Reading Groups, Networks, and Regular Events

Regular events and networks can be a great way to connect with other researchers, sharing ideas and discovering new approaches. This page includes links and information about regular events, including groups that meet at different intervals throughout the academic year and are likely to be of interest to postgraduates in English Literature.

The list below showcases postgrad-led initiatives, but there are also many department and school events throughout the academic year. These include our weekly Page Breaks reading group in English Literature, and regular events organised by research centres in EDACS. You can find out more about Page Breaks here, and follow @EDACS_UOB and check the EDACS Events listing page  for School-wide events. To explore Research Centres in EDACS, you can browse details of different centres on the EDACS web pages.

Interested in organising?

  • If you’d like to plan similar events or activities to those listed below, you’re very welcome to contact Dorothy Butchard ( for support and guidance to help you get started. I’ve also shared some tips on this advice page, and you might find it helpful to reach out to one or more of the EDACS Research Centres for practical advice and support.

Postgrad-led Groups and Networks

There are many fantastic postgraduate-led initiatives within English literature and beyond. Below you can find details of some groups and networks with regular meetings and updates.

  • Please note that due to Covid-19 some regular events have paused or have moved online – contact organisers to find out more about future plans.

CTRL Network (previously Contemporary Theory Group)

Timothy the Octopus (our old but not forgotten mascot)

This is a postgraduate-led theory-focused international network based in EDACS. If you are interested in contemporary theory, or just sharpening up on secondary reading for upcoming essays, articles, or presentations, we highly encourage you to join!

Email for reading list and more info:

Twitter:  @Theory_UoB

Forum and Discord Link:


GOTHICA is an interdisciplinary, postgraduate-led reading group interested in the ever-present role of the Gothic in popular fiction and culture. Texts will typically range from the nineteenth century to the contemporary as we trace the long history of the genre and its spectral appearance in fantasy, horror, and science fiction. We will meet once per month to discuss some short readings that explore a particular theme, subgenre, or context of the Gothic.

Reading will be circulated via email, please contact to be added to the mailing list. Please also look out for posts on the English blog and follow our Twitter @Gothica_UOB for more information. All staff and students welcome!

Twitter: @Romance_UOB 

Instagram: @Romance_UOB



This group focuses on the genre everybody loves to hate: the popular romance.

From Hallmark and Disney movies to chick lit and erotica, we will be discussing all the interesting questions: is popular romance feminist? Can queer theory apply to romance? Why are readers fascinated by male predators? Are fat heroines desirable? All these and much more will be examined, questioned and potentially answered, in our free, helpful and fun reading group sessions. 

We are meeting every month – online for now – to stimulate your mind with thought-provoking and intriguing discussions on the brilliant genre of romance. We will debate, analyse, learn and fan-girl/boy over romance fiction, critics and theorists. 

So, no matter what stage you are in your academic careers (undergraduates, postgraduates, post-docs and staff) and regardless of your college or school, grab a cuppa and come along to one of our sessions. The texts will be short and sweet (ish), and from contemporary literature and the theories we will discuss include feminism, queer, intersectional and fat studies.

Ekphrastic Encounters

Ekphrastic Encounters is a newly established inter-disciplinary discussion and research forum that will examine and debate the encounter or exchange between word and image using a reciprocal and inclusive model of ekphrasis. If you would like to know more and if you want to be included on our emailing list then contact Jon Stevens on

Past reading groups

As far as we know, these reading groups aren’t currently active. Do get in touch to correct this if you’re currently running one or are interested in bringing it back!

Study States

Study States hosts regular sessions where you can meet fellow researchers in all areas of American Studies, across literature, art, history, and any other discipline. In a friendly, informal environment, we’ll look at a specific theme or historical movement in American culture and unpack some key writing and art from that period, as well as discuss our own research, conferences, journals, and lots more. Refreshments will be provided! This is open to any postgraduate student, particularly if you’re working on a dissertation or thesis related to American studies!

If you want to know more, please email

PGR Feminisms


PGR Feminisms: examining feminisms in their diversity. A monthly 1-2 hour reading and discussion group covering aspects of academic feminisms and current affairs – for postgraduates and others! Starting mid October, we will be discussing short texts and excerpts which speak to feminist terminologies, but with some time to mingle also. The co-organisers, Marie and Alice, are PGRs from EDACS who are passionate about feminist discourse. Marie is working on the impact of psychoanalytic discourse on Virginia Woolf’s works with feminist, queer, and phenomenological lenses. Alice is studying anglophone poetries and contemporary pastoral aesthetics. We wish to foster a low pressure group with a zero tolerance approach in terms of hate speech. Concepts we wish to visit include terminologies like ‘intersectionality’, and ‘gaslighting’.

Please get in touch if you are interested in joining our mailing list! Email

Dystopias Reading Group


This is a postgraduate-led, text-focused reading group centred on the best genre of all literature: dystopian literature! Fascinated by the end of the world? Intrigued by totalitarian regimes? Enchanted by awful societies not too far from our own? Then this reading group is for you!

Please feel free to email the founder of the reading group, Liam, with any questions or queries that you may have. His email address is 


Play/Pause was initially born out of a desire from 3 postgraduate students to broaden the academic consideration of videogames and virtual reality across academic disciplines: away from the consideration of them as niche, relatively new technologies, towards mediums that have the capacity to encourage and create academic discourses that reflect the cultures they are created in: just as literature, film, music, drama and other mediums are considered to be academically viable aspects of culture, why can’t VR and videogames be, too?

We understand that new media studies and game studies have been asking (and answering) these questions for a number of years: we now want to bring these discussions to the University of Birmingham. Thus, we devised this new, extracurricular seminar series at the university in order to facilitate the discussion of two relatively new technological mediums.

Modern and Contemporary Forum


The MAC forum is part of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Birmingham, and is run by postgraduate researchers from a range of disciplines within the university.
The forum encourages discussion and networking across disciplines, and institutions, for those who have an interest in modern and contemporary history. The events hosted by the MAC forum are an informal space in which research can be discussed and shared – welcoming experienced scholars, early career researchers, and postgraduate students, the forum facilitates interdisciplinary discussion and debate.

Midlands Network of Popular Culture


An interdisciplinary group of students and researchers working within the sphere of popular culture. Primarily based in Birmingham, we aim to build an inclusive community throughout the Midlands whose areas of interest pertain, however broadly, to the study of popular culture, whether mainstream or alternative. The Network will be hosting a variety of monthly events, ranging from seminar-style workshops to larger forums. Through the exchange of ideas these events encourage, we will provide a much-needed space for those who feel that existing networks and research centres are too heavily predicated on periodisation or canonicity. The Network will be a space, not only for scholarly collaboration and debate, but for gaining friends and taking pleasure in a shared love of popular culture. 


EDACS Postgraduate Seminar

The EDACS Postgraduate Seminar is a postgrad-led initiative with  frequent meetings. To find out more about the EDACS PG Seminar, see the facebook page.

DH Lawrence Studies

Research network based at the University of Birmingham. We hold regular events and a monthly reading group. Join our mailing list: