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Cultural Studies & Humanities Good News - December 2019

The latest good news from the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities.

Students in front of School of Cultural Studies & Humanities sign

Students in front of School of Cultural Studies & Humanities sign

Alumni Guest Lecture

Jessica Allen and Megan Hussey, who recently graduated from our BA (Hons) Media, Communication, Cultures and BA (Hons) English and Media, respectively, returned to offer a guest lecture on the third-year module, ‘Race’, Culture, Media. Jessica and Megan, who achieved a record high mark in their assessed campaign for the module in 2018, reflected on their journey as students, offered key advice on assessments, and spoke about the impact their campaign had within industry.

Alumni Gues Lecture

Jessica also talked about the marketing and branding skills she acquired while designing the campaign which helped her secure a role as Marketing Assistant, while Megan pointed out that the knowledge she gained on the module, as well as the dissertation, allowed her to secure a position with Kick It Out campaign.

This class showcased alumni successes and provided inspiring stories for our current students. Moreover, the class provided a critical example of how what we do in the classroom CAN and DOES matter outside it!


Senior Lecturer, Melanie Chan has recently published Interdependence, a short story on the Terra Two web-site. Terra Two is an interdisciplinary research project based at York St John University. The project is based around exploring the possibility of a second Earth-like planet for human habitation and brings together creative writing (short-stories, poetry), critical analysis and visual imagery. Melanie’s story was inspired by The Overstory by Richard Powers and proved to be an experiment in writing beyond her usual theoretical and methodological comfort zones.

Ministry of Information Digital Project

Dr Henry Irving, Senior Lecturer in Public History, is part of the team making the reports of the Second World War Ministry of Information (MoI) available to the public.

The MoI was established by the British government in September 1939 and functioned like an official public relations agency. As well as producing advertisements, posters and films, the MoI monitored the public’s mood. In doing so, it hoped to develop better material for its information campaigns, to discover what parts of wartime life were most troublesome for people, and to improve things where possible.

The reports produced by the MoI’s ‘Home Intelligence’ division give a detailed account of people’s concerns over the course of the war. They are among the most valuable records of wartime social history, and have been used by historians since they were made available to view in the early 1970s.

These reports have been made freely available to the public as part of the MOI Digital project ( The fully-searchable database provides a unique opportunity to witness the day-to-day experiences of those living on the home front during the Second World War. The contents are already used in Dr Irving’s teaching on the BA History and MA Social History programmes.

Grandma Never Knit Like This

Katherine Harrison, Media & English Course Director, gave an invited public lecture – ‘Grandma Never Knit Like This’ – about her knitting cultures research (with Cassie Ogden, Liverpool John Moores University) on 13 November at Bloom Building and Coffee in Birkenhead. The talk was part of a ‘Thinking Out Loud’ series organised by Liverpool John Moores University and Dark Side Art Lab as a community project designed to bring university lecturers to neglected audiences. Bloom Building and Coffee is an arts space and café-bar run by The Open Door Centre, a mental health charity for young adults, and Convenience Gallery, a contemporary arts organisation. The lecture was followed by a creative workshop, led by artist Claire Henderson, that used textiles and discussion to respond to the themes of the lecture.

Katherine Harrison

For further information about the organisations involved in hosting the talk, please see the websites below:

Bloom Building and Coffee:

The Open Door Centre:

New Voices in Postcolonial Studies

Literature postgraduate research student Ashleigh McCann was recently appointed as Co-Director of New Voices in Postcolonial Studies – a national network of research students whose aim is to develop and evolve postcolonial approaches in the Humanities. She is currently co-organising a workshop on postcolonial frameworks to be held in December 2019 at the University of Leicester.

Ashleigh also delivered a paper at the Latin American Literary Studies Association conference (14-15 November 2019) and has just had her panel, entitled ‘Latin American Thinkers and Indigenous Epistemologies: Epistemic Exclusions and Eurocentric Domination’, accepted by the Society for Latin American Studies which will be delivered in Amsterdam in April of 2020.

Rachel Rich has published a blog post about her current British Academy funded research on King George III's menus:

Contemporary Cultural Studies Seminar

How do we situate our research within wider fields of intellectual inquiry? What are the key approaches, concepts, and paradigms informing cultural studies today, and how can we use these to develop our work and make a contribution to knowledge? These questions were explored last month in a new seminar series for postgraduate research students, Contemporary Cultural Studies.

The first seminar, led by Postgraduate Tutor Andrew Lawson, focussed on the concepts of the world-system and the ‘capitalocene’ as developed in Michael Niblett’s 2019 essay ‘“Time’s Carcase”: Waste, Labour, and Finance Capital in the Atlantic World-Ecology.’

In the next seminar that took place on the 27 November, PhD candidate Ashleigh McCann led a discussion of Nicola Miller’s 'Republics of Knowledge: Interpreting the World from Latin America,’ and on 11 December Niv Chatterjee will discuss Jane Bennett’s ‘The Agency of Assemblages and the North American Blackout.’

The Emily Hobhouse Letters Project

A series of events were held on 6 November to launch the display in the Leslie Silver building of the War Without Glamour exhibition on Emily Hobhouse's life and work. Helen Dampier and her project colleague Rebecca Gill gave a Leeds Cultural Conversation talk entitled Set in Stone? The Politics of Curating the Life of Emily Hobhouse in Contemporary South Africa. 

This was followed by an afternoon workshop for History students from Leeds Beckett and the University of Huddersfield in which Helen and Rebecca reflected on their experience of exhibition curation and focused on some of the practicalities of preparing an exhibition. The exhibition itself was formally launched with an evening wine reception attended by School colleagues and postgraduate students.

Leeds Literature Festival

Dr Rachel Connor has been successful in a collaborative bid with Leeds Lit Festival, securing funding from the British Council for an international writer in residence for March 2020.  

The festival will welcome US author Diane Cook as its international writer in residence.  Diane is a leading writer of ‘high-concept’ literary dystopian fictions, whose work explores, amongst other things, the impact of the post-apocalyptic on female identity.  Her first book Man vs Nature has been described as a ‘dark and dazzling debut’ (The Guardian, 2015) and she has another book forthcoming in August 2020. 

Diane Cook

The British Council funding will significantly broaden the impact and outreach of next year’s Festival and will include a strand that focuses on narratives of dystopia and post-apocalypse. The final event will take the shape of the delivery of Diane’s ‘Outlander Manifesto’, in which she will present her thoughts, observations and challenges - to which the Festival will respond in 2021.

The British Council commented: ‘we were incredibly impressed by your proposal to host Diane Cook. You make an excellent case for the impact of this activity; how it will inspire new audiences and internationalise the work of Leeds Lit Fest.’

Northern Network of Medical Humanities

Jayne Raisborough, Professor in Media and Katy Shaw, Professor of Contemporary Writings at Northumbria University, have been successful in a Welcome Trust funded Seed- Scheme within the Northern Network of Medical Humanities Research.

The award of £1000 will support research around archive work in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London and enable a public event and conference paper. The project will be titled Writing the Change: Menopause in Contemporary British Culture and starts in the new year.

MA Social History Conference

Students on the MA Social History presented their research at a postgraduate conference on the topic of war and social history.

The conference, which is assessed as part of an introductory module, included presentations on a wide range of different subjects: from dancing in war factories to the treatment of wounded soldiers.

The conference panels were chaired by research students from the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities and ended with a postgraduate keynote on mental health during the First World War from Mark Butterfield (a PhD student in the school).

Those who attended the sessions were highly impressed by the strength of the students’ research and the professional way that their conclusions were delivered.


Media Course Director Dr Dan Kilvington was invited by Professor Jacco van Sterkenburg of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, to present a guest lecture at the ERMeCC research centre.

Dan Kilvington

Dan’s paper was entitled, ‘Black Player + Penalty Miss = Cyber-Racism: How English Football is Failing its Players.’ It explored the rise in cyber-racism inside and outside of football contexts and attempted to theorise the motivations that fuel online racism. It presented some of his published research in the area and offered solutions for change.

Autism Research

In November, English Lecturer Dr James McGrath gave two invited talks on his autism research to NHS professionals including GPs, nurses and psychologists.

In addition to discussing his recent academic book Naming Adult Autism: Culture, Science, Identity, James emphasised the potential value of literary studies and creative writing to autistic people and performed the poem ‘WORDCASTLE’ from his forthcoming sequence, an autistic figuration.

The Listening Reading Group

The Listening Reading Group is a new initiative to promote discussion of mental health in response to short readings (including poems, extracts from novels and memoirs, and selected medical texts). Readings are kept short (usually no more than 4 pages), so that people have time to read them on arrival at the group. 

The Listening Reading Group meets on most Thursday evenings from 17:00-18:00 in Broadcasting Place A203. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

For further information or inclusion on the email list, contact James McGrath (Lecturer in English and Creative Writing) at

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