The Telegraph Hay Festival

Thursday 23 May 2013, 7pmLandmarc 100 Stage

"Reading With the Grain" Lecture Pamphlet (PDF, 816 kb - 06.06.2013)


Supported by



Winning entry delivered at the 2013

Hay Festival Logo

INSPIRE is pleased to announce its inaugral public lecture competition, the winner of which will present their paper at the 2013 Hay Literature Festival.  This competition invited entrants to submit the text of a half-hour public lecture that considers the potential relationship between literary study and the sustainability debate.

The winners were announced at the ASLE-UKI Symposium on Literature and Sustainability, held on the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David on 15 March 2013. The winners of the competition will deliver their submission as ‘The 2013 INSPIRE Lecture on Literature and Sustainability’ at the 2013 Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts (Hay-on-Wye, 23 May–2 June 2013). Delivery of the lecture itself will be followed by a public discussion between the competition winner, Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE and former Welsh Minister of the Environment, and Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair of ASLE-UKI. 

The winning entry, ‘Reading with the Grain: Sustainability and the Literary Imagination’ co-authored by Dr Jayne Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas from the University of Aberystwyth.  They said:

"It was an absolute pleasure to win an essay competition that not only required us to respond to one of the most urgent global concerns, sustainability, but also recognised the role literature has to play in the ways we understand our relation to the environment. 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 – "Reading with the Grain" – which is focused on Shakespeare, as a Public Lecture at the Hay Festival. We'll be inviting the audience to reconsider great literature of the past for imaginative insights into how to engage sceptically and stringently with the future."

News about this fascinating research, which considers Shakespeare’s “other” life as a businessman and owner of arable farmland and pasture at a time when Europe was suffering famines and highlights new evidence suggesting he was a tax-dodger and hoarder of grain, has already received considerable national and international attention: see our press release for more details.