New Staff

In the last six months two new full-time members of staff have been appointed to the Modern English Literature section of the department.

Ashley Maher

Ashley Maher

Ashley begins at the department in the new academic year (September 2019). She was awarded her PhD from Washington University, St Louis and moved to Groningen from teaching at the University of Sydney. She specialises in Modernism and twentieth-century literature.

David Ashford

dr. D.M. (David) Ashford

David, who joined the department in January, mainly teaches in the third year of the BA. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge. He works on Modernism and has published three poetry collections.

John Ruskin

Cover for 

John Ruskin

Oxford University Press has just published John Ruskin’s selected prose edited by Prof. Lansdown for the 21st Century Oxford Authors series.

Ruskin (1819-1900), is one of the best known Victorian art and cultural critics. The volume includes selections from his lectures, essays and letters.

English Poetry at Noordwoord Festival

When: Friday 12 July, 8pm

Where: Prinsentuin, Groningen

Admission: 10 euros

On the opening night of Poets in the Prinsentuin, both English and Dutch speaking politically-engaged poets will present their view on the interesting times we live in. Accompanied by Jochem Braat on keys, the poets Tsead Bruinja, Simone Atangana Bekono, Doninique de Groen, Radna Fabias, Michael Tedja, Julia Lewis, Verity Spott and Juha Virtanen will recite their own and translated work. You can expect socially relevant themes, which will rapidly follow one another. Afterwards, you can shake all these acquired impulses off on the dance floor where DJ Neon Wasabi will be spinning her records.

New Chaucer Life Record

Prof. Sobecki’s discovery of a new document shedding light on Chaucer’s life has recently been covered by The Guardian.

The full article in English Literary History can be found at: which members of the university can access through their library account.

Chaucer is not the only medieval writer associated with controversy about raptus (rape, abduction). Thomas Malory may have imprisoned for rape. Rape and abduction (there’s a big difference as the latter could have been consensual or may not have involved sexual assault) remained difficult to distinguish in written records at least until the eighteenth century.

Chaucer – Shakespeare – Dickens

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week was called ‘Icons of English Literature’ today. The podcast is available at:

Chaucer is renowned as the father of English literature. But in a new biography Marion Turner argues he is a far more cosmopolitan writer and thinker than we might assume. She tells Andrew Marr how the 14th-century author of The Canterbury Tales moved from the commercial wharves of London to the chapels of Florence, and from a spell as a prisoner of war in France to the role of diplomat in Milan.

The academic Emma Smith challenges audiences to look with fresh eyes at the plays of Shakespeare. In a series of essays she reveals how his plays have as much to say about PTSD, intersectionality and #MeToo as they do about Ovid, marriage and the divine right of kings.

When Charles Dickens started his writing career, his ambition was global: to speak to ‘every nation upon earth’. And he succeeded. His stories reached Russia, China, Australia, even Antarctica, and he was mobbed in the street when he visited America. Juliet John, co-curator of the exhibition Global Dickens, examines how Dickens’s work could travel so far, when the settings of his novels were much closer to home. [BBC]

NUTS: Night of English Literature

This year’s edition is themed Spoof & Satire, and will include lectures by Dr Hans Jansen, Dr John Flood and Prof. Richard Lansdown. We also have some amazing people from Groningen University Theatre Society – GUTS coming by!

You can get your tickets by emailing us at, and transferring the money to SVNUTS (NL89 RABO 0346 2152 18). This event is €2 for members and €4 for non-members. Do make sure you get your tickets in time, as tickets are limited.

Doors will open at 20:00, the event starts at 20:30.

Venue: Van der Velde Boeken Groningen, locatie Grote Markt.

Just William

William. 13

The latest issue of William the Dutch Shakespeare magazine has now appeared. A number of people associated with the department have been involved with it:

Kristy Zuijdervliet has written an article ‘Shakespeare fandom 3.0’

Dr Hans Jansen has written about Measure for Measure and his fetish for Shakespeare dolls.

Sara van Geloven, a former student, is now the general editor of the publication.

Online Purchase

Into the World

Prof. Sobecki was speaking about the travels of Sir John Mandeville on BBC Radio 4 on Monday night. The episode is available as a download at:

From the BBC site:

At a moment when Brexit and our carbon footprints are prompting us to reassess what it means to move around the world, Sarah Dunant looks at the long history of travel and the ways it has enchanted and alarmed us across the centuries.

The anxieties over young Tudor travellers returning radicalised from Catholic Europe was a phenomenon that gripped England after the break with Rome. Nandini Das argues that fears over travel helped to define a nation.

Professor Eric Zuelow shows how the Nazi regime turned travel into a highly sophisticated propaganda tool, organising tours and trips specifically designed to cement ideas of racial superiority and national identity.

In the Middle Ages, travel is seen to be a startlingly tolerant and cosmopolitan experience, as the naturally curious medieval mind seeks to expand the borders of its world in a spirit of generosity. Whether the fantastical journeys of Sir John Mandeville or the diplomatic missions of Dominican Friars to Mongol Kings, Sebastian Sobecki explains how new discoveries were always understood through their existing religious and cultural lenses.