Fake News?

  By Sarah Lawrence.

I’m sorry, who will star in Strictly Come Dancing 2017?!

The lineup for the Saturday night show is always one to spark interest and to be the subject of speculation before the official unveiling. However, from a trustworthy source, a rumour concerning the participation of someone who is very close and dear to the University and most importantly, the LiFTS Department has just been confirmed. Does the name Seeger ring any bells? We can now safely assume that one of the fifteen celebrities competing for the Glitterball Trophy in 2017 is our very own Dr Sean Seeger.

Let’s hope that his fondness for James Joyce is second to his fondness for sparkles and fake tan!

The rumour started to occur when he announced a rather abrupt sabbatical from the University of Essex: why else would he leave? Now it seems that he is planning to impress tutors of a different kind (personally I hope he is partnered with Oti Mabuse). Hopefully Craig Revel Horwood will be as proud of him as we are. 

Although we are not sure whom he will be competing against yet, we know he has our vote. More is set to be revealed in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled and be vigilant!

…and don’t forget: “keep dancing!”
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The View from the General Office…

By Deanna McCarthy

When I joined the LiFTS General Office in March 2016, I was eager to see things from “behind the scenes”. When I was a Language & Literature student here at Essex, I never really gave much thought to what those in the admin offices actually do. My experience with the admin team (in both the LiFTS and the Language & Linguistics department) was often extremely brief. I would hand in or collect coursework or enquire whether my marks were back (FASer was in its infancy when I studied here from 2009-2012 and I normally received my feedback handwritten – oh how times have changed!) and then leave for my lectures or to try and grab a study space in the library.

However, it turns out (as our previous Student Engagement Intern Sam said in his post earlier this year) that it takes an awful lot to run an academic department and the General Office have a bigger role than you may think. So in case you’re interested, here’s a brief rundown of what we do all year (no Easter or summer break for us!)…

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Just Do It!

By Lelia Ferro.

Recently I have been trying to do some of the things that I would never normally do. A couple of weeks ago I stood on a small stage before the mic and read my poem The Last House at Poetry Wivenhoe. I had wanted to attend for over 10 years but I was too terrified. Everyone clapped when I finished and people were lovely and encouraging afterwards. It was a fantastic boost.

Last week I launched a poetry and art project called Married to the Marshes which I hope will feed my dissertation and later perhaps a PhD. I would never usually dare to call myself an artist. To me that word seems far away and belongs to someone far more confident and eminent. But a local writer who has recently published something quite beautiful suggested to me that perhaps I should just do it, and so here I am going for it! 

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All The World’s A Stage…

By Raphaela Behounek.

For anyone who missed the highlight of February: last month our own Theatre Arts Society staged the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone at the Lakeside Theatre, and if you didn’t come and watch it – gee, did you miss something! In case you were wondering why I am still so excited about it – I had the honour of being part of this amazing cast and crew. Do not fret, however, I will not spend the whole post praising everyone involved and I certainly don’t expect you to bow your head in shame if you haven’t seen it (but just for your information, even people who don’t like Antigone and/or Greek tragedy enjoyed it!). What I do want to talk about though is why we should all go out and see some more theatre and maybe even try to participate in it, even when we are not pursuing a degree in Drama.

First things first, why is it important that people go and see theatre shows and why should we even bother to stage and study theatre? If you have a passion for theatre, like most drama students have and I do too, you do it because of that love. But not everyone feels that way. If we think back to school days and our teacher telling us that we’re going to see a play, at least in my class, I seemed to be the only excited person. So how can we pass on this excitement and even more importantly, why do we even want to do that? Going through the how is definitely not my speciality, so I will not talk about that, but during my time as a tutor, I certainly had to answer a lot of these whys when I got all excited about Shakespeare and Sophocles.

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A Man’s Take On International Women’s Day: “Y X Doesn’t Matter”

By James Jefferies. 

Part of my role as a Student Engagement Project Worker is to help run and organise events, so when I was asked to be involved with an event that LiFTS would be holding in conjunction with International Women’s Day, I took it on like any other project. I began by researching into the history of the event, learning what it was about and also what it aimed to achieve. I soon began sharing ideas with colleagues and the cogs of the project started rolling.

Guests were invited, activities planned, paperwork written up, meetings conducted and posters made and distributed. The roller coaster of organising the event was now moving fast along the rails of time and after growing a plethora of fresh grey hairs, and at times considering emigrating to the North Pole to live as a penguin, everything soon began to fit into place and the day was suddenly upon us.

The day started with sorting leaflets and placing posters up with directions to the room. The worry that nobody would turn up for the event kept tapping me coldly on the shoulder. People did turn up though. A good number of people in fact, who were giving me feedback about how wonderful the event was and soon I was feeling rather proud of what the Department had achieved.

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A Frontrunner’s ‘Journey’

By Eirini Apanomeritaki.

“Why would you apply for a frontrunner position? This is for undergraduates, not postgraduate students!”

In my defence, Bilbo is not that young when he begins his adventure in The Hobbit. So, being in my second year of a PhD in Literature, I applied for a frontrunner placement at the Centre of Myth Studies, which is based within the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies. Needless to say that in all these years I have spent at the University of Essex I had never taken an internship. You see, I wanted to focus on studying only, plus I wasn’t familiar with the idea of a work placement before I came to the UK as my university in Athens did not offer them.

I did not encounter any dragons but I attended (paid) training workshops on social media and branding, I learned how to manage my time effectively (time management was NOT my strongest skill – it can take me ages to write a chapter!) and I carried out research on all potential aspects of myth studies, from oral storytelling to literature, religion studies and psychoanalytic studies. I realised that it takes a high level of commitment to organise the Centre’s weekly Myth Reading Group: from creating posters and advertising the Centre’s activities on social media and keeping up with the latest news and publications on the field of myth to reaching out to students, academics and people who may have an interest in myths.  

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The Tricky Why

                                           By Raphaela Behounek.

Choosing to seriously study something that most other people only see as entertainment usually leads to the same old questions: What do you want to do afterwards? So, do you just read books and talk about it? Or, my personal favourite, so you’re becoming a teacher then? It’s never easy to explain to well-meaning grandparents why we choose to devote four or more years to Literature, Film, or Theatre Studies, especially when the big question of ‘after university’ is usually left unanswered. And even in my Masters, I still cannot give a simple answer to why I chose my field of study, because let’s face it – we won’t find the cure for cancer or the solution to world peace, as much as we want to.

            What we can do, however, is to change how people see the world around them. Our work can be the shove that a girl needs to go into cancer research, because The Fault in Our Stars has touched her so deeply, and a night at the cinema or the theatre is often the much-needed escape from dire reality. Being blessed with a campus cinema, I could witness this relief first hand a few weeks ago. I was sitting in the almost sold-out screening of Moana, the newest Disney hit. Surrounded by around 100 adult university students, I could see everyone trying to hide their tears and sniffling. Yes, it was only an animated movie with children as the target group, but I doubt anybody in that room didn’t feel their eyes itching and their arms being overtaken by goose bumps.

            Walking out of that room, while subtly checking whether I looked like a raccoon or not, and seeing how all these people were equally touched and happy, I knew why I am doing what I am doing. Maybe I won’t be the next Lin-Manuel Miranda or J.K. Rowling, and maybe I won’t make people ugly cry at a book or happy sniffle during an animated movie. But if we can make only one person want to change the world because they read the right book, or followed the right movie discussion – isn’t that exactly why we go through all of this?

Procrastination – Our Arch Nemesis

                                                              By Simran Kabotra.

Procrastination: “The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.”

We all know what this is. We all know how it feels. We all know how much it distracts us. It certainly is a bad habit we are all guilty of, no matter how studious or organised we are. You have a deadline within the next three weeks but you allow yourself to take it easy “because you have time”. A week before the due date, you assure yourself that the essay can be completed within two or three days instead, thus procrastinating some more. 

Besides, looking at YouTube videos of how to make a stress ball seems more relevant and so you convince yourself that you need to go through the stress of making a stress ball! You don’t posses any of the materials but you watch it nonetheless as preparation for when you do make it. 

One day. Maybe.

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Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

By James Jefferies. 

Whenever I get asked what I studied at the University of Essex I always seem to be given a strange look when I say I studied Drama and History. “Oh that’s an interesting choice of degree, I never knew you could do that” people respond to me with a rather bemused face. I’ll then reply by saying that it was actually two separate degrees rather than one. My Bachelor’s degree was in Drama and my Masters in History. They then say something along the lines of “I never knew the two could link.” Well, neither did I, but in many ways they did. Both were about discovering truth and understanding humanity. They are, after all, both subject of Humanities. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it.

Many of my favourite films when growing up were often historical and I often found myself asking two questions – What was the real truth behind the story? How can it be discovered? Both questions could be explored through historical research and through the process of performance. When studying History, I would examine sources to unravel the truth and in Drama, I would understand how a theatrical medium could be used to express and explore much of a historical story from fact.

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