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Marks of distinction – University of Reading

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Marks of distinction

‘The academic staff in the School of Literature and Languages are well-known nationally and internationally for their outstanding and innovative research. They are dedicated teachers who believe in being present to their students and working collaboratively with postgraduates to develop a lively research culture.’

Professor Alison Donnell

Head of School, School of Literature and Languages

Teaching and Learning

The School's teaching staff have won many awards within and beyond the university and hold significant positions in the Higher Education community, reflecting the range and variety of our professional skills and achievement.

Many are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and make regular contributions to HEA events, including talks and projects on student engagement in assessment, language learning, and careers planning. Dr Clare Furneaux was made a National Teaching Fellow of the Academy in 2009 and Dr Lucinda Becker became a Senior Fellow in 2013. Both Dr Becker and Dr Furneaux, along with Professor Jane Setter, are also University Teaching Fellows.

We are active in organizing outreach events for the wider academic community, both locally and nationally and internationally. These have included intensive study days for university teachers, such as the Higher Education Academy funded 'Towards a Postcolonial Pedagogy' and INSET days for A-Level teachers on English Language and Literature. We are always mindful of the international context of our work and in 2011, Dott. Enza Siciliano-Verruccio worked with the TeachON! Project training visiting students from Europe in the delivery of language teaching.

Research

The School's research profile is both diverse and truly international. Colleagues contribute actively to twelve of the University's thriving research centres and themes. Our work ranges from the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages to contemporary Postcolonial literature of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

Staff are regularly invited to give keynote lectures and lead seminars in various parts of Europe, Australia and the Americas.

We have an excellent record of attracting highly competitive research grants from funding councils, charitable trusts and private foundations. Staff have been awarded major national fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Recent highlights in our publication profile include Professor Bryan Cheyette's Diasporas of the Mind: Jewish Postcolonial Writing and the Nightmare of History (2013), which was nominated among the Times Higher Education 'books of the year'. Dr Mark Nixon's edition of Samuel Beckett's previously unpublished work, Echo's Bones (2014) was described as "a glorious vindication of scholarship" by John Sutherland in the Spectator.

The School excels in archives and collections-based research drawing on the University's outstanding collections, most significantly the The Archive of British Publishing and Printing; the Centre for East German Studies Film Archive and the Samuel Beckett Collection. We are also leading the field in the development of strategy and policy for endangered and disaporic literary archives as part of a Leverhulme International Network. The Centre for Collections-Based Research offers interdisciplinary doctoral training and provides a hub for collaborative skills development.

Among our public-facing activities, we have curated exhibitions, 'Italy at war', 'The Ladybird Collection' and 'Mills and Boon' at the Museum of English Rural Life. In 2013 the launch of BillingualismMatters@Reading led to weekly advice sessions and online research-based support to bilingual families. We have recently obtained Heritage Lottery Funding, as well as government funds, for a project on Reading Gaol following an earlier public event highlighting the prison's importance for the history of Irish Independence, funded by the AHRC.

Postgraduate Research

The School of Literature and Languages offers close, supportive supervision from experienced, dynamic professors. Our research students are integrated into our research culture via seminars, reading groups, conferences and social activities. We also provide structured guidance on the wider academic environment, covering topics such as placements, publication, research bids and teaching. The study of children's literature was pioneered here and we are home to the longest-running children's literature MA in the UK.

PhD graduates from this School have gone on to academic posts around the world, including the UK, Egypt, India, Japan, Belgium, the United States, Korea, Chile, Malta, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Angola, Thailand, Italy, China and Tunisia. Our current and recent PhD researchers have published in many of the prominent peer-reviewed journals in the UK and Europe, including Review of English Studies; Strumenti critici; Parallax; Textual Practice; Children's Literature Association Quarterly; Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies; Studies in Philosophy and Education; and Women: A Cultural Review.

Creative Writing

The School offers dedicated Creative Writing teaching by published authors who combine research expertise with practice-based knowledge, experience and skill.

Professor Peter Robinson has been awarded the Cheltenham Prize (1988), the John Florio Prize (2008) and two Poetry Book Society Recommendations (2002 and 2012). Poems of his have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. A collection of essays on his work, The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson (ed. Adam Piette and Katy Price) appeared in 2007; a further volume, Poetry & Peter Robinson: Critical Studies, is in preparation. Dr Conor Carville won the Friends Provident Irish National Poetry Prize in 1997 and received the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry in 2007. His first collection, Harm's Way, appeared in 2013. Dr Claire Battershill, currently a post-doctoral fellow, won the 2008 CBC Literary Award for Short Fiction and has shared the Emerging Writers Award from the Canadian Authors Association. Her first collection of stories, Circus (2014), has been widely reviewed and warmly received.

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