English Professor Thomas Glave, seen here addressing the Oslo Freedom Forum, is spending 2014 as a visiting professor at the University of Warwick.
Photo by Oslo Freedom Forum
English professor receives U.K. Leverhulme Trust honorTweet
It did not take long for Thomas Glave to observe some similarities between Binghamton University and the University of Warwick in Great Britain.
“Warwick reminds me of Binghamton in several ways – and certainly in terms of its student population,” said Glave, an English professor at Binghamton University. “It is a large, renowned research university. And as is true at Binghamton, Warwick students come from a variety of social classes and ethnic, cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds.”
Glave is spending the calendar year at the University of Warwick’s Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies after receiving a visiting professorship from the U.K. Leverhulme Trust. Leverhulme is one of the largest providers of research funding in the United Kingdom, distributing more than 60 million pounds each year. It awards visiting professorships to “U.K. institutions that wish to invite an eminent researcher from overseas to enhance the knowledge and skills of academic staff or the student body within the host institution.”
“It is highly selective,” said Glave, one of 14 professors to receive the honor for the 2014 calendar year. “I didn’t realize that it was quite so difficult to get a fellowship.”
Friends from the University of Oxford and the University of Reading in the U.K. suggested that Glave consider a Leverhulme fellowship year at Warwick’s Centre for Caribbean Studies, given the centrality of Caribbean studies to Glave’s writing, teaching and research. He said he focused his application on topics such as Caribbean and Latin American creative writing, gay and lesbian studies and black British studies.
“These intersecting disciplines are all areas I am interested in and have taught at Binghamton,” he said.
Glave was awarded the professorship late in 2013 and began working at Warwick on Jan. 29, 2014. He will remain at the university’s Centre for Caribbean Studies and Department of Hispanic Studies until Jan. 29, 2015.
“One of the aims of the visiting professorship is my working as a sort of ‘bridge,’ so to speak, between the Centre and Hispanic Studies,” he said. “I did a degree in Latin American studies as an undergraduate, and have taught LACAS courses at Binghamton, including courses in Caribbean literature. Caribbean Studies means something entirely different in the U.K., of course, than it does in the U.S., partly because of the relationship between many Caribbean countries and the British Empire and the Commonwealth. So I think it’ll be very interesting to observe and participate in the conversations between the Centre and Hispanic studies. What’s also interesting is that Hispanic studies at Warwick includes Spain, which one wouldn’t see in the U.S.”
Much of Glave’s work will involve giving readings and lectures at various U.K. institutions, such as the University of Birmingham, the University of Sussex, the University of Cambridge, the University of Essex and the universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland. The talks, which sometimes feature Glave reading from his recently published works, are often accompanied by what is referred to as a “seminar”: an informal session with students, other professors and the general public. The talks and seminars, which have already started, will take place throughout 2014.
“Leverhulme likes to see (visiting professors) go beyond the campus and into communities, when possible,” said Glave, who spent the 2012 calendar year as a visiting fellow at Cambridge. “I did a lot of community work when at Cambridge, and will do similar work this year, sometimes through local literary institutions, and through larger ones like the Commonwealth Foundation.”
Glave also hopes to complete three manuscripts during his time at Warwick. His 2013 book, “Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh,” has received great acclaim since its release, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The book, which features essays examining human rights, political oppression, sexuality, race and Jamaican culture, was named a finalist in March for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Nonfiction. Glave will find out in June if he is adding a third Lambda Literary Award to his collection.
Despite the success of “Among the Bloodpeople,” Glave said he does not expect to prominently feature the book during his U.K. talks.
“I’d like to keep moving forward,” he said. “I don’t want to continue indulging myself with that book by reading only from it. I want to push myself to produce new work all the time. So I’ll occasionally read some things from ‘Bloodpeople,’ and aim to dove-tail them with works in progress, from which I’ll be reading this year.”
“I think there’s really nothing more precious for a writer than time,” said Glave, who has been at Binghamton University since 1999. “Time to write, and time to sit and think about things, and observe. Some money for living while writing also helps, obviously. This Leverhulme year is affording me all of those things. I couldn’t really know until the fellowship began how vast a world of creative possibilities for a writer exists between Binghamton, Warwick and so many other places in between.
“The time has been fantastic so far. It also pleases me to know that all the good things that come out of this year, including the prestige of the fellowship itself, will ultimately redound to the benefit of Binghamton University, the English department, Creative Writing, LACAS and all the students whom I encounter in the future.”