School of English

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James Aitcheson

Teaching Associate in Creative Writing, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

PhD (University of Nottingham); MA (Bath Spa University); MA (Cantab.) (University of Cambridge).

I am a novelist, lecturer, writing tutor, literary consultant and medieval scholar. A professional writer since 2010, I am the author of both commercial and literary fiction. My four published novels are all set during the Middle Ages.

My most recent title, The Harrowing (Heron, 2016) was named by The Times as a Book of the Month. My novels have also received praise from The Mail on Sunday and BBC History Magazine, and has been published overseas in the US, Germany and the Czech Republic.

I received my PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Nottingham in 2021, following which I taught Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, before returning to the University of Nottingham in 2022.

Expertise Summary

Creative writing, with a focus on prose fiction. I have particular expertise in novel-writing and am especially interested in historical fiction: what it is; why we write it; how it is constructed; and its objectives, responsibilities and possible future directions.

I am also interested in medievalism - the representation of the Middle Ages in modern culture - and the ways in which historical fiction and other media contribute to popular understanding of the medieval period. My other research interests include early medieval aviation and astronomy.

Outreach and Public Engagement

I regularly give public lectures at literary festivals on historical fiction and early medieval England. I have written popular history features for the online editions of BBC History Magazine and History Today, and spoken about my work on various BBC and commercial local radio stations.

I have run creative writing workshops on behalf of the University of Nottingham at the Being Human Festival in 2017 and the Midlands Viking Symposium in 2018. In 2019, I ran a 1066-themed historical fiction course for secondary school students on behalf of English Heritage as part of their nationwide 'Telling Tales' outreach initiative.

Teaching Summary

Undergraduate modules taught

Creative Writing Practice; Fiction: Forms and Conventions; Digital Story: Craft and Technique.

Postgraduate modules taught

Writing Workshop: Fiction

Research Summary

My current research, which is based upon my own creative practice, explores historical fiction in the twenty-first century: what it is, what it is for, and what is its future. I question whether the… read more

Selected Publications

  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2022. Historical friction: constructing pastness in fiction set in eleventh-century England. In: RACHEL A. FLETCHER, THIJS PORCK and OLIVER M. TRAXEL, eds., Old English Medievalism: Reception and Recreation in the 20th and 21st Centuries D.S. Brewer. (In Press.)
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2021. Writing the Middle Ages: new approaches in historical fiction. In: TOMMASO DI CARPEGNA FALCONIERI, PIERRE SAVY and LILA YAWN, eds., Middle Ages Without Borders: A Conversation on Medievalism Publications de l'École française de Rome.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2016. The Harrowing Heron.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2013. Knights of the Hawk Preface.

Current Research

My current research, which is based upon my own creative practice, explores historical fiction in the twenty-first century: what it is, what it is for, and what is its future. I question whether the emphasis that writers, readers, critics and scholars have traditionally placed on a text's historical accuracy and authenticity is justified or sustainable, and I challenge some of the established orthodoxies regarding the function and the potential of fiction set in the past.

At the same time I am completing my fifth novel, a work of fantastic-historical fiction set in early eleventh-century England.

  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2022. Historical friction: constructing pastness in fiction set in eleventh-century England. In: RACHEL A. FLETCHER, THIJS PORCK and OLIVER M. TRAXEL, eds., Old English Medievalism: Reception and Recreation in the 20th and 21st Centuries D.S. Brewer. (In Press.)
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2021. Writing the Middle Ages: new approaches in historical fiction. In: TOMMASO DI CARPEGNA FALCONIERI, PIERRE SAVY and LILA YAWN, eds., Middle Ages Without Borders: A Conversation on Medievalism Publications de l'École française de Rome.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2016. The Harrowing Heron.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2013. Knights of the Hawk Preface.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2012. The Splintered Kingdom Preface.
  • JAMES AITCHESON, 2011. Sworn Sword Preface.

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