Cardiff Students To Study Classic Welsh Writing in English

New students of English Literature at Cardiff University this year will, for the first time ever, be studying Welsh writing in English alongside works by canonical authors of the English literary tradition such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Charlotte Brontë and Angela Carter.


A new course entitled ‘Literature, Culture, and Place’ will allow students to explore representations of place in twentieth-century Welsh, Caribbean and African American literature, looking particularly at how place is linked to questions of cultural, ethnic, and racial identity. 


A key text on the course will be Katie Gramich's brand new translation of Kate Roberts's Feet in Chains. Considered her masterpiece, the classic novel follows the struggle of passionate and headstrong Jane to bring up a family of six children on the pittance earned by her slate-quarrying husband. This sensitive translation remains close to the austere style of Roberts's prose. 


Spanning the next forty years, the novel traces the contours not only of one vividly evoked Welsh family but of a nation coming to self-consciousness; it begins in the heyday of Methodist fervour and ends in the carnage and disillusionment of the First World War. Through it all, Jane survives, the centre of her world and the inspiration for her children who will grow up determined to change the conditions of these poor people’s lives, to release them forever from their chains. 


Prof. Katie Gramich, who specialises in rediscovering neglected female authors of Welsh writing in English, said: 


"There has been a so-called ‘spatial turn’ in literary studies over the past decade, with more and more critics analysing the ways in which writers create a sense of place in their work. This approach opens up questions about the gendering of space, belonging and dislocation, borders and homelands, and colonial encounters.  


"Our first-year students come to Cardiff from many different countries and regions and, for many, this is their first experience of living in a place which is not ‘home’; the questions raised by this course, then, are likely to be of direct personal relevance and interest to them, while the course also provides an opportunity to discover some of the riches of Welsh writing in English."



The Welsh texts on the course also include Raymond Williams’s 1960 novel, Border Country, republished in the Library of Wales series; contemporary Cardiff-set novel, The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (Picador, 2001); poetry by Dylan Thomas, R. S. Thomas, and Gillian Clarke, and short fiction by Alun Lewis. The complementary Caribbean and African American texts include works by Jean Rhys, Caryl Phillips, Nella Larsen, and Toni Morrison.

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