Postgraduates at Durham enjoy a range of opportunities to meet other MA and PhD students and academics, in both social and intellectual settings. The events page provides full details of activities of interest to English postgraduates within the Department, whilst regular emails and posters notify you of forthcoming conferences and calls for papers beyond the University. As an MA or PhD student at Durham, there are numerous opportunities for discussion, writing and broadening your research and social interests.
Postgraduate Discussion Group
Central to postgraduate life in the Department of English is the Postgraduate Discussion Group (PGDG). Meeting regularly over lunchtimes once a week during term-time, all taught and research postgraduates can use the group to discuss their research, present early versions of conference papers, as well as to share problems with study or anxieties about teaching. Among other things, the group provides a forum to:
- Give formal papers and receive feedback in a friendly environment
- Discuss novels, poetry, drama, short stories or literary theory
- Screen films or adaptations of books (an ideal way to "work" without reading!)
- Talk about current issues in English in the news, and issues relating to the state of the subject for new English academics
Staff and Postgraduate Research Seminar
The department's Staff and Postgraduate Research Seminar allows postgraduates and members of staff to come together in an informal environment to hear about and discuss the latest research. Postgraduate students are also encouraged to present papers at these seminars.
Other Postgraduate Research Seminars
Run by the postgraduate community, specialised but informal groups meet across common disciplines such as English, History and Philosophy to cover particular periods or fields of interest, including:
- The Medieval and Renaissance Postgraduate Discussion Group, which functions at a multi-disciplinary level under the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- The History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science and Medicine Postgraduate Discussion Group, which meets informally to hear papers across all disciplines with an interest in science and culture
- The Cultural Studies Group brings together researchers in Visual Culture, Media Studies, Literary Culture, and Cultural Studies in general
Postgraduates from English can also participate in formal university-wide opportunities for discussion and networking. These include:
- The Ustinov Seminar, which allows you to share your research with the postgraduate and academic community from other subject circles, as well as fostering a sense of community among postgraduate researchers
- The Institute of Advanced Study's Postgraduate Research Group, which has a particular focus on interdisciplinary research, and allows access to IAS fellows, as well as the opportunity to edit the journal Kaleidoscope
Postgraduate English, edited by postgraduates in the Department, is a biannual journal publishing peer-reviewed work in English Studies from postgraduates across the UK and Europe. As well as academic articles, the journal hosts book reviews, a PG-Tips section for sharing advice and links on teaching and research, and a "Forum" on matters of general interest to postgraduates.
Postgraduates from English Studies are also involved in editing the peer-reviewed journal, Kaleidoscope, which is published under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Study and which accepts work from all faculties, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary studies.
Less formally, student newspapers such as Palatinate and the award-winning Durham 21 welcome contributions from postgraduates. The Northern Arts Literary Fellow, currently Collette Bryce, helps to support creative writing at all levels through workshops and personal meetings.
Public Lectures and the Institute of Advanced Study
The Department regularly organises and co-organises international conferences and seminars, public lecture series and events with a multidisciplinary appeal. In doing so, it reflects the objectives of Durham's Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), of which Professor O’Neill is a Director. The IAS seeks to promote new thinking through intra-, multi- and interdisciplinary research, exploring new areas of research activity and promoting intellectual debates of relevance to various disciplines.
The Institute of Advanced Study encourages Durham's research postgraduate community to engage with the work sponsored by the IAS. It provide postgraduates with a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with some of the most distinguished scholars from across the world; our postgraduates may even, as a consequence, end up working with these scholars. The IAS gives postgraduates access to a wide range of events, allowing them to examine for themselves the benefits and challenges of multi- and interdisciplinary research.
The IAS is host to Kaleidoscope, an interdisciplinary, online, open-access journal edited by postgraduates at Durham University, for the benefit of the postgraduate research community in the United Kingdom and internationally.
The Department is involved in a number of University-wide Research Centres. All add value to our research activity. The Basil Bunting Centre for Modern Poetry, directed by Professor Regan stimulates awareness of diverse modes of twentieth-century writing. The Department is also active in the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine. A North-East Network for Medicine and the Arts holds regular research seminars. The interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies promotes opportunities for graduate research, invites guest speakers and hosts major conferences.
Clubs and Societies
Postgraduates are welcome to attend any of the societies run under Durham Students Union. Of particular interest to English students may be Durham Student Theatre, the umbrella organisation co-ordinating the wide range of performing arts across the University and colleges, and the English Society, which provides events and social activities to encourage the enjoyment of English.
The Department is a partner for the annual Durham Book Festival, which is run over October, and which attracts renowned authors such as Ian Rankin, A.S. Byatt, and Pat Barker. Students have the opportunity to get involved in the running of the event as volunteers.
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