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Nawal el Saadawi: “Solidarity between the masses – perspectives on the Arab Spring”


Nawal el Saadawi is an internationally renowned writer, novelist, medical doctor and fighter for women’s rights. Her writing has influenced five generations of women and men in Egypt, in other Arab speaking countries as well as in many other societies, paving the way for dissidence, rebellion and revolution. For more than four decades she has suffered under political and religious authorities, leading to court trials, imprisonment, exile, and death threats. Nawal el Saadawi trained as a doctor, graduating in 1955 from Cairo University and later becoming Cairo’s Director of Public Health, as well as teaching at many universities worldwide. She became politically active while practising medicine, attributing women’s problems to various forms of oppression, a subject covered in many of her novels, plays, short stories and non-fiction, which are all characterised by the same passion and directness she has brought to every aspect of her multi-faceted life.

Nawal has founded or co-founded various associations, including the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA) and the Egyptian Women Writer’s Association. Named by The Guardian in 2011 as ‘the leading spokeswoman on the status of women in the Arab world’, in the same year she also received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Women of the Year Awards in London, and was presented with La Federación de Mujeres Progresistas [Progressive Women's Federation] in Madrid and The University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award.

Nawal el Saadawi writes in Arabic and lives in Egypt. Her books and novels have been translated into at least forty languages throughout the world. The evening was hosted by writer and critic Jacqueline Roy, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Department of English and Manchester Writing School at MMU.

April 10th, 2015 - 14:18pm

Special Guest Nigel Pivaro talks on War Journalism

Nigel Pivaro, a freelance journalist who has worked for the Manchester Evening News, Daily Star, Daily Express and Daily Mirror, will be giving a talk on war journalism and his experience reporting on Syria and Ukraine.

Nigel, formerly well known for his role as Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street, is now an NCTJ-qualified reporter who has presented documentaries for BBC’s Inside Out series and retrained in journalism as well as gaining an MA in Contemporary Military and International History.

His talk will be held on Wednesday 15th April from 10am until 12 noon in Geoffrey Manton 111. Students and staff are welcome to attend. The session will start at 10am prompt.

Queries: Rachel Broady (

April 9th, 2015 - 16:10pm

North West Poetry and Poetics Network Launch

Tuesday June 16th 2015

MMU: Geoffrey Manton Building, Room 222
Tuesday June 16th 2015

Guest Lecture

Professor Rainer Emig (University of Leibniz, Hannover), ‘W.H. Auden and the Problems of Public Poetry’

Dr Nikolai Duffy (Manchester Metropolitan University), ‘“Nohow”: Poetry, Privacy, and Local Communities’

Poetry reading: Judy Kendall (University of Salford)

The North West hosts a wealth of poets, and critics writing on poetry, including Carol Ann Duffy, Robert Sheppard, Deryn Rees-Jones, Scott Thurston, Paul Farley, John Redmond and Tony Sharpe. This network will invite scholars from the region to discuss their recent work. The focus will be on critical work with integrated creative readings, and we are particularly interested in postgraduate critics and young poets being involved in the future.

For queries, please contact: Professor Antony Rowland (

March 26th, 2015 - 17:45pm

Spaces of Deindustrialisation: Thirty Years On

Creative Geographies Research Cluster



Dr Geoff Bright (MMU)



Dr Katy Shaw (Leeds Beckett)



Professor Tim Strangleman (University of Kent)



Precisely thirty years from the end of the miners’ strike, three leading researchers will come together to explore the affective legacy of deindustrialisation and the representation of the miners’ strike and post-industrial spaces in the UK and abroad.


Creative Geographies Research Cluster Event

Thursday, 5 March, 17.15 – 18.45

Geoffrey Manton, Lecture Theatre 6

For more information e-mail


Book via Eventbrite Here


Dr Geoff Bright (Research Fellow, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University) Thirty Years On from the 1984-85 miners’ strike: Two Funerals, a Party, and a Kind of Haunting Going On On the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984-85 miners strike, this paper reflects on an ongoing ethnographic examination of intergenerational experiences of school ‘disaffection’ in four former Derbyshire coal-mining communities. A key focus is the investigation of school disaffection as an affective aspect of local historical geographies of resistance and conflict relating to the 1984-85 strike and the class memory narratives in which it has become entwined.

Professor Tim Strangleman, FAcSS (Professor in Sociology, University of Kent) Industrial Hauntings: Smokestack Nostalgia or Working Class Obituary? This paper will explore some of the images that have emerged from the process of deindustrialisation over the last three decades or more. It seeks to understand the similarities and differences between post-industrial photography collected in book format and other publishing trends in both North America and Europe, examining what this tells us about the wider meanings and values attached to industrial work in the past and present.

Dr Katy Shaw (Principal Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, Leeds Beckett University). Geoff and Tim will be joined in conversation with Katy Shaw: Head of English at Leeds Beckett and a leading authority on the literature of the 1984-85 miners’ strike. Katy’s publications include Mining the Meaning: Cultural Representations of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (2012).

February 13th, 2015 - 15:32pm

Video: Twenty-First-Century Poetry

19th January: Antony Rowland's Inaugural Lecture

Antony Rowland is Chair of Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. After studying for a PhD at the University of Leeds, he taught at the University of Salford and the University of Lincoln, where he was, respectively, a Chair in Modern Literature and Chair in Contemporary Literature. This event was a mixture of readings from the author’s poetry collections, and other poets’ work, and a lively (and contentious) debate about twenty-first-century poetry.

Go to Humanity Hallows for Freddie Bruhin-Price’s summary of the evening.

Video filmed and edited by Neil Harrison, Humanities in Public Media Assistant.

January 27th, 2015 - 15:50pm

Carol Ann Duffy and Friends – series ten

12 January 2015

Start time:19:00
Venue:The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH


Carol Ann Duffy presents this tenth series of poetry nights at the city’s iconic Royal Exchange Theatre. Each evening features Carol Ann reading from her own work and introducing some of the country’s best new emerging talent: student poets from the Manchester Writing School, led by house poet Liz Venn. There’s also a special guest appearance from a poet of national stature and live music from the house jazz band.

12th January 2015: Kit Wright with Martin Kratz, Paul McGhee and Kim Moore

19th January 2015: Ann Gray with Justine Chamberlain, Michael Conley, Robert Harper

9th March 2015: Lachlan Mackinnon with Scott Fellows, Ian Humphreys and Carolyn Zukowski

Start time: 7.00pm (music), 7.30pm (readings)

Venue: The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH

Tickets: £12 – book via the Royal Exchange Theatre: or contact the box office on 0161 833 9833

Manchester Writing School events are sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR) and presented in partnership with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts and Blackwell’s. Join the Manchester Writing School mailing list, contact, or follow on Twitter @mcrwritingschl.

December 5th, 2014 - 16:05pm

Call for Papers, Presentations and Works for Exhibition

After the success of the last two MIX DIGITAL conferences, Bath Spa University is hosting Writing Digital: MIX DIGITAL 3 in the newly completed Commons building at the Newton Park Campus, just outside of Bath. Bath Spa University’s School of Humanities and Creative Industries, with its stellar Creative Writing Department, is at the forefront of both research into and teaching of creative practice across many forms. MIX DIGITAL has established itself as an innovative forum for the discussion and exploration of writing and technology, attracting an international cohort of contributors from the UK, Australia, and Europe as well as North and South America. From 2015 the conference will be biennial and will become one of the flagship conferences for the university.

Writing Digital will take full advantage of our brand-new Commons building and its interactive spaces through hosting a vibrant mix of academic papers, practitioner presentations, seminars, keynotes, discussions and workshops, as well as an exhibition of work by conference participants.

Our partners, The Writing Platform, will showcase the two winning projects from the competitive bursaries they will have awarded earlier in 2015 for new creative writing and technology projects. There will also be a separate call to digital artists for entries to an international competition to create work for our Media Wall.

Confirmed keynotes include Naomi Alderman talking about how and why a literary novelist came to be the imaginative power behind the hugely successful apps, Zombies! Run, and The Walk; also confirmed is Blast Theory, internationally renowned as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups using interactive media, creating new forms of performance and interactive art – they’ll be discussing their current kickstarter-funded project, Karen.

Papers/presentations and workshops are invited in relation to the on-going themes of creative writing and digital technology, the future of the book, new forms of publishing, and new forms of digital curation, and in any of the following areas:

• Digital fiction and digital poetry
• Digital art and text
• Non-fiction and multi-platform publication (digital and print)
• Digital and interactive scriptwriting (including theatre-making and film -making)
• Transmedia practice
• Collaborations between writers and technologists
• Participatory media
• Transnational creativity

In partnership with the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE there will be co-curated strand for which presentations on the following are sought around either the practice of interactive documentary and or the emergent field of ‘ambient literature’, including mobile, locative, and other site-specific storytelling forms.

In partnership with Bath Spa’s Media Futures Research Centre there will be co-curated strand on ‘Analogue Futures’ for which invitations on the following are sought: the digitalisation of writing practices and techniques; remediation associated with emerging digital technologies; slow media; concepts and cultures of vintage, heritage and authenticity; sustainability and materiality within the realm of digital media.

Workshops on creative practice and pedagogical papers in relation to any aspect of the above are welcome. Please note that works submitted for exhibition will not be considered unless the artist is attending the conference.

A selection of conference papers will be developed for publication in a special issue of Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.

There will also be a separate competitive international call to create a new artwork for our eight-metre high digital gallery space, MediaWall; this work will be launched during Writing Digital.

Abstracts of up to 300 words for a 20-minute paper/presentation or a 90-minute workshop should be sent to by 31 January 2015. Conference booking will open in November. A limited number of rooms on campus will be available for delegates. Keep an eye on the website for updates.

Bath Spa University Conference Committee: Katharine Reeve, Lucy English, Kate Pullinger, Maggie Gee, Mike Johnston, Kristin Doern, Dan Ashton and Anthony Head.

November 28th, 2014 - 13:36pm

Multi-award winning Sally Wainwright to visit MMU

Friday 28th November 2014

One of our most prominent and celebrated television writers, the multi-award winning Sally Wainwright, fresh from choosing her eight ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Radio 4, will be ‘in conversation’ with playwright and lecturer Julie Wilkinson on Friday 28th November 2014 at 1pm in Lecture Theatre 4, Geoffrey Manton Building.

Sally is writer, producer and sometime director of some of the most characterful and inventive television drama of the last decade. The author of Scott and Bailey, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Unforgiven, The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Sparkhouse, Jane Hall, At Home with the Braithwaites, and many other shows, Sally’s work has fundamentally changed the way women are represented in British television drama. Her command of story, her inventive range and productivity make her an inspiration to new writers. How does she do it? On her third visit to support and encourage writing students in the Department of English at MMU, Sally will be talking about her experience of writing for television and answering questions from you, the audience. Do not miss this event, which is free to students and staff. To reserve your seat please contact Julie Wilkinson on

Here you can read more about Sally’s work at The Agency’s website.


November 13th, 2014 - 16:06pm

Literary lives: Muriel Spark

Thursday, November 27th, 2014, 6:30 pm

Free, advance booking required

Muriel Spark’s shrewd, unsentimental and hilarious novels are some of the finest of the twentieth century. Spark’s distinctive mix of realism, satire and allegory was hugely influential for a generation of writers. Join Martin Stannard — author of the acclaimed biography Muriel Spark — and literary critic Ellie Byrne for a lively discussion of Muriel Spark’s fascinating life and work. Chaired by Andrew Biswell.

Venue: International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY.

Advance booking is advised, so reserve your place via or 0161 235 0776.

You can access the website link here

November 11th, 2014 - 11:45am

Austerity Horror

Twisted Tales of Austerity: Friday 24th October 2014 @ Waterstones Deansgate

In Coalition Britain an extreme neoliberal consensus is forming around permanent austerity, worsening living standards, and privatization of the few public assets that have thus far evaded liberalization. With the three largest UK political parties all backing further cuts in 2015, a bleak future stretches before us. The late Joel Lane and Tom Johnstone’s Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease (Gray Friar Press) is an anthology that explores the dark depths into which twenty-first century disaster capitalism is dragging us. Twisted Tales, Manchester Metropolitan University and Waterstones Deansgate are teaming up to run Twisted Tales of Austerity as part of the Gothic Manchester Festival later this month, an event featuring readings from authors who contributed to Horror Uncut, followed by a panel discussion about austerity horror and a chance for the audience to participate in the debate. Here is Twisted Tales’s David McWilliam in conversation with Johnstone about the politics of Horror Uncut.

DM: In 2014, we find the financial crisis still being used as the pretext for massive welfare cuts in order to pay for lowering the taxes of oligarchs and multinational corporations. How important do you consider stories to be when selling the austerity narrative?
TJ: First of all, it’s interesting, isn’t it, that in recent years the word ‘narrative’ has taken on a specifically ideological meaning, as in your use there: the ‘austerity narrative’, suggesting that the proponents of a particular world-view want to tell a story, and make that fiction into reality. However, it would be foolish to suggest that fiction can change things by itself. On the other hand, popular resistance often draws on popular narratives, as a source of both inspiration and imagery. As an example, take the use of the mask from the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta by the Occupy and Anonymous movements, though the Situationist-inclined among us might be tempted to see a cynical marketing ploy in this, the Spectacle recuperating and commodifying dissent. Sometimes, though, those facing particularly repressive regimes use it as a kind of code to communicate ideas that people can’t express openly. Recently, there were reports of protestors against Burmese military rule using the three-fingered salute of the rebels in The Hunger Games. As we don’t live under military rule and can express things a little more openly, I like to think of Horror Uncut as more of a two-fingered salute to the powers that be! In general, there is a history of fiction and drama acting as a means of challenging authority and discussing suppressed or subversive ideas. Those in power also know the potency of popular narrative and get rattled when it’s used against them: take the Tory outrage at Hilary Mantel’s story ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’. George Osborne’s paraphrasing of Trainspotting’s ‘Choose Life’ sequence at the Tory Party conference shows what can happen when they fail to subvert fiction for their own ends…


DM: Horror has been labelled by some as a conservative genre that punishes transgression. How do you see Horror Uncut as challenging that perception?
TJ: As a committed socialist, my late co-editor and author of the story ‘A Cry for Help’, Joel Lane, could hardly be accused of conservatism. Indeed, his work on the anti-fascist anthology Never Again (also Gray Friar Press) was his way of challenging the very perception of horror fiction that you describe. However, he wouldn’t have felt the need to do this, if there weren’t a strong current in horror suggesting that those who step out of line suffer hideous fates. I don’t know if it’s that simple though. Take Frankenstein, usually seen as putting across the moral that ‘there are some things that Man was not supposed to know or meddle with’, but written by the daughter of a radical and a feminist, married to the poet who called on the workers to ‘Rise like Lions after slumber, … Ye are many ― they are few’. You could see Victor Frankenstein’s creation as a metaphor for the newly emergent industrial proletariat, ‘created’ by the expropriation of the landed peasantry. Certainly, the narrative punishes Frankenstein for his transgression, but if this seems conservative, the narrative is radical in showing us the world through the eyes of the dispossessed monster. Frankenstein the character also represented the Enlightenment ideals that Mary Shelley and the Romantic poets she mixed with rejected, ideals that informed the birth of European capitalism.


Stephen King has noted that a key, though not always acknowledged, theme of horror is ‘economic unease’, and this is certainly true of many of the stories in Horror Uncut, such as ‘The Ballad of Boomtown’ by Priya Sharma. The narrator of this story suffers for her transgression, while her ill-starred affair with a property developer mirrors the collapse of the Irish property market. Other stories suggest the opposite of the ‘punishment of transgression’ paradigm, as playing by the rules won’t save the protagonists from the cruelty of austerity measures, and their narratives also challenge the demonization of migrants and benefit claimants in much of the media. David Turnbull’s ‘The Privilege Card’ shows what happens once we start going along with the Coalition’s austerity ‘narrative’ and blindly following orders. Rosanne Rabinowitz’s tale, on the other hand, shows someone transgressing by fighting back against the cops when he gets caught up in a riot, suggesting that (Shock! Horror!) he might even get away with it…


DM: Do you see the publication of Horror Uncut as a form of political activism, an intervention in the debate about what sort of a society we want to live in, or a meditation on the current trajectory of UK politics?
TJ: Well, hopefully all three, with reservations. I’m suspicious of the term ‘activism’, which implies to me a false separation between politics and everyday life. I’d certainly love it if people started reading out some of these horror stories at rallies and picket-lines though! I doubt that’s going to happen, but it would be kind of fun. These stories aren’t sermons. What drew me to Joel’s stories was that he was able to put politics in them in a very clear way, without being preachy, as you’ll see from his story in the book. Some of the other writers in the book don’t see themselves as political, and I hope that it will be read by people who don’t either, but will recognize something of their daily reality in the stories.


DM: With references to radical politics in the collection, does Horror Uncut suggest that the anger generated by austerity measures is leading to a politicization of the dispossessed and a growing appetite to challenge the neoliberal consensus?
TJ: It varies according to the story. Some, such as Rosanne’s story, ‘Pieces of Ourselves’, which was inspired by the student unrest in 2010, seem to be suggesting this. In others, such as Alison Littlewood’s ‘The Ghost at the Feast’, the supernatural acts as a metaphor for the way in which politicians seem to ignore popular protest. This has been the story of the past few years, when mass struggles by students, public sector workers and others have gradually faded into the background, wilfully marginalized by the media (although there is a small resurgence in public sector strikes at the moment over the miserable pay offer, despite the union soft cops’ efforts to dampen the flames of discontent). In general, I’d say Horror Uncut suggests a more negative picture, I’m afraid (but then it is after all a horror anthology!). Many of the acts of resistance shown are desperate, isolated, individual ones. There’s definitely more emphasis on the suffering of the vulnerable than in the politicization of the dispossessed. If there’s an appetite to challenge the ruling consensus, it’s that of the editors, possibly the writers and, hopefully, the readers, who may wish to translate their horror at what they read into some kind of collective action.


Twisted Tales of Austerity will run from 12-2pm on Friday 24th October 2014 at Waterstones Deansgate. Tickets are on sale in store and via the dedicated Eventbrite page.


October 22nd, 2014 - 13:34pm