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Durham University

Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Subscribe to our monthly North East Literature Events newsletter and we'll keep you posted. If you are a staff member or student and want to publicise your event, contact

Late Summer Lectures 2020

Physical Sensation

7th October 2020, 17:30 to 19:00, Online (Zoom), Josh Allsop (Durham University) and Katharine Cheston (Durham University)

How in touch are we with our bodies? In our final talks of the Late Summer Lectures series, our speakers discuss the puzzles of physical sensation in autobiography and difficult poetry.

Poetic Difficulty as Embodied Process: Geoffrey Hill and J.H. Prynne

Josh Allsop (Durham University)

This paper explores the use of the spatial metaphor of ‘returning’ in the poetries of Geoffrey Hill and J.H. Prynne, and how that metaphor can be useful in articulating how both poets engage with the concept of poetic difficulty as an embodied physical process.

The Mind, the Body, and the Shadowlands In-between: Contemporary Life Writing and the Case of ‘Medically Unexplained Symptoms’

Katharine Cheston (Durham University)

The term Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) groups together symptoms as disparate as pain, seizures, and fatigue by their present lack of diagnosable pathology. This paper looks to contemporary life writing to magnify these patient voices, which are too often left out of present-day discussions of MUS.

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