Spotlight – December 2020

Welcome to Spotlight, the Faculty of English Language & Literature’s alumni newsletter.

Issue 7

We were delighted to be able to welcome students to Oxford for Michaelmas term with a hybrid of online and in-person, socially-distanced teaching. Our Faculty members have navigated new technologies and adapted their teaching to ensure all students were able to participate in lectures and seminars, whether they were able to attend face-to-face in Oxford or could only be present virtually. The corridors of the English Faculty St. Cross Building at Manor Road have been strangely quiet by comparison with the usual bustle of term, but the English Faculty Library has also re-opened and a steady stream of students and researchers have worked there in sociable distance.  

Despite the continuing challenges, we’ve had much to celebrate over the past months: Professor Colin Burrow was one of 86 new Fellows of the British Academy in the Humanities appointed in July 2020; Professor Marion Turner was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize from the British Academy for her book Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton University Press, 2019); and Professor Santanu Das won the 2020 ESSE Book Award for Cultural and Area Studies in English for his book India, Empire and First World War Culture: Writings, Images and Songs (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Our public engagement activities have also continued, with two Professor of Poetry events in November led by Alice Oswald: a public lecture on the theme of Lines, and a collaborative, interactive event which saw 500 participants receive a poem in the post to be opened at midnight and read to coincide with  the full moon on 30 November. Everyone could participate since Alice’s reading of the poem preceded by a magical dance performance was filmed and live streamed also at midnight. Both Alice’s lecture and the ‘moonviewing’ dance/poetry reading  can be watched online via the TORCH YouTube channel.

We also worked with TORCH and the Humanities Division to create a Ten-Minute Book Club, which aimed to offer a quick and accessible way into some of the greatest writing by extraordinary writers from all backgrounds. Featured books included, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, and ‘The Knight’s Tale’ by Geoffrey Chaucer and ‘Emily’ by Patience Agbabi. You can browse all instalments of the book club on our website.

You can browse the different articles from the newsletter below, or view the whole newsletter as a pdf.