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Research in Warwick's English department is both innovative and interdisciplinary. It challenges definitions of the discipline and extends the boundaries of ‘English’ beyond the national or ‘writing’ beyond the literary. Our particular strengths lie in Creative Writing, World Literature, Comparative Literatures, Shakespeare in Performance, and Literary and Cultural Translation.

For many years, we have been taking our research outside the academy and into the world – commitment to public engagement is in our DNA. Our research supports, informs and drives activities in the creative industries, the heritage sector, education and among various professional groups.

Translating Cultures

Books open with pages turningSusan Bassnett, Maureen Freely,
Michael Hulse and Tony Howard
Warwick's translation scholars have helped to shape the discipline since it was founded in 1976. By combining theory with practice, our translators have developed new ways of interpreting and presenting translations from writers in various languages from Turkish to Polish and German. These translations have brought new authors and writings to English-speaking audiences, expanding the cultural awareness and imagination of readers around the world. The group is also dedicated to improving the standards of professional translators.

Multicultural Shakespeare in Britain

ActorTony Howard
The British Black and Asian Shakespeare research project maps the history of non-white actors' and directors' growing role in British cultural life over several generations, through an examination of their involvement in performing Shakespeare. At the heart of British culture, Shakespearean performance both defines and reflects how we see ourselves as a nation. Also, the important contribution of non-white theatre professionals to Shakespeare in Britain reflects the changing face of British society. This project has restored the role of BBA actors and directors to the history of British theatre.

Shakespeare in Performance

Interior of Globe Theatre, LondonJonathan Bate, Carol Rutter, Tony Howard,
Stephen Purcell and Paul Prescott
Shakespeare in Performance has long been one of the department's outstanding research strengths. This is reflected in the diversity of activities our scholars have engaged in with a wide range of individuals and organisations. Our research has influenced professional performances, led to the development of new children's theatre companies and informed a world-class exhibition on Shakespeare at the British Museum. Shakespeare is one of Britain's most important historic and cultural figures; how we see Shakespeare reveals how we see ourselves as a society.

Creative Writing and the Public Sphere

Letters of the alphabet made up of photographed signsDavid Morley, Maureen Freely and
Michael Hulse Warwick Writing Programme
Warwick's creative writers are committed to bringing creative writing out of the University and into the public domain. Warwick has innovated the approach that all writing is creative and that creativity is open to everyone. The Warwick Prize for Writing, which began in 2009, exemplifies this philosophy towards writing creatively. Creative writing can also break down cultural barriers and make important contributions to political discussions across countries.

Re-presenting Britain's Literary History

Charles Dickens and imaginary figures surrounding him in a dreamJon Mee, Jacqueline Labbe and Elizabeth Clarke
Modern Britain has a rich literary history, exemplified in the work and life of Charles Dickens whose writings transcend his Victorian context. However, Britain has been full of exceptional literary talents, many of whom remain obscure, particularly women writers and poets. The work of Warwick's English department has rehabilitated some of these forgotten writers and brought fresh perspectives to the well-known, enhancing cultural enjoyment and understanding in the process.

The Life and Legacy of Paul Robseson

Paul RobesonTony Howard
In 1930, American actor Paul Robeson became the first black actor to play Othello in Britain since 1860. A human rights activist, Robeson was hounded by American surveillance, the FBI, both at home and abroad. Robeson has largely been written out of history because of his race and Communist sympathies despite being one of the most important figures in the history of black theatre in Britain. Tony Howard's project has recaptured the magic of Paul Robeson and brought it back to life for audiences of all ages.

Image credits

Photo of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London by Wally Gobetz used under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0. Photo of alphabet by Leo Reynolds used under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Our impact

Preserving and re-presenting cultural and literary heritage

Our research has informed and underpinned world class and local exhibitions bringing Britain's literary history to new audiences

Contributing to the economic prosperity of the creative industries

Consultancies to theatre companies have enhanced their productions

Inspiring and creating new forms of artistic expression

From theatre productions to exhibitions, our research has led to the development of new ways of interpreting Shakespeare

Enhancing opportunities for creativity and learning among young people

Through educational initiatives at home and around the world

Contributing to continuing professional development

By devising training programmes and running workshops and conferences to enhance professional practice in groups ranging from translators to doctors

Recent media

PhD researcher Jamie Mackay discusses the global ‘Million Mask March’ in The Beginning is Near ( The Ecologist, 12 November 2013)

Podcasts and videos

British Black and Asian Shakespeare at the Bristol Shakespeare Festival, July 2013

All of the actors we worked with were visibly moved by the opportunity to discover and read and hear in public Robeson's appeals for a time when people of colour would stand centre stage.

— Tom Cornford, Director, on Tony Howard's I have done the state some service, 2010