13 June 2016

Professor Jack Zipes' visit to Warwick University (June 2016)

Professor Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota, a world expert on fairy tales and storytelling, came to Warwick and participated in a number of events with academics and members of the public. The event was funded by a collaboration of resources at Warwick brought together by Emma Parfitt an IAS Early Careers Fellow: an IAS residential fellowship, the support of the Humanities Research Centre and the Departments of Sociology and English & Comparative Literary Studies.

Here is a short description of the fantastic events that were organised during his stay.

Panel discussion at Loughborough University

A panel discussion occurred entitled: storytelling and young people. The panel was introduced by Dr Sally Maynard and consisted of Professor Jack Zipes (University of Minnesota), Professor Mike Wilson (Loughborough) and Emma Parfitt (Warwick).

At a time of great public debate about the future of education, be that emphasis on testing of young people with a focus on the ‘rules’ of grammar, the forced academisation of all schools, or the increasing levels of mental illness and illness among young people, the panel will discuss the role of storytelling in education and whether it serves as a civilising force or an opportunity for children to realise their creative potential and determine their own futures (Mike Wilson, University of Loughborough)
Ask Zipes about publishing!’ A PhD workshop

 A training event for postdoctoral students about publishing proposals. Those attending asked questions about interdisciplinary publishing, turning a thesis into a book and translations. The discussion was recorded to be used in a Critical Reflections essay for the IAS journal Exchanges.

French documentary Film

Priscilla Pizzato, a french documentary maker from Paris, contacted me about arranging to film Jack Zipes for a documentary about Cinderella for the French-German channel Arte.. Zipes underwent an interview with the film crew at the beautiful Cryfield Farmhouse, Leighfield Road.

Campus talk & wine reception

'Childism and the Grimms' Fairy Tales, or How We Have Happily Rationalized Child Abuse through Storytelling.'


Professor Jack Zipes, Emeritus at Minnesota University giving his talk in Ramphal on the Grimms’ fairy tales.

A discussion of the way in which fairy tales reflect conditions, ideas, tastes, and values of the societies in which they were created. Technology is changing the role of storytelling in society. Whether or not oral storytelling lasts, is it important to be aware of who is controlling television, and the social media. Would we be better off if more and more people controlled the mass media instead of corporate conglomerates?


Widening participation workshops and debate (Coventry City Council, Earl Street, CV1 5RR)

A storytelling workshop with local young people followed by a discussion of this storytelling method. Professor Jack Zipes led a two hour storytelling workshop with 35 young people aged seven to eleven years of age from the following local primary schools: Pearl Hide, Grange Farm, Hearsall Community Primary, John Gulson, and All Saints Church of England.

Permission was refused from Sheila Bates, the Children’s Champion for Coventry, to record the event to be utilised as additional research materials for a collabourative paper. However I negotiated the presence of four observers. And a consent form by the Council was taken from each parent to allow me to take photos of the event.

Attendance: Young people 22, 1 Coventry council staff, 2 academic staff (Warwick and Manchester) and 1 PhD student (Warwick)

A father talked to Professor Zipes and Emma Parfitt, and Sheila Bates, Children’s Champion, after the workshop and asked that the storytelling and drama workshop be part of a regular event allowing more children to attend especially those who needed help with writing skills.


Professor Jack Zipes asking young people at Coventry Council questions about fairy tales


Young people from schools in Coventry acting out their version of Polly and the Wolf, an alternative Little Red Riding Hood Story. Here two wolves approach two Polly’s (in red and blue) with her family in the car.



26 May 2016

Fargo ‘artists and academics’ exhibition

Calling artists and PhD students.

To celebrate Coventry’s bid for the City of Culture in 2017 the University of Warwick and Fargo village are bringing artists and academics together for an exhibition of local artists work. The exhibition will invite applications from 17 artists (from all mediums and crafts) and 17 PhD students at the University of Warwick. The artists will create pieces based on the research ideas of PhD students from the University of Warwick.
This exciting exhibition is a chance to bring people together with the aim of closing the art-science divide. It opens the academic world to the community, from an internationally diverse set of students and subjects.
It is also a different way of communicating research in a creative way, thus demythicizing the idea that research outputs from theoretical to practical cannot be communicated to everyone. Knowledge, like art, should be accessible to all.
The resulting artistic creations will be displayed alongside short paragraphs describing the PhD inspirations. Visitors will be offered the chance to purchase the artists’ work thereby supporting local art and culture.
If you are an artist who would like to promote your work, would you be up to the challenge of creating a piece of art inspired by student work at the University of Warwick? If the answers to those questions are yes then we would love to hear from you.
We are planning an exhibition at Fargo Village, Coventry, to display the work of local artists inspired by research. Open to all mediums and crafts, with the opportunity not just to be creative and promote yourself but to sell your work at the exhibition.
A commitment is required for producing work for the exhibition, and at least one initial meeting/contact with a research student. I am currently in the process of raising funds, hopefully for £100-200 materials/supplies for each artist. This money is not guaranteed I will update this blog if that changes.
Deadline extended: 15th August 2016. To express your interest please send a short summary about yourself, along with a note of your preferred medium/craft, along with your name and contact information to, or Emma Parfitt, C/O Sociology Department, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL. Pictures of your previous work would be appreciated.
We look forward to hearing from you.
If you are a research student would you like the chance for your PhD thesis to inspire a piece of art? No experience required, an opportunity to engage non-academics with your work, open to all PhD students from first to final year.
Commitment required: You should be prepared to talk about your work in lay person’s terms to an artist, and we also hope you can attend the final exhibition.
To express your interest please send a short summary of your research, along with your name and contact information by the 30th of June to clearly stating your department.
Emma Parfitt has submitted her PhD in oral storytelling at Warwick University and has been awarded an IAS Early Careers Fellowship, and an IATL strategic grant to do research with previous participants of Acting Out, a Belgrade Theatre storytelling project.

This event is being supported by Fargo Village and funded by The Culture, Media and Creativity fund, Sociology Department, University of Warwick.

10 April 2016

We are excited to welcome Professor Jack Zipes to visit Warwick in June

‘How We Have Happily Rationalized Child Abuse through Storytelling.’

Visiting speaker: Jack Zipes

6 p.m. June 1st

Ramphal Building, Room R0.21

(Main Lecture Theatre)

Please send an email to

to reserve your place.

We anticipate seats for last minute visitors

booking is advised for wine reception

This event has been organised by Emma Parfitt, Sociology Department, and funded by an IAS
Residential Fellowship, the Humanities Research Centre, English & Comparative Literature  and Sociology at the University of Warwick.

2 February 2016

IATL Strategic Grant

I have been awarded a grant for a project with the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry to begin on completion of my doctorate. This is a highly competative staff fund, for large-scale projects which support the university's teaching and learning strategy. I obtained this grant with the support of Cath Lambert.

The title of the project is:


A retrospective study to ascertain the pedagogic benefits of research-led teaching

 ‘Bearing witness to marginalised groups’


My research interest

The Belgrade Theatre’s ‘bearing witness to marginalised groups’ programme aims to work with young people from diverse backgrounds. Each group works closely with a trained dramaturge (a crafter of stories for the stage), sharing and shaping experiences into dramatic form. This offers young people an opportunity to reflect, share, rethink, and transform their stories. As post-war Coventry was rebuilt so was a theatre for the community (the Belgrade). The Council Statute stated that the theatre was obliged to build links between drama and young people. 50 years later, the Belgrade has continued to work with groups of young people, from primary to secondary school age, in the theatre, in the community, and in schools in Coventry.  The theatre’s 14 regular groups meet weekly during term-time, and in addition there are holiday camps and summer schools. Our project is a retrospective study with previous participants of the ‘bearing witness’ programme. 

From IATL’s perspective

This project is an exciting opportunity to assess Warwick undergraduates through a research-led teaching experience. I therefore proposed that the study would hire two undergraduates to receive paid research experience and training to improve their employability. The students' progress will be supported and assessed by the research assistant throughout the study in order to inform the aims and objectives of a research-led teaching module.


1 February 2016

Paid Undergraduate Research Assistant Position

Job title: Undergraduate research assistant
Deadline: 12 noon, 29th February
This might be the opportunity for you
Are you an undergraduate first year student in social sciences or humanities?
Would you like research experience on your CV?
Do you need paid work experience?
Overview of the project
The Belgrade Theatre’s ‘bearing witness to marginalised groups’ programme aimed to work with young people from diverse backgrounds. Each group works closely with a trained dramaturg (a crafter of stories for the stage), sharing and shaping experiences into dramatic form. This project offered young people an opportunity to reflect, share, rethink, and transform their stories. Our project is a retrospective study with previous participants of the ‘bearing witness’ programme from 5 to 10 years later.
Vacancy Type/Job category
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Social Sciences - Humanities
£1070.76 (plus holiday pay of £129.24)
Extra for conducting approximately 15 interviews, £360 (which works out at £24 per two hour interview)
University of Warwick and local Coventry area
Paid research experience
Reference provided (subject to performance)
Open to current first year students, at Warwick University, from social sciences or humanities.
No previous work experience or set qualifications required.
Enthusiasm and reliability a must.
Applicants should be willing to learn and able to work with others.
I am looking for two first year undergraduates who are interested in the opportunity of a paid research position. Preferably available through the summer, but will consider term time only
The role involves research-led learning. You will be led through the complete research process including how to conduct qualitative interviews, transcribe interview recordings, analyse qualitative data with Nvivo, presentation and writing skills.
You will be in charge of interviewing and filming, scheduling interviews, recording participants, etc. And get a chance to write a paper and present a case study.
Expect interviews to be weekends and evenings around participant’s schedules.
Time commitment
Interviews are anticipated to commence from the 1st July – 1st October 2016, involving about 10 hours of transcription a week.
There will be training sessions on interviews, transcription, Nvivo software, presentation and writing skills lasting approximately 1-2 hours.
Some assessment will be conducted through the process which will be explained in the interview, this will require keeping a journal of your experiences throughout the project. Data analysis will begin in term 1 (academic year 2016-2017, with an estimated 2 hours a week from November to December 2016).
If interested please email: with a paragraph explaining why you are interested in the post, giving some information about yourself, and what subject you are studying at Warwick.
This post has been funded by the IATL Strategic staff fund