Skinner Young PhD Fellowship in Renaissance Literature.

Skinner-Young Research Studentship in Renaissance Literature: Further Details

Applications are invited for the Skinner-Young PhD Research Studentship in Renaissance Literature, to the value of £13,863 pa plus UK/EU fees, to be held within the Department of English and Media. The Department has particular strengths in drama, adaptation, gender, children’s literature, and the history of the book, and proposals for research on Renaissance literature broadly conceived, including creative responses or reception history, will be considered. Applicants should have, or expect to gain, a good MA in English or a related field. The successful research student will join a department with a thriving postgraduate culture (over 40 PhD students) and a strong tradition in Renaissance studies. The department scored 2.70 in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, placing it amongst the top 'new' university English Departments. Further information about the Department can be found at

The appointed student will be expected to pursue high-level research on Renaissance literature, commencing in February 2015 or October 2015, and teach up to 6 hours per week during term time after receiving appropriate training and mentoring.

The thesis will be supervised by Professor Eugene Giddens. Please email him at if you have any queries about the position.

Applications will be accepted through Anglia Ruskin’s normal research-degree application process, which can be found, upper right, here:
Please ensure that a research proposal of 500 words is included, along with a clear statement that you are seeking the Skinner-Young bursary. The application deadline is 22 December 2014.

My Loncon3 Report

If I don’t do this convention report now it won’t happen.

My convention was rather strange, in that it was very much confined to the space of the Exhibits Hall. That might sound dull but it really wasn’t. It was also strange in that for me the fun was in seeing everything I’d had in my head for two years come into place very physically. I had realised years ago that my mistake in theatre had been to get involved in performance. I should have gone in for direction, so much, much more fun and I hold by that now. For all I enjoyed my panels, the real joy of the convention began when Shana Worthen and I stood in that empty hall, the banners newly rigged, and realised it was ours.

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Karen Traviss, Going Grey.

For her return to creator copyright fiction Karen Traviss has decided to self publish. As she has lots of fans, and is a big name in areas of the field I suspect this will work very well for her. At the moment the book is available as a Kindle but I gather Audible has picked it up as well.

Going Grey, if I were to go all academic on you, is a futuristic crime/thriller rather than an sf novel, in that it starts in the wrong part of the story for sf, which is why I’ll look particularly forward to Book 2. In this one we discover that someone has created genes for morphing: some of the protagonists know that the genes are expressed in the body of an actual live young man, while the investigators think it’s a cluster of DNA which might be extractable. The race is on as to who can get to the young Ian Dunlop first, and once he is extracted, how well his new protectors can protect him.

The thing is, none of that is really what the book is about, and once I realised that I enjoyed it a great deal: all the reveals are early on, and the outcome is never in doubt because Ian falls in with super rich Mike and super tough Rob (of whom more in a minute) and no one is taking them down, so there is no point at all in reading the book for some kind of great twist.

What the book is really about, is mateship: from the very beginning, when Rob (a marine) saves the life of Mike (a security contractor) on the battlefield the emphasis is on the cultivation and growth of friendships and within that twin tracks of patronage—how it works and why it should be accepted—and honour or, as it is often expressed, how to be a real man.

I’m not going to disguise that Karen’s politics are not mine, but then the world she describes is not mine either. When Rob saves Mike’s life he is plucked from his hard, working class existence in which he struggles to save enough to put his kid through college in the UK and whisked off to the unimagined luxury of the life of a son of a senator. But Traviss is not telling a rags to riches story and she doesn’t gloss over the strain it puts on a relationship to be Buttons to Prince Charming: she explores the situation and allows for the tensions. Similarly when she introduces us to Mike’s wife Liv, we learn just how frustrating it can be to be the stay at home wife when one is an educated woman with ideas of her own and how difficult it can be to break free when the world around you has nailed you down. Then there is Ian. Ian Dunlop has been brought up off the grid by a woman he thinks of as his grandmother and told constantly to emulate his great grandfather who was a “real man”, a soldier, and a man of honour. Isolated from everyone, Ian is as impressionable as a day old chick and he impresses firmly on Rob and Mike, so the book too is about his growing up, how he thinks about the people around him and his own desires—which mainly boil down to controlling his morphing to the point that he can get Birds, Beer and a BMW, or to translate, can stay looking the same for long enough for a girl to go out with him, to get an ID card and a driving liscense. It’s all pretty realistic for a decently smart but rather average teen boy. The book is surprisingly internal, there is a lot of self analysis on the part of many of the characters. This, combined with the emphasis on friendship as the real story, means that the book feels about as unlike science fiction—which, I am sorry my friends, but is mostly rubbish at dealing with the every day of friendship structures—as it’s possible to get, even while it has an sf premise. That Ian comes to control his morphing so that there are none of the consequential ripples that you get from new inventions in sf, confirms my feeling of “not sf”. But there are more books to come and I suspect Karen has some tricks up her sleeve.

Recommended but don't go into it with preconceptions that you know what a Traviss book looks like.

When will someone invent a proper fuse that doesn't?

We got home last night to find the house fused. I went to bed, E and my Dad looked at it and decided to sort it in the morning. At 5:30am I got up to finish my talk and realised: aargh! No internet, no way to charge my phone to use it to look up things, low power on computer..... whimper.
Have I mentioned I married someone awesome who didn't moan when I demanded he fix it *now* while I tried to get on with my paper in a pre-internet world.
Eventually we got all of the above plus hot bathwater, but it's not been the ideal preparation morning.
Hope to see some familiar faces at the Royal Society at 1pm. I need morale support. (Topic: Science Fiction and the Royal Society).