Award winning novelist and short story writer, Jon McGregor, has been appointed as Professor of Creative Writing (Writer in Residence) in the University of Nottingham’s School of English.
Jon, who received an honorary degree from the University in 2011, has been delivering guest lectures, seminars and other special events in the School of English since becoming an Honorary Lecturer last year, but will take up this new permanent position on a day per week basis from August.
Describing his new role, Jon enthused: “The thing that has really excited me about this post is that it allows me to continue to be a writer whilst sharing my professional skills, knowledge and experience in a teaching context.
“Being able to talk to students about what make a good piece of writing, why this is working, what the writer has done to get at this point and how they can apply that to their own writing, that’s really exciting.
“Universities are a fruitful and energetic environment in which to develop your own creative writing and to be exposed to different ideas of what writing is doing and what writing can be. They have the potential to be very generative for students and young writers.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for the Faculty of Arts, Professor Sarah O'Hara said: “Jon McGregor is one of the UK’s brightest literary talents. His creativity and experience will have a hugely positive impact on students and enhance the University’s reputation as a leader in Arts and Humanities. His appointment is a wonderful addition to our outstanding School of English”.
This view was echoed by Head of the University’s School of English, Professor Julie Sanders: “We have been working with Jon for the past year in his capacity as an honorary lecturer within the School. In addition to his tremendous energy and enthusiasm, as a practising writer Jon is able to bring a unique perspective into his teaching and interactions with staff and students. We are delighted that he is able to join our talented team on a permanent basis.”
The development of a new literary journal will be one of Jon’s key responsibilities within the new role. The journal will act as a vehicle for students to learn about reading and assessing high quality work. It will allow them to get hands-on editing and collating experience and how to make a number of pieces of work function as a cohesive whole.
Jon explained the aims of the new journal:
“It’s about exploring what place a literary journal could have in writing culture, and considering digital writing and printed writing and the relationship between the two. It’s also about what journals people are reading and how being published in smaller journals can influence people’s early careers. Engaging students in joining me to think about what a journal could be and relating that to the bigger question of the crossroads that publishing finds itself in at the moment."
“It will feature the best of contemporary writers internationally and I will be drawing on my own contacts and The University of Nottingham’s global connections. If a student writes something which is good enough then that would be really exciting for them and a stepping stone in their career but mainly their role would be on the production side. If you can read a piece of work and understand the mechanics and what the writer has done to get to that point then you can bring that to bear on your own writing.
“English is a dominant language all over the world but there are different forms of English. UK writers and American writers can be quite dominant in English language culture but it would be really exciting to find the really strong voices of people who are writing in different forms of English around the world.”
Asked about the current squeeze on funding for arts based subjects, Jon responded: “The very foundation of the idea of a university, and of education, is an enquiry into life, culture and meaning. People need to examine the place of language in society and culture, the place of literature and the way people engage with literature. Film and television are to a huge chunk of society what novels were to earlier societies. Giving people the tools to understand the messages they are being given and to engage with those messages and be able to analyse and respond to them is an essential part of building a functional society."
“Creative industries are one of our biggest and most important exports. You could build a nice spread sheet demonstrating the economic case for arts and arts teaching but you could also equally build a rational philosophical case.”
Further details on the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, recent won by Jon McGregor can be found at www.impacdublinaward.ie/2012/winner.htm
Posted on Tuesday 17th July 2012