Proof the Proofs

Galley proofs of A Far Light turned up this morning. That sorts my play-time  for a bit. In final print-dress, baby’s weighing in at 450+ pages. Guess I wrote a book.

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New MLS Courses for August

I’ll be taking a small holiday in July, but the MLS will be back in force with courses for the latter half of 2016 beginning from August.  Here are the offering so far booked in:

The Canterbury Tales  

Geoffrey Chaucer’s collection of tales includes representatives of every major narrative genre current in his time, all rendered with an incomparable comic touch.  He wrote them as entertainments, and they still have the power today to charm and amaze readers today.

12 two-hour sessions on Thursdays 1-3pm, 4 August to 21 October in Ross House second floor room 2.1.  Fee: $250.00

I will be using A.C. Cawley’s Everyman edition of The Canterbury Tales.  It provides the Middle English text with helpful notes and glosses that make reading Chaucer in his Middle English not much harder than reading Shakespeare:

978-0460870276 (paperback)

978-0679409892 (hardcover) this is a lovely, affordable and durable hardcover, well worth the slightly higher investment

The Middle English Mystery Plays 

These anonymous dramatic scripts were performed annually  in major English urban centres during the fourteenth and fifteenth century.  Designed as popular entertainments, they enact biblical narratives from creation to doomsday in one-act pageant performances.  Their authors sought to make sophisticated elements of later medieval theology accessible to lay audiences, making cunning use of farce and slapstick, punctuated by moments of riveting drama and exquisite language.

12 two-hour sessions on Fridays 1-3pm, 5 August to 20 October in Ross House first floor room 1.1.  Fee $250.00

The Penguin edition edited by Peter Happé offers a representative sampling of mystery plays in the original Middle English, with glosses and notes to aid the modern reader’s appreciation of their extraordinary art.

The Middle English Mystery Plays (Penguin, ISBN 978-0140430936)

Old English V (Beowulf)

Our Old English sessions continue with the beginning of the greatest poem of the Anglo-Saxon period, Beowulf.  The best text to acquire would be George Jack’s Beowulf: a Student Edition (Oxford UP, ISBN 978-0198710448).  There are a couple of useful bilingual editions available as well:  Howell D. Chickering’s Beowulf: a Dual-Language Edition (Anchor Books, ISBN 0385062133) and Michael Alexander’s Beowulf, which gives the original text with facing pages that offer complete glossing (Penguin, ISBN 0140433775)

12 two-hour sessions on Mondays 1-3pm, 1 August to 17 October in Ross House fourth floor room 4.2.  Fee $250.00

The MLS Refectory  

This perennial favourite (I can call it a ‘perennial favourite’ by now, can’t I?) will return as well, with twelve scheduled sessions.  Come when you can and as you are, bring $10, and I bring a couple of poems by a different poet each week.

Wednesdays from 3 August, 1-2 pm in Ross House first floor room 1.1

Other Courses  

I expect to book in a few more short courses in and around these.  Details to follow.


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A Dust Jacket. A Palpable Dust Jacket.

A Far Light dust jacketCambridge Scholars Publishing has just sent me a proof of my Beowulf-book’s dust jacket design.  A long way to go yet: galley-proofs and indexing still to get through, but for now I can, briefly, put my feet up and feel accomplished.

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The MLS Refectory Sesssions Continue

CH27-monk-monastery-refectory-lecternI’ve just got confirmation of room bookings for the next run of MLS Refectory sessions that will take us to mid-year.  Same deal: Wednesdays 1-2, you bring $10, I bring some samples of a poet’s work, and we read and talk about them.  The schedule’s a bit of a patchwork nightmare this time, though, with no two consecutive weeks in the same room, so you’ll need to attend to the schedule carefully.  Link to the PDF below, which comprises the schedule of weekly rooms and poets.

MLS Refectory from 20 April 2016

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A Short Break

imagesAs I enter the home stretch of preparing the final drafts of my Beowulf-book for publication,  I will need to take a short break from regular teaching to give the job my full attention.  That means, once my current run of courses ends, you can expect to see more scheduled courses (including twelve-week courses on The Canterbury Tales, the Middle English Mystery Plays, and some of the classics units we’ve discussed) from August.  I’ll be booking the rooms for those shortly, so you can expect to hear about them soon.  I will keep the MLS Refectory series going on Wednesdays as usual.

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The Post-Modern Plight of the Modern University

I wrote this a while ago, and Arena Magazine published it last year, while I was in hospital recovering from my surgery. A pointless squawk, on the one hand, given how things continue to deteriorate in the corporatised university, but it was fun to write and good to get off my chest.


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Two New Courses Starting

Next week will see the start of two six-week courses:

The Visionary Imaginationborges-desmazieres4

Think of all the ways we extend our sense of sight along many different dimensions of experience and consciousness.  ‘Oh, I see!’ we might laugh on getting a joke.  But we can also ‘see the light’ and have ‘visions’ in many different states and circumstances.  What do we mean by the ‘visionary’?  How have different cultures and times understood and articulated the productions of minds whose reach extends around the normal corners and edges of time and space?  In this course we’ll go exploring, through a selection of texts from biblical antiquity up to the present day.  Come as you are!  I’ll be providing all the texts in a reader.

6 two-hour sessions, course fee $130

Wednesdays 11-1, beginning 16 March

Ross House second floor rm. 2.1


The Poetry of Wallace StevensWallace_Stevens

One of the most imposing figures of mid-twentieth-century American poetry, Stevens orchestrated in his poems a music of the mind and of the imagination both intensely private and large enough to encompass the entire world.  A meticulous artist and an irrepressible philosopher and jester.  We will read and discuss a small selection of Stevens’ poems that I will provide in a reader.

6 two-hour sessions, course fee $130

FrIdays 1-3, beginning 18 March

Ross House first floor rm. 1.1

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No MLS Refectory Next Week

Because of a schedule fire drill in Ross House, I’ve decided to cancel next week’s (10 February) Refectory session. We’ll resume as scheduled on 17 February.

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A Little Weirdness for the New Year: Kafka

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

The Czech author Franz Kafka has become a byword for much that is uncomfortable and obscure in literary modernism.  His name is now a well-worn adjective used to describe works with a similar feel to Kafka’s excursions into the hinterlands of the modern psyche.  Few, however,  can match  Kafka’s clear, ringing prose (even in translation) and visionary intensity.  You won’t always know where you are, but the views are enthralling.

In six two-hour sessions, we will be reading and discussing a number of Kafka’s shorter stories and parables, which I will provide in a course reader.

Fridays, 5 February-11 March, 1-3pm, in Ross House first-floor room 1.3

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And So It Begins: The MLS Refectory 2016


What a real refectory looked like. I’m working on my tonsure . . .

The MLS Refectory series begins next week (27 January), at its usual day and hour, Wednesdays 1-2pm, though in the slightly more spacious surroundings of first-floor room 1.1 in Ross House.  Here’s a PDF of the menu for the first twelve weeks:  The MLS Refectory First Series 2016

For anyone who’s not been before, this is a casual lunch-hour discussion group.  You bring $10, and I bring a page of poetry (from modern authors this time around, though we’ve taken in older works previously and will do so again).  All welcome, no experience necessary.

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