Ted Hughes & Place

A symposium organised by the Ted Hughes Network at the University of Huddersfield, in partnership with the Ted Hughes Society

Thursday 15th and Friday 16th June 2017

Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield

‘Place’ is key to understanding the work of Ted Hughes. The key geographical locations of Hughes’s life — Mytholmroyd, Mexborough, Cambridge, Boston, Devon, Ireland, and London (by no means an exhaustive list) — each contributed to the formation of the poet and have left indelible marks in his oeuvre. Recent critical and biographical studies have opened up new topographical trajectories into Hughes’s work, expanding the field and challenging received narratives and interpretations.

However, ‘place’ can also be understood more widely. Hughes seems often to be regarded as one of English poetry’s ‘outsiders’, a poet too singular and maverick to be easily placed within the canon and within the context of modern and contemporary English verse. Accordingly, Hughes’s relationships with his poetic predecessors, peers, and literary ‘movements’ — modernism, the Movement, or American, Eastern European and other international poets and artists, for example — are perhaps insufficiently explored, as is the extent of his own influence on poets and artists during his lifetime and after his death.

A third understanding of ‘place’ might be social and cultural: issues related to class and politics, and how these are reflected in Hughes’s work and its reception in the different stages of his life and career.

This two-day symposium will explore these different aspects of place in the writings of Ted Hughes, and in doing so help to develop a deeper understanding of the contexts of Hughes’s life and work.

Proposals might address, but need not be limited by, the following topics:

  • the locations of Hughes’s life and work
  • Hughes and geography / topography / landscape
  • Hughes and the environment
  • Hughes and the canon
  • Hughes’s influences
  • Hughes’s influence
  • Hughes and post-war poetry
  • Hughes and the Movement
  • Hughes and modernism
  • Hughes and postmodernism
  • Hughes and world literatures
  • Hughes and society
  • Hughes and politics
  • Hughes and class


Keynote speakers:

Professor Terry Gifford (Bath Spa University)

Emeritus Professor Neil Roberts (University of Sheffield)

Dr Mark Wormald (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge)



Please send proposals of 250 words with a short biographical note to James Underwood (j.s.underwood@hud.ac.uk) by 31 December 2016.

Speakers will be notified in January 2017.