The Uni at the Festival returns!

Posted on 9th November 2017

Don’t miss the opportunity to come and see the University at the Chester Literature Festival, which returns at the weekend in its new storytelling home – Storyhouse.

 Si Poole, Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research, who will be appearing at Uni at the Festival.
Si Poole, Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research, who will be appearing at Uni at the Festival.

Every year, Chester Literature Festival welcomes lecturers from the University of Chester, who share their expertise in a series of popular free talks. This November, there is the usual eclectic mix, with subjects ranging from fabric to children’s poetry, as well as a leading French writer, speaking in English.

On Monday, November 13, at 6pm in the Storyhouse Cinema, there is France, Europe and the Left after the French Elections of 2017 Introduced by the University’s Timo Obergöker, Professor of French and Francophone Cultural Studies, the writer and intellectual historian, Franҫois Cusset, who is Professor of American Civilisation at Paris Nanterre University, will be exploring the current state of the Left in France and discussing new forms of engagement.

Franҫois has also taught at Columbia University’s Reid Hall and at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris. His most notable books include:

  • Queer Critics: La littérature française déshabillée par ses homo-lecteurs, Presses Universitaires de France 2002.
  • La décennie: Le grand cauchemar des années 1980, La Découverte, 2006.
  • French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States, University Of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • The Inverted Gaze: Queering the French Literary Classics in America, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011.

At 1pm on Tuesday, November 14, at the Garret Theatre, Dr Katherine Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History will be discussing silk in her talk, Europe's Rich Fabric: The Growth of Luxury Textiles (1300-1500).

This event will explore the development of the silk trade in Europe and discuss the widening use of silks by urban consumers in the French city of Dijon. Dr Wilson's work has focused on the production of luxury textiles in Europe during the later medieval period. She has published on the social and cultural history of the Burgundian Netherlands and France, examining the material culture of these regions, focusing on the circulation of luxury goods and on reconstructing the biographies of their producers and consumers.

Bumblebees like jazz is the title of the Uni at the Fest event on Thursday November 16, at 1pm at the Garret Theatre. Jointly appointed by Storyhouse and the University of Chester (through the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services), Si Poole recently took up a new role as Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research, in order to liaise between the institution and the organisation to share and develop the best of learning and research. Whether poet, musician, or teacher, there is something for all in this talk. Si brings together these various roles in his life to explain his latest work for children, the poem Bumblebees like jazz. Finding a need to introduce children to differing genres of music, and building upon the already well established link between music education and children's literature, he explores the explicit and implicit values of music; music learning and appreciation; as well as reading skills through poetry. Si will consider how literature or poetry might help in the understanding of concepts in music, and can even provide scaffolding for composition.

Ending the University’s offering at this year’s Festival is Flash Fiction Now (and Then) … On Friday, November 17, at 6pm in the Garret Theatre, Dr Peter Blair, Senior Lecturer in English, will be discussing how flash fiction, or the short-short story, is more popular now than ever. Its brevity (typically under 500 words) makes it particularly suited to writing workshops, public performance, and on-screen reading, as well as to print magazines, anthologies, and collections. But brevity can have other advantages too: less is often more. As writer Ku Ling put it: ‘A good short-short is short but not small, light but not slight’. This illustrated talk will introduce the meteoric rise of the contemporary flash, its many varieties, and the myriad names by which it is known. It will consider definitions of flash fiction, including identification by word count and formal characteristics. It will also explore humorous examples to illuminate how little stories can resonate long after their last words.

Dr Sarah Heaton, Head of English at the University of Chester, who is coordinating Uni at the Festival, said: “The Uni at the Festival events are always an exciting part of the annual Chester Literature Festival. There is always a rich diversity to what is on offer and this year is no exception. These talks are free, unique and always fascinating. Come along and meet our experts who all want to discuss with you their literary and story-telling passions.”

The Chester Literature Festival 2017 takes place at Storyhouse from Sunday November 12 to Sunday November 19. Tickets are free, but places are limited so please book in advance at