The first decade of the new millennium witnessed a range of exciting developments in contemporary writings in English. From innovations in recognised forms such as the novel, poem, play and short story to developments in digital writings, creative writings and genres. Alongside these developments, the publishing industry also changed, with technological advances giving rise to the dawn of the eBook and corporate sponsorship igniting debates about the usefulness of literary prizes and festivals. As the first university group dedicated to the study of twenty-first century writings, C21 offers a unique research environment that has the potential to become a hub for wider networks of research in this emerging field.
C21 constitutes a logical development of existing research as well as an acknowledgement of wider trends of growth in academic criticism and popular attention given to contemporary writings. It builds on work in the Arts, Humanities and Media at Brighton, providing a focus for current research as well as developing new areas of enquiry and opportunities for publication.
C21 provides a platform for engagement and research development, offering the emerging field of twenty-first century writings as a new and directional source of understanding and creative inspiration for contemporary students and scholars. Providing current research activities with a sense of direction and unifying purpose as well as facilitating the possibility of new research developments, the research group forms a foundation for future research in the Humanities as well as ensuring a distinct and coherent research strategy.
C21 was founded in 2012 on the basis of recognised and developing strengths at the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts. It formally launched in September 2012. The grouping was directed by Dr. Katy Shaw from its launch in 2012 to the end of 2014.
The college has a long history of excellence in sequential and narrative illustration and performance arts and is a leading institution for innovative practice such as screendance. Practice-led research in digitial and multi-platform narrative is strongly represented at the faculty and creative writing is a major feature of community engagement, teaching and research. Among its emerging strengths in critical practice are new literatures, gaming and screen studies.
C21 Research unites researchers who work on a variety of twenty-first century writings from the contemporary novel, poems and plays to hypertext, digital gaming and contemporary creative writing and visual narratives, journalism and illustration. The research grouping operates at the intersection of creative and critical practice to promote innovative and original research, utilising staff and student teaching and research as a foundation for a new and engaging intellectual environment.
Administration of C21 is based in the College of Arts and Humanities but operates intellectually across the University. Membership is open to all academic staff and students working at the University of Brighton. However, we welcome collaborations with individuals based in other higher education institutions who share our academic interest in the field of twenty-first century stories, writing and critical practices.
Activities and projects initiated by the C21 research group include conferences, workshops, graduate events and web publication and dissemination of research materials. In the longer term, C21 produces funding bids, connections with undergraduate, postgraduate and short courses and engagements with broader academic and non-academic communities.
Contemporary Literature constitutes one of the core research strengths of Literature at Brighton and underpins several modules at undergraduate level.
'Writing the Contemporary', 'Brighton Rocks!' and 'Writing and Social Purpose' draw on an established research base of current publications in the field to disseminate and engage students in dialogue about cutting-edge fields of literary debate.
The English Literature Seminar Series is modelled to include and develop current third year students, with each paper offering enrichment opportunities for final year students across a diverse range of areas from Early Modern to Romanticism and Twenty-First century writings.
At our Hastings Campus, students are working as active research assistants, editing and creating entries for a Dictionary of Feminist Literature contracted to a US publisher and drawn from research strengths in women’s writing across the Literature team.
In Creative Writing, staff and students worked together to produce and publish The Modern Mind anthology of creative work, while earlier in the year second year early modern students collaborated with their module tutor to create an Open University programme about the gender and the stage and first year students considered the narratives of disneyfication and the theme park to shape a chapter in a forthcoming textbook.
Internationally, developments in Tunisia and the middle east inform literature teaching in travel writing and film adaptation while current scholarship on representations of the Cold-War era has produced a second module dedicated to the examination of social, political and economic relationships between writing and society in twentieth century Britain.External Curriculum Enhancement
HEA Report: Towards a Post-Millennial Literature: national report authored by C21 at the request of the HEA on teaching contemporary literature using examples of our own best practice.
Granta/British Council Launch and International Teaching Materials: in April 2013 C21 was chosen by The British Council and Granta to write international teaching materials encouraging universities all over the world to teach contemporary British Literature. The guidebook, three two-hour lectures and twenty seminars were circulated to universities globally to use in undergraduate teaching and available from The British Council.
If you would like to know more about the development of the C21 at the University of Brighton, please contact C21Writings@brighton.ac.uk