What is the Global Academy of Liberal Arts?

The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) is a global network of creativity spanning national and cultural boundaries, aiming to broaden the experience of students and staff. The first network of its kind, GALA was founded by Bath Spa University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christina Slade, in June 2014 to bring together Liberal Arts providers from around the world. Representatives of the Department of English at Stockholm University participated in the inaugural meeting of GALA at Bath Spa University, June 4-7, 2014. What brought us together is our interest in exploring the links between creativity, critical thinking and social engagement, based in our belief that a liberal arts education provides a firm basis for meeting the challenges and opportunities of globalization. Our aim is to collaborate across national borders and disciplines through teaching and research collaborations.


Transnational Creatives

We have had two workshops in Stockholm and one festival at Bath which resulted in a number of publications in Wales Arts Review. More info and pictures from this event can be found either with Bambo or Sian Dafyd s.dafydd@bathspa.ac.uk

Workshop 1: Empathy, Voice, and Creative Leadership August 10-12, 2014.

Stockholm University invited members to participate in the "Transnational Creatives" workshop at Djurönäset, with participants from Britain, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, the US, England, and Sweden. The four-day workshop resulted in establishing two research themes: lost waters and transnational creativity which since have gained momentum.

Workshop 2: Transnational Creatives July 27-30, 2015

This time members from Bath Spa U, Butler U and Stockholm U met for an intense three day workshop at Smådalarö to thrash out our collaboration in the creative writing field, both in terms of programmes and research. When it comes to the MA programme, some modules within Stockholm’s MA were designed in collaboration with Bath Spa and at least one of those modules will be common to our universities. We will be sharing teaching staff and materials, lectures, student exchanges etc.

Our MA site: Master’s Programme in English with a Specialisation in Transnational Creative Writing 

The second part is the Transnational Creatives research community.


Lost Waters

This research topic gained momentum at the international 2014 workshop in Sweden at Djurönäset and has developed within the GALA community (see Lost Waters).

So far we have two projects in progress at Stockholm University.

1. In her research, Claudia Egerer has started on the "Anthropocene Waters - lost waters, contested waters, and entangled waters in Times of Climate Change" project which aligns itself with the larger concerns of the environmental humanities, attempting to think through the challenges set by global warming and ensuing climate changes with special focus on water. All life is dependent on water, water is everywhere yet also in short supply and our relationship with it is complicated. Harnessed to produce hydroelectric power it also threatens to flood its perimeters, flooding low-lying areas, and its double nature as absolute necessity and potential threat has always fueled the human imagination. But while the reality of global warming is undeniable, its very scale challenges the human mind so that it for the majority of the population remains an abstract notion difficult to envisage as real. It is the purpose of the Anthropocene waters project to show how fictional narrative creates the sense of reality that scientific terminology at times falls short of. Literature is the place where abstract notions are fleshed out, gain body and shape to make the intangible more concrete. Literature helps us to experience what is at stake in scientific concepts such as global warming, water pollution, Anthropocene. This project traces the different ways in which these literary texts approach the challenge of what it means to live in an age so deeply marked by human activity that it has repercussions on a geological scale. Taking its point of departure in the urgent and contested matter of water, the focus is on emphasizing the ways in which literature draws attention to the interconnectedness of planetary life and materia and the ensuing ethical concerns. At the heart of the inquiry is the hypothesis that literary narratives are well equipped to bring scientific findings to life, stressing their inherent ethical dimensions and the demand for change this entails.

2. The second project concerns itself with teaching across disciplinary borders and consists of a theme course, entitled "The Environmental Humanities,"for the Humanities School's PhD programme. The course is based on collaboration of colleagues from Archeology (Christina Fredengren), History of Ideas (Karin Dirke), and English Literature (Claudia Egerer). The course adopts an interdisciplinary perspective, introducing key concerns and concepts discussed today in the growing field of the environmental humanities. With its focus on global issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, and an escalating rate of species extinction, the course draws attention to how the concept of the "anthropocene" allows us to examine and challenge theories of human exceptionalism. The aim is to acquaint students with an international field of research that explores both the global scale of human actions and the importance of the humanities to help us understand the global challenges presented by climate change and environmental destruction. The course provides an entry into current research and encourages critical and creative engagement with the concerns at hand.

Lost Waters

Transnational Creativity

About GALA

 

Subjects/specialisms for shared teaching

Our teaching specialisations include:

  • American Literature (19th century, contemporary) 
  • British literature (modernism, contemporary)
  • Australian literature (especially poetry, contemporary writing)
  • Literatures in English (esp. South African, Caribbean)
  • Poetry and poetics
  • Literary theory (poststructuralism, postcolonialism, posthumanism, animal studies, environmental humanities)
  • Academic English

Research interests to apply for funding bids:

  • Transnational Creatives
  • Environmental humanities/Anthropocene writing
  • Lost waters 
  • Animal studies
  • Poetry and Ecopoetics

Here I’d like to add that we’re in the process of putting together a theme course for the Humanities PhD school with a focus on environmental humanities and the re-thinking of what we mean by “the humanities.” In addition to colleagues from our department we collaborate with Archeology and History of Ideas.


Staff/student mobility opportunities

To date, we have active exchange programmes with a number of universities in Britain, Hong Kong, Holland and Germany.

We are also part of the European PhD net which constitutes an international network between JLU, the doctoral programme for philosophy, arts and society at the University of Helsinki and the doctoral programmes in literary and cultural studies at the University of Bergamo, the Catholic University of Lisbon, the University of Stockholm and the University of Graz.

We would like to make more use of the ERASMUS mobility programme, especially involving staff mobility.
 

Upcoming events/lectures/festivals:

Autumn semester: launch of MA programme in Transnational Creative Writing

November 15: Talk by William R. Kenan professor Rita Felski, editor of New Literary History and only recipient in the humanities of the prestigious Niels Bohr professorship from the National Danish Research Foundation

May 2016: 
May 7-9  Cultures of control workshop with professor Stephanie LeMenager, Oregon U, and professor Timothy Morton, Rice U

May 10  Annual Literature Day at Stockholm University with a focus on cosmopolitanism and a number of key note speakers (TBA)
 

Institutions