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Mr Tom SperlingerBA(Liv), MSt(Oxon)

Reader in English Literature and Community Engagement

Tom Sperlinger

Mr Tom SperlingerBA(Liv), MSt(Oxon)

Reader in English Literature and Community Engagement

Member of

Research interests

My first book, Romeo and Juliet in Palestine, was published by Zero Books in June 2015 and has been reviewed in The Observer, the Electronic Intifada and SCTIW Review. It is about a semester I spent teaching at Al-Quds University in 2013. I have been interviewed about the book as part of Bristol Festival of Ideas and for the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper in Brazil.

I was on research leave in 2015/16, funded by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS). During the year I worked with IDEAL Community Action, a charity that provides education and training to individuals and communities affected by addiction, offending and long-term poverty. I am currently working on a new book based on my work with IDEAL.

I was a Visiting Fellow at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in April 2014, where I worked on Doris Lessing's typescripts. I have published an article on correspondence held in the archive about The Grass is Singing, which shows that Lessing refused publication by Knopf in part because she was asked to add a rape scene to the novel. An early poem of Lessing's, which I found in the archive, has been published in PN Review. I recently completed two pieces on Lessing which draw on her typescripts: a chapter on 'interruptions' as part of her creative process in Doris Lessing and the Forming of History, which I co-edited with Kevin Brazil and David Sergeant for Edinburgh University Press; and an article on radical pedagogy in Mara and Dann, drawing on the work of Paulo Freire and Idries Shah, in Critique (open access). 

I recently contributed a chapter on re-writings of the myth of Abraham by Wilfred Owen, A.B. Yehoshua and Ghassan Kanafani to a book on Reading the Abrahamic Faiths

Selected articles

There are details of my academic publications on the 'research outputs' tab above. This is a selection of my shorter articles and reviews.

Article title                                                                           Publication           Year  
Trump, Brexit and a crisis of participation in universitiesPolicy Bristol2017
John Berger, storyteller and friend of Palestine, dies at 90Electronic Intifada2017
The West Bank's new normalElectronic Intifada    2016  
Why we need Jeremy Corbyn's National Education ServiceThe Independent2015
The "forced geography" of Tel AvivElectronic Intifada2015
The right to not readIrish Times2015
On Owen Jones and being too angryOpen Democracy2014
Is a co-operative university a sustainable alternative?The Guardian2014
The strange death of liberal adult educationHuffington Post2014
Review: Rachel Shihor, Stalin is DeadTimes Literary Supplement2014
Romeo and Juliet in PalestineMondoweiss2013
In praise of Alice MunroHuffington Post2013
Review: Deryn Rees-Jones, Burying the WrenHuffington Post2012
A conversation with A.B. YehoshuaThe Reader2011
Why adult education needs Vince CableThe Guardian2011
Review: Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A LifeIndependent on Sunday2011
Great literature will always be relevantThe Guardian2010
Educational opportunities must remain open for those who need them most  Left Foot Forward2010
Doris Lessing's lessons in old ageThe Guardian2010
A chilling vision for higher educationThe Guardian2009
How is denying people a life-saving second chance in any way fair?Times Higher2009
An interview with Doris LessingThe Reader2005

Teaching interests

Most of my teaching experience is with adult learners or with younger people who have spent time out of the education system. In 2016/17, I am working one day per week with the Widening Participation and Student Recruitment team on the recruitment and participation of adult learners across the university.

I designed the part-time BA in English Literature and Community Engagement (ELCE), which has been running since 2008 and, with Richard Pettigrew, the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities, which launched in 2013. This film, made by students on the Foundation Year, gives a great introduction to that course. I have a particular interest in developing short courses with community groups and that facilitate progression to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, including with organisations such as the Black Development Agency and the Single Parent Action Network (SPAN).

I have taught a unit on 19th Century Prose Writing (for the BA ELCE) and I teach a unit on Dangerous Books (for the BA English). I have also contributed to all units on the Foundation Year and given lectures on the BA English on topics including Shakespeare's sonnets, Hamlet and Hannah Arendt, Jane Austen, revisions in poetry, and Virginia Woolf and the 'non-academic' reader.

In 2014, I was awarded a University Award for Education and a Vice Chancellor's Award for my contributions to teaching.

Contact details
Office: 1.12, 3/5 Woodland Road
Phone: +44 (0)117 954 6969
Twitter: @tomsperlinger

Other interests

I am academic lead at Bristol for the British Council HESPAL scheme, which will offer 12 PhD scholarships at Bristol to future Palestinian academics over the next 4 years. I've worked as a mentor for the We Are Not Numbers project with young writers in Gaza, including Nada Hammad who wrote this love letter to Gaza. I am a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. I was a co-editor of The Brodie Press from 2002 to 2015; our books included two poetry collections by Julie-ann Rowell, recognised by the Poetry Book Society and shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize respectively. I am a member of the advisory board for the Bristol Palestine Film Festival.


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Postal address:
3-5 Woodland Road
United Kingdom