Current and Forthcoming Events

Writing under Fire: Poetry and Prose from the Ukraine and the Black Country

Saturday 3rd February 6:30-7:30

Georgian Room/Hybrid

Join an Anglo-Ukrainian all-star cast for the presentation of Writing under Fire, a collection of prose and poetry that reflects on Russia’s war against Ukraine.  The award-winning writer Niall Griffiths, Wolverhampton poem laureate Kuli Kohli and editors Professor Sebastian Groes (English Literature, Wolverhampton), Dr Kerry-Hadley Pryce (English Literature, Wolverhampton) will respond to pieces written by Ukrainian poets and writers including Halyna Kruk, Bogdan Kolomijchuk, Tetiana Belimova and others to reflect on the ongoing military crisis. The event also offers a panel discussion on the importance of arts and literature in times of crisis, reiterating the connection and support between cultures, addressing war trauma whilst looking for a brighter future. 

You will be invited to buy Writing under FireThe book’s proceeds will go towards the rebuilding of Berdyansk library, which was looted and set on fire by Russian troops, and to the restoration of its holdings. 

The event commemorates Writing under Fire’s contributor Victoria Amelina, the writer who was wounded by a Russian missile in March 2023 and subsequently died of her injuries. 

Right in the Head? The importance of storytelling after brain trauma 

Sunday 4th February - 3:30-5

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

A brain attack (stroke) is often an extremely confounding event that can shatter one’s personality as well as one’s relationship with other people and the world. This is especially true when people’s ability to express themselves is affected. This event centres on Sebastian Groes stroke memoir Right in the Head, a book that mixes a personal experience of stroke with a critical investigation of brain trauma in cultural history. The event offers an unique experience that mixes immersive theatre with an exhibition and a treasure hunt that shows  how creative activity – and especially storytelling – can help stroke survivors navigate their new internal landscapes as they plot their own route to recovery. Join Groes, Creative Writing for Wellbeing Facilitator Kate Poll and poet and creative writing lecturer Dr Denise Saul (Oxford Brookes) in exploring the importance of creativity in recovery after brain trauma. Participants will be invited to engage in interactive creative writing activities to help us test a unique tool to help the recovery of stroke survivors. You will be able to do one or more exercises that use creative writing prompts as well as poetic and visual imagery linked to research on the impact on the brain of creative activities. 

University of Wolverhampton, Creative and Professional Writing Student Showcase 

Friday 2nd February 10:30

Come and find out more about what the next trends in literature are. Come and see the cutting-edge voices of contemporary fiction and poetry. In this series of performances, students, and graduates from the Creative and Professional Writing degrees at the University of Wolverhampton will read from their own work. Hosted by lecturers Dr Rob Francis, Dr Charley Barnes, and Dr Kerry Hadley-Pryce, you’ll be witness to the next group of literary voices in the Black Country.

Ameles: Currents of Unmindfulness

Saturday 3rd February 3:00

Calling Speculative Fiction enthusiasts. Join writer R. M. Francis, as we celebrate the publication of his collection of short horror stories, Ameles / Currents of Unmindfulness (Poe Girl Publishing, 2023) for this reading, talk and workshop.

In this event, Francis will explore the literary and cultural shifts in horror and weird fiction, and the creative drives that have inspired his work. He’ll share stories from his latest book and run a series of short writing exercises for burgeoning speculative fiction writers.

In Greek Mythology, those who drank from the underworld river, Ameles Potamos, would suffer inexplicable disorientation. They would be left adrift, out of time, out of place, sometimes out of their minds. The tales in Ameles / Currents of Unmindfulness range from the quietly unsettling to weird and full-on horror. R. M. Francis plays around with genre conventions and forms to deliver a flood of dark disturbing imagery that will stay with you in the darkest recesses of your mind.

Call for papers

Transcultural perspectives on digital inequality: 

Past Events

This is an online event.

‘Here, I found beasts like minotaurs, useful for war’. Let the twelve winds blow you to the far corners of the Earth; meet mermaids and mandrakes; and follow the trail of Adam’s burnt footprints all the way back to Eden.

Storyteller and medievalist Daisy Black takes you on a tour around the medieval map of the world. A show full of marvels, saints and giants, heroes and devils, grisly cannibals and Norwegian skiers. Weaving together medieval maps and travel writing with oral storytelling, this show is your passport to visit the world as a 14th-century traveller. Just watch out for the monsters lurking at the edges of the map…

This event will be streamed live. Book below to receive joining details.

This event is suitable for ages 11+

Book Now

Online event.

Come along to a bostin’ tea party in this virtual café and share your favourite Black Country words and phrases, especially those related to food. Listen to some Black Country poetry from the University of Wolverhampton’s Dr Rob Francis, and share your memories and thoughts about the distinctive Black Country dialect.

Once you sign up, you’ll be provided with a resource pack to get you thinking, along with some Black Country recipes so you can make your own ‘fittle’ (food) before the event, and share it online. Put the kettle on! It’ll be smashing – or bostin’!

This event is suitable for anyone who likes language and food

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This is an online event.

Join Professor Sarah Churchwell in conversation with writer Kit de Waal and Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam about the benefits of a more diverse, inclusive reading ‘diet’. From Black Lives Matter to the #MeToo movement and Extinction Rebellion, we are living in a time when many vocal campaigners demand changes to the way in which society is run. These debates affect the books we read, teach in schools and that get turned into popular dramas. The English literature canon – the books that are generally agreed to be good, important and worth studying – is also under revision.


• Kit de Waal is a British/Irish writer who has written several novels including My Name is Leon (2016). De Waal acted as a panel member on the BBC’s The Novels That Shaped Our World and created a fully funded scholarship for creative writers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Amongst other topics, Kit will discuss how literature impacted her vision of the world.

• Sarah Churchwell is a Professor of American literature and has judged many literary prizes, including the 2014 Booker Prize. She has written about canon formation and American literary history in numerous places and will be discussing some of the key issues in debates around expanding and conserving the canon.

• Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam will also give a short talk on the University of Wolverhampton’s AHRC-funded project ‘Novel Perceptions’ that aims to understand people’s reading habits. At this event she invites the public to rate the covers of books included on the BBC’s Novels That Shaped Our World list in order to see whether they influence people’s perceptions of literary quality.

Come along to find out more about the project and how you can take part in the ‘Novel Perceptions’ interactive online voting system.

This event is part of the ‘Being Human in conversation’ series. The event is brought to you by the Being Human festival, the University of Wolverhampton’s ‘Novel Perceptions’ project and The Novels That Shaped Our World; a collaboration between the BBC, Libraries and Reading Groups.

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To attend this virtual event, email Sebastian Groes at:  to receive a Zoom link.

Care work has never felt more prominently placed in the public eye: the pandemic has exposed appalling healthcare inequities, placing social justice at the centre of a renewed political understanding of the structural threats to well-being. In this talk I’ll consider Watson’s most recent book, The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion, alongside Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss, by palliative medicine specialist Rachel Clarke. Echoing Watson’s endorsement of ‘detail’, Clarke suggests that ‘for all the high-tech wizardry of modern medicine – the scans, the genomics, the molecular analyses – it is still the case that invariably, simply paying close attention to what a patient is telling us, a doctor can work out their diagnosis’. By foreground what they see as the crucially affective imperatives of caregiving, they cultivate a sentimental style of observation and reflection that we might find both uncomfortable and instructive. The language of pathos in The Courage to Care and Dear Life makes no attempt to hide how intensely such writer-practitioners emphasize the importance of ‘humanizing’ sentiments – kindness, compassion, empathy – that literary critics have come to view with some suspicion. But in so doing, they actually complement one key ambition of the ‘critical medical humanities’ in recent years: to articulate experiences of illness and care alike beyond the clinical discourse that surround them.

David James is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at the University of Birmingham. His recent books include Discrepant Solace: Contemporary Literature and the Work of Consolation (Oxford University Press, 2019 and Modernism and Close Reading (Oxford University Press, 2020). He is currently at work on Sentimental Activism (forthcoming with Columbia University Press), a book that assesses the contemporary reanimation of sentimentalism across a variety of literary genres and in the itineraries of cultural criticism.

This is an online event
Join R. M. Francis, the Poet in Residence for the Black Country Geological Society, on this poetry workshop that virtually explores the Wrens Nest Nature Reserve, Dudley. Aimed at new and established poetry writers, Rob will guide visitors around one of the UK’s most important geological sites, stopping for mini writing retreats in this haven for fossils, industrial heritage and earth sciences. During the writing walk Rob will share his passion for place writing, the Black Country and the cutting-edge practices of geopoetics.
This event will be a virtual tour and workshop due to recent Coronavirus social distancing measures. Participants will be sent a link to access the live broadcast.

Chaired by Sebastian Groes. To book please contact

CTTR is celebrating the achievements of Stephen E. Gregg who, since coming to Wolverhampton, has published four books: Engaging with Living Religion (2015), Swami Vivekananda and NonHindu Traditions (2019), The Insider/ Outsider Debate: New Perspectives in the Study of Religion (2019) and The Bloomsbury Handbook to Studying Christians (2020). Recently, Stephen was elected President of the British Association for the Study of Religions for 2021-2024.
In this seminar, Stephen will talk about his research, including reflections on new approaches to the Study of Religion that are foregrounded in his work. He will also highlight the central theme of religious identity from his recent publications, arguing for a nuanced, relational, antitextbook understanding of religious belonging and practice. Building on his ongoing project Transnational Guru Communities: Lived Religion and Multifaith Identity at Skanda Vale, he will argue that previous research on ‘multifaith’ identities has misrepresented the lived religion at Skanda Vale by being focused on the category of Hinduism. He argues for a multipraxic form of religion, focusing on embodied performance, rather than abstracted cosmology. In so doing, he hopes to suggest a new way of understanding the transmission of authority in a second-generation religious community.

Sat 12 October, 2019, 1pm – 2pm, John Lee Theatre at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute

With R. M. Francis (Writer), Kerry Hadley-Pryce (Writer), Frédérique Santune (Graphic Designer)

The Black Country is a region that is - as popular opinion has it - forgotten, neglected and rejected, a place wallowing in its post-industrial trauma. This event shows that the Black Country is the opposite of ‘left behind’. We focus on the richness, diversity and vibrancy of Black Country culture by taking the audience on an imaginary walk across the region. Writers R. M. Francis (Transitions) and Kerry Hadley-Pryce (The Black Country) uncover untold stories whilst graphic designer Frédérique Santune demonstrates how Augmented Reality can bring the past back to life. The event reveals the Black Country for what it truly is: diverse, wonderful, adaptable and resilient.  

Saturday 12th October, 3pm – 4pm in the John Lee Theatre at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute

We are living in a time when traditional ways of thinking are challenged. From debates about climate change to the rights of LGBTQ persons, emancipatory struggles are pushing for a more diverse and inclusive worldview. What literature belongs to this brave new world? What established works of literature should no longer be taught? Should there be a canon at all? At this event we discuss ground-breaking research by Professor Van Dalen-Oskam that shows there is a shocking unconscious gender bias in our literary value judgment. A guest writer discusses a woke canon from a writer’s point of view. 

With Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huijgens Institute, Amsterdam), Dr Aidan Byrne (English Literature, Wolverhampton), and a guest writer. 

What really makes a good book? How do you judge literary quality? And how many of these 400 novels have you read?  Help us complete the largest ever survey of contemporary novels and let us know what you think! 

Ecolinguistics is concerned with how language shapes worldviews and encourages people to protect or destroy the ecosystems that life depends on. This may involve anything from examining the techniques that advertising uses to promote ecologically destructive products to how nature poetry represents animals, plants and the physical environment as deserving of respect and care. Narrative is a powerful force for influencing worldview but tends to be left to ecocriticism rather than be included in ecolinguistic analyses. This talk looks at example narratives to make the case for why and how narrative analysis can be included in ecolinguistics.

Econarrative: an ecolinguistic approach Tickets, Wed 27 Apr 2022 at 16:00 | Eventbrite

Wed, 27 April 2022

16:00 – 17:00 BST