Reflections on ‘Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities’conference

Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities Conference

Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

‘Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities’ conference

Reflections by Jan Parker, University of Cambridge

Sincere thanks are due to the Organisers from the University of Nottingham, Michele McIntosh and Martin Brooks
And to the AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership & University of Nottingham’s School of English for their support

Reading : Writing Minds : Bodies: Medicine: Humanities Research : Practice

This conference delighted in crossing boundaries and braiding disciplinary traditional practices to ask and answer multifaceted questions. Exemplary: so important in cross domain (domains with different epistemological practices as well as methodological traditions, as, here, Medicine and Humanities) collaborations.

The result is to challenge categories as well as frames of understanding so often shown in a conference full of perceptive readings of all kinds of texts (with all kinds of audience, purpose, structure and authority, questioning each in turn).

Throughout, papers questioned the very dichotomies of the title – Reading : Writing/ Minds : Bodies / Medicine: Humanities…… and, importantly, I would add: Research : Practice.

What was everywhere evident and truly inspiring was the reflective attitude to the participants’ ‘home’ discipline when used on an interdisciplinary problem. Bringing together complementary discrete Humanities research traditions and [medical, historical] practice-based inquiry serves so vitally and importantly to question the purposes as well as research approach of those disciplines.

For ‘Medieval narratives offer alternative perspectives for hearing and mental health which can generate rich and fruitful dialogues with modern accounts’ concluded Bonnie Millar (University of Nottingham) in ‘Dissolving Boundaries: Medieval and Modern Perspectives on Hearing’.

This fascinating study added considerably to the awareness-generating and boundary-questioning, patient experiences collective www.hearing-voices.org. (Their ‘mission statement’ declares: ‘Our reputation is growing as the limitations of a solely medical approach to voices become better known. Psychiatry traditionally refers to hearing voices as ‘auditory hallucinations’ but research shows that there are many explanations for hearing voices…’;their ‘position paper’ opposes the all defining American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM V , saying ‘Rather than seeing voices, visions and extreme states as symptoms of an underlying illness, we believe it is helpful to view them as meaningful experiences.’)

Dr Millar argued that ‘In both medieval self-narratives and fictional stories hearing and authority can be intrinsically linked. The sensory components of these women’s visions have spawned a number of alternative retrospective modern medical diagnoses ranging from migraine attacks, neurosis, and bipolar disorder to temporal lobe epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome. However, this paper will examine how through auditory metamorphosis Teresa de Cartagena, a fifteenth-century nun … depicts her acquired profound deafness as a virtue… Nonnormative hearing patterns and auditory transformations are indicative of virtue, communication with the divine or female authority. Medieval narratives offer alternative perspectives for hearing and mental health which can generate rich and fruitful dialogues with modern accounts.’

Indeed, in signalling its intention to question all the boundaries, the conference started with considering the abject those ‘freaks’ of nature that challenge the boundaries between life and death; flesh and spirit, self and other – conjoined twins (Joseph Holloway, University of Exeter: ‘Death Infecting Life: Conjoined Twins, Personal Identity & the Abject’).

Inter-disciplinary Epistemology and Meaning making

The immediate problem is to gather ‘evidence’ about mental states which modern medicine categorise differently; states whose causes, definitions and implications are described and ascribed very differently at different periods. The result is not just to document changing attitudes to & treatments of, eg, ‘lunacy’ (As, importantly, ‘Robert Goemans and Rebecca Goddard, University of Lincoln, on ‘Madness, Gender, and Class: The Construction of Identity and Experiences in the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum 1820-1840’: they showed how their research data allows an analysis of how restraint was applied differently to different groups, so indicating how late Georgian society constructed gender, class, and madness.)

But, more, by reflecting on the context to question the very process of cultural definition and framings of the category – are those with ‘melancholy’ ‘mad, bad or sad’?

This question demanded intercultural reading and brought surprising sympathies: Natalie Calder, Queen’s University Belfast, in ‘“all swetnes & deuocion is taken from me’: Remedying Spiritual Despair in Late Medieval England’ juxtaposed two texts written at either end of the ‘long’ fifteenth century in an examination of the ways in which such spiritual guides addressed despair and extreme mental distress in their audiences. And which ‘provide a sophisticated and sensitive means of addressing issues of mental illness among their audiences that is recognised almost as an expected state of being amongst those readers who sought to obtain a deeper, cognitive connection with God.’ The paper outlined the (perhaps surprisingly) sympathetic approaches each writer has towards his reader who is struggling to reconcile their extreme doubts and self-criticism with their faith. Linking the mental afflictions of unstable belief with other, more traditional examples of emotional and physical ailment, the texts seek to remedy what could be described (committing the cardinal sin of anachronism!) as depression within their audiences.

‘the cardinal sin of anachronism’

In fact, each and every speaker was exemplary in their understanding of the constructedness of the terms they were using. And this was not the least of the important implications of the conference: that ‘melancholy’, for instance, and indeed mental illness, is identified and evaluated multifacetedly across time and across cultures.

Starting with the keynote, Chantelle Saville, University of Auckland, ‘Picturing Pigritia in Late Medieval Moral Psychology’, each speaker was clear they were dealing with the representation as well as the embedding of terms ‘reading and writing’ ‘minds and bodies’.

From the problematics of ‘attempting to access the genuine mood, emotions and priorities’ from Medieval Last Wills and Testaments’ (Esther Lewis, University of Nottingham) to adumbrating and distinguishing contemporary definitions – Jonathan Coope, University of Nottingham, ‘On Eco-psychiatry and Historiography: Exploring Transcultural Mental Health Narratives through the Lens of Nature-connectedness “Theory” the importance and problematics of using kaleidoscopic and multidimensional as well as multidisciplinary lenses were demonstrated.

Addressing Melancholy

The delight, challenge and sometimes despair of real interdisciplinary work is when a term like ‘melancholy’ ‘depression’ ‘trauma and PTSD’ is simultaneously illuminated & contested. This is a vital challenge to the [continuously varied] baseline understandings of the now 5 editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

So I particularly valued the conference’s central concern with the portrayal (sic) of ‘melancholy’ – the medieval, Elizabethan and indeed Greco-Roman humoral disturbance.

Kevin Binfield and Kaley Owens, Murray State University discussed Mary Rawes’ ‘Address to Melancholy’, which ‘became a fixture in the portrayal of melancholy’. During her first confinement in 1808 in The Retreat at York, labouring under ‘a considerable degree of active mania’, she immediately wrote twelve quatrains. They argued that as an expression, the ‘Address’ provides a naked glance into Rawes’ psychological condition, diagnosed with ‘melancholia and hysterical mania’; that as a poem, it draws upon and varies conventions of literary form and the lexicon of melancholy. They concluded, significantly for the whole debate, that ‘the tensions between raw self-account and literary conventions as well as the question of authenticity that must arise in reading an account of depression written in a manic phase.’

This raises the continuously central issue of the question of identity: self and other representations of mental [in]stability. In ‘Margaret Cavendish and the Problem of Melancholy’, Molly Bridges (University of Birmingham) discussed Margaret Cavendish’s ‘eccentricity’, ‘madness’, diagnosis of melancholy. As her condition was corporeal, the question is raised then as now of the ‘psycho-somatic’; also the ‘parallel tradition that endowed the genial melancholic with a special capacity for creative brilliance’.

Similarly, Tim Craven (University of Edinburgh) in ‘The Metaphorical Representation of the Mind and Emotional Dysfunction in the Poetry of Anne Sexton’(1950s) examined how Sexton constructs and utilises metaphor to evoke the mind in extremis. Using close readings of individual examples, applying the analytical framework of cognitive poetics, and exploring the socio-medical context reflected in their creation he provided a model of literary-socio-medical analysis.

Representing/Writing mental illness

The analytical methodology of narratology deployed in ‘writing mental illness’ was both illuminatingly explored and critiqued by Ralph Höger (Universität Heidelberg): ‘Writing the psychiatric patient. A narratological approach to historical patient records’. He argued that as narratological analyses of this complex source material are still rare, the patient in doctors’ notes appears as a heavily fictionalised character; a literary unit first dissected by the implicit organisational laws of the asylum and then rearranged in the records according to cultural, scientific, and clinical criteria.

All these fascinating accounts raise the central question of Representation. Eg, Fiona Johnstone (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Curating Mental Illness: Mr. A Moves in Mysterious Ways’ asked ‘Can exhibitions actively inform or improve experiences of mental health, rather than merely historicizing or critiquing them?’

And Kevin Harvey, Gavin Brookes and Dr Neil Chadborn (all University of Nottingham) raised the central contemporary question of multimodal discourse representation: ‘“Our Biggest Killer”[?]: Multimodal Discourse Representations of Dementia in the British Media’.

Civil war poetry & prose structuring (? expressing? revealing?) ‘PTSD’

Another ‘anachronistic’ term was fascinatingly explored by Erin Peters (University of Gloucestershire): ‘“Suddaine cures are commonly unsound”: Seventeenth-century Narrative Therapies’. In examining the public narration of psychological disability brought on by the lingering effects of combat trauma and memories of fear among soldiers and civilians during and after the English Civil Wars, she argued that ‘alongside the official and authorised interpretation of disability as a physical impairment, a popular understanding of the disabling and disfiguring nature of psychological damage developed. While conventional histories of psychiatry depict the medieval and early modern periods as dominated by demonological ideas about mental illness [mad as devilishly bad] and treatment of the afflicted as cruel and inhumane, the construction and dissemination, in popular print, of psychological disability theories and narratives before, during, and after the wars reveal that this period saw a growth of interest in the conceptualisation of psychological damage that was removed from ideas of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

I was particularly interested in what seemed to be historical cases of ‘narrative therapy’ – of using the structuring activity of poetry to give shape to and control over a condition that is today diagnosed but not fully understood – PTSD. Demonstrating ‘the curative methods by which people attempted to treat invisible wounds and arguing that contemporary responses to the disabling nature of psychological trauma demonstrate a cognizance of the therapeutic value of attempting to construct publically available trauma narratives’.

Therapy – as restorying the self

This chimed with a concern in several of the presentations with arts therapies: eg Dramatherapy which ‘provides an unspoken voice for the client’s feelings to be expressed in a manner that is personally revealing, socially acceptable, culturally accessible and therapeutically constructive. Clients can represent mental health issues, reconstruct and link together past and present experiences to build an emotional life narrative, and construct a new way forward for the future. Through dramatherapy the problems that the children face can be located back within the story of their parent, rather than cast within the children themselves. Dramatherapy becomes a way to “re-story” themselves in the way they need, be it to re-cast themselves as the heroes of their own story or to lament the complicated loss of a parent’s presence.

Reflective inter-disciplinary and inter-domain hermeneutic strategies

Throughout, the richness of the material discussed and the confident deployment of hermeneutic strategies was itself exemplary and inspiring, as was the tact (difficult and important) in which terms like ‘melancholy’ were deployed.

For the impossible to draw Venn diagram of mental illness covers:

a) ‘diagnosis’- biomedical model;

b) ‘mad, bad, sad’ – the cultural construction and definition of the cause of ‘abnormal’ mental states and

c) ‘memetic’- the popular adoption and influential circulation of representations of models of, eg, the ‘hysteric’ or ‘melancholic’.

One paper was exemplary – sic – in managing to analyse a problem through these tripartite lenses.I quote:

Moira Hansen (University of Glasgow): ‘“O wad some pow’r the gift tae gie us”: Redefining the Melancholy of Robert Burns’.

‘Robert Burns, celebrated at home and abroad as the ‘heav’n-taught ploughman’ who gave a voice to the ordinary man, is probably as well-known for his tempestuous personal history as he is for his poetry and songs. In the 220 years since the poet’s premature death at the age of 37, his flaws and failings have been notoriously exaggerated and misrepresented as artefacts of excessive alcohol consumption or his temperamental poetic genius. Burns, however, has his own insights to offer; his personal correspondence includes regular references to episodes of melancholy, at times rendering the poet bed-ridden and unable to work, let alone capable of any creative output. Derived from on-going research exploring Burns’s mental health, a much-neglected aspect of the poet’s biography, this paper will draw on the poet’s letters and commonplace books to explore his understanding of and relationship with his melancholy. It will go on to illustrate how literary analysis of Burns’s writings within the context of a modern psychiatric framework is clarifying the nature of that melancholy, indicating it is not the consequence of an alcohol addiction or the artificial construction of a poetic persona, but evidence of an identifiable mood disorder as defined by clinical diagnostic criteria, representing a significant development of our understanding of the influences affecting the personal and creative life of Scotland’s national Bard’.

And, I would add a significant development of our understanding of the influences affecting the personal and creative self, the identification of the self with prevailing constructions and evaluation of mental states, of the boundaries and interconnections of mind, self and body, of the varying norms drawn by society beating the bounds of the acceptable and the moral and not least, questioning the ‘identification of mood disorder’ and the ‘definition by [culturally and historically various] clinical diagnostic criteria’.

The medical and psychiatric profession needs the challenge of the multifaceted, inter-domain as well as interdisciplinary Humanities research so evident throughout this conference, in order to challenge the ‘algorithmic’ approach to diagnosis, differentiation and discrimination of mental distress and illness.

The organisers wanted to thank the AHRC, Midlands 3 Cities, and the University of Nottingham’s School of English for their support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENGLISH SHARED FUTURES CONF.NEWCASTLE 5TH-7TH JULY

http://www.englishsharedfutures.uk/

‘THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, LANGUAGE AND CREATIVE WRITING IS AN IMPORTANT AND DYNAMIC ENTERPRISE.

We will celebrate the discipline’s intellectual strength, diversity and creativity and explore its futures in the nations of the UK and across the world.’

Wednesday 5th July

10.30 – 12.15  Registration

11.30 – 12.30 English Association Welcoming/Mentoring Session

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Advocating and Promoting English Studies (Early Career Academics – ECA)
  2. B/Orders of Standard English: Registering Linguistic Difference in the Academic Writing Classroom
  3. Investigating English: Translating Linguistic Research for the Secondary English Classroom
  4. Digital Humanities: GIS and English Studies
  5. Book Parts: Flash Panel
  6. HEA Roundtable: Who We Are
  7. Place Writing: People, Partnerships and Pedagogy; or Impact, Exchange and Policy
  8. Teaching 21st Century Genre
  9. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Archiving for the Future (Contemporary Women’s Writing Association – CWWA)
  10. Women Who Dare (National Association of Writers in Education – NAWE)
  11. Feminist Pedagogies, Feminist Classrooms
  12. Beyond Story – An Examination of the ‘Authentic’ in Fiction and Poetry
  13. Migration and Borders

2.00 – 3.15 English: The Journal of the English Association presents the Plenary Panel – Literary Biography: Andrew Hadfield, Kathryn Hughes, Hermione Lee

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. University English (UE) presents The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Helen Mort
  3. Social Justice and Literature
  4. Making it New: On the Future of Modernist Studies British Association for Modernist Studies – BAMS)
  5. Teaching Genre Fiction Writing (NAWE)
  6. The Concept of Storyworld in Relation to the Impact of New Technology on Writing Practices
  7. HEA Teaching Surgery
  8. Useless Articles: English and Instrumentalism
  9. Knowledge About Language and Linguistics in the Classroom
  10. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Apocalyptic Narratives (CWWA)
  11. Contemporary British Tragedy / Symptoms at the Surface: On Postcolonial Critical Reading / Immersive Poetics
  12. Poetics of Feminism
  13. Literary Societies in Action: Creativity, Engagement and Learning

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. University English (UE) presents The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Elleke Boehmer
  3. Publishing Roundtable (ECA)
  4. Making it New is the Oldest Trick in the Book: On Current Modernist Studies (BAMS)
  5. Contemporary Critical Perspectives: Looking Back, Moving Forward
  6. Reshaping Reality: Creative Work in Progress
  7. Creative Work (CWWA)
  8. ‘trans-‘
  9. Neo-Victorian Mortalities
  10. Gender, Sexuality and (Un)doing English
  11. Goldsmiths’ Writers

6.15 – 7.30 Conference Drinks Reception in association with Palgrave, with the launch of Ben Knights’ Pedagogic Criticism (2017)

Thursday 6th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. The Borders of Irish Literature (British Association for Irish Studies – BAIS)
  2. Virtual Collegiality: Putting the ‘Social’ Back into Social Media (CWWA)
  3. Flight Paths in English Studies: Searching for Lines of Consistency in Learner Activity from 11 to Postgraduate (and Beyond
  4. Open Voice Session (ECA)
  5. Cross-Pollination: Music, Railways, Publications and Productions
  6. ‘The Past is My Present to Your Future’: Capitalizing on the Linguistic Heritage of the North East
  7. After Brexit: Life without Erasmus (NAWE)
  8. Distance Learning: default or fault?
  9. Teaching Excellence Framework Workshop (HEA)
  10. Delivering English: a roundtable of subject leads and department heads
  11. Renaissance Outreach (Society for Renaissance Studies – SRS)
  12. Closed Circles? English Literature and the Return of Canonical Exclusivity
  13. Why Shakespeare Now? (British Shakespeare Association – BSA)
  14. Literature and Cultural Politics in the Long Eighteenth Century

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. Writing Shared Futures:  African American Literature and Racialisation (British Association for American Studies – BAAS)
  2. Contemporary Women’s Writing and Book Publication Workshop (CWWA)
  3. Towards a Theory of Poetry Writing Development
  4. Close Reading and Queer Reputation-Building
  5. At the Borders of Globalisation
  6. Tomorrow’s English Today
  7. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job: Preparing Creative Writing Graduates for Lifelong Careers (NAWE)
  8. Creative Writing, Knowledge and Emancipatory Strategies
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Neo-Victorians (British Association for Victorian Studies – BAVS)
  10. PhD Network: Alternative Futures: 70/30 (NAWE)
  11. Audio-Visual Romanticism
  12. Contemporary Fiction, Method, Manifesto: Towards a Response
  13. Sharing Shakespeare’s Language (BSA)
  14. Grassroot Feminist Novels of Sixties England / Celebrity Culture and Corruption in the Indian Graphic Novel Legends of Halahala / John Donne

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Literature, Science and Inbetween (British Society for Literature and Science BSLS)
  2. Publishing and Contemporary Women’s Writing Workshop (CWWA)
  3. From A Level to HE: Reading
  4. PhD Students Teaching Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. On Reflection: Voice and Medium in the Reflective Component of Practice-Led Research
  6. Competence Modelling and English Literature
  7. Ethics in Creative Writing and Life Research (NAWE)
  8. Academics and Engaged Publics (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Digital Curation (BAVS)
  10. Global Futures
  11. Romanticism, Mutability and Mobilite
  12. Poetry Reading by US, UK and Australian Poets (NAWE)
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities I

2.00 – 3.15 Plenary – Language and the Problem of Female Authority, Deborah Cameron

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Defining the Contemporary (Contemporary Studies Network)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: John Mullan
  3. From A Level to HE: Writing
  4. Barriers to Access (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. Creative Writing in Higher Education
  6. Public Linguistics and Impact
  7. Poetry: Form and Experiment Workshop (NAWE)
  8. Renaissance Literature Beyond the Canon (SRS)
  9. Sharing Pedagogies Integrating English project and Poetics and Linguistics Association
  10. Literature and the New Cognitive Science
  11. Romanticism and the Stigmatised: Transnationalism, Migration and Trauma
  12. The Environmental Humanities: Changing Ecologies, Persistence and Possibility
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities II
  14. Employability and English Studies

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. HE for Our Time (Institute of English Studies – IES)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Dinah Birch
  3. The Living Archive: Archives and Contemporary Poetry
  4. REF for PhDs and Early Career Academics (ECA)
  5. ECAs and PhDs in an Age of Anxiety (ECA)
  6. Englishes: Writing and Thinking in Multiple Voices
  7. Harold Rosen Lecture
  8. Sharing Futures Across Primary, Secondary and University Education (BSA)
  9. What Do We Do When We Analyse Texts? (Poetics and Linguistics Association)
  10. Divided by a Common Language: Creative Writing Discourse in the US, UK and Australia (NAWE)
  11. Romantic Liminology: A Roundtable Discussion
  12. The Environmental Humanities: The Interdependent Present
  13. Getting Ready for ‘The Modernist Party as Pedagogy’: A Critique of Role-Play in the Teaching of Modernism
  14. Shakespearean Futures 400+

Friday 7th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. HEA Fellowship Workshop
  2. Shared Subject Knowledge? English Across School, University, and PGCE
  3. The Past, Present and Future of Postcolonial Literary Studies
  4. BAME Roundtable (ECA)
  5. Paper Nations: Building a Creative nation for Young Writers (NAWE)
  6. Writing Workshop: The Poem as Witness: War and its Aftermath
  7. Sexual Harrassment
  8. What is the Industry Standard for Digital Research in English?
  9. Epic Transformation? Developing the English Curriculum at University
  10. Anglo-Saxon Futures I
  11. Literature in Britain Today: Findings of a National Opinion Poll (Royal Society of Literature)
  12. Researching Living Writers
  13. Renaissance Literature: New Pedagogies (SRS)
  14. Wild Laughter: Performing Life/Staging Biography

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. External Examining and Academic Standards: seeking greater consistency (HEA)
  2. Teaching Through Imitation
  3. Career Development Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory I
  5. Shared Responsibility: Auto/Biography and the Ethics of Representation
  6. Contemporary British and American Poetics: the Trans-Atlantic Avant-Garde (Centre for Contemporary Poetry)
  7. Broadcasting English
  8. Englishes Online
  9. Anglo-Saxon Futures II
  10. Beyond the East/West Divide: Bangladesh as Travelling Culture in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane
  11. English Studies and Careers: Opening a Conversation
  12. Renaissance Literature: New Perspectives (SRS)
  13. National Literatures and New ‘Englishes’: Writing from Wales

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. How to Grow an English Student (Common English Forum)
  2. Academics in the Classroom: How Can Universities Deliver English Outreach for Schools
  3. The Future of English Studies I: Periodisation (ECA)
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory II
  5. How Can Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes Support People to Improve their Mental Health
  6. Reflections on Time and Place: the Creative Writing PhD in Historical Fiction
  7. Hometowns and Influences (NAWE)
  8. Literary Research and Teaching in the Age of DH
  9. Literary Criticism in an Age of Radical Politics
  10. Awake and Present: a roundtable on why contemporary literary studies matters (British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies)
  11. Stella Benson and I Pose / Ellen Terry and the Archives
  12. Reading (IES)
  13. Writing (out of) Wales

2.00 – 3.15 The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society ALCS presents the Plenary – Creative Writing, Bernardine Evaristo

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Diversity in Teaching and Learning (NAWE)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Marina Warner
  3. The Future of English Studies II: English Studies in Ruins? (ECA)
  4. CWWA Meeting
  5. Story as Medicine: Creative Writing Workshop
  6. Creativity and Research in the 21st Century (NAWE)
  7. Crossing Borders in the Nineteenth Century: Genre and Time
  8. Across the Great Divide: the Scientific Humanities and the Future of the Discipline
  9. Transnational Scholarship and the Digital Edition
  10. Difficult Identities: How the Academy and Literature Must Do Justice to their Own Complexity
  11. Music as Literature, Literature as Music
  12. Scholarly Editing in the 21st Century

5.00 – 6.15 Plenary – Martin Luther King in Newcastle, Brian Ward

The Future of Aural Skills in Universities and Conservatoires

by Paul Fleet,

AHHE Associate Editor for Music

Hello again.  My first blog highlighted particular upcoming music conferences, and in keeping with this I wanted to report to you my thoughts from a recent Aural Skills Pedagogy Symposium that was held on 7th April 2017 at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Colleagues from Universities and Conservatories from the UK, Europe, and North America came together at this one-day symposium to present and listen to papers under the themes of how we teach, assess, use technology, and embed aural skills. A full listing of the papers and their presenters can be found at http://www.ram.ac.uk/research/research-events/aural-skills-pedagogy-symposium.

All delegates (regardless of whether they were from a University or Conservatory) recognised that one of the biggest difficulties facing educators of aural skills is that the topic is often side-lined in music education itself.  A typical example many will recognise is when the student informs you of their prior ABRSM practical exam preparation: they spent months on the scales and pieces, and only two weeks before the exam did their tutor run through some examples regarding the aural part of the assessment.  It was felt that aural skills should not be separate but integral to the training of musicianship.  This may seem obvious but it is often not the case in our curricula, much to the disadvantage of our students.  For an interesting empirical study on the advantages of singing through a melody before playing it on an instrument see Chie Ohsawa (2009) ‘The Effect of Singing the Melody in the Practice of the Piano’ https://www.academia.edu/4516450/The_Effect_of_Singing_the_Melody_in_the_Practice_of_the_Piano

We similarly collectively recognised at the symposium that we should be completely transparent in our assessment of aural skills; making sure that we put the theory of the skill firmly within the place of its practice.  To assess transcription skills in an intangible space (such as a request to the student to write down a string of non-sequential intervals) is to send them on a fool’s errand that is neither useful in the real world (I can happily state that in my professional life I have never had to work out a string of intervals that was not grounded in a melodic or harmonic context) nor to the understanding of the music itself (Kent Cleland, Jena Root, and Simon Parkin all spent time within their papers showing how the association of the tonal-familiar was the key to progression in the acquisition of complex listening skills).

For someone like myself who is active in the field of embodied music theory strategies (watch out for my article ‘Rethinking the Guidonian Hand for twenty-first century Musicians’ in the second issue (first volume) of the Journal of Popular Music Education this July) what became apparent was the distinction between those who Kodály and those who Kodon’t [sic].  It would have been a surprise to have been at a conference on aural skills and not have the Kodály method mentioned.  However, it was interesting to hear that whilst the aforementioned distinction I made (somewhat in jest) is in place, it is not as clear cut as those who have undertaken the specific solfège training and those who have not.  There are various ideas and techniques that use the body without instrument to ‘play’ the sound being heard (for example, the idea of air guitar) and thus check and reinforce the connection.  It is hoped that many of these ideas will form articles in a dedicated issue of a targeted journal for wider dissemination.

One of the most reassuring pieces of information emerging from the day, and particularly for those of use who do not have perfect / absolute pitch, is that the golden arrow of aural accuracy is not something that stays with that person for the whole of their life.  Intriguingly, and as Gary S. Karpinski pointed out, those with perfect pitch discover that their recognition begins to be ‘out’ by an increasing distance from middle-age onwards (from about a semitone rising to a minor third higher than that of the sounded pitch).  If ever there was a convincing argument for why all musicians should undertake regular aural skills training it is that the skills of relative pitch can be deployed when the gift of perfect pitch is lost.

The value of going to conferences is known and clear but it is often worth reminding ourselves of this fact as the pressures of academic life invite us to commit more time to internal responsibilities and activities.  To help, might I remind us all of the JISC Musicology list that can deliver details of such conferences, requests for papers, and so on straight to your inbox and help promote discussion across the musicology community.  If you haven’t already joined then all you need to do is send the one line: ‘join musicology-all firstname lastname’ to mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk to begin the interaction.

Until soon, Paul

AHHE Associate Editor for Music

@DrPaulFleet

 

 

 

Translating Theatre: an update by Margherita Laera and Flora Pitrolo

by Margherita Laera and Flora Pitrolo, University of Kent

 

A few months ago Jan Parker wrote a blog [TRANSLATING THEATRE: ‘FOREIGNISATION’ ON STAGE] about our AHRC-sponsored project entitled ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness’, following her attendance of our symposium on theatre translation in October 2016. The project asks how theatre in translation can communicate linguistic and cultural difference without flattening it or over-domesticating it. A video gallery from the symposium is visible here

The project has come a long way since our symposium and since Jan Parker’s reflections. Having edited our project documentary (https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=at8SsTI9I3E) we are now re-imagining our summer workshop series as an interactive archive, forthcoming on www.translatingtheatre.com. We have also begun work on our special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance (due to be published in the summer of 2018), which allows the team of scholars and translators who took part in the initial phase of the project to reflect more deeply and more carefully on the experiences of attempting strategies of ‘foreignisation’ on stage.

‘Foreignisation’ is not a binary term in clear-cut opposition to the term ‘domestication’. In fact, both terms encompass a range of possibilities performed through, within and contextually to translation, which are ascribable to much more than purely discursive strategies. The questions we posed – which regarded how Venuti’s ideas on ‘foreignisation’ might be applicable in and useful to theatre and performance – were carefully addressed beyond the sphere of the textual, stretching into choice of text, casting, acting techniques, accents and other aspects of performance and of its aesthetic and cultural framing. We deliberately chose texts from Spain, France and Poland that would sit on the margins of both the translated corpus from those languages into English, and that would challenge standard practices in contemporary London theatre (more on this here).

The project’s directors and performers attempted to purposefully re-elaborate their process design, their acting techniques, and their very style of performance in order to invent something other to what they are used to but also other to their received ideas of ‘Spain’, ‘France’, ‘Poland’. In every step of the process we questioned defaults, stereotypes and go-to positions in order to discover whether we could perform an ‘Other’ space – the space we called ‘translation’ and the space we also called ‘the theatre’ – that could exist outside of the discursive and imaginary limits implicit in the mere fact of decoding out of one linguistic and cultural system and recoding into another.

Therefore the project’s first phase responded precisely to what Parker singles out as ‘research which engages with all the interrelations of the theatre studio as a multifaceted translation “exploratorium”’. We attempted to ‘test’ the idea of ‘foreignisation’ where it had seldom been tested before, namely in theatrical texts and theatrical practice: as Parker rightly points out, ‘“effect/affect/identification” in the theatre work more complexly than delivering an awareness’, and indeed we deployed the theatre as a medium in order to transfer the ‘awareness’ of the other into the sphere of embodied knowledge – the knowledge of the rehearsal room – where encounters and experiences are performed rather than explored through conjecture only.

To employ a methodology such as practice-as-research is to willfully push at something that appears obscure, and to accept the imperfect and exploratory nature of that searching; it is also to keep oneself open to finding something other than what one might have expected or planned for, and to accept that the process will probably lead to more questions than answers. Many of the questions we uncovered in the rehearsal room address the very core of what it is to perform, and not only of what it is to perform a translation: in this sense, a paradigm borrowed from translation studies is having a second life in theatre studies in our current research, and we are still working on singling out how the two disciplines, crafts and ways of knowing can productively both enrich and destabilise each other.

The questions we are asking now have to do with performative strategies that might complicate, enrich and supplement discursive and non-discursive strategies. How can performance and mise en scène communicate linguistic and cultural difference to a live audience? The answer to these questions clearly depends on the context in which one is performing and spectating. We are aware that we are asking that question in London in 2017 and our chosen strategies might not apply to other contexts. The project’s special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance seeks to further investigate these matters, which have generated – and we hope will continue to generate – a rich conversation across fields.

Nothing to see here

Karen J Leader

(Art History class at Mount Holyoke)

 

The photograph reproduced above drives me bonkers. Every time I see it, I have a conniption. Why, you might ask. It seems innocuous; playful and inoffensive. A cute youngish looking man mugs for the camera while a group of adoring young women watch him and smile. Judging from the surroundings they appear to be in a museum, or gallery. But rather than looking at art, he is clowning and they are giggling.

It is not just the image that sends me into paroxysms, it is the use to which it was put. In 2014, then-President of the United States Barack Obama took his turn taking a potshot at the humanities, choosing art history as his target. His comment predictably drew the ire of academic types, who did what they do best, and wrote well-crafted responses. (Full disclosure, I was among them, with my colleague Amy K. Hamlin. You can read it here.)

Scott Jaschik, the editor of Inside Higher Ed wrote a perfectly respectable example of such a riposte, complete with quotes from experts. A worthy entry into the debate, it generated quite a comment thread, and was shared on social media. The article was illustrated with that stupid image. Because it was shared, the image kept popping up, taunting me with its glib posing.

Why on earth was this utterly unserious image selected by a picture editor, or perhaps by the author himself, as a good choice to accompany an article trying to argue for the value of art history? (Full disclosure, I did not ask the author, because I didn’t want to risk yelling at him, e-mail style: what were you thinking dude?!)

The image infuriates me in part because it says nothing about crucial skills of discernment, critical thinking, or cultural and historical specificity that are the hallmarks of art historical study. In fact the works of art huddle in the background (a figure in one of them seems to stare back with the same disapproval I’m expressing here. So does one of the students, disgusted with the shenanigans and ready to look at some art already.)

This photograph does more than convey a lack of seriousness or rigor in an art history class’s confrontation with works of art. It actually reinforces a damning stereotype of the discipline: that it is elitist, only suitable for posh girls, here offered by central casting from the campus of Mount Holyoke. Reinforces, I say, because the stereotype is not only evergreen, but has enjoyed a resurgence. Google “art history posh.” I’ll wait.

The class argument, insisting that the humanities disciplines must be available to all, is crucial in debates around higher education of course. Thankfully, it has been made by some very smart people, and will be the subject of a future post.

For now, can I just suggest that picture editors, when choosing which image will best illustrate an article, ask an art historian for heaven’s sake?

 

#ArtHistoryEngaged

Author Biography

Karen J. Leader is Associate Professor of Art History, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University. Her activities on behalf of art history and the humanities can be found here. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @proftinkerbell.

 

 

 

 

‘Intercultural university models for the 21st century’- Editor’s introduction

WINDS OF THE SOUTH

Intercultural university models for the 21st century

By Manuela Guillerne, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra

Winds of change are whistling through social, political and cultural institutions, all over the world, and universities in particular. It may well be said that in the 21st century these have been in the eye of the hurricane since they had unquestionably become the locus of knowledge par excellence of modern nation-states and, therefore, where the national elite of rulers was formed, the national scientific and cultural references of the past, present and the future, were devised, refined, delivered and finally where national identity was energized. In sum, in global times, the University is reflecting the crisis of the Nation-State.

Europe started this century with the launching of the Bologna process, which aimed “to create a coherent and cohesive European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010”, and it seemed that, once completed, the scene would have been set up and would remain stable for quite some time. In fact, it fulfilled, within the deadline, its main objectives: – “adopt a system of easily readable and comparable degrees; adopt a system with two main cycles (undergraduate/graduate); establish a system of credits (ECTS); promote mobility by overcoming legal recognition and administrative obstacles; promote European co-operation in quality assurance; promote a European dimension in higher education”. These accomplishments have certainly brought innumerous benefits for higher education in the name of its internationalization and in the form of networking. Furthermore, it broke down innumerous frontiers and if, on the one hand, it homogenized often carelessly of national epistemological traditions, cultural uses and local relevance, on the other hand, it opened up a wide horizon that started to long for farther and away from Europe. In addition, the design and implementation of an EHEA and the development of the idea of a “knowledge economy” has carefully been observed by the governments of other regions in the world and inspired the creation of some governmental and non-governmental policies, e. g. in Latin America. The mirror-like reflecting images between universities in Europe and in the Americas offer an interesting field for colonial and postcolonial analysis.

The universities which started in the Americas in colonial times were often organizations which transplanted the models from their mother institutions in Europe, formerly under the umbrella of the Church and later of the Nation-State. Despite its national symbolism and identity, the University has been described by several authors as a “colonial” institution per se both in its essence and history and, in fact, university models expanded from the North to the South, both within Europe and from Europe to overseas. However, it should not be ignored the a posteriori reverse influence from North America to Europe (North-North) and nonetheless the currently starting influence from South America to Europe (South-North). This justifies the interest that this special issue on “Winds from the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century” is thought to raise among the AHHE readers. Furthermore, globalization has had an impact in the role, life and image of universities worldwide, which has been described as a loss of their identity, more specifically of their cultural and national ethnic identity, in some cases, their tradition. This is why the experience of the intercultural/indigenous universities is worth considering today because they are adequately considered to be ethnically grounded.

AHHE Special Issue Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century

Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century
Editors: Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz

 

Introduction – Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century by Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz

This issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education focuses on innovative initiatives which are emerging in different Latin-American university contexts as well as a few other experiments in traditionally established universities. Sometimes these initiatives are newly created higher education institutions that are rooted inside indigenous regions, in other cases conventional universities start to “interculturalize” their student population, their teaching staff, or even their curricular contents and methods. Despite certain criticisms, community leaders frequently claim and celebrate the appearance of these new higher education opportunities as part of a strategy of empowering ethnic actors of indigenous or afro-descendant origin.

Articles

Interview with Boaventura de Sousa Santos
by Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz

Local resignifications of transnational discourses in intercultural higher education: The case of the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural in Mexico                                                                                                   by Laura Selene Mateos Cortés Gunther Dietz

Is the interculturalisation of Chile’s universities a real possibility?
by Guillermo Williamson

Displacement and revitalization of the Nahuatl language in the High Mountains of Veracruz, Mexico
by Carlos O Sandoval Arenas

Knowing the other/other ways of knowing: Indigenous feminism, testimonial, and anti-globalization street discourse
by Isabel Dulfano

Llama herders and urban elites: Interdisciplinary readings of early colonial narratives in the Americas
by Christine D Beaule, Benito Quintana

Intercultural doctoral supervision: The centrality of place, time and other forms of knowledge
by Catherine Manathunga

English: Shared Futures conference programme 5th-7th July

 

English: Shared Futures Conference

THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, LANGUAGE AND CREATIVE WRITING IS AN IMPORTANT AND DYNAMIC ENTERPRISE.

‘We will celebrate the discipline’s intellectual strength, diversity and creativity and explore its futures in the nations of the UK and across the world.’ http://www.englishsharedfutures.uk/

Organized by the English Association and University English and supported by the National Association of Writers in Education, the Institute of English Studies and the Higher Education Academy.

Wednesday 5th July

11.30 – 12.15  Registration

11.30 – 12.30 English Association Welcoming/Mentoring Session

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Shakespearean Futures 400+
  2. Advocating and Promoting English Studies (Early Career Academics – ECA)
  3. B/Orders of Standard English: Registering Linguistic Difference in the Academic Writing Classroom
  4. Investigating English: Translating Linguistic Research for the Secondary English Classroom
  5. Digital Humanities: GIS and English Studies
  6. Book Parts: Flash Panel
  7. HEA Roundtable: Who We Are
  8. Place Writing: People, Partnerships and Pedagogy; or Impact, Exchange and Policy
  9. Teaching 21st Century Genre
  10. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Archiving for the Future (Contemporary Women’s Writing Association – CWWA}
  11. Women Who Dare (National Association of Writers in Education – NAWE)
  12. Feminist Pedagogies, Feminist Classrooms
  13. Beyond Story – An Examination of the ‘Authentic’ in Fiction and Poetry

2.00 – 3.15 Plenary – Literary Biography: Andrew Hadfield, Kathryn Hughes, Hermione Lee

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities (University English – UE)
  2. Literary Salon: Bernardine Evaristo
  3. Social Justice and Literature
  4. Making it New: On the Future of Modernist Studies British Association for Modernist Studies – BAMS)
  5. Teaching Genre Fiction Writing (NAWE)
  6. The Concept of Storyworld in Relation to the Impact of New Technology on Writing Practices
  7. HEA Teaching Surgery
  8. Useless Articles: English and Instrumentalism
  9. Knowledge About Language and Linguistics in the Classroom
  10. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Apocalyptic Narratives (CWWA)
  11. Contemporary British Tragedy / Symptoms at the Surface: On Postcolonial Critical Reading / Immersive Poetics
  12. Poetics of Feminism
  13. Literary Societies in Action: Creativity, Engagement and Learning

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities (UE)
  2. Literary Salon: Elleke Boehmer
  3. Publishing Roundtable (ECA)
  4. Making it New is the Oldest Trick in the Book: On Current Modernist Studies (BAMS)
  5. Readings from US and Australian Poets (NAWE)
  6. Contemporary Critical Perspectives: Looking Back, Moving Forward
  7. Reshaping Reality: Creative Work in Progress
  8. Eileen Myles and Mobilities of Form
  9. Creative Work (CWWA)
  10. ‘trans-‘
  11. Martin Luther King in Newcastle
  12. Gender, Sexuality and (Un)doing English
  13. Goldsmiths’ Writers

6.15 – 7.30 Drinks Reception

Thursday 6th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. The Borders of Irish Literature (British Association for Irish Studies – BAIS)
  2. Virtual Collegiality: Putting the ‘Social’ Back into Social Media (CWWA)
  3. Flight Paths in English Studies: Searching for Lines of Consistency in Learner Activity from 11 to Postgraduate (and Beyond
  4. Open Voice Session (ECA)
  5. Cross-Pollination: Music, Railways, Publications and Productions
  6. ‘The Past is My Present to Your Future’: Capitalizing on the Linguistic Heritage of the North East
  7. After Brexit: Life without Erasmus (NAWE)
  8. When you don’t have a choice: teaching CW for the Open College of the Arts without the benefits and dangers of workshops
  9. Teaching Excellence Framework Workshop (HEA)
  10. Delivering English: a roundtable of subject leads and department heads
  11. Renaissance Outreach (Society for Renaissance Studies – SRS)
  12. Closed Circles? English Literature and the Return of Canonical Exclusivity
  13. Why Shakespeare Now? (British Shakespeare Association – BSA)
  14. Literature and Cultural Politics in the Long Eighteenth Century

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. Writing Shared Futures:  African American Literature and Racialisation (British Association for American Studies – BAAS)
  2. Contemporary Women’s Writing and Book Publication Workshop (CWWA)
  3. Towards a Theory of Poetry Writing Development
  4. Close Reading and Queer Reputation-Building
  5. At the Borders of Globalisation
  6. Tomorrow’s English Today
  7. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job: Preparing Creative Writing Graduates for Lifelong Careers (NAWE)
  8. Creative Writing, Knowledge and Emancipatory Strategies
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Neo-Victorians (British Association for Victorian Studies – BAVS)
  10. PhD Network: Alternative Futures: 70/30 (NAWE)
  11. Audio-Visual Romanticism
  12. Contemporary Fiction, Method, Manifesto: Towards a Response
  13. Sharing Shakespeare’s Language (BSA)

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Literature, Science and Inbetween (British Society for Literature and Science BSLS)
  2. Publishing and Contemporary Women’s Writing Workshop (CWWA)
  3. From A Level to HE: Reading
  4. PhD Students Teaching Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. On Reflection: Voice and Medium in the Reflective Component of Practice-Led Research
  6. Competence Modelling and English Literature
  7. Ethics in Creative Writing and Life Research (NAWE)
  8. Academics and Engaged Publics (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Digital Curation (BAVS)
  10. Global Futures
  11. Romanticism, Mutability and Mobilite
  12. Poetry Reading by US, UK and Australian Poets (NAWE)
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities I
  14. CWWA meeting

2.00 – 3.15 Plenary – Language and the Problem of Female Authority, Deborah Cameron

3.30 – 4.45 Plenary Sessions

  1. Defining the Contemporary (Contemporary Studies Network)
  2. Literary Salon: John Mullan
  3. From A Level to HE: Writing
  4. Barriers to Access (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. Creative Writing in Higher Education
  6. Public Linguistics and Impact
  7. Poetry: Form and Experiment Workshop (NAWE)
  8. Renaissance Literature Beyond the Canon (SRS)
  9. Integrating English project and Poetics and Linguistics Association
  10. Literature and the New Cognitive Science
  11. Romanticism and the Stigmatised: Transnationalism, Migration and Trauma
  12. The Environmental Humanities: Changing Ecologies, Persistence and Possibility
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities II
  14. Employability and English Studies

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. HE for Our Time (Institute of English Studies – IES)
  2. Literary Salon: Dinah Birch
  3. The Living Archive: Archives and Contemporary Poetry
  4. REF for PhDs and Early Career Academics (ECA)
  5. ECAs and PhDs in an Age of Anxiety (ECA)
  6. Englishes: Writing and Thinking in Multiple Voices
  7. Grassroot Feminist Novels of Sixties England / Celebrity Culture and Corruption in the Indian Graphic Novel Legends of Halahala / John Donne
  8. Sharing Futures Across Primary, Secondary and University Education (BSA)
  9. What Do We Do When We Analyse Texts? (Poetics and Linguistics Association)
  10. Divided by a Common Language: Creative Writing Discourse in the US, UK and Australia (NAWE)
  11. Romantic Liminology: A Roundtable Discussion
  12. The Environmental Humanities: The Interdependent Present
  13. Getting Ready for ‘The Modernist Party as Pedagogy’: A Critique of Role-Play in the Teaching of Modernism
  14. Harold Rosen Lecture

Friday 7th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. HEA Fellowship Workshop
  2. Shared Subject Knowledge? English Across School, University, and PGCE
  3. The Past, Present and Future of Postcolonial Literary Studies
  4. BAME Roundtable (ECA)
  5. Paper Nations: Building a Creative nation for Young Writers (NAWE)
  6. Writing Workshop: The Poem as Witness: War and its Aftermath
  7. Sexual Harrassment
  8. What is the Industry Standard for Digital Research in English?
  9. Epic Transformation? Developing the English Curriculum at University
  10. Anglo-Saxon Futures I
  11. Neo-Victorian Mortalities
  12. Researching Living Writers
  13. Renaissance Literature: New Pedagogies (SRS)
  14. Wild Laughter: Performing Life/Staging Biography

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. External Examining/Calibration (HEA)
  2. Teaching Through Imitation
  3. Career Development Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory I
  5. Writing for Health (Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts)
  6. Shared Responsibility: Auto/Biography and the Ethics of Representation
  7. Contemporary British and American Poetics: the Trans-Atlantic Avant-Garde (Centre for Contemporary Poetry)
  8. Broadcasting English
  9. Englishes Online
  10. Anglo-Saxon Futures II
  11. Beyond the East/West Divide: Bangladesh as Travelling Culture in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane
  12. English Studies and Careers: Opening a Conversation
  13. Renaissance Literature: New Perspectives (SRS)
  14. National Literatures and New ‘Englishes’: Writing from Wales

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. How to Grow an English Student (Common English Forum)
  2. Academics in the Classroom: How Can Universities Deliver English Outreach for Schools
  3. The Future of English Studies I: Periodisation (ECA)
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory II
  5. How Can Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes Support People to Improve their Mental Health
  6. Reflections on Time and Place: the Creative Writing PhD in Historical Fiction
  7. Hometowns and Influences (NAWE)
  8. Literary Research and Teaching in the Age of DH
  9. Literary Criticism in an Age of Radical Politics
  10. Awake and Present: a roundtable on why contemporary literary studies matters (British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies)
  11. Migrant Stories
  12. Stella Benson and I Pose / Ellen Terry and the Archives
  13. Reading (IES)
  14. Writing (out of) Wales

2.00 – 3.15 Plenary – Creative Writing, Lemn Sissay

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Diversity in Teaching and Learning (NAWE)
  2. Literary Salon: Marina Warner
  3. The Future of English Studies II: English Studies in Ruins? (ECA)
  4. Story as Medicine: Creative Writing Workshop
  5. Creativity and Research in the 21st Century (NAWE)
  6. Crossing Borders in the Nineteenth Century: Genre and Time
  7. Across the Great Divide: the Scientific Humanities and the Future of Digital Discipline
  8. Transnational Scholarship and the Digital Edition
  9. Difficult Identities: How the Academy and Literature Must Do Justice to their Own Complexity
  10. Music as Literature, Literature as Music
  11. Scholarly Editing in the 21st Century
  12. Migration and Borders

Hail and Farewell from Jan Parker, AHHEjournal Editor-in-Chief 2001-2016

Hail and Farewell from Jan Parker, Editor-in-Chief 2001-2016; continuing Founding Chair of the international research group and network

Arts and Humanities as Higher Education

 

Dedicated to those who made the journal happen:

Prof.s Lorna Hardwick and Elle Chambers, founders of the Higher Education Research Group in 1992: an international network of leading discipline researchers advocating for the Humanities as transformatory and the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) Arts subject centres they helped to set up and advise and who became the original UK Editorial Board

Prof. Mary Huber, Carnegie Academy for the Improvement of University Teaching, Prof. Kate Stimpson, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University & former President of the Modern Languages Association (MLA) and Prof. Sean Brawley, founder Australasian Editor, now Head of Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University

And Sara Miller McCune, founder of Sage, who in 1997 approached us in HERG, proposing that we turn the Humanities & Arts International Network newsletter and website and the collected papers of the annual conference ‘Innovations in Teaching and Learning in the Humanities’ into the first Sage Humanities journal.

Ab Initio!

In the late 1990s when I was finishing my Higher Education Research Group inspired monograph on ‘teaching dialogic texts then and now’: Dialogic Education and The Problematics of Translation in Homer and Greek Tragedy, I was invited by Cornell’s Society for the Humanities to be part of the Writing in the Disciplines Cornell Consortium.

WiD’s mantra informed this journal’s mission statement: that you do not ‘do’ research and then ‘write up’ but rather that you transform as you write the discipline. What we needed to transform Humanities HE was transformative Humanities writing and this, the first international Arts and Humanities HE journal, to publish in: a journal for essays about innovations in disciplinary meaning-making and significance-highlighting processes. So,

Arts and Humanities in Higher Education seeks to:

  • Publish high quality, peer-reviewed articles that bring critical research to the fore and stimulate debate.
  • Serve the community of arts and humanities educators internationally, by publishing significant opinion and research into contemporary issues of teaching and learning within the domain. These will include enquiries into policy, the curriculum and appropriate forms of assessment, as well as developments in methods such as electronic modes of scholarship and course delivery.
  • Publish articles characterised by profound thought about both the interface between research and teaching in the subject in question and the transformational purposes of a higher education.
  • Promote re-conceptualisation of arts and humanities disciplines in ways that reflect, and reflect upon, teaching.

How have we done in fulfilling these objectives?

We have published international leaders’ exemplary essays (e.g. vol. 13.1-2, 2014 writings from and inspired by Arendt, Attridge, Barnett, Bhabha, Clarke, Deegan, Derrida, Evans, Heaney, Kanter, Mandela, Moltow, Ndebele, Nussbaum, Stimpson, Strathern, Tagore, New Voices and Editors).

And special international Issues on Teaching Literature vol. 6.2 (2007); Modern Languages vol. 10.2; Religion vol. 10.3 (2011); Digital Humanities vol. 11.1-2 (2012); Creative and Performing Arts vol. 12 2-3 (2013) and Reflective Conservatoire vol. 15 3-4 (2016).

With fora on Civic Engagement, Public Value of Arts and Humanities’ Research, Theorising Practice, Masculinities, CASTL & SoTL, Digital Storytelling and the forthcoming Special Issues on Tuning History; Dialogue in Theology & Philosophy, Narrative Medicine & Critique as a Signature Pedagogy in the Arts and Humanities, we have covered every and multiple Humanities and Arts disciplines.

And with State of Urgency: The Humanities in South Africa, vol. 15.1 (2016), A Humanities Manifesto for Europe & the forthcoming South American Intercultural University Models, we have published contributions from every area of the world.

So it is left for me to give happy thanks for the past and very best wishes for the future to the new Editor, Jan MacArthur, a great supporter of the journal since discussing the ideas which were to become her 2013 book Rethinking knowledge within higher education: Adorno and social justice.

And to give heartfelt thanks to the founding Editorial Board for 15 years of service:

Derek AttridgeYork University, UKRon BarnettInstitute for Education, UKRandall BassCenter for New Design of Learning & Scholarship, Georgetown University, USAMichael BérubéPennsylvania State University, USAAlan BoothUniversity of Nottingham, UKChrissie BougheyRhodes University, South AfricaRosi BraidottiUtrecht University, The NetherlandsJim ColemanUniversity Council of Modern Languages, Open University, UKSteven ConnorRegius Professor, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, UKBrett de BaryCornell University, USAMarilyn DeeganDigital Humanities, King’s College London, UK Simon GoldhillCentre for Research in Arts, Social Science and Humanities, University of Cambridge, UKLorna HardwickThe Open University, Milton Keynes, UKPoul HolmDirector, Humanities Research Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, IrelandJonathan HolmesCreative and Performing Arts, University of Tasmania, AustraliaStanley N. KatzDirector, Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, United StatesBen KnightsTeesside University, UK Sherry LinkonGeorgetown University, USAAlan LiuEnglish Department, University of California, Santa BarbaraJohn Bosco LourdusamyIndian Institute of Technology Madras, IndiaPeter MandlerUniversity of Cambridge, UKDavid PaceIndiana University, USAOtto PetersFernuniversitat, Hagen, GermanyStephanie PittsDepartment of Music, University of Sheffield, UKKate StimpsonNew York University, USAPatrik SvenssonDirector, HUMlab, Umeå University, SwedenDavid TritelliAssociation of American Colleges and Universities, USAJohn UnsworthDirector, Illinois Informatics Institute, University of Illinois, USAPeter ValeChair of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, South AfricaGeoff WardPrincipal, Homerton College, University of Cambridge, UK

Jan Parker, University of Cambridge, December 2016

Teaching French History: An IHR Roundtable by Andrew WM Smith

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Time is at the heart of what we do as historians, and how we teach our students. Daily, we’re confronted with a wide array of past presents and expired futures. Conceptually, our teaching is also committed to a belief in the future, and the urgent need to help students mobilise and develop the skills learned studying the past as they move beyond the classroom. In forging this link – or in engaging students enough to forge it themselves – teaching French history is both a particular privilege and a challenge.IHR_logo_128px

These challenges were the subject of a roundtable we held at a recent workshop on ‘Teaching and Research in French History’ held at the Institute of Historical Research in January 2017. Organised by Chris Millington, and funded by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, this workshop built on another held last year, which explored ‘Teaching History in the 21st Century’. There, we’d sought to bring high school teachers and university lecturers together to help bridge the expectation gap between A Level and undergraduate study (both for students and for teachers). This time, we took that process one step further, seeking to bridge the gaps in our own experience.

Our roundtable at this conference was a somewhat rare opportunity for a conversation about teaching between those still finishing their PhDs (and those that just had) with a supportive community of Early Career Researchers (mostly 5 or so years on from the PhD).

One of the main subjects for discussion at the roundtable will be familiar to anyone that teaches the history of lands beyond this rainy island: how do you teach foreign language primary sources to resolutely Anglophone students? Published, translated source collections are scarce and so whilst we shared tips and compared notes on our favourites, we needed to look further. So we gazed enviously across the Rhine at the riches of ‘German History in Documents and Images’ (GHDI): curated, translated sources of varying types that cover whole periods with pertinent introductions. Oh, for a francophone equivalent!

Yet the object of our desire, we realised, lies mostly within our reach. We all work in archives, we all bring our research into our teaching, and we all translate (whether for use in our teaching, or for publishing with those that blanch at foreign tongues). We can’t perhaps dream in the same scale as our Teutonic colleagues, though we can collaborate more and more openly as young scholars. We discussed how wonderfully well-intentioned online syllabus collections can frighten off precariously employed post-docs, and how we’d been reluctant to contribute the sources that we’d personally translated and curated from archival documents. While we were open and supportive of collaboration and collegiality, we are also forced to defend our every asset in a competitive job market. As the idiom goes: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Yet, if the tumult of contemporary politics had seemed to hollow out a belief in the future, we affirmed that our actions as researchers should seek to build new bridges, and that we ought to create new opportunities for sharing and collaboration in our own profession.

From here, we began to talk about what other sorts of sources that people used in their teaching, and what sorts of issues this raised. Film screenings are wonderful ideas, though it can be difficult to pitch these to students. One brave soul told how he’d had students sit ashen-faced through all four hours of The Sorrow and the Pity, but others professed that they’d consciously steered themselves towards screenings that would be more instantly accessible. To ensure that screenings promoted active learning and not simply entertainment some described breaking films into sections to be presented with framing commentary; others produced instructive handouts for students to take specific notes; others still asked students to review films the following week (both in their own words, and drawing on published reviews). Novels, plays, and music offered similar opportunities and challenges, suggesting different forms of emotional engagement that could enliven the pasts to which we address ourselves.

Performing snippets of plays or – heaven forfend – singing to students all seemed like useful ways to take learning beyond the page and encourage them to embody the past. So too did the use of objects suggest ways to elicit mutual story-telling and serve as anchors for complex discussions. How much more vibrant a discussion of the barricades of 1968 when we can pass a cobble stone around the room? Or, we might run our fingers across old coins to illustrate the quick march of regimes, comparing the symbolism of Republics and Empires as they rose and fell. Magazines too provided an engaging, tactile means of flicking through the past, and we discussed presenting printed copies of archival material to similar effect (where a departmental printer could become a samizdat press). Throughout this discussion, the focus was not on accumulating artefacts nor relying on storied museum collections at elite institutions, but on thinking of ways that material objects that we collect or create could serve as thematic gateways to the issues that we teach.

Well aware that those issues need be bound to our research, we also discussed how to proceed when, as PhDs and postdocs, we need to parcel together teaching posts across different institutions (and eras). The balance of finding ways to satisfy teaching agendas of departments and also appealing to students is a delicate one indeed. We looked at how using even one primary source from our own research in a broad survey course could be a liberating experience that helped establish a bridgehead for our work within tight teaching constraints. Likewise, the internet offers opportunities to access source collections which could enable students to establish their own bridgeheads: publishing blogs, reports and projects based on topics that matched our inherited learning outcomes. Pointing classes towards the GHDI, the Old Bailey Online, or many other archival repositories could encourage them to take up their role in the creation of knowledge and establish portfolios for future work. Focussing on the process of research, and looking to communicate beyond the academy allows us the opportunity to make the teaching of history an education with the future firmly in mind.

The most pressing theme throughout our discussion was the need to ensure students acted as producers and not consumers. Whether it be through engaging with different types of sources, sparking a new engagement through the use of objects, or by letting students become researchers themselves, the ultimate goal was to emphasise the agency of those in our classrooms and lecture halls.

What, then, is the trick to teaching French History? That’s a difficult question, but for our part it lay in navigating the pressures of precarity, forging supportive networks, and ensuring that historical thinking is a force for progressive action.

Andrew WM Smith, February 2017