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English students organise and host academic conference exploring marginalised voices

The students welcomed guest speaker, novelist and playwright Peter Kalu, to speak about representation in his work

Peter Kalu
Peter Kalu's talk at the Peripheral Voices conference

Students studying BA (Hons) English hosted their own academic conference in December as part of their Literary Cultures module. The conference also served as an official launch of the student’s academic journal, which will be released in January. The theme of the project is ‘Peripheral Voices’, and covers representation of marginalised or repressed voices in literature both past and present.

The event was open to the public, with fellow academics, university students and a group of local school students also attending. The day started with a talk and reading from Peter Kalu, an author, playwright and poet who discussed his personal experiences with race, mental health and gender and how these are expressed in his work. The students were also able to hear some of Peter’s work, including a new piece of unpublished writing, and host a question and answer session with him.

Alumni from the course, Amina Abuzaid, also delivered a poetry reading on the day. Her political poetry discusses Libya and the Gadaffi regime, with themes of revolution and belonging. She read poems both in English and Arabic, which made for a very moving performance.

The students got the opportunity to introduce the academic articles that will appear in their journal, showcasing their research into representation in literature. Topics include: the societal construction of the word feminine in Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, genocide in ‘The Red Pencil’, and the depiction of a transsexual person’s life in ‘Sacred County’ among others. Posters were on display during the conference, introducing the topic of each essay in the journal. Guests were given the opportunity during the day to review the posters and ask the BA (Hons) English students any questions they had about their work.

All students took on individual roles to ensure the smooth running of the conference and journal launch, including marketing, events organisation, writing and editing. This has served as a valuable opportunity for the students to gain key employability skills that can inform their future career choices and enhance transferable skills.

Published on 19 December 2018
  • Subject area: English, history and philosophy
  • Category: Current students; School of Arts and Humanities