Open University Contemporary Cultures of Writing Seminar 


The research focus of this new, interdisciplinary group is on writing practices, their cultural contexts and impacts. We are interested in all forms of creative and academic writing, reflective practices, academic literacies, and translation as a creative act.

This series will explore the meaning of ‘creativity’ in creative writing. The term ‘creativity’ has become something of a cliché of modern times. But it’s a fundamental property of human expression, and examining what it is, how it works, and what it’s used for can help us better understand the creative process. The series will look at creativity from various different perspectives, including storytelling in words and pictures, the importance of creative constraints for writing, and what language studies can offer the practice of creative writing.

This series will focus on important matters in Creative Writing today. Please note the date for the PhD commentary seminar has changed - it has been rearranged for later in March (it was originally scheduled for 6th March). See below.

The themes for the seminars are:

SEMINAR 1:   Creative Writing and REF21 – the assessment of practice-based research
Tuesday 20 February, 2018      Room G35

The next national assessment of university scholars’, departments’ and faculties’ research performance will take place in 2021. This seminar considers the practicalities of how such assessment is approached with a practice-based subject such as Creative Writing. Led by, a poet and panellist from the last two assessments in 2008 and 2014, the seminar will engage with the ways in which literary outputs and articles about the creative process might be assessed. Co-organised with NAWE, the seminar will help those preparing outputs for 2021, along with all those working in, or interested in, the subject area.

Speakers:    Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway). Introduced by Derek Neale (Open University).

SEMINAR 2: Innovations in Contemporary Poetry: Ekphrastic/collaborative practice
20 March, 2018    Room G35

Innovations in Contemporary Poetry: Ekphrastic/collaborative practice

Poets have long been inspired to write about their responses to works of art in other media, a tradition known as ekphrasis. Within a contemporary context, how are poets reinvigorating the ekphrastic tradition and expanding the concept of ekphrasis through their diverse practices? This session will consider the interplay between poetry and visual art, text and image, language and non-verbal art pieces (including video, music, and dance), as well as the collaborative modes and interdisciplinary processes that particular writers and artists have recently used to generate innovative work. The speakers are all practising poets who will discuss and read from their work

Speakers:   Deryn Rees-Jones (University of Liverpool), Denise Saul (freelance writer), and Helen Tookey (Liverpool John Moores University). Introduced by Jane Yeh (Open University).

SEMINAR 3: Writing about writing: what is a creative writing PhD commentary?
Tuesday 27 March, 2018   Room G35

The commentary is a common accompaniment to the novel or poetry collection in a Creative Writing PhD. The student is tasked with writing about their creative process, while making connections to relevant research and cultural contexts. Such commentaries can be controversial, for examiners and those trying to write them. This seminar will be led by three Creative Writing academics who have written commentaries themselves, but also supervised and examined PhDs. They will discuss various genres, including contemporary and historical fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. They will consider various approaches, before inviting open discussion with PhD students and other writers. The seminar is co-organised with the NAWE PhD Network.

Speakers:    Derek Neale (also introducing), Sally O’Reilly and Jane Yeh (all Open University).


Dr Derek Neale (Open University) & Dr Sally O'Reilly (Open University)