Shelf Concerns

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This podcast from the English and Creative Writing team at the University of Northampton discusses current issues through the lens of literature.


~Series 1~

Lockdown Finalists - 02 Jul 2020
In this episode of Shelf Concerns we speak to students who have recently or are currently in the process of finishing their English degree at the University of Northampton. We explore what online learning is, how this works, the pros and cons, and ultimately how students found completing the final weeks of their English degree in the midst of a global pandemic. It turns out they did really well! Tune in to hear direct, first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Literature and the Environment - 09 Jul 2020 
In the second episode of 'Shelf Concerns', Dr Claire Allen is joined by Meghann Hillier-Broadley, a postgraduate student studying for her PhD in English Literature at the University of Northampton. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Claire and Meghann reflect on the two things many of us have been doing over the last few months; reading and walking. They discuss the history of the relationship between literature and the environment, from the Ancients, via the Romantics, to the present day. In so doing, they explore how texts with an environmental focus can help us to consider key contemporary societal concerns, such as feminism, the black lives matter movement, and climate change.  How might a consideration of literature and the environment help us imagine the world anew as we move into 'the new normal?’ Tune in to hear their response to such questions and recommendations for reading on this topic.

Jane Austen: Analysis & Adaptation - 17 Jul 2020
The 18th July marks the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death (1775-1817). In order to commemorate this date and to celebrate her literary accomplishments, this podcast explores why Austen remains such an important figure within the world of literary studies, but also within our wider culture. In this episode of Shelf Concerns, Dr Claire Allen is joined by Dr David Simmons, Senior Lecturer in English and Screen Studies, and Meghann Hillier-Broadley, a PhD student, to discuss their favourite Austen novels, adaptations, and to ask what contemporary society can learn from an author who died over 200 years ago.

Bronte's Birthday - 28 Jul 2020 
To celebrate the anniversary of Emily Bronte's birthday on the 30th July, in this episode of Shelf Concerns, Claire Allen is joined by three students from the University of Northampton, Destiny, Dan and Beth, to discuss their responses to this writer and in particular one of the most famous texts in the British literary canon, 'Wuthering Heights'. They explore the continued relevance of the novel, key themes such as race and gender, as well as the use of Gothic tropes and contemporary adaptations of her work. Continuing the theme of rivalry from the previous podcast on Austen, we also ask 'which Bronte is best'. Listeners will be pleased to hear that the eagerly anticipated result of the listeners' poll to establish their favourite Austen Adaptation from the previous podcast (conducted via Twitter @EngNorthants) is revealed.

Results Day 2020 - 11 Aug 2020
It's that time of the year again, A level results day. In any ordinary year this is a particularly stressful time for pupils eagerly awaiting the result of months of hard work. However results day 2020 is like no other! In this episode of the English and Creative Writing podcast from the University of Northampton Dr Claire Allen is joined by two students, Esher and Dan, to discuss their experiences of receiving their results. They explore what results can really mean long-term, advice on how to get into the university and course of your choice, and offer their thoughts on preparing for the big day and what to do if things don't go the way you expect. Good luck everyone!

Studying English Literature in a Second Language - 28 Aug 2020
Ever wanted to know what it is like to study English Literature as a non-native speaker of English? Tune in to the latest podcast from Shelf Concerns to hear Marie's experiences of studying a joint honours degree in English and Education Studies in her second language. Marie shares top tips and advice on how to qualify to study at a UK institution, how to prepare for study, and the support that is available for EU and international students at The University of Northampton.

A New Start: Thriving on your English Degree - 22 Sep 2020
In this episode of Shelf Concerns, Dr Claire Allen is joined by two students, Jade and Ruby, who are about to start the second year of studying for their English degree at the University of Northampton. In this episode Jade and Ruby reflect on their first year of study. The podcast explores how you should prepare in the immediate run up to the start of your degree, what coping strategies can be useful when managing workloads and reading lists, and Jade and Ruby offer their top tips on how to thrive in first year. The key message is, ‘Don’t panic!’

Remember, Remember the 5th of November: Moore and Lloyd's V for Vendetta - 01 Nov 2020 
In this episode of ‘Shelf Concerns’, Claire is joined by Dr David Simmons, Senior Lecture in English and Film and Screen Studies at the University of Northampton, and MA student, Jake Oldham.  They discuss Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, exploring the role of symbols, media, and individual vs collective responsibility as presented in the future dystopian world created in the text.

~Series 2~

Horror Fiction - 28 Oct 2021
In the first episode of the second series of Shelf Concerns, Claire and David talk about fiction that scares us and what we might take from such texts as reader. Tune in to hear about David's recommendation for a book to spook you this Halloween and his discussion of why this genre of fiction might be so popular.

Bah Humbug! A Festive Podcast - 15 Dec 2021
Get into the festive spirt(s) by listening to the latest podcast from the English team at The University of Northampton. In this episode Phillippa Bennett discusses 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. Though this is a text we are all so familiar with, not least because of the many and various adaptations of the text, Phillippa looks at this enduring classic with fresh eyes, to consider the meaning of the Ghosts, what we can learn from the text today, and to explore why this classic tale is worth revisiting this festive season. So here is our recommendation for a good text to snuggle up with on Christmas Eve. Enjoy this Christmas 'Present' from the team!

A Hundred Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses - 02 Feb 2022
In this episode, we explore the legacy of Joyce’s most famous novel – how it was most innovative, why it remains important and what makes it so enjoyable to read. Claire talks with Rod and Joe about the influence and formidable reputation of the book, but also why there’s nothing to be afraid of in dipping your toes in.

How to Promote your Inner Genius by Hijacking the Identity of Your Closest Friends - 25 May 2022
This time, Rod talks to Jade and Karis, two students finishing their degree, about what they’ve learned – including what a great model Gertrude Stein provides for ways to promote your own genius. What can celebrity culture tell us about how and why we read books? Find out here!

~Series 3~

Halloween & Hyde - 25 Oct 2022
In the first episode of the new series of Self Concerns Claire Allen (Programme Leader for MA English) is joined by Dr Phillippa Bennett (Programme Leader for BA English) and Dr David Simmons (Programme Leader for BA Film and Screen Studies) as they go head-to-head to discuss their Halloween recommendation, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Phillippa and David discuss the role of the monster in both the original text, as well as the many and various adaptations there have been, and why this text continues to be such an important one to teach us about the relationship between the individual and society, both in the Victorian era and now, our humanity, and our behaviours. Tune in to hear why this is the English department's recommended Halloween read, and which of the many adaptations our film expert suggests you check out this autumn.

Jack the Ripper: Fact and Fiction - 03 Mar 2023
In this episode Claire Allen is joined by Dr Drew Gray to discuss the infamous case of Jack the Ripper. This is a case which has garnered much interest, both in the fields of Literature and History. Tune in to hear how our understanding of the case has changed and developed over time, and continues to do so, as well as how the figure of Jack and his victims have sparked the imaginations of fiction writers and literary scholars. What do we learn from studying this figure? As the podcast explores, there is so much more to discover other than just the ‘who done it’ fascination or the gruesome detail of horrific crimes, but actually a focus on this case, which almost everyone has heard of, can teach us so much more about the society of the time, but also who we are today and how some of the societal issues prevalent in the nineteenth century still have relevance to our contemporary lives.

Resilience - 20 Nov 2023
In this episode Claire Allen talks to Octavia, a student who recently graduate from the University of Northampton with an excellent degree in English, but who faced many challenges along the way. Octavia talks about the idea of resilience, in particular looking at the support which is available for anyone struggling with their mental health or other difficulties. She also discusses what she learnt in the process of doing her degree and in particular the transferable skills she gained from studying English.
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