Now That’s What I Call Life on the Literature Programme 2018: A Retrospective (1/3)

This week, as a new year begins, we are taking a look back over the past 12 months and celebrating everything that’s happened here on the Literature programme this year. In this post, we’ll be rounding up many events and trips that have taken place. We don’t have room to mention them all, but here are the ones that made a real splash on the blog!

Tomorrow we’ll be looking back over the big blog stories this year, and on Thursday we’ll be hearing what you said about your time with us in 2018. If you’d like to be featured in this post, send us a tweet (@YSJLit) or email ( before 5pm on Wednesday!

Literature Research Showcase

The year began with a new annual event in which Literature staff present students with brief presentations on their research, inviting all to engage with and appreciate the work they do outside of the classroom. The event was covered by Tia Byer, who concluded that:

Standing in front of us was evidence of how far one can go in the pursuit of literature. I felt inspired about where my simple passion for reading could take me. Who knows, it might even be one of us in the showcase presenting our research one day.

The Inaugural Literature Research Showcase at York St John University

Holocaust Memorial Day

In January, the City of York Council, in collaboration with our Lecturer Dr Adam Stock, hosted a civic event memorialising the Holocaust. The event included a screening of Night and Fog (1955), a collection of photographs and footage originally released to mark the 10 year anniversary of liberation from Nazi concentration camps across Europe. Charlotte Stevenson attended the screening and reflected on the experience in her post, ‘Beyond all Imagination.’

The Shape of Water

From Frankenstein to The Shape of Water: 200 years spent demonising the Other

As part of the third year module ‘Gender and Sexualities’, students were invited to attend a screening of the Oscar nominated movie The Shape of Water. Zoe Buckton wrote on the blog afterwards that ‘if you can get over the initial queasiness of fish interretaltions, then you’ll take a lot away from the experience.

York Literary Festival

Fiona Mozley.

Spring saw the return of the city wide York Literary Festival, launched in 2018 by an event held by York St John University celebrating literature and writing. Our very own Caleb Klaces, Rob Edgar, Helen Pleasance, Abi Curtis and Naomi Booth all shared extracts from their work before an interview with novelist Fiona Mozley, who had only recently been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Nicoletta Peddis covered the event for our blog, concluding that:

I have had the pleasure of attending many York Literature Festival events in the past three years, and as an English Literature and Creative writing student it is a real privilege to be able to be part of a community that promotes and celebrates Literature in all its aspects and in all its connections with our society.

In Defence of Romance: An Audience with Mills & Boons Author Jessica Gilmore

In association with the third year module Gender and Sexualities, the Literature programme hosted an event in which Mills and Boons author Jessica Thompson (Jessica Gilmore in print) discussed her career as a writer. This was followed by a roundtable discussion on the state of Romance literature today, upon which Jessica was joined by Anne-Marie Evans and novelist Naomi Booth. Tia Byer reflected on the event here.

Third Year Goodbye Celebration

As teaching drew to a close, it was time to begin saying goodbye to our third year students, now reaching the end of their undergraduate journey. The occasion was marked in style, with food, drinks and soft jazz. Check out pictures from the event here.

Satire: Deaths, Births, Legacies

In June, Drs Jo Waugh and Adam J Smith hosted an interdisciplinary conference exploring the history of satire. Tom Young, a student Researcher on the Words with Wagtails project, assisted on the day and wrote about the event afterwards for the blog.

Beyond the Vote: A Festival of Women’s Words and Deeds

In response to Vote 100 celebrations across the country, Literature Subject Director Anne-Marie Evans and Lectruer in History Elodie Duché staged an ambitious city-weekend of fantastic activities. There were talks by our own Jo Waugh, Helen Pleasance and Sarah Lawson Welsh, an address from MP for York Central Racheal Maskel, a pub quiz, poetry, pilates and creative wokrshops, rounded off with a closing gala that raised money for the new YSJU Women In Politics Aspiration Fund.

Culinary Cultures 2: Exploring Food and the Post Colonial

Following the success of the inaugural Culinary Cultures conference in 2017, Sarah Lawson Welsh again united academic across the world to discuss food, memory and the Caribbean.

Twisting My Memory, Man

July saw the arrival of the Music, Memory and Memoir Symposium, the first landmark event of the Music Memoir Research group, directed by our very own Fraser Mann, Rob Edgar and Helen Pleasance. Major musical practitioners such as Tom Hingely (interviewed live by current student Tom Young), Lucy O’Brien (interviewed by returning Literature graduate Amy McCarthy) and Will and Carl from CUD were joined by researchers from across the country for a day of stimulating papers and musical performance.

Annual Words Matter Lecture: Literature and Contagion 

The new academic year kicked off in style with our second ever Words Matter lecture, this time exploring this idea of the relationship between Literature and Contagion in an erudite and entertaining discussion delivered by our Lecturer in Nineteenth-century Literature, Jo Waugh. Erin Bryne covered the event for the blog, concluding that:

This lecture prompt me to reconsider how critical thinking is more important than it has ever been. Lazy and toxic ideas are so easily transmitted in our information age, which makes the disease metaphor for the spread of memes even more pertinent.

Touching History: Exploring York’s Archives

As part of the second-year module, Civil War to Civil Society: British Literature, 1640-1740, students were taken by Adam Smith and Jo Waugh to York Explore archives to consult their extensive collection of seventeenth and eighteenth-century texts. Charlotte Crawshaw covered the trip for the blog, writing that:

It was exceedingly informative to be able to study these texts in their original and physical forms; being able to physically touch along the pages where the novel was cut by the owner of the copy was really intriguing, since it provided us all with an even further understanding of the history of book publication.

Castle Howard Trip

Students studying Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited on the third-year module Twentieth-Century Writing were taken on an expedition to the nearby Castle Howard, accompanied by Alex Beaumont and Adam Stock. Charlotte Stevenson covered the trip for our blog.

Castle Howard – Image Copyright C. Stevenson 2018

A Night at the Northern Fiction Roadshow

In October, York St John University hosted the Northern Fiction Alliance Roadshow, bringing together a collective of small publishing houses based in the North of England. First year student James Turner teamed up with MA student Annice White to cover the event for the blog. 

Black History Month: Frederick Douglass and his Legacy

October also saw the Literature programme mark Black History Month through a collaborative exhibition of works written by writers of colour, hosted by ILS, and a public lecture delivered by our Subject Director, Anne-Marie Evans. Charlotte Stevenson covered the lecture for the blog, writing that:

Knowledge can only take us forward’ were among the opening words Dr. Anne-Marie Evans stated as she began to discuss the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, speaking as ‘not only an academic but as a fan’. What followed was an hour in which Douglass himself felt present, the importance of education and of equality being at the forefront of everyone’s attention.

Celebrated Actors On Campus

As part of the module Shakespeare: Perspectives, RSC actors Pippa Nixon and Alex Waldmann came to speak to students about how performance can bring the bard’s language alive.

Spells: 21st-century Occult Poetry

As Winter Solstice approached, York St John University was fortune enough to host the launch of a radical new collection of poems, co-edited by our new Creative Writing Lecturer Rebecca Tamás. The event was covered by Abi Whitaker.

What an amazing year it has been! Here’s to another 12 months at YSJU.

Join us again tomorrow for a round up of everything that has happened on the blog this year!