Tag Archives: English

PhD studentships now available for September 2016 start!

8460 800 by 430The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University is pleased to offer a number of full-time PhD Studentships across a range of subject areas for a September 2016 start.

The successful candidate will receive an annual payment of £14,000 as a stipend towards living expenses for a maximum of three years.  Home/EU fees will also be covered by the relevant Department for a maximum of three years.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences spans a diverse range of disciplines that include social sciences, history, philosophy, religion, education, law, English and modern languages, and has a long tradition of producing world-class research. The REF 2014 results confirm our ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research status in a range of subjects, and serve as official recognition of the expertise, dedication and passion of our academic community. We are now accepting applications for the following PhD studentships:


Department of Social Sciences

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘Lemurs as protectors of the forest: Lemur seed dispersal, forest regeneration and local livelihoods in the littoral forest fragments of Madagascar’ The supervisory team will be led by Dr Giuseppe Donati (Primatology/Biological Anthropology), with Professor Kate Hill  (Anthropology). This proposed PhD project will examine the assumed role of lemurs’ forest regeneration and the likely value of this to local human populations.

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in Challenging Security Anew: Probing the Bases and Limits of Critical Security Studies. The supervisory team will be led by Dr Tina Managhan (International Relations) with Dr Doerthe Rosenow (International Relations). This proposed PhD project will explore the ontological and philosophical underpinnings of post-structuralist Critical Security Studies with the aim of furthering its critical ethos and politics.

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in Exploring family, care work and fatherhood in the ‘age of migration’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Tina Miller (Sociology) with Dr Maja Cederberg (Sociology). This proposed PhD project will investigate the role of fathering and examine the emotion work involved in transnational migration, focusing on fathers who are migrants coming to the UK. In particular it will explore how men who are fathers navigate expectations of paternal care and associated emotion work across their home and host country, and how parental obligations and responsibilities are understood, maintained and practiced over time and across borders.


Department of English and Modern Languages

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘Avant-Garde Writing, Technology and the Everyday’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Alex Goody (Twentieth-Century Literature), with Dr Eric White (American Literature).  We are interested in proposals that examine the interactions between the avant-garde writers of modernism and its aftermath and the technological world of the twentieth century. The proposed research should aim to produce a new account of the relationship between the modernist ‘revolution of the word’ and the contingencies and externalities of living in a modern world radically reconfigured through technology (such as transport, inscription, information, communication, surveillance, prosthesis, augmentation and warfare).


Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘The Art of Pre-Raphaelite Criticism’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Christiana Payne, (History of Art) with Dr Dinah Roe (19th Century Literature). The proposed project will examine the role of contemporary criticism in the development of the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic, with particular reference to the work of William Michael Rossetti and Frederic George Stephens.


Quick Fiction success for MA Creative Writing students

Last week, Kat Lund, Sophie Holland, and Vicki Lloyd of the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing were selected to read at a literary reading event with a difference, with all the stories consisting of no more than 300 words.

“Success in literary competitions, great or small, is a fantastic way of a writer beefing up their CV before going out to look for an agent. It really does count. So we’re delighted that three of our current MA students were selected for this evening – no doubt against tough opposition from Oxford University’s own students.” Dr James Hawes, programme lead for MA Creative Writing

Authors of selected submissions were invited to read at the Quick Fictions event at Oxford University’s St Edmund Hall on 25 February at 8:00pm, and will soon have their work published on the Quick Fictions app. The app has been ranked in the top 10 of the Sunday Times app list of 2013, and ranked at #5 in the UK’s paid app chart.

Quick Fictions is the brainchild of Professor Nicholas Royle, beginning as a biannual short fiction event held at the University of Sussex. It grew out of his interest in experimental projects and new kinds of writing. In particular, he wanted to explore the question of how to write – inventively, thoughtfully, memorably – in the age of the short attention span. Quoted in Myriad, Royle describes Quick Fictions as “the writing of our time, quick means: alive, vigorous, sharp, agile, perceptive, swift, even impatient, but also sensitive and vulnerable… Quick fictions are funny, poignant, dark, sad, romantic, strange: they take us to the very quick of things.”

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Kat Lund’s piece is called Raisin Bread and Elephants, and it is a love story that never was, told as a memory flash. The piece was developed from something Kat wrote in a seminar exercise for the ‘Voice’ module in the Creative Writing MA course. She commented that she liked the idea of memory being triggered by the strangest of things, and that memory has a physicality of its own; “like elephants we return to the places that have a pull on us; our a memory is a journey, even if the rest of us never moves”.

Sophie Holland’s submission is entitled Bird Box Camera and it is the true story of watching a great tit make her nest and lay her eggs, before observing their various fates once she watched them hatch. It begins with:

‘She sits.  We watch.  She pecks and plucks, trims, bobs, sleeps.  We watch the twitch and pulse of her dreams.  She waits, we wait.  We name her Grace.’

Sophie writes that the bird box camera in question is actually installed in her 11 year old son, Luke’s, bedroom.  He is a keen ornithologist and saved up £154 to buy it. Her story relates to last years’ bird family, and now that Luke has set it up again they hope that Grace will return!

Vicki Lloyd’s submission is called The Doctrine of Signatures.  It is the tale of a bitter woman, thwarted in love and planning revenge. Vicki came up with the story through an interest in plant signatures – that is, how plants through their leaf shape, flower shape or colour indicate to us their medicinal virtues – or their poisonous nature. My character in this story aligns herself with the bitter and deadly sides of the plants that she sees around her.

If you’re feeling inspired about writing, why not take a look at our MA in Creative Writing?

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).

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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.

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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

Student theatre company presents debut performance in aid of Oxford’s Terrence Higgins Trust


Olivia Stone is a current second year English Literature and Drama student who has set up her own theatre company alongside fellow English student, Rachael Head. Stones Theatre Company is currently presenting their debut production, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. They are the only company in the UK with the rights to perform Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens – a challenging piece which presents thought-provoking stories about how it was to live with HIV and die of AIDS in the 1980’s in America.

The cast are predominantly formed from Oxford Brookes students, with many from the drama department – although some actors who have attended drama school and some who are primarily based within the film industry are taking part. Olivia says that “it has always been my ambition to pursue becoming a theatre director and decided there’s no time like the present! Using the Oxford Brookes ‘black box’ rehearsal space has been a fantastic help as it is on campus and the facilities have added a real professionalism to our process”.

I am an extremely proud director and I feel we’ve created a dynamic, important piece of theatre with actors who were a joy to work alongside and the audiences have loved it so far! I look forward to seeing you there!

Olivia Stone

Stones Theatre Company will be donating 75% of their profits to Oxford’s Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), who provide invaluable support and information to the community about HIV and AIDS, a disease which is still ever present in our society. Olivia comments that “we found out last week that government funding for THT in the new financial year will be cut which is devastating. It makes our production that much more poignant and important, with its evidence that stigma is certainly still present over 30 years after the epidemic”.

Stones Theatre Company have prepared a polished and engaging production which additionally highlights important issues. I’m delighted to see so many Brookes Drama students involved, led by Olivia Stone and Rachael Head

Senior lecturer in Drama, Dr Eleanor Lowe

Tuesday 1 December is National AIDS Day, so Olivia and Stones Theatre company are encouraging everyone to wear a red ribbon to stand up against the stigma of AIDS. The cast will also be wearing these ribbons throughout tonight’s performance.

Stones Theatre Company will be performing Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at Modern Art Oxford at 7.30, Tuesday 3 December, and on Thursday 3 December there will be a gala performance at Oxford Town Hall. Tickets can be bought here:

Oxford Brookes creative writing student debuts her first novel on innovative publishing platform


Klara Piechocki-Brown, an MA Creative Writing student at Brookes, is crowdfunding her debut novel, The Death of Poppy Kusch, on innovative publishing platform Unbound.

Klara has been working as a writer and illustrator for 10 years. From gathering a large online following as a teenage author, to working as a screenwriter in the US and writing a weekly column for LA Cityzine, she is now halfway through a Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes University.

Her writing and art is preoccupied with how deliciously diverse we all are, while celebrating what makes us the same. Playful, thoughtful and sometimes dark, she shines light into murkier places with a reassuring tone. Klara identifies as both genderqueer and bisexual and is passionate about LGBT activism, especially encouraging accurate portrayals of bisexual and transgender characters in the media. Endlessly curious, Klara loves to know how things work; she particularly loves non-fiction science, psychology and history books.

It was at the start of second year of her MA when she decided to pitch her novel about a broody time traveller to Unbound. Now she’s sharing a platform with authors such as Julie Burchill, Stephen Fry, Steven Gerard and Tamsin Day-Lewis. Klara’s writing has often been compared to Angela Carter and David Lynch; rich with imagery and sometimes unsettling.

Poppy Kusch, a time travelling immigrant from the 1920s escaping scandal, lives quietly in modern day Oxford as a neonatal nurse with her family; three lovers who are also time travellers. After watching her future self die childless, Poppy pays to take part in a controversial study to artificially raise her luck in order to conceive a baby. When her family die as a result she must evade the Corporation as they try to stop her rewriting history to save them.

Unbound is both a funding platform and a publisher: the author pitches an idea and if enough readers support it, the book goes ahead. The reader helps great ideas get published, and in return receives an insight into the writing process and has their name printed as a patron in that and every subsequent edition.

“I’m equally thrilled and terrified to be doing this”, says Klara. “It feels incredibly vulnerable putting my writing out there, especially campaigning to get it funded! I designed a character who is very unlike me, but you still worry that you’ll accidentally show people too much of yourself, like not realising that your skirt is tucked into your knickers. My book explores themes of grief, nostalgia and faith. It’s a look at how irresistible the past can be- especially if you had the power to step back into it instead of moving on. In my novel’s world, time travellers apply for visas to stay in the modern day, so my protagonist Poppy is a time travelling immigrant. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from current events in the UK, and I’ve really had fun mimicking the headlines that a certain newspaper would write if time travellers really were landing here!”

“While planning the book I was worried that with the state of the publishing industry these days that my book might be too high a risk (as it features an LGBT ethically non-monogamous heroine) but Unbound is enabling me to reach potential readers who want to read books that feature less traditional plots. The celebrity authors on the site have come to it for the same reason, to write the books they want to write.”

Klara also works as an illustrator, and her writing shed (her blog only available to patrons of the book) promises to be full of drawings of her characters and settings.

To become a patron of Klara’s book and help it become fully published, you can head to the book’s funding page.

MA English alumni Highly Commended for the Bridport prize 2015!


Sarah Taylor has been Highly Commended for the 2015 Bridport Prize, Flash Fiction category for a piece called Good at Crisps. The category imposes a limit of 250 words, leading author Patrick Gale, 2012 Bridport Prize judge, to describe Flash Fiction as the “love child’ of poetry and the short story. Sarah was also shortlisted for another piece of Flash Fiction entered in the same competition. A total of 2141 stories were received this year of which 50 were shortlisted and an anthology of the winning entries produced.

The award ceremony was held on Saturday 17 October during Bridport Open Book week, with established and widely published authors such as Roger McGough, Jane Feaver and Jane Rogers handing out the prizes. The Open Book week included a reading with the three judges and various other events and workshops.

Following her first degree in French Literature from the University of Kent, Sarah studied for an Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University. In that time she wrote a one-act play called ‘Death on the Turnpike’ which is open to performance for Drama students looking for a gory, bloodthirsty play packed with villains, murder and gibbets – do email Sarah if you’re an interested student! Sarah then completed a full-time MA in English at Oxford Brookes University where she studied between 2013 and 2014.

Studying at Brookes was amazing, truly a life-changing experience. That sounds really dramatic but it’s how I feel. I loved engaging with critical theory and it was exciting to look at literature through so many different lenses. Although certainly a steep learning curve, I felt constantly stimulated and left our amazing seminars each week with my head spinning with new ideas and new ways of looking at not just literature but at the world! Working on my dissertation was a curious mixture of total agony and incredible breakthroughs that made me feel wow, I can do this! The Brookes tutors were brilliant – so passionate about their subjects and an absolute inspiration.

Sarah’s MA dissertation was entitled ‘Post-war Masculinity and the Imaginative Annihilation of Motherhood’, and her interests lie in post-war fiction and drama – Northern writing in particular. Sarah currently lives near Thame, but her roots – and much of the inspiration for her writing – are back in her native Nottingham, as reflected by her story written in a Nottingham dialect entitled Popping Your Cherry; itself highly commended in the Flash Fiction category of the Bridport Prize in 2012. Sarah describes Flash Fiction as perfect to fit around a busy life with three children, including working at Oxford Brookes as an Academic Support Worker for two days a week. Around this, her biggest goal in the coming year is to finish her first novel.
Contact Sarah:

Published in – Bridport Prize 2012 Anthology – Highly Commended with Popping your Cherry in Flash Fiction category.

Published in – Bus Pass Britain Rides Again with a chapter Love on the 159, a poignant look back at Sarah’s daily commute from Streatham to the West End of London on the 159 routemaster bus.

Published in Bridport Prize 2015 Anthology  – Highly Commended with Good at Crisps in Flash Fiction category.

Boxing John Clare: Literature professor in new film about the poet


A film about England’s most significant poet of the natural world, John Clare (1793-1864), featuring an Oxford Brookes academic, is released in cinemas this week.

The 83 minute feature By Our Selves is the culmination of a collaborative art and performance project led by award-winning filmmaker and artist Andrew Kötting (Gallivant, This Filthy Earth, Ivul). It was filmed in part, on the University’s Headington Campus and features Oxford Brookes Professor of English Literature Simon Kövesi.

What Andrew has made out of all of this creative, collaborative chaos is magnificent. The way he folds Toby and Freddie Jones into one another as Clare – young and old – is incredibly moving.

Prof Simon Kovesi, Head of Department of English and Modern Languages, Oxford Brookes University

By Our Selves, which has been given a four-star rating by Time Out magazine, follows Clare’s desperate escape from an asylum in Epping Forest in the summer of 1841 to his home 80 miles away in Helpston, Cambridgeshire.

Simon, who has a long-standing research interest in Clare, appears in By Our Selves as an academic/boxer, fighting a straw bear. Simon explains how this came about: “Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair presented early rushes of their film at a conference I ran at Brookes last year. By way of thanks, I sent them some books and articles, all about Clare in 1841 and his obsession at that time with Byron and boxing. A few months after that, I ended up being filmed in a boxing gown, covered in plastic flowers, fighting a bear.

by-our-selves-3“My bit aside, Andrew’s film conveys a rich sense of Clare’s tactile understanding of the natural world, and the brutal qualities of the countless intrusions of modernity into the landscape, against which Clare was the first poet to protest.

“The mysterious relationship Clare has with the straw bear – played by the director – is Beckettian in its absurdity yet somehow speaks to Clare’s persistent desire for community and love – with animals, nature, and women. The bear also embodies Clare’s blank loneliness in 1841. When the bear danced at Brookes, and sprayed straw all over our new lecture theatre, I thought Clare might want to punch it as a boxer. So that’s what I end up doing in the film. What Andrew has made out of all of this creative, collaborative chaos is magnificent. The way he folds Toby and Freddie Jones into one another as Clare – young and old – is incredibly moving.”

By Our Selves stars Toby Jones (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Berberian Sound Studio, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and his father Freddie Jones (The Elephant Man, Dune, Wild at Heart) as Clare at various stages of life; Freddie Jones last played Clare in a 1970 BBC TV drama-documentary about the poet.

by-our-selves-2The poet’s long-lost love Mary Joyce is played by poet and performance artist MacGillivray and music is by sound artist Jem Finer (formerly of The Pogues), with the dancing and drumming of David Aylward (drummer in Blurt). The film features graphic novelist Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and writer Iain Sinclair (London Orbital, Ghost Milk), whose book about Clare, Edge of the Orison (2005), was the inspiration for the film. All of these contributors have written pieces for a fully-illustrated book of the film, By Our Selves (badbloodsibyl, 2015), which is launched at the Bloomsbury Festival in London on 23 October.

At the FID documentary festival in Marseille in July, By Our Selves received the ‘Mention Speciale’ in the international documentary competition. It is officially released by Soda Pictures on Friday 2 October. Cinema listings can be found on the Soda Pictures website.

The trailer for the film can be viewed below.

Information about courses in English Literature, Drama, Languages and Postgraduate Creative Writing and English can be found on the Department of English and Modern Languages webpages.

Hannah Lowe, Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing, selected as a Next Generation Poet 2014

Hannah Portrait

The Department of English and Modern Languages and the Poetry Centre are delighted with today’s news that Hannah Lowe, recently appointed as Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing, has been named as one of the twenty Next Generation Poets 2014.

Compiled once every ten years, the list of poets will, according to the Poetry Book Society, organisers of the initiative, ‘dominate the poetry landscape of the coming decade’. Previous lists from 1994 (run by the Poetry Society) and 2004 (run by the Poetry Book Society) featured poets who have subsequently done just that, such as Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie, and Alice Oswald. The 2004 list also had Brookes connections, with both Patience Agbabi and Tobias Hill appearing on it.

Reflecting on the news, Hannah said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be included on this Next Generation list, and to have this kind of support and endorsement. It’s wonderful to be among so many poets I admire and to follow-on from the wonderful poets named in previous lists, many of whom inspired me to write.’

Hannah’s collection, Chick, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2013, and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection Prize, as well as the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and The Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry 2014.

The Next Generation Poets be appearing in an extensive programme of twenty-three events across the country involving past and current poets, and culminating in a celebration at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 15th March 2015, to which all the poets will be invited.

To coincide with the promotion of the twenty Next Generation Poets 2014, the Institute of English Studies (IES) and Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre will be running an academic conference at the IES in March 2015. Designed to reflect upon the New and Next Generation initiatives from 1994, 2004 and 2014, the conference will examine the relationship between poetry and the public, what the lists can tell us about the state and direction of British poetry and poetry publishing over the past 20 years, and what the long-term effect of these lists might be.

Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry to read with the Poet Laureate


Azfa Awad, Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry, will share a stage with Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, at this year’s MCS Arts Festival Oxford on Thursday 3 July from 7.30-9.30pm.

In her role as Youth Ambassador, Azfa, who is currently working on her first poetry collection entitled Beautiful Broken Homes, has been inspiring young people across the city to read and write poetry. She has taken part in a number of events throughout Oxford, such as the Oxford Human Rights Festival in February and Brookes’s own OutBurst Festival in May.

Azfa won the prestigious national Tower Poetry Prize for her poem, ‘Origins’ in 2013, and was Poet-in-Residence at Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival. In November 2013, Azfa was invited to meet the Queen and Prince Philip when she attended a Contemporary British Poetry Reception at Buckingham Palace.

Azfa’s role as Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry is co-sponsored by Oxford Brookes University and Oxford City Council. Brookes Poetry Centre’s Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Kate Clanchy, was instrumental in establishing the Youth Ambassador role.

Eóin Flannery talks about Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre’s collaboration with The Archway Foundation on BBC Radio Oxford


Dr Eóin Flannery, Reader in Irish Literature and Director of the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, spoke on the Kat Orman Show on BBC Radio Oxford on Tuesday 3 June about Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre’s ongoing creative writing collaboration with the Oxford-based mental health charity, The Archway Foundation.

Together with partners from Archway – Louise Longson, and Dance Mania – Tom Cox, Eoin introduced the ways in which the Poetry Centre is contributing to Archway’s ‘Time to Change: Creative Communication’ project. Eoin detailed the community-related outreach history of the Poetry Centre, and outlined how the Centre has provided creative writing workshops for users of the Archway Foundation services across March, April and May of this year. The project continues on 5 July with an Alice-themed Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, featuring visual art and creative writing workshops. This will take place at Florence Park Community Centre, Oxford from 1–4pm.