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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Research in English at Falmouth College of Arts (FCA) is innovative and rigorous: it combines traditional disciplines and methodologies, such as poetic analysis, with radical reassessments of the boundaries of English research in terms of definitions of canonicity, textuality and authorship. The young scholars who lead research in the new Programme of English with Media Studies immediately began to fulfil the promise for which they were appointed. From a standing start in 1996, Dr Alex Goody and Dr Jason Whittaker established both serious research profiles and Literary Studies at FCA. Mr Jim Hall is a joint appointment with Journalism Studies, which is indicative of our interdisciplinary approach to Research. So is the combination within the Programme of English with Media Studies. Media Studies is not just a minor option.
All three staff submitted work outwards from sound principles of literary criticism. Dr Goody combines the analysis of modernist poetry with Gender and Cultural Studies methodologies; Dr Whittaker’s work on Blake is complemented with his innovative work in Digital Media; and Mr Hall describes his varied output in Celtic and Media Studies as underpinned by ‘pure literary criticism and theory’. Our approach to interdisciplinarity is interrogative and founded on specialist depth.
There are two primary links: with Celtic Studies and with Communications, Culture and Media Studies. A submission to the former is being made for the first time in this RAE, and to the latter in the next. English Studies therefore plays a strategic role in the College’s plans. It has enabled Celtic Studies and will similarly drive CCMS growth. (The Panel is referred to the College’s Celtic Studies submission.)
A distinctive characteristic of research at FCA is the formation of ‘clusters’ around specific issues. Members of these informal interdepartmental groups retain the specific focus of their home discipline, while bringing their differing perspectives to bear on the problem or research field. Landscape and Identity is one such cluster with clear links to English and Celtic Studies.
Creative practice in all the Arts is a further significant element in the research environment, and Creative Writing is an emergent element in our research. Two Postgraduate Programme Leaders, the poet Alice Kavounas Taylor (Creative Advertising) and Sam North (Professional Writing) are both expected to play a greater part in future developments.
FCA has played a leading role in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative.Together with the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, the College has made a multi million pound ‘Objective One’ bid for EC and British Government monies to enable full University status and facilities in the County of Cornwall. Negotiations are at an advanced stage, and European support is secured. These developments assure the planned growth in English Studies in the medium and long term. The first Phase of the Hub (£40M) is being designed to accommodate stepped growth in the College's research activity along with a new learning resource centre shared with the University of Exeter.
The acquisition by the College in 1999 of a second, nearby site provides both the centre of the proposed University and the necessary space for the realisation of current College plans. These include resource and research centres, the first of which, in Digital Media, is under construction and due to open in 2002.
English with Media Studies moved to Tremough as a leading element in the research of the Faculty of Media and Culture. This relocation will bring considerable benefit. Staff in English have sustained their research output at a high level and maintained a new course through the disruption of moving and continuing rebuilding. Moreover the Digital Media Centre provides a focus for research concerned with the interactions between literature and new media forms, reflected in the research outputs cited in RA2 and in future research plans.
We have invested heavily in electronic resources to improve access to research information and sources, including recent additional HEFCE Resource Enhancement monies of over £20K for Research dedicated equipment. The Research Support Unit (RSU) is headed by the Director of Research and staffed by two Administrators, with offices at each site. They report to the Research Committee, which is chaired by the Vice-Principal, and is a pivotal element in the development and monitoring of research policy. Four Research Co-ordinators in specialist areas share the main aim of ensuring pro-actively constructive dialogue between active and new researchers and initiating developments and activities as appropriate. Dr Goody is the English Co-ordinator, and she is also mentoring the recently appointed Research Associate in Celtic Studies, Mr Neil Kennedy. The Research Administrators ensure regular electronic and physical dissemination of relevant information concerning national and international research news, conferences and awards, as well as providing support to staff as necessary.
We were pleased to award our first Research Studentship in English in 1999 and our second in 2000 (though she is returned with her DOS under UoA 60). They join a cohort of 15 MPhil/PhD students overall, 3 of whom are part-time. They all participate in the bi-annual Regional Research Seminars and national graduate student events as appropriate. Students have individual workspace in shared rooms, with exclusive access to high specification networked computers, laptops, digital equipment and a phone, and they receive additional support in the form of free inter-library loans, very good electronic research indices, photocopying and so on.
The College launched its postgraduate programme in 1990, with MA studies beginning in 1994 and the research student programme in April 1995. There are currently 6 postgraduate courses, two of which are offered to MA level, and all of which are planned to be so by 2002. By then, the total number of postgraduate courses is planned to be 11. From this it is clear that expansion at postgraduate level is rapid. Research is vital to this growth. The Supervision Group exists as a forum for staff and students to meet and discuss issues both formally and informally.
Our first two students have successfully completed their PhDs. All but one of the full-time students are either supported, or have been supported, with an internal studentship.
The Research Co-ordinators hold key positions in promoting and monitoring the research culture, feeding into the programme of Research Lectures and seminars. They sit on the Research Committee and the Direct Awards sub-committee, which targets the distribution of internal research monies and staff replacement time. All staff in English have received support in this way.
Staff wishing to register for PhD studies at other institutions are supported with a substantial contribution to fees (in most cases this covers the whole) and favourable consideration for sabbatical time.
Visiting lecturers in the field of Literature have included Professor Malcolm Bowie (University of Oxford), Professor Nicole Ward-Jouve (University of York) and Professor David Scott (Trinity College, Dublin). The staff Research Exchange Group, composed of active and emergent researchers within the Faculty of Media and Culture offers seminar discussion and is developing an interdisciplinary conference stemming out of its work.
It will be evident that the essentially interdisciplinary nature of research undertaken at the College, and the concomitant structure of Programmes, means that the Unit of Assessment framework does not map exactly on to Research activities returned under UoA 50. While the probing of disciplinary boundaries is essential to the distinctive character of our work, the contribution we aim to make is to the core discipline of Literature. For example, Hall’s web site,
www.ordinalia.com, while still under development, is already well regarded in the field of Cornish Literature. Whittaker’s work with Professor Florence (UOA 60) on developing poetry criticism through digital media, evidenced in their CD-ROM and associated essays, has attracted interest in several fields for its innovative methodology. Research in Visual Culture, and Cultural Studies at FCA are in symbiosis with Literature in terms of textuality and of underlying themes, such as Identity and Gender (Goody), Identity and Race (Hall’s research on Bellow and in Celtic Studies).
Collaboration with significant partners in the Region initiated by FCA has included the Regional Research Network (with Dartington College of Arts and the University of Plymouth) the development of links with the Institute of Cornish Studies, Exeter University, and the launch of the jointly funded FCA/Tate St Ives Fellowship. The first FCA/Tate St Ives Fellow, Alison Oldham, has been reappointed for a second term to develop further her work on the relations between Artists and Writers in St Ives, 1945-1960. Her exhibition at the Tate Gallery in May 2000 has already stimulated interest in neglected writers, and her subtitled video re-edit (for the hearing impaired) and pamphlet will be complemented by an extended paper published by the Tate and a Day Conference in 2001.

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Last updated 17 October 2003

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