Launch of new Language, Literature and Politics research group

Group of feminist women with raised fists and shouting slogans in Mexico

The Language, Literature and Politics research group is a cross-faculty initiative, bringing together researchers from the School of Arts and Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. The aim of the group is to investigate the relationship between language, literature (literary criticism and creative writing) and politics in the widest variety of contexts.

Co-directors Professor David Johnson and Dr Philip Seargeant founded the new research group to give oxygen to interdisciplinary research conversations and initiatives, and they see it as an exciting opportunity for new and interesting synergies to emerge.

The group launched with an online literary event featuring author Jim Crace, who read from his Booker-shortlisted novel, Harvest, and spoke to OU Lecturer in Creative Writing and fellow novelist, Dr Emma Claire Sweeney, about the interrelationship between politics and language in his own work.

A conversation between Jim Crace and Emma Claire Sweeney

This year, LLP will kick off with a series of public talks that take inspiration from Raymond Williams’s hugely influential ‘Keywords’ book to examine the terms and concepts that act as touchstones for today’s society.

Williams describes a keyword as one for which ‘the problems of its meanings seem inextricably bound up with the problems it’s being used to discuss.’ So the act of defining the word is part of the process of exploring and arguing for the values that the concept represents.

An animated video essay about Raymond Williams’s ‘Keywords’, and the relevance of the idea for today’s society.

With speakers spanning disciplines from philosophy to political science and lexicography to literature, the series will look at how Williams’s project is still highly valid today, and at what words – and the arguments around them – define society and culture in 2022.

All events are 4-5pm

27 Jan:    Professor Teresa Bejan on EqualityMore details and register via Eventbrite.

10 Feb:   Professor Tony Crowley on PrivilegeMore details and register via Eventbrite.

17 Feb:   Fiona McPherson on the Oxford English Dictionary and Words of the YearMore details and register via Eventbrite.

24 Feb:   Professor Tim Blackman on EducationMore details and register via Eventbrite.

24 March: Dr Sarah Marie Hall on Rupture/RevolutionMore details and register via Eventbrite.

7 April: Professor Kate Pullinger on LiteratureMore details and register via Eventbrite.

21 April: Professor Quentin Skinner on Three Concepts of LibertyMore details and register via Eventbrite.

5 May: Dr Lara Choksey on PeasantMore details and register via Eventbrite.



About Emma Claire Sweeney

Lecturer in Creative Writing at the open University, Director of the Ruppin Agency Writer's Studio (a nationwide literary mentoring programme), and award-winning author of novel OWL SONG AT DAWN and co-author with Emily Midorikawa of non-fiction book A SECRET SISTERHOOD: THE HIDDEN FRIENDSHIPS OF AUSTEN, BRONTË, ELIOT AND WOLF.
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