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Cultural Studies & Humanities Good News

The latest good news from the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities.

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Community History
Third year history students on Dr Henry Irving’s module Community History Workshop have produced a website to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of David Oluwale.

Oluwale was a Nigerian stowaway who spent most of his adult life in Leeds. His time in the city was not a happy one. He spent ten years in a psychiatric hospital, served various short prison sentences, lived rough and became a target of police brutality. His suspicious death in 1969 led to the trial of two Leeds police officers and painfully highlighted the extent of racism in 1960s Britain.

The website reflects on this difficult history. It contains introductory blog posts on the themes of justice, race, media representation and memory as well as an interactive walking tour. The website was created in collaboration with the David Oluwale Memorial Association and draws on a wide range of primary research undertaken by the students. It has gained 969 views in its first fortnight and the response has been universally positive. As one of the students involved in the project explained, ‘I have lived in Leeds for the majority of my life and I had never heard David’s story. But it holds such a powerful message that might still teach a lesson about injustice today’

Writing a Bill of Exchange 
Dr Andrew Lawson’s research article, “Writing a Bill of Exchange: The Perils of Pearl Street, The Adventures of Harry Franco, and the Antebellum Credit System” has been published in the Journal of American Studies. The article aims to move scholarly attention on from a preoccupation with paper money as the defining feature of the early nineteenth-century economy and to develop a critical understanding of how mercantile credit worked in the period. Drawing on a wide range of business histories and primary sources, Andrew’s article describes the operation of promissory notes and bills of exchange in the “cotton-for-credit system,” focusing on the ways in which these credit instruments attempted to solve the problem of time in long-distance exchange. The article shows how two popular novels demystify the financial system, revealing an economy based on new forms of social interdependence.

Myth Gatherers
Dr Steve Nash will be releasing his second full-length poetry collection later this month.

Myth Gatherers will be published by Calder Valley Poetry. Poets Helen Mort, and Peter Riley have said the following about the book:

'Steve Nash's poems are desire paths, inviting us to find our own way through the rich, surreal, tender landscape he invokes, a world where silences are coloured in pencil, valleys brim with 'intoxicating uncertainty' and darkness is a benediction. From a Dear John letter to Leeds ring road to lyrical incantations and hymns to ghost stations, these poems enchant and enthral.' - Helen Mort

‘Steve Nash’s poems are addresses, interventions, questions, complaints, agreements, ruminations, conclusions… concerning stories that have been long forgotten, or not yet invented. The ease and audacity with which he speaks in figures lets him take hold of all the scattered materials that present themselves and re-write them into a larger scale of experience.

“With a single laugh like a thunderclap
you shape your mouth to a hollow, howl your new name,
and a crow flies out, skittering into the wind.” - Peter Riley

More details about the book are available on Steve’s website.

Golden Robe Award Win
Ben Robertson who supports our provides employability support the school won the Golden Robe award for Outstanding Contribution to Enterprise and Innovation. Ben has proved himself to be exceptionally enterprising and innovative in working with students in Cultural Studies and Humanities, especially around the development of the non-credit bearing online Careers Award module.  This takes students through a variety of stages including identifying their key strengths and weaknesses, learning how to conduct job searches, developing networking skills, writing letters of application and curricula vitae, and improving interview techniques. In addition, Ben has worked closely with the School to develop the embedded credit-bearing employability modules Applied Humanities: Live Brief Learning at Level 5 and Career Cartographies, to be launched next year at level 6. Neither of these modules could have been developed effectively without Ben’s expertise, and he has been central to the delivery of Applied Humanities, helping with the design of effective ‘real world’ assessments such as recorded interviews (rapidly becoming the norm in many sectors), and delivering content around issues such as interview preparation.

Inaugural Lecture for Professor Heather Shore
Professor Heather Shore inaugural lecture took place on 1 May and was a huge success.

The turnout was commented on as being one of the largest for these events with guests from Heather’s friends, family, colleagues, collaborators and even her former supervisors who had travelled far and wide to celebrate her success.

The lecture entitled ‘From Artful Dodgers to Borstal Boys: Negotiating Histories of Youth Justice’ explored the changing rhetoric about youth justice over the last two hundred years of British history including changing social and cultural representations, and the development of legal definitions of the young offender, by considering the different approaches which have shaped and informed this history.

An Autistic Figuration
Dr James McGrath has been giving numerous readings of poems from his second book in progress, an autistic figuration. As well as a research seminar in Broadcasting Place, plus an event organised by Leeds Beckett English students at Growlers bar in Headingley, James has read his poems this spring at the Flock Festival (Leeds), the Huddersfield Literature Festival, and the Autism Arts Festival at the University of Kent. Two related podcasts from these events will be available soon.

Leeds Digital Festival
Professor Andrew Cooper spoke at the Leeds Digital Festival earlier this month, contributing to a workshop on ‘Citizens and Data’ as part of the Northernlands Data & Startup Summit. Based at the Open Data Institute Leeds, the all-day event included technologists, the Dutch Ambassador to the UK and more local political figures, start-up companies, an installation artist, and a poet, amongst others. Andrew’s reflections on Open Data as a form of language in relation to citizenship and social, cultural and political identity were well-received, and will feature as part of future bidding activity.

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