Category Archives: RUG English News

News about the English department and from the university.



Researchers from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands have developed an online language game in which you can test how well you understand a related language. By playing the game you both help with research on communication in Europe and have a chance to win one of a selection of great prizes (tablet, iPod etc.). 2,000 participants are required. Everybody can play the game – it doesn’t matter how old you are, which languages you speak, or what educational background you have. You can participate by clicking on this link:

Have fun!

If you are interested you can find further details about the project and the project team at: . It’s not necessary to read this background to play the game.

Lecture: ‘Films and Existential Feelings: The Case of Depression’

Time and venue: April 18, 6pm to 8pm, Van der Leeuwzaal.

Speaker: Jens Eder teaches media and communication studies at the University of Mannheim, Germany. His current research interests centre on audiovisual narratives, their cultural influence and their recent developments on the web.

Abstract: Watching a film can change the viewers’ experience of the world – maybe only momentarily, but often profoundly. Jens Eder’s presentation will explore this world-changing quality of films as ‘qualia-machines’ by introducing Matthew Ratcliffe’s philosophical concept of “ feelings of being” or “existential feelings” into film and media studies. This concept captures an important category of affect in film reception, which is hard to grasp theoretically and has been largely neglected by film theory. It refers to a group of affective phenomena that escape not only most cognitivist but also most phenomenological theories of feeling in film. Starting from this assumption, the presentation will deal with the following questions: How can this kind of feeling be integrated into a more complete theory of film and feeling/affect/emotion? What is the relation between existential feelings of characters (represented feelings) and of real viewers (elicited feelings)? What are the specific aesthetic possibilities of film and its forms in evoking, simulating or influencing existential feelings in the viewers?

Focusing on examples from European and North American films dealing with depression (e.g., Il deserto rosso, Taxi Driver, Fight Club, Adaptation, Helen, Deine besten Jahre as well as series like Six Feet Under or In Treatment), Eder’s paper will suggest some tentative answers to those questions by connecting the philosophical concept of ‘existential feelings’ to approaches from psychology (e.g., accounts of depression) and film studies (among others, Plantinga’s ‘synaesthetic affects’, Fahlenbrach’s ‘audiovisual metaphors’, and my own work on characters, emotions, and ‘mental perspective’). In doing this, the paper will also try to shed some light on how depression – the most common meFight Club (film)ntal disorder in postindustrial societies – is represented in film and what kinds of feelings such representations are supposed to elicit in the viewers. An answer to that question should be informative not only for theories of film and emotion, but also for theories of culture and representation.


Film Lecture

Tilo Hartmann from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will talk about “Peak experiences: Exploring users’ sad and meaningful experiences during film exposure.” The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 28, from 6-8pm in the Van der Leeuwzaal (Academy Building).

Public lecture: Witnessing Drama from the Cycle Plays to Shakespeare

The Department of English and the Agricola Seminar invite you to the Annual MacDonald Lecture: ‘Reviewing the Spectatorial Turn: Witnessing Drama from the Cycle Plays to Shakespeare’.

Prof. Alasdair MacDonald (emeritus, RUG) and Prof. Greg Walker (Edinburgh)
Prof. Alasdair MacDonald (emeritus, RUG) and Prof. Greg Walker (Edinburgh)

Speaker: Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.

Time/Date: Monday 11 March at 4pm

Venue: Academy Building A7

Prof. Walker teaches literature of the medieval and early modern periods. His publications include:

  • The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama, co-edited with Thomas Betteridge (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature, co-edited with Elaine Treharne (Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • Writing Under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2007)
  • ed. Medieval Drama: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2000)
  • The Politics of Performance in Early Renaissance Drama (Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback, 2006)
  • ed.: John Skelton (Everyman Poetry Library, 1997)
  • Persuasive Fictions: Faction, Faith, and Political Culture in the Reign of Henry VIII (Scolar Press, 1996)
  • Plays of Persuasion: Drama and Politics at the Court of Henry VIII (Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • John Skelton and the Politics of the 1520s (Cambridge University Press, 1988, 2002)