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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Reading Groups

In addition to our programme of Events, the Department also hosts a number of reading groups for interested staff and students to come together to discuss a shared topic or author. Contact the relevant organiser for more details about when reading groups are happening. If you organise a reading group that should be added to this page, email alistair.brown@durham.ac.uk.

Note that this page only details Reading Groups hosted within the Department of English Studies, but there are many University-wide reading groups as well, especially those run by interdisciplinary Research Centres and Institutes. Those most relevant to English Studies include the Institute for Medical Humanities, Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies.

Medieval Latin Reading Group

Open to staff and postgraduate students. An opportunity for researchers to improve their Medieval Latin reading skills in a relaxed environment catering for various levels of ability. Participants are invited to suggest texts from across the medieval period, perhaps pertaining to their current research. Previous texts have included selections from Richard de Bury's Philobiblon, Andreas Capellanus's De amore, and the Carmina Burana. Passages are circulated beforehand and participants may either prepare allocated lines in advance or choose to translate in situ.

Fortnightly meetings are usually held in Professor Archibald's office in Hallgarth House.

For more information contact Laurie Atkinson at laurie.r.atkinson@durham.ac.uk

The Bible as Literature Reading Group

Open to staff and all students.

A postgraduate-led reading group for the Bible as Literature. This reading group seeks an improved knowledge of the books of the Bibletheir genres, forms, poetry and prose. We seek to develop a better appreciation of the linguistic texture of the King James Version; as well as considering how its language and phraseology have been absorbed into subsequent literary culture. One to two books of the Bible are set as the reading for each meeting, serving as the starting point for an open-format discussion. No previous familiarity with the King James Bible (or any version) is required.

Fortnightly meetings held in an Elvet Riverside seminar room (room for 2019-20 TBC)

For more information contact Laurie Atkinson and Jake Phipps at thebibleasliteraturedurham@gmail.com.

Chaucer Reading Group

The Chaucer reading group is open to undergraduates, postgraduates, and staff. Undergraduates on modules such as Chaucer, Medieval Literature, Arthurian Literature, and Romance and the Age of Chivalry are welcome.

In Michaelmas term, the group will start with the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Attendees should bring along copies of the Riverside Chaucer. Attendees may join in reading or listen along as they prefer. Meetings will be in the Williams Library (St Chad’s College), from 16.30-18.00, on the 1st November, 15th November, 6th December. Additional sessions may be scheduled, depending on interest.

For more information contact Dr Mike Huxtable (m.j.huxtable@durham.ac.uk).

T.S. Eliot Reading Group

The T. S. Eliot reading group is open to staff and postgraduate students at Durham University, although anyone with a particular interest in Eliot is welcome to attend. We meet weekly on Thursdays at 17.00 in Elvet Riverside (room for the 2019/20 academic year TBC), and spend an hour close reading material by Eliot, usually covering one poem per session. Prior to the meeting, an email is sent out detailing the poem(s) we will read, although we always begin by reading the poem aloud, so it’s not a problem if you’re not able to read the material in advance. We may also invite speakers to lead thematic sessions for the 2019/20 academic year. Please contact Suzannah V. Evans (suzannah.v.evans@durham.ac.uk) for more information.

Mid-Century Literature

The mid-century, broadly understood from 1940s-70s, has been critically neglected, partly due to the fact that it falls between modernism and postmodernism. This reading group seeks an improved knowledge of poetry, prose and theatre of the mid-century period, with a focus on Anglophone literature. We hope to develop a better appreciation of mid-century literature, as well as its philosophical and historical contexts, and to highlight the importance of this period in 20th-century literary studies. Participants of the group will also be invited to bring literary comparisons to this period from their own research and wider interests.

The Mid-Century Literature reading group is open to postgraduate research students, early-career researchers, and staff, and no previous familiarity with literature of the period is expected or required. This group hopes to showcase mid-century literature both to those familiar with the field and those new to it in a friendly and relaxed environment. Drinks and snacks will be provided.

Meetings in Michaelmas 2019 will be in the Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, 17.30-19.00:

  • 24th October, Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing
  • 21st November, Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • 12th December, Adrienne Rich, selections of poetry

If you are interested in joining the group, or have suggestions of books you would be particularly interested in reading, please email Beatriz Lopez at beatriz.lopez-lopez@durham.ac.uk. This reading group is organised by Beatriz Lopez and Noreen Masud.