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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Twitter @alibrown18

New Essay

Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

Lighting a New Fuse

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

I am delighted to announce that, from 1st November, I am doing a sideways shuffle in my career to take up a new post as Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project Creative Fuse North East, with some of my conventional Eng Lit work going into suspended animation for the next year.

Creative Fuse North East is a massive project across the region's five universities, looking at the state of the creative, tech and digital sector and thinking, among other things, about ways to enhance business by engaging imaginatively with arts and humanities, heritage and culture.

Creative Fuse North East Innovation Phase Launch from Creative Fuse North East on Vimeo.

In establishing and running READ: Research English At Durham (which continues), I've come to realise that the arts and humanities in particular have traditionally underestimated the wider value of what we do. Many people - not entirely unjustifiably - lament the impact agenda at universities, but it's become clear to me that when you simply share your research, however niche it might seem, there are people out there who want to listen and who will be inspired by it. Dissemination turns into conversation, and sparks fly. In a similar vein, Creative Fuse North East is in part about getting people from seemingly different sectors to talk to one another, and seeing what happens. The ongoing CAKE events run by the project are a case in point.

I'm looking forward to working with great people in universities, business, arts and culture, and enabling some Creative Fusion.

By David Wilson Clarke, via Wikimedia Commons
But there's a North East aspect to this too, which I feel quite personally and which was one of the reasons I was drawn to this project. I've lived in the North East for more or less 17 years. When I first came, I saw a region trying desperately to pull itself up by the bootstraps in the wake of industrial decline. And the one thing the North East continued to excel in was in downplaying itself.

Unrooted from the beauty and tourism potential of its natural landscape (not as good as Yorkshire!). Uncertain as to how to move from twentieth to twenty-first century industries (damn you, Manchester!). Unsure about the value of its galleries, museums and cultural venues (not up there with London!).

But our slumbering giant is now waking. Sunderland is in the bidding for City of Culture. The Great Exhibition of the North is coming next year. Newcastle has more heritage activity than any city outside of London. And all this despite, rather than because of, public funding and media attention which remains focused on the South East.

Compared to these developments, our digital and creative economy is not at the top yet. The creative economy accounts for 4.9% of all employment in the North East, against 8.3% for the UK as a whole. But it's growing, and with five brilliant universities and all the other cultural resources around, its future is bright. I'm proud that I'm going to be working with some amazing people, and playing a small part in making that happen.

(And if you're working in any of the areas mentioned above, reach out to me @alibrown18 or the Creative Fuse team @CreativeFuseNE on twitter, or find us online.)

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Posted by Alistair at 11:39 am


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