Winner announcement: 2013 INSPIRE Lecture on Literature and Sustainability

We are pleased to announce the winning entry to the public lecture competition, which will be delivered as the 2013 INSPIRE Lecture on Literature and Sustainability, at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in May.

The winning entry was a collaborative paper entitled ‘Reading with the Grain: Sustainability and the Literary Imagination’, by Dr Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas, all from Aberystwyth University.

The entries were blind judged by a team of three judges: chair of ASLE-UKI Dr Adeline Johns-Putra, Reader at University of Surrey; Dr Matthew Jarvis, Anthony Dyson Fellow in Poetry at University of Wales Trinity Saint David; and Dr Paul Wright, Head of the School of Cultural Studies, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Out of a range of excellent entries, the judges unanimously identified ‘Reading with the Grain’ as ‘a clear win’, describing it as ‘rigorously historicised yet compelling throughout and with wide appeal’.

The competition was set up by INSPIRE, the Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, led by Jane Davidson, former Minister for Sustainability in Wales, and supported by ASLE-UKI. The winning entry was announced at the ASLE-UKI one-day symposium: Literature and Sustainability, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David on 15th March 2013, also organised in collaboration with INSPIRE.

The winning paper will invite the public audience at Hay ‘to reconsider Shakespeare’s writing for imaginative insights into how to engage sceptically and stringently with the future’. The winners stated, ‘As a team of two literary scholars and a plant scientist, we’re convinced that the challenge of sustainability will require us increasingly to cross boundaries, to empathise with other disciplines and above all to leave our prejudices about what each has to offer at the door. ASLE-UKI and INSPIRE are showing us an exciting way forward. We’re honoured to be presenting our essay at the Hay Festival’.

The winners wish to acknowledge financial support from a BBSRC Excellence with Impact award to IBERS ( and the Department of English and Creative Writing, both at Aberystwyth University.

The lecture will be delivered at 7pm on 23 May 2013 at the Hay on Earth stage at the Hay Festival. A public discussion will follow between the competition winners, director of INSPIRE Jane Davidson and ASLE-UKI chair Dr Adeline Johns-Putra. University of Wales Trinity Saint David will make available a slim volume of the winning paper for distribution on the day; meanwhile further publication routes are being investigated.

The two linked events of symposium and public lecture competition were set up to explore how literary study might begin to engage with the sustainability debate. Co-organisers, Louise Squire, PhD candidate at University of Surrey and Dr Matthew Jarvis, Anthony Dyson Fellow of Poetry at Trinity Saint David, wish to offer special thanks to Director of INSPIRE Jane Davidson, who made possible these events, and to all who have contributed to discussions so far.

For more information about the work of  INSPIRE  please visit the INSPIRE webpages.