Being Creative in an Academic World

Being Creative in an Academic World

By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
Emily, otherwise known as Emily the Writer, is a Creative and Media Writing (BA Hons) student at Portsmouth University with interests in travel writing and creative marketing. She is also a freelance writer and performance poet. After her degree, she plans to take a Digital Marketing MA and pursue a career in marketing or journalism.

When I tell people that I am studying a Creative Writing degree, they always look at me with squinted eyes, furrowed brows and a twisted mouth that questions, ‘does such a thing exist?’ It is a relatively new degree, and only a few universities in the UK offer it, but surely it isn’t that strange? When I get this reaction, I think people are more confused by why it exists – and its place within the academic world.

Creative Writing seems to live on the fringe of academia. Although creative writing students read as much as any other, there is less focus on journals and articles and more on prose and poetry. Our submissions include short stories or poetry rather than long essays and our marking criteria relies on subjective opinion. It’s certainly fun but seems less serious. This poses the question – where do us writers fit within the academic world? Can we even fit in it at all?

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Unwrapping the Beauty of Bournville

Beautiful Bournville

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student at the University of Birmingham currently completing my joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare.  In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as a Gale Ambassador.

Located just a ten-minute walk from Birmingham’s most populous student housing area, Selly Oak, the village of Bournville – one of the first model villages in England – stands as a rare chunk of living history within the bustling city. Efforts to preserve the charm and wellbeing of the village are organised by volunteers, while the old chocolate factory has been transformed into a tourist attraction named after the man who envisioned and created the beauty of Bournville, ‘Cadbury World’.

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Power, Protest & Presidential Profanity: The ‘Race’ for Civil Rights

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s primary source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

On 16th October 1968, two black-gloved fists were raised in solidarity on the podium of the Olympic Games in Mexico City as a silent, yet powerfully emotive protest against racial injustice. The American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, immediately caught the attention of the world’s media as agitators, acting in defiance to the starred and striped flag and all that it appeared to represent. This transpired just six months after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

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Leading Ladies: The actresses who fought for women’s suffrage

By Karen Harker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
Karen is a Gale Student Ambassador and PhD student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. Her work focuses on digitally reconstructing and reconsidering the role of incidental music used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions, a project which is rooted in archival research and utilises many of Gale’s digital resources. Other research interests include operatic adaptations of Shakespeare, digital humanities, tableaux vivant, and Shakespeare performances during times of war. Karen also enjoys hiking, yoga, singing, and spending time with her cat, Monkey.

“There was a young Lady called Vera
As a Speaker all crowded to hear her
She caused a sensation
Throughout the whole Nation
Such as never was seen in our ERA.”

So begins an anonymous limerick written about Vera “Jack” Holme – Edwardian actress, political activist, and militant suffragette. Found in the Archives of Sexuality & Gender, a collection within Gale Primary Sources, this poem is one of thousands of papers, manuscripts, photos and news articles related to the eccentric, multifaceted life of one of Britain’s most devoted advocates for women’s voting rights. Also a part of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve during WWI and Britain’s first female chauffeur, Holme broke the patriarchal boundaries that had surrounded women for centuries through her constant vigilance and dedication to the causes of women’s suffrage and equality.

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‘This is Not A Coup’: Reflections on the Political History of Emmerson Mnangagwa

RIP Robert Mugabe

By Lyndsey England, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second year student at Durham University, studying a joint degree in English Literature and History. My main areas of interest are African history and post-colonial literature, but when I’m not tucked away behind a stack of books in a corner of the library or promoting Gale, I’m busy with Durham Student Theatre, working backstage and on the production team for a number of performances each year. In amongst all this, I also try to find the time to write, because I am currently juggling a shamefully large amount of works in progress. 

On the 18th of November 2017, the people of Zimbabwe took to the streets of Harare. Men, women and children walked alongside armed military vehicles, shaking hands with soldiers and standing in solidarity with strangers. In a mass demonstration, members of the public marched united through the capital, calling for the resignation of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The march was treated as a ground-breaking moment in Zimbabwean history; an unprecedented declaration of the public’s antipathy towards Mr. Mugabe, the war hero who had ruled since the country’s independence in 1980.

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A genius on the throne: Lady Jane Grey remembered

By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
As well as being a Gale Ambassador, I’m a third year English Literature and History student at the University of Portsmouth and Super Rep for the History subject area. If I must be forced to decide on a period, I adore Tudor history especially and have an incredibly soft spot for Romantic poetry, which is why I’ve taken on the monumental task of writing my thesis project on William Blake. After graduation this year I hope to work in the fields of narrative writing and journalism whilst continuing my academic endeavours. On the off chance that I’m not incapacitated by studies I enjoy devouring any and all literature, as well as playing the concert ukulele – much to the chagrin of my housemates.

Throughout my historical studies, I remember the speed with which teachers and lecturers taught the Tudor period. Like a child faced with a wall of selections at the sweet shop, it’s practically impossible to give the entire period as much attention as one would like. Thus, more often than not the class would undergo a whistle-stop tour of the century, passing from the social unrest of Edward to the stark Catholicism of Mary’s reign with little consideration to what came in between. Lady Jane Grey has always been an interesting figure to me, and through the incredible resources of the Gale archives it is possible to inspect her further, and see how she has been remembered in the centuries that followed her brief and tragic reign.

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