congratulations to our Graduates!

A huge congratulations to all of our graduates this week, who all worked hard to achieve their results. It was a wonderful morning at York Minster and we’re all very proud of you.


Embedded image permalink

The procession leaving for the ceremony

Black History Month at York St John


Every October, Black History Month is celebrated all over the UK, and has been for the past thirty-five years. This is an opportunity for us all to acknowledge and celebrate diversity, and learn more about our shared histories and cultures. At York St John this year, academics working in Literature, History, American and Education and Theology have come together to launch the official YSJ Black History Month Twitter account. If you’re not already following is on Twitter, please do so!

The Twitter account is a celebration of black histories and cultures, and aims to highlight black achievement and accomplishment. If you follow the account, you’ll see a range of topics to explore. One of the most popular elements has been the playlist collated by lecturer in Literature (and resident DJ) Dr Fraser Mann. From ground-breaking pieces by Goldie and Massive Attack to classics from Soul II Soul and Neneh Cherry, there is a fantastic selection of music to (re)discover.

Students have been getting involved with the project as well, tweeting their favourite lines from poetry (work by Langston Hughes and Claude McKay has been particularly popular) and offering some reflections on learning about black literary history and the Harlem Renaissance. History students have noted how their study of William Cuffay and black Chartism also has a wider resonance with Black History Month.

It’s been great to see this project grow over the past few weeks as more and more followers choose to get involved with the Twitter account. We hope this continues to grow. Black History Month is hugely important for everyone. It allows to focus on a positive present and future whilst acknowledging some of the horrors of the past. We hope that @YSJBHM continues to allow our YSJ community to reflect on this and to raise awareness about these important issues.

If you have any queries about Black History Month, please contact Dr Anne-Marie Evans (a.evans@yorksj.ac.uk)