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University of Wales, Lampeter, since 2010, known as University of Wales Trinity St David
UOA 56 - Celtic Studies
RA5a: Research environment and esteem
University of Wales, Lampeter
Research Institute of Literature and Culture
Centre for the Study of Medieval Welsh Poetry
RA5a: Research Environment and Peer Esteem
As part of its review of research environment, the University of Wales, Lampeter, decided to group its staff, for research purposes, into a number of interdisciplinary research institutes. The Research Institute of Literature and Culture comprises staff within the teaching Departments of English, Film and Media and Philosophy, together with one member of staff each in the Departments of History and Theology and Religious Studies and three members of staff in the Department of Welsh. Most members of staff within this research institute are being included in a submission to the English sub-panel. However, the three members of staff who form the Centre for the Study of Medieval Welsh Poetry, under the direction of Owen Thomas, are being submitted to the Celtic Studies sub-panel. One other member of the Department of Welsh, Dr Jane Cartwright, is being submitted to the Theology and Religious Studies sub-panel, as part of the Centre for the Study of Religion in Celtic Societies.
The UoA’s scholars possess expertise specifically, but not exclusively, in medieval Welsh poetry. The direction of research activity is determined by the specialist interests of individual members of staff, although considerable interaction and cross-fertilization occur at an informal level, notably in areas where staff have contiguous or overlapping research interests. Members of staff also participate together in research projects which involve collaboration with other institutions (see Collaborative Research below).
a) Mechanisms and practices for promoting research
All 3 members of the UoA were appointed during the assessment period with the development of research the priority for each post. In particular the decision to establish a Centre for the Study of Medieval Welsh Poetry led to the appointment of Dr Rhiannon Ifans as Tucker Lecturer in Welsh History and Literature.
The university’s long research record ensures that all members of the research staff are aware of their responsibilities to contribute to the extension of knowledge in their subject. Mechanisms are in place at every level within the university to sustain and monitor research activity. Within the Department of Welsh, Cymdeithas Dewi, established by Owen Thomas in 2003, provides a forum for external speakers (e.g. Professor Gwyn Thomas and Dr Mererid Hopwood) on a host of research-related subjects.
In the management of staff, measures have been taken to ensure that each research-active member of staff has time to devote to research. Staff have been encouraged to apply for research fellowships which provide for teaching replacements. Arrangements have also been made for members of staff to receive study-leave, and during the Summer Term, when there are no teaching commitments at Lampeter, staff are given additional opportunities for research.
A significant development in the promotion of an active research environment within the UoA was the establishment in 2005 of the Annual Literary Theory Conference (“Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori”) to which staff members and external scholars from the universities of Bangor, Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth have contributed. The first conference led to the production of a volume of essays, and subsequently to the annual publication of Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori, a peer-review journal with an Advisory Editor (Professor John Rowlands, Bangor) and a fully representative editorial board of scholars from Cardiff (Dr Simon Brooks and Dr Dylan Foster Evans), Swansea (Robert Rhys and Dr Tudur Hallam), Bangor (Professor Peredur Lynch and Dr Angharad Price) and Aberystwyth (Dr Robin Chapman).
The UoA strives actively to establish links with the international scholarly community. Since 2001 staff members have attended conferences in Europe and North America, primarily in the fields of Celtic Studies but also in coterminous and adjacent fields relating to their individual research profiles.
b) Research Groups
The period 2001-2007 has seen much research activity leading to extensive publication in two major areas of medieval studies: textual transmission and literary reception, and studies in gender and identity.
Owen Thomas specialises in the field of medieval poetry and literary theory. His research focuses upon the interface between conventional textual criticism and both medieval and modern literary theory. His edition of the poetry of Dafydd Epynt (Gwaith Dafydd Epynt), while containing the ‘Poets of the Nobility’ series’ apparatus criticus, offers an extensive treatment of the development of cynghanedd in fifteenth-century Wales, which has subsequently informed the debate upon the development of cynghanedd in the fourteenth century (e.g. Peredur Lynch’s article on Dafydd ap Gwilym’s poetry in Testun y Cyfoeth). Owen Thomas’ chapter on MS Peniarth 52 in his edited volume Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori (awarded the University of Wales Thomas Ellis Memorial Fund Award) involves textual criticism of a text, seminal in both the Dafydd Nanmor and Dafydd ap Gwilym canon of poetry, and offers a reinterpretation, subsequently fully accepted by Daniel Huws, of the manuscript’s textual history and composition and firmly establishes that it contains inter alia the holograph of Dafydd Nanmor, a conclusion which will provide a sound platform for the much-needed re-editing of the poetry of Dafydd Nanmor. Owen Thomas’ article on MS Peniarth 48, published in Llên Cymru, provides a textual insight into (as well as a stylistic interpretation of) the Dafydd ap Gwilym canon of poetry by means of a previously little-known manuscript. Significantly, the treatment of the final incomplete poem in that manuscript was requested and subsequently incorporated by Dr Cynfael Lake (Swansea) into the AHRC-funded digital edition of Dafydd ap Gwilym (www.dafyddapgwilym.net). At the invitation of Professor Gerwyn Williams (Bangor) Owen Thomas published a chapter in Ysgrifau Beirniadol XXVII (Festschrift for Professor John Rowlands), using a combination of textual criticism and literary theory, of one of Dafydd ap Gwilym’s most well-known poems in order to foreground the prevalence of ambiguity as literary device in that bard’s oeuvre. In addition to items listed in RA2, during the assessment period he has published other articles on the poetry of the nobility, specifically in relation to Dafydd Nanmor, which will in due course lead to the publication of a new edition of Dafydd Nanmor's poetry and he has also contributed articles to Chris Snyder's Early Peoples of Britain and Ireland (due to be published by Greenwood Press, Oxford in 2008).
Dr Rhiannon Ifans’ main field of research is medieval poetry but she also specialises in the field of folk studies. Her edition of the poetry of Syr Dafydd Trefor (Gwaith Syr Dafydd Trefor) includes the ‘Poets of the Nobility’ series’ apparatus criticus (‘The Poets of the Nobility’ project was adopted in 1997 by the British Academy as one of its prestigious official projects) and offers an extensive overview and analysis of life in a rural parish in Anglesey. Syr Dafydd Trefor was a Catholic priest, and a highly gifted amateur poet. His values and poetic ability, as well as providing good poetry, encapsulates the life of a cultured priest immediately prior to the Protestant Reformation in Wales. ‘Y fferi fawr i ffair Fôn: cywydd Syr Dafydd Trefor ‘I fferi Porthaethwy’, published in Dwned xiii (2007), examines the first in a series of four cywyddau which, together, form a bardic contest or debate between the late medieval poet and two of his fellow poets in Anglesey. This will in due course lead to the publication of a volume of bardic debates between Syr Dafydd Trefor and others in Anglesey and beyond, and shows a commitment to new research into a colourful but lesser known genre of Welsh medieval poetry. At the invitation of Dr Sally Harper, Director of the Centre of Advanced Welsh Music Studies at the University of Wales Bangor, Dr Rhiannon Ifans published a chapter in Cynheiliaid y Gân: Teyrnged i Phyllis Kinney a Meredydd Evans / Bearers of Song: A Tribute to Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans. The chapter ‘Ar drywydd y gyfrol brintiedig gyntaf o waith llenyddol yn y Gymraeg gan ferch' / ‘On the trail of the first literary volume published in Welsh by a woman' disproves the assertion put forward by Ms Kathryn Hughes and Dr Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan that the first published literary volume by a woman was Telyn Egryn by Elen Egryn in 1850. New research by Dr Rhiannon Ifans proves that the third edition of Casgliad o hymnau, carolau, a marwnadau, a gyfansoddwyd ar amrywiol achosion written by Jane Ellis was published in 1840. Further extensive research showed that the first edition of part of this volume was published in 1816 under Jane Ellis’ name in a previous marriage, Jane Edward. While contributing important pieces of research relating to the primary focus of the Centre for the Study of Medieval Welsh Poetry, Dr Rhiannon Ifans has also published in other periods and on other genres, including Welsh theatre and Welsh prose. ‘“O fentro a mynd ato, y mae siawns, siawns, iti achub dy fywyd dy hun ac einioes dy genedl”: rhai sylwadau ar grefydd yn y ddrama Gymraeg’, Llên Cymru 26 (2003), is an examination of the elements of conflict in Welsh plays, and an analysis of the emotional and practical responses to these conflicts as viewed from a religious perspective.
In addition to items listed in RA2, during the assessment period Dr Rhiannon Ifans has published an edited volume of plygain carols, Yn Dyrfa Weddus (Aberystwyth, 2003), being a compilation of modern and mediaeval carols copied from manuscripts housed at the National Library of Wales, edited and published in their entirety for the first time. Her award-winning book, Y Golygiadur: llawlyfr ar gyfer awduron a golygyddion (Aberystwyth, 2006), was published following meticulous research within the publishing industry in Wales: it was described by one reviewer (a former member of staff at the University of Wales’ Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Unit) as one of the most important volumes published in Welsh in recent years. It is now used extensively in all Departments of Welsh, and in departments specialising in Welsh-medium teaching, in universities throughout Wales and further afield, as well as by publishers, the media, and in industry and tourism. Her highly acclaimed volume Gwerthfawrogi’r Chwedlau, the commissioned textbook for the medieval course studied at Advanced Level Welsh, has been the set text since 2001, and is also used in universities throughout Europe, Australia and America.
Dr Elisa Moras has produced original work in the field of gender and identity in medieval Wales. Her work analyses the way in which medieval Welsh court poetry, composed for public performance, informs and maintains social and cultural constructions of gender. In discussing female patronage (‘Mabddysg oedd iddi rhoddi yn rhwydd: Nawdd Barddol gan Wragedd yn yr Oesoedd Canol’) and female speech (Nid diboen na’m atebud, Nid hawdd ymadrawdd â mud: Cwynion beirdd llys am ferched’) Dr Moras demonstrates how Welsh court literature fulfills the role of conduct and didactic literature in providing a template of appropriate female behaviour. The consequences of failing to maintain society’s expectations and demands regarding gender in medieval Wales is brought to the fore in her work on masculinity in early Welsh poetry (‘Gwrywdod, Gwroldeb a Gwrhydri yn y Canu Cynnar’). Dr Moras’ research draws upon a wide and diverse range of elements, including literary theory, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, criminology, and fine art. Dr Moras also compares notions of gender in medieval Wales with that seen in contemporary literature in England, Ireland and continental Europe, and in doing so engages medieval Welsh literature in a vibrant field of study from which it had previously been absent.
c) Research Infrastructure
With an investment in excess of £750,000 the new Roderic Bowen Research Centre at Lampeter now contains the University’s oldest printed books (1470–1850) and manuscripts and provides an accessible resource for research. Of notable interest to the UoA is the Welsh Ballads Collection, which contains ballads in pamphlet form covering a host of subjects, including criminal offences, industrial accidents, shipwrecks, religious revivals and the arrival of the railway in Wales.
The UoA’s research benefits from the incomparably rich printed books and manuscript collections of the nearby National Library of Wales, which are an invaluable resource for research staff. The UoA also recognises the importance of information technology in the humanities. Staff have networked computers providing access to research aids highly relevant to Welsh scholarship, such as NLW’s LLYMRU (Llyfryddiaeth Cymru) and MALDWYN (a computerized index of manuscript poetry), as well as more general bibliographic online aids. An ongoing programme of computer upgrades in a three-year cycle is being implemented in the Department of Welsh. Individual technical requirements are also well met (e.g. Owen Thomas has received financial support for LaTex implementation—an innovation in humanities publication—in the production of the new periodical Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori).
Research students are vital to the Department of Welsh’s research culture. Since 2001 it has actively promoted its research programmes and in 2005 an innovative online MA in Celtic Studies was introduced to foster wider interest in Welsh and Celtic studies both in the UK and in North America with a view to fostering more MPhil and PhD students in the near future. Since the 2001 RAE the Department has secured a dedicated office for its research students, equipped with networked computer facilities, subsidised photocopying and a small reference collection.
d) Interdisciplinary or Collaborative Research
As Research Fellows at CAWCS, before their appointment at the University of Wales, Lampeter both Dr Rhiannon Ifans and Owen Thomas contributed fully to the ongoing collaborative research conducted as part of the Poets of the Nobility Research Project.
Dr Elisa Moras has contributed extensively to the Dafydd ap Gwilym digital edition at the University of Swansea, initially as a full-time research assistant and subsequently as a lecturer in Lampeter. She was responsible for setting up the website, creating a concordance of the poet’s work, transcribing many manuscripts, recording some of the poems, collecting images, as well as editing two of the poems. Owen Thomas was closely consulted by Dr Cynfael Lake on the edition of one of the cywyddau (‘Credaf i naf y nefoedd’) in the Dafydd ap Gwilym digital edition, and provided a full copy in advance of publication of his Llên Cymru article.
1. Development and Support of Research Work of Staff
Since 2001 the Department of Welsh has overseen the implementation of planned release from normal teaching loads to maximise research output; secured finances for three new research appointments; secured finances from University sources to host a specialist conferences on literature and theory; secured income from Research Councils and several other sources; secured funding of technical assistants from government and commerce; and participated fully in the Board of Celtic Studies’ promotion of scholarly endeavour in Welsh and Celtic Studies.
2. Younger Researchers and Recent Appointments
Two members of the UoA are young researchers who are making a major impact in their respective fields. Despite the small number of posts generally available in Welsh and Celtic the Department of Welsh has since 2001 made three new appointments to create a significant new research profile in medieval Welsh poetry. Owen Thomas (appointed in 2002) and Dr Elisa Moras (appointed in 2005) are both long-term full-time appointments. Young members of staff are encouraged to apply for study leave (Owen Thomas in 2005) for specific research projects. Furthermore, the Head of Department of Welsh also ensures that young members of staff have relatively light teaching and administrative loads in order to facilitate their research. The Department has consciously nurtured and encouraged promising young scholars.
3. Staff Movements During Census
Dr Karen Jankulak was appointed full-time Lecturer in and Head of the History Department at the University of Wales, Lampeter (2007). Professor David Thorne retired in 2005. Dr Catherine Charnell-White was appointed Research Fellow at CAWCS (2003).
Evidence of esteem
Honours and Awards
Dr Rhiannon Ifans won the Tir na n-Óg prize for her volume Dewi Sant in 2003, and was shortlisted for the same prize in 2001 for her volume Owain Glyndŵr: Tywysog Cymru. In 2000–3 Owen Thomas was Research Fellow and AHRC award holder at CAWCS, and was the University of Wales Thomas Ellis Memorial Fund Award Holder in 2005–6.
Conference papers and academic lectures
Since 2001 members of the UoA have been invited to give papers at many conferences. 2001: Welsh Department Seminar Series, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. 2002: CAWCS’ ‘Poets of the Nobility’ forum. 2003: 12th International Celtic Congress, Aberystwyth. 2004: Celtic Seminar Series, University of Oxford; Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru, Dolgellau; Ceredigion Books Society Annual Lecture; Old Students’ Association, University of Wales Aberystwyth. 2005: Cerrig Milltir: International Conference, Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies Forum; Welsh Hymns Society, Aberystwyth; International Conference on Celtic Folk Studies, Cardiff. 2006: 'The Manuscript Culture in the Middle Ages: Production, Transmission and Use', University of California, Santa Barbara; CAWCS’ ‘Poets of the Nobility' forum; the ‘Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori’ Annual Conference, University of Wales, Lampeter; National Symposium to Celebrate the Centennial of Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin; ‘Traditional and Contemporary Folk Performances in Britain’ Conference, Aberystwyth; North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History International Conference on Welsh Studies, University of Swansea; Ealann na Gaeltachta, Donegal; The Eighth Symposium of Societas Celtologica Nordica / The Finnish Society for Celtic Studies, Helsinki. 2007 Harvard Annual Celtic Conference; Gender and Medieval Studies Group Annual Conference, University of East Anglia; the ‘Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori’ Annual Conference, University of Wales, Lampeter; The Thomas Charles Memorial Lecture, Y Bala; International Ballad Conference, Kyle of Lochlash.
Dr Rhiannon Ifans: editor since 1990 of the long-established and authoritative annual journal relating to Welsh folksong, Canu Gwerin. Owen Thomas: Llenyddiaeth mewn Theori, Celtic Editor of The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies, and quondam Celtic Editor of International Medieval Bibliography.
Membership of editorial boards
Owen Thomas: The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies and formerly of the International Medieval Bibliography.
Membership of academic bodies
Dr Rhiannon Ifans: University of Wales Scholarships and Fellowships Awards Panel; HEFCW Steering Committee for Welsh-medium Provision; The Association for the Study of Welsh Language and Literature; The Welsh Academy; International Ballad Commission. Owen Thomas: Secretary, Language and Literature Committee, Board of Celtic Studies (2004–6); The Association for the Study of Welsh Language and Literature; Dafydd ap Gwilym Society; The Welsh Academy. Dr Elisa Moras: The Association for the Study of Welsh Language and Literature.
Grants from the Literature and Culture Research Institute have enabled the UoA to organise annual conferences and to invite well-established scholars from universities in Wales to give papers on various subjects relating to literary theory.
During 2001–2007 staff have reviewed books in Llên Cymru, Studia Celtica, Taliesin, Y Traethodydd, Barddas and Barn and www.gwales.com.
Contribution to the cultural life of Wales
A vital part of the UoA’s mission is its contribution to the living culture of the Welsh language. During the assessment period Dr Rhiannon Ifans has adjudicated at major literary competitions (the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales) and at national music festivals (e.g. Gŵyl Cerdd Dant Cymru). Members of the UoA are frequent contributors to Welsh literary and cultural journals, and have taken part in radio and television programmes on Welsh literary, linguistic, political and historical subjects. Dr Rhiannon Ifans has worked tirelessly to promote Welsh folk music (as journal editor, Chair and Convenor of The Welsh Folk-song Society, and attracting internationally renowned performers and lecturers (e.g. Elinor Bennett) and by bringing outstanding scholars such as Dr Antone Minard (San Diego) and Dr Chris Grooms (Texas) to the attention of a Welsh audience). Dr Rhiannon Ifans was also Chair of the Society’s Research Committee until 2006, and has served on the Advisory Panel of trac, the folk development organisation for Wales, financed by the Arts Council of Wales. As a highly successful children’s author she has also been called upon to give reading at festivals, and in schools and higher education institutions in Wales and Ireland.
Among the most notable research degrees (MPhil, PhD) completed during the assessment period at the Department of Welsh are Dr Donald Evans, ‘Egwyddorion Beirniadol Awdl yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, 1950–1999’, Gwenno Mai Jones, ‘Dylanwadau ar Waith Emrys ap Iwan’, Dr Elizabeth Schoales, ‘Images of Welsh Nationality in the Works of Wales and England, from the Arrival of the Saxons to Britain, until the Loss of Independence’, Penri Williams, ‘Cydberthynas Crefydd, Hanes, Cerddoriaeth a Llenyddiaeth yng Nghymru’r Ail Ganrif ar Bymtheg’ and Robert Phillips, ‘Sir Gaerfyrddin, Y Rhyfel Mawr a Gorfodaeth Filwrol’.
Current students at the Department of Welsh are working on a wide range of topics (thesis titles in original language), e.g. ‘Agweddau ar Destunau Apocryffaidd’, ‘Gwaith Morgan Elfael’, ‘Ny madeuaf i vyg kwn: Dogs in Medieval Welsh Literature’, ‘Widows in Wales during the Medieval Period’, ‘Traditional Spoken Breton: A Sociolinguistic Case Study of Language Shift and Contraction amongst Members of an Obsolescent Speech Community’, ‘Astudiaeth ar Ieithwedd Disgyblion Ail Iaith ac Iaith Gyntaf Blwyddyn 9, Ysgolion Saesneg eu Cyfrwng’ and ‘A Study of the Theology of Dr Thomas Philips, Neuaddlwyd’.
Research students are encouraged to disseminate their work at conferences and in print: Carol Thomas (2003: International Celtic Conference), Elizabeth Schoales (2003: International Celtic Conference). A number of our students—Dr Donald Evans, Margaret Bowen, Carol Thomas, and Dr Elizabeth Schoales—have published articles in journals and edited volumes. Dr Donald Evans is a distinguished and Eisteddfod-winning bard and regular columnist in Barddas. Dr Elizabeth Schoales was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada and Kara Lewis has co-authored Teach Yourself Welsh Conversation with Dr Christine Jones (Hodder and Stoughton, 2007).