Place writing is a diverse category. It is a term that we use to frame writing in a variety of forms, fictional and non-fictional, and including poetry, scriptwriting and prose.
Place Writing is a term that we use to frame writing about a variety of kinds of place: from the multifarious forms of landscapes conventionally described as ‘natural’ to those of the contemporary city, and the ‘edgeland’ places in between. We don’t claim to be THE centre for place writing: rather, we are a particular cluster of creative writers and critical scholars with a primary interest in writing about place, and in the relationship between those two things.
It’s hard to imagine any kind of writing that doesn’t invoke place in some way. What we define as place writing is writing that seeks, in the language of the academy, to ‘generate new knowledge’ about place and human relationships with place, whether through a deeper or more intense engagement, or by unearthing or producing new perspectives.
The category of place writing, like all categories of cultural production, is a provocation, a starting point: there to be challenged and to develop through those challenges.
Place Writing is one of the four core pathways in the MA/MFA in Creative Writing in the Manchester Writing School. Taught by an experienced team of award-winning creative writers and literary critics, this unique course focuses on creative non-fiction through a blending of writing and methodology workshops, and reading units. We also provide (creative, critical, and creative-critical) doctoral supervision on most aspects of the relationship between writing and place.
The Centre for Place Writing is based within the Department of English at Manchester Met. The long-standing interests of our members inform curricula at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and have helped to shape the ever-growing postgraduate research community.
The cluster is home to a group of award-winning writers whose work, across different forms, is often preoccupied with place. Creative members of the cluster include (in alphabetical order): Dr Paul Evans (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing); Andrew Michael Hurley (Lecturer in Creative Writing); Rachel Lichtenstein (Reader in Place Writing); Dr Helen Mort (Lecturer in Creative Writing); Gregory Norminton (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing); Professor Jean Sprackland (Professor of Creative Writing); and Professor Michael Symmons Roberts (Professor of Poetry).
The Centre is also home to scholars whose critical research focuses on the relationship between writing and place including (again, in alphabetical order): Dr Nicola Bishop (Senior Lecturer in English); Dr David Cooper; and Dr Jess Edwards (Head of the Department of English).
Members of the Centre for Place Writing regularly collaborate with colleagues from other departments across the University including: Dr Tim Edensor (Reader in Geography); Professor Gideon Koppel (Professor of Media); Dr Timothy Jung (Reader in Immersive Technology); Dr Gavin Macdonald (Senior Lecturer in Art History); Professor Cathy Parker (Institute of Place Management); and Dr Rosemary Shirley (Senior Lecturer in Art History). We also collaborate with colleagues from a wide range of other universities, organisations, and artists.
Further information about our research interests and expertise can be found in the Centre for Place Writing Research Cluster page.
We are committed to bringing our research into the wider community in order to open up conversations about the places – both real and imagined - in which we live and through which we move. In collaboration with RAH! (Research in Arts and Humanities), we have an organised a series of high-profile public events over the past few years including ‘Digital Re-Enchantment’: a symposium held in the Peak District that explored the relationship between writing, technology, and place. In addition, we have run two Place Writing short courses in the Manchester Writing School at Number 70. In 2017, we organised a two-day Place Writing Festival, which included writing workshops, reading seminars, author events, walking tours, visits to Special Collections, panel discussions, and screenings.
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