2014 REF results

This morning the results of the ‘Research Excellence Framework’ for 2014 were released. The REF is a survey and evaluation of research production across all universities in the UK. The work done by us in English and Creative writing was entered as part of a broad, interdisciplinary package in ‘Unit of Assessment’ 36 (which included also philosophy and the social sciences). The results are a very welcome Christmas present!

To be sure, slightly disappointing was the ‘impact’ score, a measure of to what extent our work has changed public opinion or behaviours. This was a new measure this time around, and clearly we have more to learn about how to present our theoretical/ historical work in the best light.

Apart from that, though, there was great news. Not only was the vast majority of our work judged to be of international standing, but we were praised too for the environment we have crafted here to encourage further work, and bring on young researchers, including doctoral students. Well done, everyone!

PhD Success: Emma Cleary

Please join us in congratulating Emma Cleary for the submission of her PhD thesis entitled Jazz–Shaped Bodies: Mapping City Space, Time, and Sound in Black Transnational Literature.

Cleary’s thesis concerns “representations of the city in black transnational literature, with a focus on sonic schemas and mapping, cultural geography, posthumanist thought, and the discourse of diaspora. The research investigates the extent to which the urban landscape is figured as a panoptic structure in twentieth and twenty–‐ first century diasporic texts, and how the mimetic function of artistic performance challenges this structure”.

The work offers a comparative analysis of American, Canadian, and Caribbean landscapes and textscapes, the study of which “negotiates and transcends shifting national, cultural, and geographical borderlines and boundaries that seek to encode and enclose black subjectivity”.

This research offers important new readings of the works of James Baldwin, Earl Lovelace, Toni Morrison, and Wayde Compton.

Challenging drama on campus

3rd year drama students, as the Axiom Theatre Company, produced Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis in Studio 2 on the College Road Campus this week. This is a challenging work, debuting posthumously after Kane’s suicide in 1999 and exploring the dark areas of the mind. The staging needs to be imaginative as Kane’s script provides us only with the lines of dialogue, leaving the director to establish who speaks and the context. The director chose to interpret the dialogue as shared between a doctor and a number of patients, each demonstrating different symptoms displayed by the lines in the text. The company’s imaginative construction of back-stories for their characters was an innovative dimension to the actual staging.

It was good to see English and CW students – some of whom will be studying Kane’s Blasted next term – supporting their drama peers.

Recent publication


Professor Douglas Burnham has just published The Nietzsche Dictionary, latest in the Bloomsbury series of philosophy dictionaries. A herculean task for the author, who has been described as ‘a subtle and incisive reader of Nietzsche’ providing the reader with ‘a comprehensive understanding of Nietzsche’s ideas’ – no mean feat.

The Nietzsche Dictionaryhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Nietzsche-Dictionary-Bloomsbury-Philosophy-Dictionaries/dp/1441160752

Out in time for Christmas!


London literati come to Stoke

Two novelists from the Big Smoke have recently given readings in Staffordshire. On 24th November Lottie Moggach read from Kiss Me First at the Keele Writing group. Moggach’s novel, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award, has been dubbed ‘a Facebook thriller’ and centers around a case of online identity assumed by a high-functioning autistic heroine. On 3rd December, Sathnam Sanghera discussed his novel, Marriage Material, as guest of honour at the Arnold Bennett Society annual Literary Luncheon held in Hartshill.   Marriage Material, also published 2013 and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, is set the Sikh community of Wolverhampton and is based loosely on one of Bennett’s best-known works, The Old Wives Tale. Apparently Moggach, fellow journalist and friend, was responsible for introducing Sanghera to Bennett’s novel – it’s a small world!

For more on the writers see their websites: http://www.sathnam.com/ http://www.lottiemoggach.com/