Breaking the ice

Welcome to the School of English blog! My hope is that this becomes a way of communicating with each other, with our students, with the wider university and with the outside world about the whole range of activities that we are engaged in – research, teaching and the less glamorous stuff as well. With students now paying £9000 a year to study at university, it’s important to present a rounded picture of how we spend our time.
I guess I should go first. I had thought about providing an overview of my first six weeks as Head of School, but that would end up as a list of events and activities (and forms) rather than anything that was at all interesting to read. Instead, I’ll just tell you about my day yesterday.
I started work on the train, checking through the plans for our School Away Day on the 25th and the welcome session for new first years on the 2nd of October. There was also a bit of time to read through an introduction I’m writing for a re-issued WWI slang dictionary called Lingo of No Man’s Land. The most interesting thing I discovered was a marked disparity between the foreword’s stirring account of the author’s wartime experiences and the very different story provided by his service record and medical history. I had thought that 3000 words would be plenty, but it has been a bit of a struggle to fit it all in.
Most of the morning was taken up with emails and post about the upcoming term, PhD vivas, personnel issues, possible new degrees, staff development and NSS results. I had lunch with another new head of department, which was a good opportunity to compare notes about the REF and impending documentaries (don’t panic colleagues – I’ll let you know when there’s anything definite to pass on). In the morning, the admin hub on the 15th floor was buzzing with anxious-looking MA students and in the afternoon I made a start on marking their dissertations. This was the first year of our English Language and Linguistics MA and I’m really pleased with the progress our students have made. It has been a pleasure getting to know them and learning more about their home countries and languages (Kurdish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese). On the train back home I wrote this blog post.
So there you are – a day on the life of an academic during that long summer holiday.

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Julie Coleman

About Julie Coleman

Head of the School of English and Professor of English Language.

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