Delivering English: a roundtable of subject leads and department heads

Chair: Simon Kövesi, Oxford Brookes University


Helen Fulton, University of Bristol

Andrew Macrae, University of Exeter

Jeff Wallace, Cardiff Metropolitan University

David Walker, Northumbria University

The subject lead and the department (or school) head (or chair), sits at the fulcrum of the delivery of academic disciplines. Often with one foot in academic life, and another in administration and management, such positions can be as dizzying as they are conflicted. But pragmatic leadership is crucial to the ‘delivery’ of English on the ground. This roundtable considers what it is like to ‘manage’ English, to lead English academics, and to ensure the success of English in practical terms. It asks is there is anything special, or peculiar, in the management and leadership of our subject areas? Is there anything in the attitudes and dispositions of our subject that makes us well- or ill-equipped to cope with the practical, febrile, quotidian demands of academic management? What particular, peculiar, insights might a specifically English-trained academic-cum-administrator bring to the job? What are the local and national ‘threats’ to English, and where are the opportunities? Should we be defending its traditions as it stands, or should we be following ‘market’ trends and adapting it, the better to recruit, the better to draw in income, the better to secure our colleagues’ jobs? If the world of HE is marketising and commercialising as fast as it can and everywhere we look, what should a subject lead or a department head be doing in response? What ideals is the subject area founded upon, and how might these ideals work alongside the subject’s practical delivery?

Thursday 6th July, 9.30