Press Releases 2014-2015

UWTSD Launch Literature and Sustainability Public Lecture Competition


The University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, UK & Ireland (ASLE-UK) invite entrants to submit texts for their annual public lecture competition which aims to showcase research that explores the relationship between literature and the sustainability debate.

The winner of the competition will be invited to deliver her/his submission as ‘The 2014 INSPIRE Lecture on Literature and Sustainability’ at the 2014 Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts (Hay-on-Wye, 22 May-1 June 2014).

This competition invites entrants to submit the text of a half-hour public lecture that considers the relationship between literary study and the sustainability debate. A wide range of approaches is welcome. However, the primary aim of the lecture should be to investigate literary-critical practice within the context of issues raised by questions about sustainability.

The competition seeks to further scholarly activity in the field of environmental literary criticism. As such, entries will be judged according to the highest academic standards. However, material submitted must also strive to be accessible to an audience ranging from interested lay-people to professional literary critics and sustainability practitioners.

The winner of the competition will be invited to deliver her/his submission as ‘The 2014 INSPIRE Lecture on Literature and Sustainability’ at the 2014 Hay Festival. The lecture will be followed by a public discussion between the competition winner and Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE and former Welsh Minister of Sustainability.

The Judges this year are confirmed as Professor Brycchan Carey (Deputy Chair of ASLE-UKI), Dr Lucy Collins (ASLE-UKI), Dr Matthew Jarvis (Anthony Dyson Poetry Fellow, University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and Dr Paul Wright (Head of the School of Cultural Studies, University of Wales Trinity Saint David).

The deadline for the competition is 31st March 2014.

The winners last year were from Aberystwyth University, Dr Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas, who delivered a public lecture, entitled ‘Reading with the Grain: Sustainability and the Literary Imagination’. Their lecture examined the works of William Shakespeare through a sustainability lens. Led by literary scholar Dr Jayne Archer, the lecture showed how issues of food in Shakespeare’s day – its availability, its scarcity, and questions about who controlled food supplies – were crucial to both the playwright himself and to his plays.

Dr Jayne Elisabeth Archer said: “The 2013 essay and public lecture competition gave us a unique and welcome opportunity to bring our research to the widest possible audience. This year's theme of ‘Literature and Sustainability’ again urges us all to rethink the ways our work can be made relevant to some of the biggest challenges facing the planet. Literature offers the perfect imaginative hook to present scholarly research and archival findings in ways that inspire and engage the public. Our lecture at the Hay Festival – with all the international media attention this event attracts – enabled us to make a genuine and transformational contribution to contemporary political and socio-economic debates concerning food security, resource management and climate change. This is an important competition and the perfect opportunity for literary scholars and critics to make a difference.”

Speaking of the competition last year, Jane Davidson, director of INSPIRE, said: “The Shakespeare revelations clearly demonstrate how re-reading historic works of literature through a sustainability lens can unearth fascinating insights into the way we used to live. Literature can be a powerful tool in helping us learn more about the sustainability issues of the past and this information can help inform our plans for the future.”

Dr Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair of ASLE-UKI, added: “We are delighted to be running this competition for a second year. Getting sustainability right is not just about politics or environmental science, it is also a matter of communication and culture. Literary scholarship—and the essays encouraged by this competition—can contribute to the sustainability agenda in all sorts of ways, from revealing historical attitudes to sustainable living to understanding the many definitions and connotations of the word sustainability itself.”

Note to Editor

  1. For more information please contact Steven Stokes, Senior PR and Communications Officer, on 07872 423788 or email
  2. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was established in 2010 through the merger of the University of Wales Lampeter and Trinity University College, Carmarthen. On 1 August 2013 the Swansea Metropolitan University merged with the University.
  3. The University’s Royal Charter 1828 is the oldest in Wales, and it is third behind Oxford and Cambridge in Wales and England. HRH Prince of Wales is the Patron of the University.
  4. About INSPIRE
    INSPIRE (The Institute of Sustainable Practice and Resource Effectiveness) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David is directed by Jane Davidson. INSPIRE is a key component in the University’s mission to embed sustainability into its own practices and to provide its students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will equip them for their future contribution to the economy, community and environment. INSPIRE won the 2013 Guardian award for the most effective sustainability initiative in higher education in the UK.
    Prior to her role with INSPIRE, Jane Davidson was Minister for Environment and Sustainability in Wales (2007-2011) where she was responsible for the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle, the introduction of the Welsh charge on carrier bags, the establishment of the Welsh Climate Change Commission and legislation on recycling.
  5. About ASLE-UKI
    The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK & Ireland (ASLE-UKI) was founded in 1998. Its aim is to represent and support scholars and writers, in the Atlantic archipelago and beyond, interested in the environment and its expression in the cultural imagination. ASLE-UKI’s current chair is Dr Adeline Johns-Putra.
    Adeline Johns-Putra is Reader in English Literature at the University of Surrey. She is an expert in environmental criticism, Romanticism (especially women’s writing), epic literature and genre theory. Her published volumes include The History of the Epic (Palgrave, 2006) and Heroes and Housewives: Women’s Epic Poetry and Domestic Ideology in the Romantic Age (1770-1835) (Peter Lang, 2001).

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