2020 applicants
Centre

Centre for Creative Writing

Part of Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Where innovation meets creativity

The Centre for Creative Writing is a research hub specialising in innovative approaches to the study and practice of creative writing.

Established in 2010 by Professor Marina Warner, Philip Terry and Adrian May, the Centre for Creative Writing is unique in that it was set up from its inception to develop and explore innovative practices in Creative Writing.

It was the first place in the UK to develop modules on the emergent practices of memory mapping, walking and place – which are now widely imitated – and it was the first in the UK to devote a module to the now highly influential work of the Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature).

It is interdisciplinary in its approach and engages with forms of writing which move between traditional boundaries of mode and genre. Key areas of research interest include the Oulipo, Wild Writing, Memory Mapping, prismatic translation, experimental forms of poetry, and science fiction.

Since our department's inception in the 1960s under the poet Donald Davie, we have nurtured a tradition of distinguished writers, who have shaped literature as we know it. These include Robert Lowell, Michèle Roberts, Ken Smith, Tom Raworth, Ed Dorn, Ben Okri, Pierre Joris and Ted Berrigan.

The modern-day Centre for Creative Writing consists of writers with a unique breadth of experience across literary genres, from novels, prose and plays, to poetry and song.

Our partnership with Essex Book Festival

In 2014 the Centre for Creative Writing began working in partnership with the Essex Book Festival, which takes place annually in March. The Centre engages in the Festival on many levels, conducting outfacing writing workshops, showcasing work on our MAs in Creative Writing and Wild Writing, organising public readings for members of the Centre and for Essex students, liaising with the Essex Book Festival to establish work-based learning opportunities, and running residential writing workshops (such as that at the Othona Community, Bradwell, 2017).

Man writing in a notebook
Competition launched for creative writers announces winners

After receiving almost 800 entries from over 35 countries, the winners have been announced for the short story competition we launched alongside literary journal Short Fiction. Since the competition launched, three Essex students have joined the Short Fiction editorial board and are now contributing to the year-round operation of the magazine.

Read more about the competition

Our research

All staff in the Centre are actively engaged in research projects, as well as ongoing research into Memory Maps, which has given rise to many book projects – including Quennets (Terry, Carcanet, 2016), Stour Diaries (McCully, Medlar, 2019), The Oak Papers (Canton, Canongate, 2020) – staff are engaged in research into dreaming (Pester, ffytche), myth (May), US avant-gardes (Savage), and camping (De Abaitua).

All our academic staff members are open for PhD supervision if you are interested in studying a postgraduate research degree in Creative Writing. Please browse our staff profiles below and feel free to get in touch if you have any enquiries. 

 

Highlights of our research

Publications

Forthcoming publications include The Oak Papers (Canton, Canongate, August 2020), and The Penguin Book of Oulipo (Terry, Penguin Modern Classics, November 2020).

Archives

Members of the Centre for Creative Writing have been involved in using and setting up Library Archives. These Archives include:

Douglas Oliver (1937-2000) was a poet, novelist, academic, journalist and translator. He was first associated with the University of Essex in the 1970s. Starting as a mature student, Douglas later became a lecturer in the Literature Department. His collection comprises the notebooks, typescripts, research material, corrrespondence and printed works, and his Archive has been placed on permanent deposit with the Library by his widow, Alice Notley, and has been augmented by additional material acquired by means of purchase.

The J.A Baker Archive is an important national archive of interest internationally, holding the papers of the seminal Essex-based nature writer J.A. Baker, author of The Peregrine. J.A Baker has had an important impact on the currently resurgent new nature writing.

The archive attracts interest nationally and internationally, with visitors from Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and the United States. The launch event featured leading nature writer Robert Macfarlane, and involved public facing talks, and a demonstration of a peregrine in flight.

 

Explore our archives at Essex

Our members

Dr Holly Pester

Senior Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Holly specialises in poetry and performance writing.

 Matthew De Abaitua

Senior Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Matthew specialises in writing novels.

Professor Christopher McCully

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Chris specialises in poetry and memory.

Professor Philip Terry

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Philip specialises in translation and poetry.

Dr James Canton

Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

James specialises in new nature writing.

Professor Jonathan Lichtenstein

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Jonathan specialises in playwrighting.

Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Maria was the recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Award for work on the poetics of Derek Walcott in 2016-19.

Professor Elizabeth Kuti

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Professor Sanja Bahun

Professor

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Dr Jordan Savage

Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Dr Mary Mazzilli

Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Dr Liam Jarvis

Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

 Annecy Lax

Senior Lecturer

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Dr Adrian May

Associate Fellow

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex

Professor Matt Ffytche

Professor

Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex

Dr Alexei Vernitski

Senior Lecturer

Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Murray Griffin

Reader

School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex

Professor Jules Pretty

Professor

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Professor

Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London

Novelist, Non-fiction writer, Royal Literary Fund

Director, Essex Book Festival

Poet, Playwright, Non-fiction writer, The Royal Literary Fund

Biography in the context of the person module

From left: Karen Rose (producer), Elizabeth Kuti, Philip Selway (composer), Jo McInnes (Director), and Stephen Dillane with their BBC awards for Sea Longing
Professor Elizabeth Kuti wins Best Original Single Drama and Best Actor prizes at the BBC Audio Awards

Read the compelling article about 'Sea Longing', an award-winning play written by Professor Elizabeth Kuti, which told the story of folklore expert Robert Whyman and his encounters with the mythological seal folk.

Read the article
Get in touch
Get in touch
Professor Katharine Cockin Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies