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Research in this unit is built on English Literature; English Language; and Creative Writing. This work encompasses interests in literary criticism from the Renaissance to the present; literary and cultural theory; the production of original creative work (including flash fiction; poetry; prose-poems; creative non-fiction; and novels); gender studies; disability studies; popular cultures; world literatures in English; translation; history of the English language; stylistics; discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; sociophonetics; sociolinguistics; and typology.

The University’s targeted research funding has been bolstered by external funders including the AHRC. 

20 staff were identified as having significant responsibility for research in REF2021, leading to a requirement for 49 outputs to be submitted.

Research outputs submitted to REF2021 are included in the English Collection of ChesterRep, the University of Chester’s online research repository.

The impact of research in this unit was exemplified through the following case studies:

Textile Stories: Enhancing public knowledge of the relationship between textiles and literary texts: Research into the role of textiles, their use and manufacture in Victorian literature and culture led in 2013 to the establishment of the Textile Stories project. Public-engagement events included seven annual study days, and other talks and workshops in collaboration with regional and national museums, libraries, churches, charities, literary festivals, and literary societies. These brought together people interested in textiles: professionals (costume designers, museum curators, needlecraft teachers, artists, pattern-cutters, rare-breed sheep farmers) and amateurs (crafts hobbyists, vintage clothes enthusiasts, fans of costume drama) and introduced them to academic research on textiles in literature and screen adaptations. These interactive events inspired more than 250 participants to experience an enriched understanding of the literary and cultural importance of textiles. This stimulated creativity and promoted wellbeing, as well as prompting participants to read books and watch films they might otherwise ignore, engage in further study, and change their professional practices. The project’s reach was extended by a Textile Stories blog, online talks, and an appearance on a primetime BBC television show (The Great British Sewing Bee, 2020) and has resulted in collaboration with Wrexham Museum to display items from its costume collection, previously held in storage since 1980.

Flash Fiction: Inspiring, Developing, and Publishing Writers Across the UK and Around the World: This project has played a major role in establishing flash fiction (stories of up to 500 words) in the UK and beyond, through local, regional, national, and international initiatives. The work has inspired beneficiaries of all ages to read and write flashes, nurtured creativity, developed literacy and writing skills, and provided opportunities for publication. Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine has published c. 600 writers (350 in 2013–20) from 48 countries across six continents; since 2015, its not-for-profit Press has published 300 authors in seven books, one in aid of a UK national charity. Impacts on commercial publishing and authors’ careers included 83 flashes reprinted in 33 books by 22 publishers. Public engagement included: social-media forums and webpages with users in 180 countries; writing contests (two international, one local); and live events (two in Italy, 23 in the UK), with talks, readings, and workshops for literary festivals, libraries, arts venues, community groups, and adult-education courses attracting 1,150 people. Schoolchildren, students, and teachers – in primary, secondary, and higher education – benefitted from six workshops, seven annual National Flash Fiction Youth Competitions, and learning resources including set texts. Aspects were featured on broadcast, print, and online media, extending the project’s considerable reach.

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