Wild Spaces, Wild Magic
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Mat Tobin and Nick Swarbrick of the School of Education have been
looking at the potential of a cross-disciplinary approach to the exploration of
myth, landscape and creative writing experiences for school pupils, students
and academics across a range of subjects. After an extended visit in 2016 (blogged here) to places and spaces within the work of British fantasy writer Alan
Garner; this led to a two-day workshop around writing and reading the landscape
in the Peak District.
With colleagues Dr Jane Spiro, Dr Roger Dalrymple and Debbie Wright,
they trialled the project focusing on the story of Gawain and the Green Knight
(which appears frequently in Alan Garner’s work).
The weekend consisted of two parts:
The first part involved digitally mapping the location of Gawain’s
encounter with the Green Knight at the Green Chapel. Using a 360 camera, the
location was mapped by Mat Tobin and uploaded to Google Earth, with the hope of
creating virtual experiences of literary landscapes for students, academics and
The second part involved a structured approach to reading the landscape
which began with an initial exploration of the site. Each member discussed
their experience of travelling through the space, commenting on memories, ideas
and emotions it evoked. This was followed with a reading of the passage from Gawain in
which he enters the Green Chapel. Readings were lifted from several different
versions of the text (listen here).
The Green Chapel was revisited, in order to take notes, photos and videos to
support a creative piece of writing.
Debbie Wright said of the experience “Placing myself in the position
of writer allowed me to consider the pressures we put on young children when we
ask them to write within the classroom environment.”
With funding, it is envisaged that this project will continue across
faculties so that writers/educators/academics can each bring different skills,
interests and knowledge domains to the reading experience. A future question
being: Can a collaborative multi-disciplinary, experiential reading event
involving students, staff and pupils, provide meaningful opportunities to
reconnect with and understand the landscape?
The Green Chapel 360 walk can be accessed here