Exploring Creative Writing with Eleanor Rees

This autumn term sees the return of the popular Exploring Writing course with Eleanor Rees, we asked Eleanor to tell us a little bit more about her course – and the creative writing process.

I’d say the course runs very much like a writers’ group, offering a supportive creative space in which to develop new projects or complete on-going work. I’ve devised the course based on the kind of experience I was looking for when I was developing my first book, and wanting to focus on that project whilst also developing my technique. As a poet form and content are, for me, interwoven so writing new work and sharing it with an appreciative and supportive group was important in understanding how different rhetoric mean different things. This is not an abstract process, but experiential and needs to be learnt through doing. This is what a writing workshop offers the emerging writer. It is also a process all writers engage in points in their writing life when developing new work. I will adapt the exercises, as much as possible, to the interests and needs of the group, also the reading we undertake. Creativity and extending imaginative range are, however, the real focus as both of these qualities are essential to developing exciting new writing. There is no magic formula for creating art. Learning to make good judgements on the writing needs of your project is, though, a key skill. I draw this conclusion based on my experience as a poet with two collections of work under my belt and also from my on-going PhD research into ‘Re-imagining the Local Poet’ with the University of Exeter which explores how context informs poetic practice. But I’d say artistic judgement and creative energy are relevant to writing in all genres and, ambitiously, I think they can be developed and honed in a similar, if different, manner to critical thought.

Creative Play: Stimulus and Support for Your Writing Project with Eleanor begins on Thursday 25 September, 7-9pm for 10 weeks – if you would like to book on this course, the details are here http://payments.liv.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=29&prodid=626

For more about Eleanor visit her website http://www.eleanorrees.info/biography

 

Imagination Unchanged

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Imagination Unchanged by John Sayle 

Ask people what their strongest memory of science fiction is and you’ll get a variety of replies. Rutger Hauer sitting on a rooftop telling Harrison Ford I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. The zero-gravity ballet of astronauts in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL warning the Captain I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Dave. Colonel Kassad’s firefight in the Valley of the Time Tombs, or Father-Captain De Soya’s assault on an orbital forest in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. Deckard learning to program certain moods in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; I finally found a setting for despair… so I put it on my schedule for twice a month; I think that’s a reasonable amount of time to feel hopeless about everything…
It has been said that the scientist may predict the car, but it takes a science fiction writer to
predict the traffic jam. Richard Morgan’s novel Altered Carbon features technology that digitises human consciousness and can then ‘re-sleeve’ it in a new body. This shapes the setting – for example, Catholics consider re-sleeving as attempting to circumvent divine judgement and refuse it, so the courts try compelling murdered Catholics to testify at their murderer’s trials – but it also develops character and plot; Takeshi Kovacks is a former soldier whose mind was edited to make him a better killer. After cops shoot him, he is sprung from prison by a man who recently died – the police say it was suicide, but he claims he was murdered and wants Kovacks to investigate…
The development of these ideas is at the heart of all speculative fiction. If vampires existed, might they have engineered the Renaissance and the triumph of reason over superstition to protect themselves? What if the Roman invasion of Britain had been foiled by the magic of the druids, or the world’s electronics were destroyed by a solar flare? What if we could manipulate wormholes, outpacing light to visit distant stars? What if we couldn’t? According to Einstein, travelling close to the speed of light slows down time. Joe Haldeman’s Forever War considered the effects of relativistic travel on soldiers fighting an interstellar war. After every mission, they would return to find the Earth centuries older, leaving them alienated from society. As a Vietnam vet, Haldeman was writing of his own experiences of estrangement from American society. This is another speciality of speculative fiction; it is subversive. Unpalatable ideas are more acceptable when cloaked in the guise of sci-fi or fantasy; we consider them from a new perspective. In Battlestar Galactica, when Cylons invade New Caprica the humans form an insurgency – the ones strapping suicide vests on and blowing themselves up are the good guys! Where else in America in 2006 would this have been not only acceptable fiction, but popular and thought-provoking? Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History, all the varied facets of speculative fiction free us to consider different perspectives, diverse circumstances and their implications. Create new worlds, characters and stories. Entertain and provoke thought. Fascinate, and move hearts. Is there a better genre to let your imagination run wild?

This semester John will be teaching Worlds of Wonder: Writing Sci-Fi Fantasy and Speculative Fiction from Tuesday 7 October, 7-9pm for Continuing Education for details click here http://payments.liv.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&deptid=41&catid=29&prodid=625 

Searching for Richard III

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The skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in 2012 is beyond reasonable doubt that of King Richard III. One of the most controversial of English rulers, Richard has continued to fascinate ever since his death in battle at Bosworth in 1485, provoking numerous literary and artistic portrayals as a ruthless murderer of princes and devious plotter with unstoppable ambition. The legacy of this long tradition is the indelible image of Richard III as a disfigured hunchback, malign in appearance and in character.

This autumn, Continuing Education researchers in the Archaeology, Art History, English and History departments join the search for the real Richard III in a series of linked evening lectures. These talks will investigate the scientific and historic evidence that helps us to understand how this picture of the king was formed and will enable us to better judge how accurate the picture might be. If you choose to attend all four Richard III lectures then you will pay the discounted rate of £30.

Richard III: reign and reputation
Lecture: Monday 14 October 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Dr Martin Heale
£8
This lecture will assess the brief reign of Richard III and consider how historians have sought to understand and evaluate this most controversial – and topical – of English kings.
CRN 17617

Life in the age of Richard III: a bioarchaeological perspective
Lecture: Monday 28 October 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Shirley Curtis-Summers
£8
Using scientific evidence from the skeletal remains of Richard III, this lecture will build a picture of past lifeways in the middle ages. Key case studies will be presented in bioarchaeology (how we identify and recreate evidence of diet, health, trauma and pathology). We will analyse the skeletal trauma from Richard III and the Battle of Towton skeletons, investigate monastic dieting and fasting practices, and consider diet and disease from the medieval perspective.
Note that images of human remains will be shown in this lecture.
CRN 18025

Richard III: Shakespeare’s villain
Lecture: Monday 11 November 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Andrea Young
£8
As part of our Searching for Richard III series, this session will explore the historical, literary and dramatic influences on which Shakespeare drew to create one of his greatest anti-heroes.
CRN 17885

Richard III: Portraying the King
Lecture: Monday 25 November 6.15 – 8pm, University of Liverpool
With Dr Suzanne May
£8
One of the Walker Art Gallery’s most important paintings is ‘David Garrick as Richard III’. This lecture tells how William Hogarth’s 1745 portrait reconciles Shakespearean historicism and dramatic licence with artistic ambition and celebrity portraiture.
CRN 15667

For more information on Continuing Education please visit www.liv.ac.uk/conted/