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CCW Seminar Series, Spring 2021: The Personal as Political

This spring, the Open University’s Contemporary Cultures of Writing research group presents an online Creative Writing seminar series – ‘The Personal as Political’ – which considers the strategies used by writers to engage with individual or public politics in today’s restless world.

The series begins with Writing Talk: working with the words of others (March 16, 6-7pm, online). This event features two presentations about how Creative Writing practitioners might use oral history archives as a starting point for fiction, or collaborate with marginalised groups to co-author narratives and uncover stories.

Claire Hynes, University of East Anglia, will speak about her engagement with oral histories for her writing project, Room, which includes research into her Antiguan family past.

Erica Masserano, University of East London, will discuss her work with CityLife, a public engagement project in which writers process the life stories of London elders into creative non-fiction.

As with other seminars in the series, the free event will be hosted in conjunction with the Institute of English Studies, on Zoom. Registration is via Eventbrite, here.

The other seminars are as follows, with some details to be updated:


March 30th 6-7pm Stories in everyday life: from Instagram to electoral politics - book here

‘Story’ and ‘narrative’ have become two of the most prominent buzzwords in contemporary culture. But not only do we use storytelling in all aspects of everyday life, the terms themselves are increasingly fetishised, to the point that they mean very different things to different people. In this talk we look at the diverse ways in which narrative and storytelling impact on the individual and society, using examples from the contexts of social media, political protests, and electoral politics

Alexandra Georgakopoulou is Professor of Discourse Analysis & Sociolinguistics, King’s College London. She has developed small stories research, a paradigm for examining the role of everyday life stories in the formation of social relations and identity politics. She has authored & edited many books & collections on a broad range of topics within language, society & culture.

Philip Seargeant teaches and researches language and communication at the Open University, with a particular focus on politics and social media. His most recent book is The Art of Political Storytelling (Bloomsbury). He tweets at @philipseargeant. For more information please see his website

Korina Giaxoglou is a lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language at the Open University. Her research focuses on practices of sharing stories and emotions online with a special interest in the language and discourse of death, dying and mourning. Her book on sharing small stories of mourning in social media was published in 2020 (Routledge). She tweets at @anthrostream.


April 13th  6-7pm Joanne Reardon in conversation with Jenny Sealy and Paul Sirett - book here

Jenny Sealey, MBE, CEO is the Artistic Director of Graeae, a theatre company whose artistic vision is to be ‘a force for change in world-class theatre, boldly placing D/deaf and disabled actors centre stage and challenging preconceptions’. She has worked with theatre companies throughout the world and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony with Bradley Hemmings. She won the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and was on the h.Club 100 list of the most influential people in the creative industries. 

Paul Sirett is an Olivier-nominated, award-winning playwright and dramaturg whose writing includes plays for disabled-led theatre company Graeae and work about drug trails in Africa and immigration to the UK. As a dramaturg, Paul has worked on numerous productions for companies including the RSC, Soho Theatre and the Ambassador Theatre Group. 

Joanne Reardon is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. She writes fiction, drama, and poetry. Joanne's first novel, a crime mystery, ‘The Weight of Bones’, was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Award, and published by Cinnamon Press under their new Leaf by Leaf imprint in Autumn 2020.


April 27th Yvonne Battle-Felton in conversation with Irenosen Okojie. Yvonne Battle-Felton’s debut novel Remembered was longlisted for the Women’s Prize 2019. Irenosen Okojie is a novelist, short story writer, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. More details to follow.


Contact Us

Contact Derek Neale or Sally O'Reilly or by email:

The Postal Address is:

Department of English and Creative Writing
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

Tel +44-1908-652092