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Rachel Crowther news piece

MA Creative Writing alumna’s next two novels to be published in 2016 and 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre

Congratulations to Rachel Crowther, whose second novel, ‘Things You Do For Love’, will be published in August this year – with her third novel (as yet untitled) scheduled for publication in August 2017.

Rachel studied for the Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes part-time between 2009 and 2011, whilst working as a Consultant in Public Health Medicine for the NHS. While she was completing her MA, Rachel successfully entered her first novel, ‘The Partridge and the Pelican’ for the Hookline novel competition, seeing it published in April 2011. Some passages in that novel grew out of exercises undertaken for seminars within the MA

By then, Rachel was already working on her next novel. Initially conceived as a pair, her idea was that one novel would be from the point of view of Flora, the retired surgeon protagonist, and the other from the point of view of her daughters. Rachel submitted extracts from the novel with a commentary along these lines for her final assignment of the MA under the title ‘Binocular Fiction’ – the term she chose to capture the advantages of developing two slightly different, equally weighted perspectives on a story.

In the end, Rachel successfully combined the two narratives into one novel, resulting in the soon to be published ‘The Things You Do For Love’. The novel looks back over forty years of Flora’s career and marriage, and her daughters’ childhoods, examining their choices, sacrifices, secrets, disappointments and hopes.

Rachel Crowther

On her experience of writing her novel whilst studying for her MA, Rachel writes that:

‘During the MA course I workshopped several extracts from the novel, some with the course staff but also with Kate Clanchy, and a couple of scenes grew out of exercises we did in class (especially in Jim’s Novel module). That experience was helpful in that it gave me a chance to test-drive some passages in a challenging environment, and helped me answer some questions about my characters and how I was telling the story. Another hugely valuable element of the course for me was the ‘Rewriting Fiction’ module I did with Rob Pope, who went on to supervise my final piece, because those sessions really stretched us all and brought out some wonderfully innovative, creative, even mad ideas from all of us in the small group lucky enough to be taught by Rob’.

On completion of her MA in Creative Writing, Rachel spent three busy years moving house, jobs and schools, whilst taking the manuscript apart and putting it back together again several times over, with various different characters and plot lines removed, rejigged or reinstated at each stage – a process that she feels yielded a much stronger novel than she started out with.

Rachel’s manuscript was taken on by Patrick Walsh at Conville and Walsh in December 2014, and sold to Bonnier Zaffre in July 2015 as part of a two book deal.

‘The Things You Do For Love’ is coming out in August this year, and the next novel (final title to be agreed) is currently in the editing phase and provisionally scheduled for publication in August 2017.
The following is an extract provided by Rachel which she remembers workshopping during the course. Flora’s daughter Kitty is a composer, just setting out on her career and not yet sure that she believes in herself as a musician, and this passage describes the moment when she first sees what she is capable of.

The opening notes lifted from the piano as slowly and carefully as if they were being thought of for the first time. Lifted and then lingered in the air, languorous but persuasive, perfectly placed. Kitty opened her eyes again, and her mouth opened too, as though she needed to see and breathe and taste the sound as well as hear it. It felt as though the song needed her complete attention to will it on – although the extraordinary truth was that Andrej and Daniel were making the sounds she could hear, evoking so precisely the music in her head. This must be like giving birth, seeing what was inside you take shape in the world.

        The rest of the audience had vanished now. There was only Kitty and the performers and the space above them in which the sound waves hovered and spread. Not even Kitty, perhaps; all that mattered of her was in the music. Andrej’s voice held a long G, closed it on a careful, not quite English diphthong, then slid gracefully onto a high E and unfurled the plaintive phrase that signified to Kitty something more than the words of the setting: something that Andrej’s impeccable breath control seemed to yield up between the notes. Kitty’s heartbeat accelerated with them, drawing out a pure thread of emotion from the interplay of words and melody. This was something she had never known before, a surge of feeling she couldn’t explain or control, bringing recognition beyond rational meaning: something that felt very much like love.

International Poetry Competition awards celebration

Copy of International Poetry 38 smallAfter the success of its inaugural International Poetry Competition, which attracted nearly 900 entries from all over the world, the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre hosted an awards evening on Friday 19 February. The celebration featured terrific readings from three of the winning poets (pictured below): Siobhan Campbell, winner of the Open category, Marie-Aline Roemer, winner of the English as a Second Language (ESL) category, and Hanne Busck-Nielsen, Special Commendation in the ESL category, as well as video recordings from the other winning poets, Claire Askew (Open) and Armel Dagorn (ESL). Competition judge, Hannah Lowe, was extremely impressed by the very high standard of the submissions. She said,

“All of the poems I shortlisted had a sense of real urgency about them, of needing to be written and a quality of testimony to experience.”

Copy of International Poetry 14 small The event was attended by an enthusiastic audience, who also very much enjoyed Hannah’s reading from her acclaimed first collection, Chick, and her upcoming collection Chan, which will be published by Bloodaxe in June of this year. There were also wonderful readings of their work by three local young poets mentored by Kate Clanchy at Oxford Spires Academy: Tarzina Khatun, Rukiya Khatun, and Asima Qayyum.

All of the winning poems are available to read on the Poetry Centre website, as well as additional photographs of the event. The awards ceremony was livestreamed and recorded, and can be viewed on the Brookes website (fast forward to 14:30 to view the opening).

Copy of International Poetry 16 small

Dr Niall Munro, Director of the Poetry Centre, also announced the date of the next International Poetry Competition: it will be open for entries from Friday 29 April to Wednesday 31 August.

Copy of International Poetry 19 small

To find out more about the opportunities that you can gain from studying English or Creative writing here at Oxford Brookes, follow the links to our undergraduate and postgraduate
course pages.

 

Photography: Frank Dumbleton

Success for the School of Law at the National Client Interviewing Competition

Client-Interviewing-Competition-logo

Two students from Oxford Brookes’ School of Law took the top spot in the Regional Heat of the Client Interviewing Competition of England and Wales on Wednesday 10 February.

Graduate Diploma in Law students Helen Bray and Will Mitchell gave an excellent performance during the heat, which took place at the University of Reading, and defeated the Universities of Reading, Hertfordshire and Surrey. Will said: “I was delighted to win the regional heat with Helen. We had worked hard towards this result, with both internal and external support and coaching so it was very pleasing for that to pay off.

“Client interviewing is a very rewarding way to put the academic learning you have done into practice. Giving advice to a client requires the ability to convey the law accurately, in a straightforward way and so that the client has confidence in you. That is a true test of whether you have understood the academic learning you have done.”

The pair will now represent Oxford Brookes in the National Final which is taking place at the Sheffield offices of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on Saturday 12 March. Winners of the national competition will then go on to compete in the international competition which this year, takes place at the University of Windsor in Canada.

Client interviewing is a very rewarding way to put the academic learning you have done into practice.

Will Mitchell, Graduate Diploma in Law student, Oxford Brookes University

Universities and Law Schools across the UK take part in the annual competition which aims to encourage the promotion and development of the invaluable skills involved with client interviewing, counselling and centres on a simulated law office interview.

Principal Lecturer in Law Marc Howe said: “The continuing success of Oxford Brookes teams at the Client Interviewing Competition is testament to their hard work and skills as future lawyers”.

Law students, working in teams of two, interview and advise a client – a role-playing actor. They are assessed on interpersonal skills as well as their ability to handle a legal problem.

Oxford Brookes University also hosted the Client Interviewing Competition’s National Training Day in January which invited all the teams entering the competition. Students had the opportunity to take part in demonstrations, discussions and critique of client interviewing skills and ask questions to experienced judges, faculty coaches and past competitors.

Information about studying for the Graduate Diploma in Law at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the School of Law webpages. 

Magna Carta Schools project a huge success

magna carta exhibition resized2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta; to celebrate the university launched a ‘Modern Magna Carta Challenge” in which primary and secondary school pupils were challenged to create a physical response to the Magna Carta by creating their own idea of what a modern charter might look like. 106 pupils from five different schools took part in the challenge and the exhibits can be seen on exhibition in the Museum of Oxford from the 29 July – 19 August 2015

In total the exhibition contains 24 physical exhibits from the students including paintings, photographs and sculptures as well as a DVD showing a collection of videos, including both original exhibits and students commenting on their physical exhibits. In addition there is also a large board designed by some Brookes Art students who helped curate the exhibition, which enables visitors to the exhibition to write down their own thoughts on the Magna Carta and human rights in general.

To support this project staff from the School of Education partnered with schools by running workshops exploring how to approach the challenge. During school visits, staff focussed on key issues like slavery, trafficking, religion, education and gender equality.

Rachel Payne, Senior Lecturer in Education: Art said:

Through this type of engagement in real life contexts and through experiential learning students and teachers can offer lasting, deep engagement with key issues embedded at the heart of the Citizenship agenda in education. “

A one day Magna Carta symposium was also held on 18 June aimed at secondary school pupils featuring workshops delivered by staff from the school of education including Jane Fletcher, James Percival and Susannah Wright, as well as a keynote address by the rapper Akala.

See http://www.brookes.ac.uk/magnacarta/ for more details of the project and a downloadable resource pack for use in schools.

Final call to enter the International Poetry Competition

International-Poetry-CompetitionThe deadline is fast approaching for the Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Competition, but there is still time to enter.

Launched by the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre in May, the competition has two top prizes of £1000 on offer. The competition seeks to celebrate the great diversity of poetry being written in English all over the world.

The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize is a prestigious and timely way of enhancing Brookes’ reputation, founded on the Poetry Centre’s long-standing track record of poetry and public engagement.

Dr Eoin Flannery, Director of the Poetry Centre, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Eóin Flannery, Director of the Poetry Centre at Oxford Brookes said: “The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize is a prestigious and timely way of enhancing Brookes’ reputation, founded on the Poetry Centre’s long-standing track record of poetry and public engagement.”

There are two categories in the competition which are open to both new and established poets aged 18 and over from across the globe.

The two categories are:

  • ESL category (open to all poets over 18 years of age who write in English as a second language
  • Open category (open to all poets over 18 years of age).

Part of the prize funding for the competition came from Oxford Brookes’ 150th anniversary small grants programme which was launched in 2014. The small grants programme has helped to fund projects which best supported staff, students and the local community, enhanced Brookes’ international reputation and celebrated 150 years of success.

The competition deadline is midnight on 31 August 2015. There is a cost of £5 to submit a poem or £4 per poem for more than three entries. Entrants may submit up to ten poems and all entries must be unpublished work.  Full competition entry criteria and terms and conditions can be found on the International Poetry Competition webpage.

The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is based within the Department of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes University. The Centre hosts an annual programme of events for members of staff, students and the local community including conferences, research seminars, workshops, exhibitions and community projects.

Brookes’ GDL Mooting Team through to National Quarter Finals

Nicole Kapu and Duncan Graves

The School of Law’s mooting team, Nicole Kapu and Duncan Graves, have defeated the University of Hertfordshire (who had previously defeated the University of Bristol) in the third round of the ESU/Essex Court National Mooting Competition.

Nicole and Duncan, who are both studying for the Graduate Diploma in Law,now progress to the Quarter Finals of this prestigious national competition, where they will face either the University of Sussex or Aberystwyth University.

Check back soon for the results of the Quarter Finals and good luck team!

Brookes achieves historic success in National Final of the Client Interviewing Competition

Law_newsJess Loveday and Nicole Kapu, who make up the School of Law client interviewing team, represented Oxford Brookes in the National Final of the Client Interviewing Competition of England and Wales, on Saturday 7 March.

Jess and Nicole, who are both currently undertaking the Graduate Diploma in Law at Brookes, performed excellently in the competition and took 3rd place overall in the National Final.

Coached by Marc Howe, Principal Lecturer in Law, the team made history by becoming the only team in the 31-year history of the competition to be awarded perfect marks by one of the judges for one of their interviews.

This year’s National Final was held at the University of Sussex and the legal topic was ‘Small Businesses’. The annual Client Interviewing Competition “focuses on the invaluable skills of interviewing and counselling and centres on a simulated law office interview”.  Working in pairs, students interview and advise a “client”, and are assessed on their interpersonal skills and their ability to handle a legal problem.

The staff and students from the School of Law would like to extend their many congratulations to the pair who really shone as representatives of Oxford Brookes University.

ESU/Essex Court National Mooting Competition Success

left to right; Opposition, Opposition, Duncan, Nicole

(back) left to right; Opposition, Opposition, Duncan, Nicole

Many congratulations to Nicole Kapu and Duncan Graves, the Oxford Brookes University GDL mooting team, who defeated Buckinghamshire New University in the first round of this year’s ESU/Essex Court National Mooting Competition.

Nicole and Duncan, who won the Oxford Brookes GDL Mooting Competition in early December, now progress to the second round, where they will face either the University of Oxford, who haven’t beaten Brookes in 3 years, or the Open University.

The losing-finalists of the Brookes’ GDL Mooting Competition, Jonathan Goddard and Brendan Brett will represent Oxford Brookes in the Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Mooting Competition in the New Year.

Scholarship opportunity for aspiring barrister

Barristers wig

Today alumnus Luke Campbell launches the OUB Future Barrister Scholarship 2015, an award of £1,000 for an Oxford Brookes School of Law student who aspires to become a barrister.

The launch will mark the second year that the Luke Campbell Prize Fund has made this award to Brookes’ students* and there are plans for the scholarship competition to be in place for at least the next three years.

Luke – himself an exceptional scholar from Brookes who after graduating secured a sought after research post at the Law Commission, and more recently has been awarded a University of Oxford Graduate Scholarship to read for the BCL at Brasenose College and the Lord Justice Holker Scholarship, by the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, to undertake his Bar exams – says:

I’m passionate about encouraging and enabling students to fulfil their potential. I also understand that financial pressures can create real obstacles, which make it difficult for students to achieve their goals.

The Luke Campbell Prize fund is my way of helping students who have the potential to succeed at the next stage of their career, and giving something back to Brookes, where my own successes in my chosen career path began.

In order to be eligible to apply for the prize, students must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be a final year undergraduate law student at Oxford Brookes
  • Have applied to undertake the BPTC in September 2015 or be expecting to apply to undertake the BPCT in 2016, and
  • Have a grade average of 60 or above.

Applicants must submit a full CV and write an opinion piece of up to 500 words on the proposition: The state should be permitted to withhold evidence from an accused terrorist.

The deadline for applications is 13:00 on Monday 3 November 2014, with interviews for those shortlisted candidates taking place during week commencing 24 November 2014.

For more information and to apply, contact lbevington@brookes.ac.uk.

*The 2014 scholarship was awarded jointly to Ed Gross and Elie Sheahan.
no legal analysis is required

 

Essay Competition: Can social sciences save lives?

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Social Sciences: Social, cultural, ethical, economic and political problems facing global society today cannot be tackled by technology and natural sciences alone. Social scientific research aims to explain the changes that affect social and political life.

What are we looking for? We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary studies including sociology, political science, international relations, history, economics, anthropology, and philosophy. Eligible essays can define ‘saving lives’ broadly in order to cover both micro- and macro-level projects that make a difference in our living standards.

Who are Social Scientists? Social scientists can be identified as actors, norm entrepreneurs, change agents, or ‘disinterested Others’ (following George Herbert Mead) who criticize the conventional and taken-for-granted concepts, assumptions, methods, solutions and ‘ways of doing things’.

Alternatively, you can focus on how Social Sciences can structure the way in which individuals, groups and societies think and behave.

What is the aim? The main objective of this essay competition is to explore the ways in which social scientific research enriches and informs society and contributes to the improvement of living standards in the global era.

This essay competition puts the emphasis on the ‘Social’ defined as a ‘whole’ rather than being compartmentalized into separate disciplines. Social does not only refer to interaction, communication, media, networks, and history, but it also suggests investigating the central place of memory, consciousness, ideologies, translation, theorization, feelings of belonging, norms, and rituals.

Besides, the social does not only involve rational choice, cost-benefit calculations, coercive power, agency, and strategy; it also includes different types of rationality such as rule following, heuristics, conspiracies, morality and ethics. It does not solely cover history-making ‘grand bargains’, top-down rules, direct actions and revolutionary movements. It also explores non-decisions, structures, bottom- up processes, disinterested others, and daily practices such as gift-giving and leisure.

Finally, this essay competition understands globalisation as a key component of social sciences. Globalisation can be seen as both homogenizing and heterogenizing social life at the same time: humanity is increasingly considered as ‘one’ community living in a ‘global village’ but it also values and promotes diversity, i.e. the preservation of authentic cultures, religions, identities, languages, food, dress, sports, music, theatre, traditions, institutions, norms, beliefs, and rites.

Eligibility

Open to all social scientists (PhD students and junior scholars are welcome).

Word length

5000–7000 words (exclusive of references and endnotes)

Prizes

There will be 1 winner + 3 honorable mentions + certificates

Submission deadline

15 June 2014

Submissions and requests for further information should be sent to Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez in both Word or PDF format to mbuhari-gulmez@brookes.ac.uk.

In partnership with Royal Holloway University of London and Brunel University.