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Write Now: Exploring the Teaching of Contemporary British Literature in Global Higher Education

18th May 2020

More than half of the world's students study Shakespeare, but the story of contemporary English Literature does not begin and end with the Bard.

There has been a rapid global rise in the teaching of English Literature at Higher Education (HE) level, even in countries where English is not the national language.

Yet, within these programmes, advertised curriculum content often focuses on pre-1900 texts (from Shakespeare to Dickens) at the expense of more contemporary British writings.

Now a new research programme, coordinated by Northumbria University’s Professor Katy Shaw and supported by the British Council, will conduct the first ever review of the teaching of contemporary (post-2000) British Literature on named English Literature HE programmes currently delivered outside the UK and Ireland.

Through a comprehensive survey of international HE educators and an analysis of its findings, the Write Now research will map the current context and identify resourcing and development requirements as well as future potential for promoting the teaching of contemporary British Literature overseas.

Research will be gathered from English educators across the world from Spring - Autumn 2020.

The results of the research will be published in Winter 2020 in an open-access report that will enable knowledge transfer, encourage international capacity and partnership-building in the international HE sector, and influence policy and strategy formation by the English national subject association.

Caption:Professor Katy ShawSpeaking about why educators might consider taking part in the research, Professor Shaw said: “This research will offer new insights into the teaching of contemporary British Literature across the globe.

“By engaging with colleagues in Higher Education across all five continents, the project will gather information on their experiences and practices, as well as identifying needs and areas of growth.

“Through sharing the results of the research on an open-access basis, we hope to foster greater understanding of the impact of post-millennial British Literature in English programmes across the world today.”

Jim Hinks, Senior Programme Manager, Literature, at the British Council, said: “The British Council is delighted to support this research, which aims to improve and support the teaching of contemporary British Literature overseas. Studies such as Write Now echo the focus of our wider work, fostering mutual understanding and connection between the UK and other countries via education, arts and English language. We look forward to the findings of the study later in the year.”

Contemporary British Literature is a burgeoning area of both academic critical study and popular focus. Prof Shaw is Vice-Chair of BACLS – the British Association of Literary Studies – and also sits on the executive committee of University English, the national subject association.

This research is of key concern to and supported by both these national bodies in their shared mission to further the teaching, reading and understanding of post-2000 British literature both nationally and internationally.

Anyone interested in taking part in the research should contact Prof Shaw at:

The survey can be accessed here and you can read more about the research in this British Council blog post.

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Department of Humanities

Humanities At Northumbria Is Composed Of Three Subject Teams: History, Literature & Creative Writing, And English Language & Linguistics, And Is Also Developing Strengths In The Fields Of American Studies And Heritage Studies.

Katy Shaw

Professor in the Department of Humanities and lead researcher into twenty-first century writings.

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