Thursday, 16 May 2019

Emyr Humphreys Centenary at CREW, Swansea University

Here are some highlights and pictures from the Emyr Humphreys Centenary symposium and public lecture organised by CREW at Swansea on 13 April 2019.

We were very lucky to have photographer Bernard Mitchell in attendance and most of the pictures here are taken by him.  


Twitter #EmyrHumphreys100 captured a flavour of the discussions of Humphreys' literary legacy and his place in ongoing academic debate, a few of which are embedded here.

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, opened the day with personal reflections on the national and international significance of Emyr Humphreys.

Meanwhile some on Twitter were more interested in the stylish socks.

We managed to over-run a little what with me getting carried away with parallels between Tristan Hughes' Revenant and Emyr Humphreys' Toy Epic and a heated debate amongst the audience about whether Humphreys' writing can be described as Faulknerian.  Faulkner was certainly important to the development of both Humphreys and Hughes.

And to finish the day we decamped to Cinema & Co, for a moving talk by Candida Clark.  There was indeed wine - and futons!

We are very grateful to UWP who created a stupendous display of their Humphreys titles, coped with running upstairs to get a signal their card reader and still managed to sell loads of books.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Abstracts: Bonds of Attachment: Emyr Humphreys at 100

Professor M. Wynn Thomas
'Soul-searches: Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Emyr Humphreys's Outside the House of Baal.' (The Saunders Lewis Memorial Lecture)

Abstract:  Marilynne Robinson is one of the most eminent novelists of contemporary America, and was honoured by President Obama with an invitation during his term in office to conduct a public conversation with him at the White House. Her key fiction has been firmly underpinned by her strong moral principles and religious faith, and in this respect it invites comparison with the resonant fiction of Emyr Humphreys.

Biography: M. Wynn Thomas FBA FLSW OBE is Professor of English and holder of the Emyr Humphreys Chair of Welsh Writing in English at Swansea University. He is the author of over twenty books and his most recent book is a new study of Emyr Humphreys (2018). The record of his thirty-year close friendship with Emyr Humphreys will be preserved in the Emyr Humphreys Archive at Swansea University being formally launched at this symposium.

Dr Michelle Deininger 

Emyr Humphreys’ Short Fictions: Landscapes, Communities, Contexts

Abstract:  Emyr Humpreys’ short fictions span his entire career, from Natives (1968) to The Woman at the Window (2009). As Linden Peach notes in The Fiction of Emyr Humphreys (2011), stories in Natives explore ‘changes which are taking place at a local, community level [that] are analogous to larger dilemmas within Wales in the middle of the twentieth century’. This paper will examine the ways in which communities, and the landscapes they reside in, are constructed in Humphreys’ fictions, exploring changes and continuities between the earlier stories and those published more recently. It will pay particular attention to the way industrial landscapes are depicted, from motorway link roads to ‘desolate docklands’ and how these kinds of images speak to wider environmental concerns. Finally, this paper will make connections with other Welsh short story writers who critique industrialisation and its impact on communities and environments, such as Elizabeth Baines, contextualising Humpreys’ work in a wider tradition of short story writing and its potential for political and cultural change.
Biography: Dr Michelle Deininger is Co-ordinating Lecturer in Humanities in the division of Continuing and Professional Education at Cardiff University. She manages the broader adult education humanities provision as well as co-ordinating several open access Pathways to a Degree programmes in English, Creative Writing, Philosophy and Media. She is currently co-writing a book with Dr Claire Flay-Petty (Bridgend College) entitled Scholarship and Sisterhood: Women, Writing and Higher Education for UWP.

Professor Daniel G Williams
 What’s Wrong with Ancestor Worship? Emyr Humphreys in the 1970s
Abstract: The 1970s in Wales witnessed successful strikes by miners in 1972 and 1974, and considerable vitality in Welsh language culture as manifested in politics and in popular music. Yet much of the decade’s writing dwells on themes of loss, despair and melancholia. The fact that a remarkably vibrant decade in politics, sport and culture gives rise to a literature of nostalgia, loss and grief needs explaining. Was the debacle of the 1979 referendum foreseen in the decade’s novels? This is a question that I will try to address with reference to Emyr Humphreys’ writings.  
Biography: Daniel G. Williams is Professor of English and Director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales at Swansea University. His latest book is Wales Unchained: Literature. Politics and Identity in the American Century (2015).

Dr Elinor Shepley
‘There was always an unspecified goal. It has turned out to be old age’: Ageing in Emyr Humphreys’s novels and short stories
Abstract: Emyr Humphreys has attended to experiences of and attitudes towards ageing in his writing for much of his literary career. One might read the proliferation of older characters to be found in Humphreys’s oeuvre as reflecting the demographic shifts at play in our society since the early twentieth century. Critics have also argued that literary texts are particularly appropriate for rendering the complexities of aged experience and Humphreys’s ability to reveal human frailties and failings with a combination of cutting insight, humour and benevolence is certainly suited to exploring the intricacies of growing older. Studies of novels and short stories about ageing often reveal a concern with the trajectories of older protagonists’ lives. Traditional conceptions of later life characterised by degeneration and loss have been designated ‘decline narratives’ and are usually viewed as problematic due to their involvement in the propagation of ageist attitudes and limiting expectations of later life. Critics have also explored intersections between age and gender and the concept of ‘late style’ – described by Edward Said as ‘a sort of deliberately unproductive productiveness’ – has been applied to the late works of a number of creative writers. This paper will consider a selection of Humphreys’s fictional works with reference to recent critical perspectives on age and ageing in literature.
Biography: Elinor Shepley recently completed a PhD at Cardiff University. Her thesis examines the representation of ageing in modern and contemporary Welsh fiction in English. Elinor wrote her Masters dissertation on old age in Emyr Humphreys’s fiction, a section of which was published in Almanac: The Yearbook of Welsh Writing in English. She currently works for the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Dr Andy Webb
Twenty-First Century Humphreys
AbstractThis paper explores Humphreys most recent publications and the representation of Wales in Europe. 
Biography: Andy Webb is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Bangor University and the author of Edward Thomas and World Literary Studies

Dr Tristan Hughes
In conversation
Abstract: Hughes explores the contours of his own and Emyr Humphreys' writing in conversation with Kirsti Bohata.
Biography: Tristan Hughes was born in Atikokan in northern Ontario and brought up on the Welsh island of Anglesey.  He is the author of four novels, Send My Cold Bones Home, Revenant, Eye Lake and Hummingbird - which won the Edward Stanford Award for Fiction with a Sense of Place and the Wales Book of the Year People's Choice Prize - as well as a collection of linked short stories, The Tower.  His short fiction has appeared in various journals, including Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and New Welsh Review.  He is a winner of the Rhys Davies short story prize and the recipient of an O. Henry Award.  He currently teaches creative writing at Cardiff University.

Programme: Emyr Humphreys Centenary Symposium




9.30-10.00 Registration (Tea and Coffee available)

10.00 Welcome


             M. Wynn Thomas, 'Soul-searches: Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Emyr Humphreys's                         Outside the House of Baal.'

11.20-11.40 Launch of the Emyr Humphreys Archive and Book Launch

11.40-12.00  Coffee / Tea
12-1.15 PANEL 1

Michelle Deininger, ‘Emyr Humphreys’ Short Fictions: Landscapes, Communities, Contexts

Daniel G Williams, ‘What’s Wrong with Ancestor Worship? Emyr Humphreys in the 1970s’

1.15-2.00 BUFFET LUNCH

2.00 -3.15 – PANEL 2

Elinor Shepley, ‘There was always an unspecified goal. It has turned out to be old age’: Ageing in Emyr Humphreys’s novels and short stories

Andy Webb, ‘Twenty-First Century Humphreys’

3.15-3.45 Tea / Coffee

3.45-4.30 – SESSION 4

Tristan Hughes in conversation with Kirsti Bohata


PUBLIC LECTURE (at Cinema and Co)

6.00pm Reception


Candida Clark, A world woven by his voice’; Myth-maker, story-teller, formal innovator and bard: tracing the unique songline of Emyr Humphreys at 100.


CREW wishes to thank the following for their generous financial support: the Learned Society for Wales, the Saunders Lewis Memorial Frust, Swansea University, including the College of Arts and Humanities Research Environment Fund.  We are also grateful for the postgraduate travel bursaries offered by our partners, the Association for Welsh Writing in English.  Thanks to the Welsh Books Council, the University of Wales Press and Seren Books for the array of books – new and reissued – by and about Emyr Humphreys and the associated publicity material.  We are grateful to Bernard Mitchell for permission to use his photograph of Emyr Humphreys and to the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University for their help in planning and organising elements of this event, not least the creation of the new Emyr Humphreys Archive at Swansea University.  We are enormously grateful to the Cultural Institute at Swansea University for organising the Public Lecture and to Elaine Canning and Helen Baldwin for sound advice and generous support throughout.



Saturday 13 April 2019

Symposium: 10.00-4.30 at Taliesin Create, Swansea University, Singleton Park, SA2 8PP

Lecture and Reception: 6.00-7.45 at Cinema & Co, 17 Castle St, Swansea SA1 1JF

© Bernard Mitchell
In April 2019, Emyr Humphreys will celebrate his hundredth birthday. He is the pre-eminent novelist of anglophone Wales, a major cultural figure who has operated on several different fronts, and a principled ethical activist. He has enjoyed a career that began when he was talent-spotted and mentored by Graham Greene, continued during the fifties through a creative friendship with Saunders Lewis and pioneering radio and television productions featuring the young Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and Sian Phillips, diversified further from the early eighties onwards with his seminal contributions of plays and documentaries for the new Welsh-language channel S4C, and culminated with his remarkable late achievements in poetry and in fiction. His has therefore been a unique achievement, one without parallel in the long history of Welsh.
This one-day symposium and evening lecture assess and celebrate the literary and cultural legacy of Humphreys.  All welcome. 

Both symposium and public lecture are free, but please register via Eventbrite. 


A limited number of postgraduate / non-affiliated ECR travel bursaries are available from AWWE. To apply, please email by 1 April.

Organiser: Kirsti Bohata:

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Extended Deadline: Multilingual Literatures / Llenyddiaethau Amlieithog


Multilingual Literatures. Interdisciplinary Conference

Keynotes Speakers
Professor Doris Sommer (Harvard)
Professor Carl Tighe (Derby)
Professor Daniel Williams (Swansea)

Venue: Gregynog Hall, Nr. Newtown, Wales (

Dates: 17-19 July 2019

Knowledge of multiple languages was once common for most writers who chose their idiom according to the purpose of their text and its intended readership (Forster). It has been argued that it was only with the rise of the nation state in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its dependence on a unique Sprachgeist (Herder) that literary production came to be coupled to a national tongue (Anderson). In the current age of globalisation, knowledge of another language is increasingly rare among Anglophone writers, while in other parts of the world an ability to use English as a second language is a basic skill. In literary expression translated English genres and styles threaten to crowd out native or mother-tongue traditions (Mizumura), while English simultaneously absorbs outside influences and Anglophone readers shun translations.
This conference sets out to explore diverging trends across minor and major languages, especially those with an established presence in Europe with respect to individual authors or literary periods, extending from the Medieval to the contemporary. It addresses the following questions:
How may we define such terms as ‘multilingual fiction’ or ‘multilingual poetry’ with respect to theory and / or practice?
In the modern era, how far do multilingual writers function as cultural intermediaries between states or language communities?
What roles can such writers play in periods of upheaval or conflict which involve their two language communities and threaten to call into question their dual affiliations?
Is their bilingualism a factor in their reception, as evidenced in reviews and other public discussions of their work, or do they try to conceal it?
To what extent does language knowledge affect choices of subject-matter, perspective, genre, and styles?

We invite proposals for papers on any topic related to multilingual literatures from across the literary and linguistic disciplines.

Themes may include:
Language choice and power
The translingual and ‘born translated’ (Walkowitz)
Language switching, borrowing and mixing
Invented languages
Intercultural / lingual mediation and cultural appropriation
The ‘Modern Languages’ novel
Literary calques
Depictions of the foreign, including other languages
Creative approaches to representing multilingualism in poetry and fiction
Language games
Multilingual writing

Proposals for papers or panels in languages other than English are welcome. We are planning to publish a selection of the papers. Please send the following details by 15 February 2019 (extension for English Studies) to the conference organisers: title; 200-word abstract; affiliation or professional background.

Some bursaries are available for postgraduate students.

Conference Organisers
Professor Julian Preece (
Swansea University

Advisory Board
Dr Thomas Bak (Edinburgh / Bilingualism Matters)
Professor Patrick McGuiness (Oxford)
Dr Abdel-Wahab Khalifa (Cardiff)
Dr Anna Metcalfe (Birmingham)
Dr Zoe Skoulding (Bangor)
Professor Antonella Sorace (Edinburgh / Bilingualism Matters

Multilingual Literatures is part of the Cross-Languages Dynamics: Reshaping Communities
project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Open World Research Initiative.


Llenyddiaethau Amlieithog  -  Cynhadledd Ryngddisgyblaethol

Prif Siaradwyr
Yr Athro Doris Sommer (Harvard)
Yr Athro Carl Tighe (Derby)
Yr Athro Daniel Williams (Abertawe)

Lleoliad: Neuadd Gregynog, ger Y Drenewydd, Cymru (

Dyddiadau: 17 - 19 Gorffennaf 2019

Ar un adeg, roedd hyfedredd mewn sawl iaith yn gyffredin i'r rhan fwyaf o ysgrifenwyr a fyddai'n dewis iaith ysgrifennu ar sail diben y testun a'r gynulleidfa darged (Forster). Mae rhai wedi dadlau mai cynnydd y genedl-wladwriaeth yn y ddeunawfed ganrif a'r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, a'i dibyniaeth ar Sprachgeist unigryw (Heder), oedd yn gyfrifol am y cysylltiad agos rhwng gwaith llenyddol ac iaith genedlaethol (Anderson). Yn yr oes globaleiddio bresennol, mae hyfedredd mewn iaith arall yn gynyddol brin ymhlith awduron mai Saesneg yw eu hiaith gyntaf, ond mewn rhannau eraill o'r byd, mae'r gallu i ddefnyddio Saesneg fel ail iaith yn sgil sylfaenol. Mewn mynegiant llenyddol, mae cyfieithiadau o genres ac arddulliau Saesneg yn bygwth gwthio traddodiadau brodorol neu famiaith o’r neilltu (Mizumura) tra, ar yr un pryd, mae Saesneg yn amsugno dylanwadau allanol ac mae darllenwyr Saesneg eu hiaith yn osgoi cyfieithiadau.
Bwriad y gynhadledd hon yw archwilio tueddiadau gwahanol ar draws ieithoedd llai ac ieithoedd mawr, yn enwedig y rhai â phresenoldeb sefydledig yn Ewrop o ran awduron unigol neu gyfnodau llenyddol, o'r Canol Oesoedd i'r presennol. Mae'n mynd i'r afael â'r cwestiynau canlynol:
Sut gallwn ddiffinio termau megis 'ffuglen amlieithog' neu 'farddoniaeth amlieithog' mewn perthynas â damcaniaeth a/neu ymarfer?
Yn yr oes fodern, i ba raddau y mae ysgrifenwyr amlieithog yn gweithredu fel cyfryngwyr diwylliannol rhwng gwladwriaethau neu gymunedau iaith?
Pa rolau y gall ysgrifenwyr eu chwarae yn ystod cyfnodau o newid mawr neu wrthdaro sy'n cynnwys cymunedau eu dwy iaith ac yn bygwth bwrw amheuaeth ar eu teyrngarwch deuol?
Ydy eu dwyieithrwydd yn elfen yn yr ymateb i'w gwaith, fel y'i gwelir mewn adolygiadau a thrafodaethau cyhoeddus eraill am eu gwaith, neu a ydynt yn ceisio ei guddio?
I ba raddau y mae hyfedredd mewn iaith yn effeithio ar ddewis maes pwnc, safbwynt, genre ac arddull?

Rydym yn gwahodd cynigion ar gyfer papurau ar unrhyw bwnc sy'n berthnasol i lenyddiaethau amlieithog o'r holl ddisgyblaethau llenyddol ac ieithyddol.

Gall themâu gynnwys:
Dewis a phŵer iaith
Y trawsieithog a 'cyfieithiad wrth ei eni’ (Walkowitz)
Newid rhwng ieithoedd, benthyca a chymysgu
Ieithoedd ffug
Cyfryngu rhwng diwylliannau/ieithoedd a meddiannu diwylliannol
Y nofel 'Ieithoedd Modern'
Dynwarediadau llenyddol
Darluniadau o'r estron, gan gynnwys ieithoedd eraill
Ffyrdd creadigol o gynrychioli amlieithrwydd mewn barddoniaeth a ffuglen
Gemau iaith
Ysgrifennu amlieithog

Croesewir cynigion ar gyfer papurau neu baneli mewn ieithoedd heblaw am Saesneg. Rydym yn bwriadu cyhoeddi detholiad o'r papurau.  Anfonwch y manylion canlynol at drefnwyr y gynhadledd: teitl; crynodeb 200 o eiriau; perthynas â sefydliad neu gefndir proffesiynol; ieithoedd y mae gennych hyfedredd ynddynt.

Mae nifer o fwrsariaethau ar gael i fyfyrwyr ôl-raddedig.

Trefnwyr y Gynhadledd
Julian Preece (
Prifysgol Abertawe

Bwrdd Ymgynghorol
Dr Thomas Bak (Caeredin / Bilingualism Matters)
Yr Athro Patrick McGuiness (Rhydychen)
Dr Abdel-Wahab Khalifa (Caerdydd)
Dr Anna Metcalfe (Birmingham)
Dr Zoe Skoulding (Bangor)
Yr Athro Antonella Sorace (Caeredin / Bilingualism Matters

Mae Llenyddiaethau Amlieithog yn rhan o'r prosiect Cross-Languages Dynamics: Reshaping Communities a ariennir gan Gyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a'r Dyniaethau drwy'r fenter Ymchwil Open World.