ECR Event

An Early Career Researcher’s Event was held at King’s College London on 8-9 May 2015.

Do you teach English Literature at a higher education institution? Have you recently begun your first full-time post, or are you in the middle of a fixed-term teaching post or a postdoc? This one-and-a-half-day workshop is open to everyone who teaches English at HE level who has been in post for three years or less and is focussed specifically on the experience of teaching English in HE and is designed to encourage you to talk through your experiences, expectations and aspirations with your peers and with the University English team.

What we do when we teach English? Why we do it? What we want to achieve by doing it? How do we approach the academic career? How do we negotiate teaching, research and administrative obligations? These will be the questions that underlie our sessions. The event, which will be hosted by King’s College London, will start in the late afternoon of Friday 8 May with a workshop on the place of close reading in our teaching. This will be an informal session, and it will be followed by dinner at a(n affordable) local restaurant.

On Saturday 9 May we will enjoy a day of workshops on teaching, getting published and early-career planning, featuring sessions with Dr Nicole King (Reading University, former national subject lead for English for the Higher Education Academy), who will offer her insights into the particular possibilities and pleasures of university-level teaching, and with Margaret Bartley, senior commissioning editor for Arden Bloomsbury, who will discuss the current situation in academic publishing and reflect on the dos and don’ts of seeking first publication.

We hope that the occasion will give you the opportunity to participate in lively debate about teaching your own subject, to share ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and to engage with others at the same career stage as you on the experience of entering the profession at the current time. Each session will be focussed on you, the participants; we will seek as much as possible to answer your questions about the subject, the job and the career.

The event will take place 5-7pm on the 8th and 10-5pm on the 9th in the Anatomy Theatre and Museum at King’s College London. Participants who are unable to come on the 8th and can only attend on the 9th are welcome (though you will miss out on significant bonding over dinner on the Friday evening!). There is a fee of £60 for this event, which covers all seminars and refreshments and includes lunch on the 9th, but not accommodation or supper on the night of the 8th (we hope that individuals’ departments may be in a position to support their attendance). The workshop will finish (with drinks, naturally) no later than 5pm on the 9th.

Please contact Gordon McMullan if you have queries:

Friday 8 May

4.15-5 Registration for participants arriving on Friday

5-6.30 Welcome by Gordon McMullan (King’s), followed by

Workshop-Seminar on Close Reading: Susan Bruce (Keele)
What is a ‘small group’ at your institution? What is a seminar? What do you want students to do in seminars and how do you want them to behave? What’s more important: intellectual content? Social interactions? How do undergraduates address the process of close reading? Do they enjoy it? Does it scare them? How does A-level shape their expectations? We will listen to your experience of, and reflect on, the business of close reading and small-group teaching.

6.30 drinks

8 dinner at a restaurant nearby (venue tbc)

Saturday 9 May

9.30-10 Registration for participants arriving on Saturday

10 Session 1: Reasons to be Cheerful: Life in an English Department Now: Richard Kirkland (King’s), Bernhard Klein (Kent), Gordon McMullan (King’s), Lucy Munro (King’s)
Too often, early-career academics hear senior colleagues complaining about things not being as good as they were in the old days. Our aim in this session is to offer a balanced account of the state of play in UK English departments now and to reflect on the joys as well as the challenges of our profession.

11 coffee

11.30 Session 2: How to Get Published: Margaret Bartley (Arden Bloomsbury)
An introduction to the practicalities of publishing your work; what publishers needs from you; how to approach publishers and what to offer them; and information about each stage of the publishing process.

12.30 lunch

1.30 Session 3: A Guide to Good Lecturing: workshop with Nicole King (Reading)
In this session we will discuss your perspectives on giving lectures, pedagogical reasons for and against lecturing, examples of lecturing, ways to identify good practice and how to improve your lectures. The session will include activities and there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

3 coffee

3.30 Session 4: Progressing through the Career: Tasha Alden (Aberystwyth), Clare McManus (Roehampton), Kathryn White (Ulster)
This session will include discussion of the following: getting a permanent post; life as a ‘new academic’; planning the career; negotiating the demands of research, teaching and administration; work-life balance (including parenthood); getting promoted. We will aim to address as many of your questions as we can.

4.30 Summary – to include answering any of your questions not covered so far – and evaluation

5 finish