Taster lectures in English

Friday 21 June

Session 1

Time and location: 12pm-1pm, ArtsTwo, 3.20

Title: Histories of horror: Gothic writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Description: For most of literary history, 'beauty' has been the ideal to which most writers implicitly or explicitly aspire. But beginning in the eighteenth century, another ideal became available as well: the 'terrible', which soon became linked to further terms like 'horror' (or, 'the horrible'). In this session, we will explore how so-called 'gothic' writing uses gruesome and/or frightening scenarios to provoke sensations very different from those associated with 'beauty'. In so doing, we will consider how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers explored some of their society's deepest fears.

Speaker: Sam Halliday

Session 2

Time and location: 12pm-1pm, ArtsTwo, 3.17

Title: Politics and pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain

Description: In the C16th and C17th the printed word was compared to 'paper bullets'. Writers began to use the written word to influence politicians and the reading public, laying the grounds for what we think of as democracy in the public sphere. I will look at how this happened, and ask how the description of printed words as paper bullets makes sense.

Speaker: Joad Raymond

Session 3

Time and location: 3-4pm, ArtsTwo, 3.17

Title: Plays and playgoing in Renaissance London

Description: An exploration of Renaissance London. Examining the role of London as a centre of theatrical production, it also explores the city as a setting within plays, especially the genre of 'city comedies' that flourished in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. We’ll spend some time thinking about the collaborative play Eastward Ho!, but no prior knowledge of this or any other Renaissance drama is required for you to enjoy this lecture.

Speaker: Tamara Atkin

Session 4

Time and location: 3-4pm, ArtsTwo, 3.20

Title: Creative writing

Description: In this workshop, you will watch and listen to some live performances by contemporary poets. Following a discussion of poetic form - genre? literary device? conceptual design? - you will think about the significance of form in writing the self/subjective experience. What is the relationship between artifice and authenticity? Between individual selves and collective stories? You will have an opportunity to try out creative writing exercises and start a piece of writing in response to the question: how do you structure and construct the story of your life?

Speaker: Nisha Ramayya

Saturday 22 June

Session 1

Time and location: 12-1pm, Location ArtsOne

Title: Othello: Race and religion

Description: Othello is black: but what did that mean to Shakespeare’s audience? Generations have projected modern assumptions about race into Othello, but in this session, we place close reading of key passages from the play alongside historical materials that suggest his identity as a religious convert – and possibly from Islam – offers a very different perspective on this play’s tragic action.

Session 2

Time and location: 3-4pm, ArtsTwo, 3.20

Title: Playing with stories

Description: This session will explore some practical ideas for how to generate stories. We will use practical exercises to find writing inspiration, explore the importance of a writer's process, and practise learning from one another in the writing workshop setting.

Speaker: Karina Likorish Quinn

Session 3

Time and location: 3-4pm, ArtsTwo, 3.20

Title: Werewolves in medieval literature

Description: Werewolves have fascinated authors and audiences for centuries. Derived from the Old English terms for 'man' ('were') and 'wolf', the werewolf gave writers space to explore relationships between the human and the animal, civilization and the natural world, and emotions and reason. We will analyse some representations of werewolves from medieval literature, thinking about how these shapeshifters compare to werewolves as they appear in literature and other media today. Above all, we will investigate the ways in which early werewolf stories probe questions about transformation and magic, rationality, madness, morality, and violence, as they test the limits of the human and expose the 'beast within'.

Speaker: Jaclyn Rajsic