English Department First in Elsevier League Table

The 2016 Elsevier University League Tables results have been published and the department has again been rated first in the Netherlands (followed by Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Nijmegen).

The tables rank facilities, teaching, programme, staff, assessment, and organisation and communication. With the exception of Assessment (where Groningen received the second highest grade), the department was first or joint first on all other measurements. With the exception of one score that remained the same, all of the other scores increased.

These kinds of tables are never 100% accurate measurements of things, but they give students and potential students some idea of the strengths and weaknesses of particular departments.

3D Employment Graph

Image By ccPixs.com

Lionel Shriver Controversy About Cultural Appropriation

Officials in charge of an Australian writers festival were so upset with the address by their keynote speaker, the American novelist Lionel Shriver, that they publicly disavowed her remarks. …

Ms. Shriver had been billed as speaking on “community and belonging” but focused on her views about cultural appropriation, a term that refers to the objections by members of minority groups to the use of their customs or culture (or even characters of their ethnicity) by artists or others who do not belong to those groups.

Ms. Shriver criticized as runaway political correctness efforts to ban references to ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation from Halloween celebrations, or to prevent artists from drawing on ethnic sources for their work. Ms. Shriver, the author of 13 novels, who is best known for her 2003 book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, was especially critical of efforts to stop novelists from cultural appropriation.

Article in The New York Times

Enid Blyton’s Texts Partially Restored

Hachette Children’s Group is to revert to classic Enid Blyton texts, after a 2010 policy to update the language “proved very unpopular”.

At the time, they had insisted: “These days you don’t talk of jolly japes to kids.”

But after updating the Famous Five novels to swap little-used words to their modern-day equivalents, the publishers have now bowed to the wishes of long-standing fans to reinstate the language of the 1940s.

Article in The Telegraph

2010 article in The Guardian

Although the books will now have their jolly japes restored, other changes to parts of the original books that were deemed offensive will remain. Although one might think that a concern for textual editions is a concern for those studying classic literary authors, in fact children’s fiction can raise all sorts of complications as texts as well as covers are updated. A reader of the 2010 Secret Seven books would have some of the specificity of their time of composition erased.

Blyton book covers through the ages

Image result for secret seven

Punctuation Error Delays Murder Investigation

Confusion over punctuation led to a potentially vital piece of evidence in the Stephen Lawrence murder case being overlooked for 21 years, a senior investigator has revealed.

Chris Le Pere, the man now leading a fresh investigation into the 1993 killing, said the error led to a bag strap that may have been used as a home-made weapon being wrongly recorded as discovered almost 100 yards away from where Stephen was targeted by racist thugs.

Article in The Independent

Trigger Warnings

The question of ‘trigger warnings’ is particularly relevant to literature students who have to read works dealing with all kinds of controversial and potentially offensive or upsetting material.

It might not be an exaggeration to suggest that the study of literature is subject to a general trigger warning and that one of its attractions is its engagement with perspectives that are different from our own.

University of Chicago: ‘We Do Not Support So-Called Trigger Warnings’