Friday, 28 November 2014

New Collection By Lecturer Ashley Chantler

Ashley Chantler has published a new collection of flashes (short-short stories) and poems, titled Love and Other Problems.

Ashley says: ‘I’ve been working with my colleague Peter Blair on a pamphlet/chapbook of flashes by David Swann, which will be the first publication by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press (an off-shoot of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine:, and I realised that I had written various pieces that would work together as a short collection, to be published as a pamphlet.’

Love and Other Problems can be purchased (for £3.00) from the English Departmental Office (in the Old Vicarage), University of Chester, or from Amazon:

New Translations of Jules Supervielle

Creative Writing lecturer Dr Ian Seed has published translations of five poems by Jules Supervielle (1884-1960) in The Fortnightly Review. For a short biography of Supervielle and to read ‘In a Foreign Country’, ‘Figures’, ‘Fish’, ‘A Poet’ and ‘He Alone’, go to:

Friday, 21 November 2014

Visit By Screenwriter Bill Gallagher

On 17 November 2014, students in the Department of English were treated to a talk, ‘The Craft of Screenwriting’, by Bill Gallagher. The event was organised by Dr Graham Atkin.

Bill’s television credits include: The Paradise (BBC1); The Prisoner (ITV); Love Life (ITV); Lark Rise to Candleford (BBC); Conviction (BBC; winner, Monte Carlo, Best European Drama Series); and Clocking Off (BBC; BAFTA nominated). His films include: The Partner (forthcoming); Blood (2012); and Hero Hour (2000). Bill has also had plays produced in theatres around the country.

At the talk, Bill stressed the need for writers to approach their work as a bricklayer might approach building a wall. Structure, he claimed, was the most important thing to get right. It is essential, in becoming a good writer, to be interested in your craft, said Bill. Though writing for the screen is not a science, but an art, it is an art with certain principles. Bill encouraged the writers present to interrogate their own work and always be asking themselves: How can I become a better writer? He encouraged his audience to find out who the writers are who work on the TV series or films they admire, and to study the work of those writers. One useful piece of advice was to start small and another was not to be afraid to show your work to others. Give yourself permission to write badly – after all, all writing is rewriting. Bill inverted the normal Q&A structure by asking members of the audience questions, such as: ‘What is plot?’ Through this strategy he delivered an inspiring account of the principles underpinning effective screenwriting. At the end of his talk there were some questions from the audience about the TV and film industries in which Bill works so successfully.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Twenty Must-Read Novels

Early in 2014 I invited colleagues across the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Chester to vote for their top twenty must-read novels. The results were collated, and then individuals agreed to write commendations for each of the books voted into our collective top twenty; their scholarly enthusiasm shines through on every page of this booklet. We also invited volunteers to produce ‘dissident’s choices’, for books that others might miss.

Any such list is bound to provoke debate. Perhaps we might produce additional lists of European, American and global authors, all of whom are massively underrepresented in the current list. We hope that our selection and advocacy might give you some useful starting points for exploring some of the greatest novels in the Western tradition. It may prompt you to return to an old favourite, or to discover outstanding work for the first time.

My thanks are due to all those who voted, and, in particular, to the tutors in the Department of English who made the time to write in critical admiration of their favourite novels: Professor Derek Alsop, Dr Ashley Chantler, Jen Davis, Dr Melissa Fegan, Dr Francesca Haig, Dr Sarah Heaton, Dr Ian Seed, Dr William Stephenson, Dr Alex Tankard, Professor Chris Walsh, Dr Sally West and Professor Deborah Wynne.

I hope these recommendations inspire you to a life enriched by great reading.

Professor Rob Warner
Faculty of Humanities
University of Chester

The Results

14th =
Albert Camus, The Outsider
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

10th =
Franz Kafka, The Trial
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

4th =
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

2nd =
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
James Joyce, Ulysses

1st =
George Eliot, Middlemarch

The booklet can be read here: