On Tuesday 25th June Dr David Aldridge and Dr Andrew Green (Dept. of Education) hosted the first of what is planned to be an annual Literature & Education Conference in collaboration with ACS Hillingdon. The conference comes as one of the outcomes of a year-long project in this field made possible by funding from Global Lives and the university’s ‘Humanising Education’ seminar series.
The conference, kindly hosted by ACS at their beautiful site in Hillingdon, began with an address from Dr Green and Dr Aldridge establishing Literature & Education as an emerging research field located at the intersection of Education Studies and Literary Studies. What, they considered, are the deep and multiple ways in which literature and education interact? Moving beyond the value of literature for moral formation or for the broader humanistic development of students of all ages or the ways in which authors, texts or literary movements address educational themes, they set out a series of complex notions of how literary texts function as educative ‘vehicles’ and what happens to them once they are brought into educational spaces and used for educational purposes. Additionally, they considered explicitly the ways in which literature can be a resource for educational thought or can nurture and inspire educational change.
There followed a stimulating sequence of talks from Professor Len Platt (Goldsmiths) on ‘Education and the Early James Joyce text’, Dr Chris Hanley (Manchester Metropolitan University) on ‘George Orwell and Education’ and Dr Vicky Greenaway (Royal Holloway) on ‘Victorian Visions of Education’. These talks illustrated a variety of ways in which notions and functions of literary education, the literary shaping of education and the literary text as ‘educational space’ might be conceived.
The Conference concluded with readings by Professor Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway) and Dr Max Kinnings (Brunel University London) and a Question and Answer session about their creative practices and their engagement with literature and education.
The Conference coincides with the launch of Routledge’s Literature & Education series, of which Dr Aldridge and Dr Green are series editors. This series seeks to define new understandings of what research in this area – which resides at the intersection of literary and educational studies – looks like. The first book in the series, George Orwell and Education by Chris Hanley is due for publication this Autumn.