The Department of English Studies is one of the top UK research departments in English, with a significant national and international profile. All eligible members of staff were submitted to the 2008 RAE, which classed 90% of the Department's research as of international standard in terms of its originality, significance and rigour, and judged the research environment as 'world-leading'. The department's staff is comprised of international experts conducting research in the following fields:
- Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon sagas
- Medieval and Renaissance epic, romance and prose
- Eighteenth-century, Romantic, Victorian and Edwardian fiction
- Modernism, postmodernism and contemporary writing, narrative theory
- Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian, Twentieth-century and contemporary poetry and poetics
- Writing poetry
- Medieval, Renaissance and Restoration theatre
- Postmodernism, deconstruction, ecocriticism, literary aesthetics
- Psychoanalysis, gender, representations of the self, body and consciousness
- History of the book and bibliography, genre studies, children’s literature
- History of ideas, literature and religion, literature and science, literature and medicine, literature and philosophy, utopian studies
- Reception, literary legacies, adaptations, comparative literature
Research Centres and Networks
The Department is closely associated with the following Institutes and Centres: Institute of Advanced Study; Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies; Seventeenth-Century Studies; Medical Humanities; the Basil Bunting Centre for Modern Poetry. It also participates in NEICN (North East Irish Culture Network), which hosts international conferences, workshops, symposia and a newsletter; Medical Humanities, which acts as a focal point for the encouragement of research initiatives across the region; Romantic Dialogues and Legacies, which brings together scholars working in the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the modern period, and has hosted two public lecture series.
The Department plays a prominent part in the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research of the Institute of Advanced Study. The IAS seeks to promote innovative thinking through intra-, multi- and interdisciplinary research. It aims to give the University greater international prominence by exploring ground-breaking areas of research activity and promoting intellectual debates of relevance to various disciplines. It is a prestigous, ideas-based Institute which brings together some of the world’s finest researchers from every discipline to examine themes of major intellectual, scientific, political and practical significance.
The Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Durham brings together distinguished specialists from ten Departments: Archaeology, Anthropology, Classics, English, History, Music, Politics, Philosophy, Theology and Religion, and the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. It offers the chance to pursue taught postgraduate degrees and research across the various fields of Medieval and Renaissance Studies within a thriving interdisciplinary context. The CMRS supports a full and dynamic programme of events, including a fortnightly seminar series and the annual History of the Book Lecture, as well as regular international conferences and symposia. The Centre also co-produces a vibrant publication series with the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto). These activities, both focused and wide-ranging, are supported by Durham’s unique monastic archive, spectacular collections of early printed books, and one of the world’s largest collections of manuscripts. The current Director of the Centre is Professor Corinne Saunders (English).
For further information, please see www.durham.ac.uk/imrs.
The Centre for Medical Humanities is a focus for interdisciplinary research involving a number of Departments. Major collaborative projects with English Studies have included two public lecture series, entitled ‘The Mind, Medicine and Literature: Madness and Creativity’ and ‘Flesh and Blood: The Body and the Arts’. Both resulted in books co-edited by the organisers of the lectures and published by Palgrave Macmillan: Madness and Creativity in Literature and Culture (ed. Jane Macnaughton and Corinne Saunders) and The Body and the Arts (ed. Jane Macnaughton, Ulrika Maude and Corinne Saunders). Members of the School of Medicine along with the Departments of English and Geography recently made a successful bid for a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award, which has allowed for extensive further development (including three full-time Senior Lectureships, three Doctoral Awards, Visiting Fellowships, Fellowships in the Creative Arts, and an extensive Outreach Programme concerning Arts in the Community). The Centre’s innovative research articulates a view of Medical Humanities as an integrated enquiry that is philosophical in spirit, involving the sustained attempt to understand the human side of medicine, including the individual and his/her experiences arising in relation to health, illness, suffering and disability. It explores, in short, the role that medical knowledge does, or should, play in shaping conceptions of human flourishing.
Further information may be found at http://www.dur.ac.uk/cmh/
The Basil Bunting Poetry Centre (Director, Prof. Stephen Regan) is a unique and important archive of materials relating to twentieth-century poetry. The Centre provides a focus for research in twentieth-century poetry and poetics and has important links with regional and community poetry activities around Bunting, one of the most significant writers from the North-East. The Centre has developed close links at the regional level with northern writers' groups and other cultural organisations, and has international links with American and other overseas institutions. The Centre is planning: collaboration with the University of Sunderland on its Northern Writers project; collaboration with the SMARTlab Centre, St Martin's College (now University of the Arts, London) on producing poetry recordings and photographic images in digital form; the annual Basil Bunting Lecture. A series of readings, 'Poetry Aloud', is run in association with St Chad's College.
Research Seminars, Conferences and Lecture Series
The Department regularly hosts or co-hosts major international conferences, postgraduate conferences and public lecture series on topics such as: the arts and sciences of criticism; madness and creativity; the body in literature and the arts; the legacies of Charles Darwin; Romantic legacies and dialogues.
We publish an online postgraduate journal Postgraduate English, and run regular staff-postgraduate reading groups (on Joyce, Chaucer, Pynchon, Žižek) and research seminars. Recent speakers at these events have included: Gillian Beer, A.S. Byatt, Andrew Carpenter, Stephen Connor, Edward Larissey, Doris Lessing, David Lodge, P.D. James, Anthony Gormley, Christopher Norris, Jay Parini, Roy Porter, Raymond Tallis, Marina Warner and Stanley Wells.