I lectured at Surrey University for seventeen years. Initially offering Aesthetics, when Surrey had a Philosophy department, I adapted as departments were cut and new opportunities arose. It soon seemed appropriate to give lectures on the History of Art, to complement the more philosophical approach, especially as we were required to lecture to more and more foreign students, especially Russians.
My specialisms in Art History were Twentieth Century Art, British Art, early and mediaeval art, and religious art.
With so many foreign students wanting to understand more about the Arts in Britain, I then began to include lectures in English literature, which was, in many ways, my first love anyway.
In those days the arts were not at all well-represented at Surrey, so I sometimes found myself ploughing a lonely furrow. I’m glad to say that the situation is much better now. Over those years I did what I could to contribute to the arts at the university; and in the later years, as the university’s Arts coordinator, I organised art exhibitions and was responsible for the Annual Poetry lectures. I also did what I could to help others who were pushing for a Dance department, which we eventually achieved.
After I was headhunted to be Chief Executive of two literacy and literature NGOs, it was not possible to continue with my university work, but I was delighted when an English department was finally set up. I was even more delighted, a few years later, to be invited back as a research fellow in that department. I have also been pleased to be part of the department’s poetry festivals.
More recently I have been involved in a fascinating project at the university, entitled Women’s Literary Culture and the Mediaeval Canon.
At the end of 2015, Diane Watts, Head of English and Languages, asked if she could publish my long poem, Chiara, on the blog of the inter-university, international project supported by Leverhulme, Women’s Literary Culture and the Mediaeval Canon, to join the project as an Associate Member, and to contribute further poems about mediaeval women every few months.
So far the following poems have appeared on their blog:
- Chiara: What the story of St Clare doesn’t tell
- Hildegard, Doctor of the Church
- Godgifu: Gift of God
More poems will appear on this site in the coming months.