UCL News


English alumni event

20 June 2005

Two panel discussions featuring former staff and students were the highlights of the second annual alumni event held by UCL's Department of English Language & Literature on 17 June 2005.

Author Susie Boyt

Opening the event, Professor of English and head of the department Henry Woudhuysen, welcomed returning alumni and current students. He thanked the generosity of alumni giving through UCL Futures, the annual fund which sponsored the event. It also sponsors a departmental writer-in-residence and a visiting fellow.

The first panel, chaired by Dr John Mullan, was 'Living Language' and featured John Sutherland, former Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at UCL, and Professor David Crystal (English 1962).

Professor Crystal recalled his advice to Lynne Truss (English 1977) not to transform her radio series Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation into a book: "I wouldn't bother, Lynne. Books on punctuation never sell." He went on to describe his early work on UCL's Survey of English Usage, and the extreme methods employed to record genuine everyday speech for analysis. His interest in analysing the English language now extends to blogging (diaries and logs on the World Wide Web) and the growth of 'pidgin' Englishes.

Professor Sutherland described the department's continuing dual emphasis on English language and English literature and talked about the history of the department's concern with the two subjects. He argued that it was important to continue to see the two as closely related.

The second panel, chaired by Dr Mark Ford, featured writers Susie Boyt (MA English 1995), Amit Chaudhuri (English 1986) and Emeritus Professor Dan Jacobson. They discussed 'Reading Novels, Writing Novels' and talked about the influence their early life and education, especially their reading, had on their subsequent development as writers: D H Lawrence's Sons and Lovers and his short stories were singled out by both Amit and Dan as important inspirations, while Susie pointed to the way that her MA work on Henry James and John Berryman had affected her work on her first novel.

A reception in the North Cloisters followed, for alumni, staff and students. The department has a growing alumni programme, led by its Director of Alumni Relations, Dr Berry Chevasco (PhD English 2000).

To find out more use the link below.

Link: English alumni programme