Creative Writing and Practice-based Research
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The English Department at Royal Holloway promotes the development of world-class work in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research. This ranges from high-profile prize-winning publications to a variety of pioneering experimental poetry and cross-media activities. The Department hosts research groups and supports collaborative endeavors involving Creative Writing and practice-based research: for example, the Poetics Research Group has set up an event series, POLYply, at the Centre for Creative Collaboration on Acton Street in Central London, which includes performances, film-screenings and installations to foreground cross-genre writing; Professors Andrew Motion and Jo Shapcott have played a major role in the AHRC/ESRC funded project “The Faerie Queene Now: Remaking Religious Poetry for Today’s World”; Dr Redell Olsen has collaborated with Dr Ruth Livesey (English) and Dr Libby Worth(Drama) on ‘The Lost Swimming Pool’, a creative/critical collaboration as part of the 2010 Creative Campus in association with the Cultural Olympiad. These projects, alongside the writing and research produced by individuals, attest to the growth and vitality of Creative Writing and practice-based research in the English Department.
The Department’s uniquely diverse range of expertise, evident in staff research activities, is also reflected in the pedagogical strands running through the MA in Creative Writing and MA in Poetic Practice. The MA in Creative Writing offers pathways in Fiction, Poetry and Life Writing, and has excellent links with publishers and literary agents. Graduates include the novelists Tamima Anam, whose first novel was nominated for the Orange Award, the poet Adam O’Riordan, who was Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth House and published a volume of poems with Chatto and Windus and Kate Williams, whose first book, England's Mistress, was Book of the Year in theTimes and Independent. Work by students on the MA in Creative Writing is published in a bi-annual anthology, Bedford Square. The MA in Poetic Practice encourages creative practice within the context both of current experimental practices in the UK and US and of related developments in visual art, sound art and performance. Graduates include Sophie Robinson, who is currently Poet in Residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Becky Cremin and Ryan Ormonde, who received funding from the AHRC’s Beyond Text programme for a three-day series of workshops held on 28th-30th February (2011), on the theory and practice of performance.
The Department also supports a significant body of postgraduate students developing Practice-based PhDs and welcomes applications from persons interested in pursuing this mode of research. Please see descriptions and areas of interest of staff members involved in supervision (below) as well as relevant information on the Creative Writing and Practice-based PhD page.
Staff & Areas of Interest
Professor Robert Hampson, BA (London), MA (Toronto), PhD (London), FEA, FRSA. In addition to his work on Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford – which includes the monographs Joseph Conrad: Identity and Betrayal (Macmillan, 1992), Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction (Macmillan, 2000), and Conrad’s Secrets (forthcoming); the co-edited collections Ford Madox Ford: A Reappraisal (with Tony Davenport, 2002), and Ford Madox Ford and Modernity (with Max Saunders, 2003); and various Penguin editions, he has had a long involvement in contemporary poetry as both a critic and practitioner. He co-edited The New British poetries (with Peter Barry, 1993) and Frank O’Hara Now (with Will Montgomery, 2010). His own poetry has been published since the 1970s. Stride published Assembled Fugitives: Selected Poems, 1973-1998 in 2001, and Shearsman re-published his long poem Seaport in 2008. His most recent poetry publication is the sequence an explanation of colours, which was published by Veer in 2010.
Areas of interest: Contemporary poetry and poetics; Twentieth-century British and American poetry in the Modernist tradition; contemporary fiction.
Professor Andrew Motion, BA (Oxon), MA (Oxon, M. Litt (Oxon) D.Litt (Aberdeen, Anglia, Brunel, Chester, Hull, Exeter, Open, York St John), FRSL. Main research interests are in Romantic, twentieth century and contemporary poetry, and creative writing. His publications include: the biographies The Lamberts, Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life, Keats and Wainewright the Poisoner; a novel The Invention of Dr Cake; an autobiography In the Blood; and editions of the poetry of William Barnes, Thomas Hardy, and the poets of the First World War. Recent publications of his poems include Selected Poems 1976-1997, Public Property and The Cinder Path.
Professor Dan Rebellato, BA (Bristol), PhD (London): He is a playwright and his work has been performed across Britain, and in Germany, Spain, Italy and the United States. He has written for stage and radio, individually and collaboratively, for drama, comedy and live art. His stage plays include Showstopper (1997), Here’s What I Did With My Body One Day (2004), A Modest Adjustment and Outright Terror Bold and Brilliant (2005), Mile End (2007), Static (2008), Beachy Head and Theatremorphosis (2009), and Chekhov in Hell (2010). His radio plays include Emily Rising (2001), Cavalry (2008), And So Say All Of Us (2010), and adaptations of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, Nikolaj Gogol’s Dead Souls and Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma. He has published widely on modern and contemporary theatre, including 1956 and All That (Routledge, 1999), Theatre & Globalization (Palgrave, 2009) and Contemporary European Director’s Theatre (Routledge, 2010). He teaches on the Drama, Creative Writing and Philosophy degrees.
Areas of interest: Playwriting and writing for performance; modern and contemporary theatre, especially British theatre; theory and philosophy; globalization and culture.
Professor Adam Roberts, MA (Aberdeen), PhD (Cantab): The author of twelve novels, all science fiction, as well as a number of parodies and other works; his most recent fiction is Yellow Blue Tibia (Gollancz 2009) and New Model Army (2010). He had published several critical works on SF, including Science Fiction (Routledge 2000) and the Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Palgrave 2006). He also has research interests in nineteenth-century literature, and has published a number of critical editions and studies on Romantic and Victorian themes.
Areas of interest: Science fiction and Fantasy; contemporary fiction and theory; nineteenth-century literature and culture; philosophy
Professor Jo Shapcott, MA (Trinity College, Dublin), BA (Oxford), FRSL, FEA. Poet Jo Shapcott is the current President of The Poetry Society. Her Book: Poems 1988-1998 (2000), consists of a selection of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). She is co-editor (with Linda Anderson) of a collection of essays about Elizabeth Bishop and co-editor with Matthew Sweeney of an anthology of contemporary poetry, Emergency Kit. Her latest book of poems Of Mutability, was published in 2010, shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize and was awarded the Costa Prize for Book of the Year. She is co-investigator and project poet for The Faerie Queene Now, Royal Holloway’s AHRC-funded research programme.
Areas of interest: Poetry and science/medicine, poetry and the body, writing and the environment.
Dr. Douglas Cowie, BA (Colgate University, New York) MA, PHD (University of East Anglia), is primarily a fiction writer. He is the author of a novel, Owen Noone and the Marauder (Canongate, 2005) and most recently, an essay on John McGahern (Journal of the Short Story in English, 2009). His main literary interest is American poetry and fiction of the 20th Century, in particular the work of Nelson Algren. He also has an interest in the history of Germany, in particular the history of the German Democratic Republic.
Areas of interest: 20th Century American fiction and poetry, esp. the life and work of Nelson Algren; writing about/literature of music; fiction writing; German history and culture, esp. German Democratic Republic.
Susanna Jones, BA (RHUL), MA (Manchester) is an award-winning novelist and has worked abroad, in Japan and Turkey, as an English teacher and radio script editor. She was lecturer in Fiction Writing at the University of Exeter from 2003-5. Susanna is the author of four novels, The Earthquake Bird (2001), Water Lily (2003), The Missing Person's Guide to Love (2007) and When Nights Were Cold (2012). She has also published short stories and book reviews. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages and won four awards: The CWA John Creasey Dagger (2001), John Llewellyn Rhys Award (2001), the Betty Trask Award (2002) and Book of the Year (for the Hungarian translation, 2004).
Areas of interest: The novel; contemporary British and Japanese fiction; mystery and suspense, writing and the environment.
Dr. Kristen Kreider, BA (Indiana University), MA (Arizona State University), PhD (University College London), is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since taking this position in 2008, she has sought to promote an interdisciplinary, socially engaged approach to contemporary poetry and poetics, and to encourage a rigorous dialogue between creative and critical practice. Situating her own research in the expanded field of contemporary writing and text-based art practice, Kristen is currently completing a monograph entitled Material Poetics: Sign, Subject, Site. She is a co-ordinator of the POLYply event series and an active member of the Poetics Research Group and the Slade Word and Image Forum.
As a poet, Kristen collaborates with architect James O’Leary. The work of Kreider + O’Leary engages with the particularities of a given site – be this a physical, architectural location or more abstract locus of creative intent – in order to open up meaning. The work takes on many forms including performance, installation and time-based media and has been exhibited in the UK as well as internationally in Europe, Australia, Japan and the United States.
Areas of interest: Contemporary poetry & poetics; art & writing; site & spatial writing; video, installation & screen-based practices; performance.
Ben Markovits, BA (Yale), MPhil (Oxford) has published five novels, The Syme Papers (Faber, 2004), Either Side of Winter (Faber, 2005), Imposture (Faber, 2007), A Quiet Adjustment (Faber, 2008), and Playing Days (Faber, 2010), a novel about the world of minor league basketball. Childish Loves (Faber, 2011), the final novel in his trilogy about Lord Byron (which includes Imposture and A Quiet Adjustment) will be published in August. He was awarded a fellowship to the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies in 2009, and won a Pushcart Prize for his short story 'Another, Sad, Bizarre Chapter in Human History'. He has published essays, stories, poetry and reviews on subjects ranging from the Romantics to American sports in The Guardian, Granta, Slate, The Paris Review, and The New York Times, among other publications.
Dr. Will Montgomery works on contemporary poetry and poetics. He is the author of The Poetry of Susan Howe: History, Theology, Authority (Palgrave, 2010) and he has recently co-edited (with Robert Hampson) Frank O’Hara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet (Liverpool UP, 2010). He has published many articles on contemporary poetry and is a member of the Poetics Research Group at Royal Holloway. He is also involved, as both critic and practitioner, in contemporary experimental music, field recording and sound art.
Areas of interest: 20th century and contemporary poetry in the Modernist line; short form in poetry; sound in poetry and art practice.
Dr. Redell Olsen, BA (Camb), MA (Staffs), PhD (London). Publications include: ‘Book of the Fur’ (Rempress, 2000), ‘Secure Portable Space’ (Reality Street, 2004) and the collaboratively edited ‘Here Are My Instructions’ (Gefn Press, 2004). She is the editor of the online journal How2 which publishes modernist and innovative poetry and poetics by women writers. Recent work is available in ‘Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets’ (Shearsman, 2010) and ‘I’ll Drown My Book: ‘Conceptual Writing by Women” (Les Figues Press, 2011). Her recent projects have involved texts for performance and film and include: ‘Newe Booke of Copies’ (2009) and ‘Bucolic Picnic (or Toile de Jouy Camouflage)’ (2009). ‘The Lost Swimming Pool ‘; a site-specific collaboration was commissioned by the Creative Campus Initiative, June 2010. She has recently published articles on Frank O’Hara, Abigail Child and the relationship between contemporary poetics and the visual arts. She is a member of the RHUL Poetics Research Group and a co-ordinator of POLYply reading series at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London.
Current Postgraduate Research Students
Click here to see details of our current postgraduate research students in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research.