University of East Anglia launches 50th anniversary creative writing project

University of East Anglia launches 50th anniversary creative writing project

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has announced a major strand of its ambitious CW50 anniversary campaign, which celebrates 50 years of creative writing at UEA. The project, titled Future and Form, will see leading writers work with creative technologists, young people, schools and key cultural organisations to explore the interface between contemporary literature and creative technology.

Henry Sutton, director of Creative Writing at UEA, and the project’s lead, said: "At the inception of this project, we couldn’t have imagined the unprecedented time in which we now find ourselves. The present circumstances will challenge our writers a step further in the development of their collaborations. Future and Form is bound to deliver exhilarating, surprising results for everyone, and perhaps even more so in light of the exceptional crisis we are living through."

The writers include Ayòbámi Adébáyò, Mona Arshi, Tash Aw, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Mitch Johnson and James McDermott. They will work alongside UEA creative writing staff including Rebecca Stott, Steve Waters, Tessa McWatt and Jean McNeil.

Ayòbámi Adébáyò said: “UEA has been such an important part of my development as a writer and I’m grateful for this opportunity to consider how storytelling might evolve in and for the future.”

The technology partners include StoryFutures Academy: the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London, and Immersive Studios, Norwich, and will be under the direction of executive digital producer Tim Wright. Future and Form will seek to work with further national and international partners.

The writers and technologists will work together over a nine month development period, in which they will explore new forms of writing and dissemination and investigate how literary excellence can be sustained in a changing cultural environment.

The project will culminate in a six-venue exhibition and a sweeping interactive and immersive online platform scheduled for spring 2021. 

The Arts Council England called the project "outstanding", granting £240,000 for the Future and Form project. 

Hedley Swain, area director, South East, Arts Council England, said: "it will be really exciting to see how Future and Form will harness digital technology and UEA’s range of national and international partners to take new works of literature into places it’s never been before. I hope these new works will inspire more people to explore creative writing, both through reading and as writers in their own right.”

The CW50 anniversary programme will launch officially on 1st October 2020. Other planned activities include the five-year international chair of creative writing and Global Voices scholarship programme, an extended UEA Literary Festival programme, a pedagogical conference, symposiums and further national and international events.

The launch follows news last week that UEA has joined forces with the Rathbones Folio Prize on a new creative writing partnership.