Professor Ruth Gilligan Inaugural Lecture

Alan Walters Building - Room G11
Thursday 9 March 2023 (18:15-19:15)

Shakespeare, The Simpsons and Difficult Sixth Novels: Creative Writing After the Apocalypse

On the first day of the COVID-19 lockdown, Professor Ruth Gilligan’s fifth novel was published.

Apart from the practical implications, the pandemic radically altered the way the book was talked about, as well as the role into which the author herself was cast. It also caused Ruth to question the purpose of Creative Writing at a time of such profound global upheaval. 

During this period, struggling to write something new, Ruth turned to two texts for much-needed inspiration: Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel Station Eleven (in which a group of Shakespeare players travel America after an avian flu kills 99% of the population) and Anne Washburn’s 2013 play Mr Burns (set in the wake of a nuclear fallout where the only thing that binds the few survivors is The Simpsons). 

By analysing these texts and reflecting on her own experiences, Ruth will use this inaugural lecture to share her renewed belief in the power of Creative Writing even – or perhaps, especially – when the world is falling apart.

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