Winner of the M Wynn Thomas Prize (New Scholar category) 2015: Jamie Harris

The winner of the New Scholars category of the M Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding work in the field of Welsh Writing in English 2015 is Jamie Harris. Jamie is currently engaged in completing a PhD at Aberystwyth University, which is funded by the University’s Rendel Scholarship. His thesis focuses on writers of place and psychogeography in Welsh Writing in English since devolution. Jamie also teaches part-time in Aberystwyth’s Department of English and Creative Writing.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 13.05.10Jamie’s essay engages in a fundamental and at the same time hugely difficult and potentially divisive question: what makes a Welsh writer a Welsh writer? Is it genes? A writer’s place of residence? Her/his subject matter? Place of publication? Geraint Evans had already asked this question in his essay ‘Edward Thomas and the Canon of Welsh Writing in English’ (see IJWWE, Vol. 1, 2013), and it is unsurprising that this question should be most frequently addressed when writing about an author, whose Welsh inheritance or allegiance is somehow in doubt or who usually gets bracketed in a different category. Edward Thomas is usually a ‘war poet’, who articulates the British war experience. Jamie Harris skilfully anatomises and analyses Iain Sinclair’s allegiances and connections, arguing for his unquestioned inclusion in the ‘Welsh canon’.

You can read the essay in IJWWE, Vol. 2, 2014 or watch an interview conducted with Jamie at the AWWE conference 2015. Our thanks go to Dr Aidan Byrne (Wolverhampton University) for conducting the interview.

Winner of the M. Wynn Thomas Prize 2015 (Open category): Dr Heather Williams

This year’s winner of the Open category of the M. Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding work in the field of Welsh writing in English is Dr Heather Williams with her essay entitled ‘Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams and the Radically Bilingual Text: Poems Lyric and Pastoral (1794)’. The essay was published in IJWWE, Vol. 2, 2014.

In her essay, Dr Williams critiques a theoretical position in Translation Studies, which have almost come to assume the status of universally acknowledged truth, namely Lawrence Venuti’s position that it is always better to use a foreignising translation strategy, which explicitly draws attention to the source text’s otherness and attempts to ‘translate’ it into the target culture, rather than a domesticating strategy, which attempts to smooth over the edges of the source text to make it blend into the target culture. In fact, as Michael Cronin has pointed out, the stakes are different when one translates a text from a majority culture into the context of a minority culture: paradoxically then a domesticating approach may actually serve to help ensure the survival of the target culture. Heather Williams ably demonstrates this by examining Iolo Morganwg’s Poems Lyric and Pastoral. It is an essay which works towards an understanding of the bilingual culture of Wales in the 18th century as much as a much-needed corrective to Lawrence Venuti’s original approach.

Heather herself says:

It’s a great privilege to receive this award for my work on Iolo Morganwg. I can’t think of another writer who has suffered so much from the mythology surrounding his name obscuring the texts that he wrote. I hope my essay will persuade people that Iolo is an important figure in both the literatures of Wales. The work was undertaken as part of the AHRC-funded project on ‘Wales and the French Revolution’ at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and draws on my longstanding interest in translation studies and study of cultural interfaces.

Mae’n anrhydedd fawr derbyn y wobr hon am fy ngwaith ar Iolo Morganwg. Anodd meddwl am lenor arall sydd wedi cwympo rhwng dwy stol i’r fath raddau.  Gobeitho bydd fy ysgrif yn darbwyllo pobl bod i Iolo le pwysig yn nwy lenyddiaeth Cymru. Gwnes i’r gwaith fel rhan o’r prosiect AHRC ‘Cymru a’r Chwyldro Ffrengig’ yng Nghanolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru, ac mae’n deillio o’m diddordeb mewn astudiaethau cyfieithu a ‘r ffiniau rhwng diwyllianau gwahanol.

If you would like to find out more about the essay and about its author, you can watch an interview with Heather Williams here. Our thanks go to Dr Aidan Byrne (Wolverhampton University) for conducting the interview.

Please also see the University of Wales’s statement.

M. Wynn Thomas Prize 2015 – Winners Announced

Swansea, March 2015


Dr Heather Williams (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth) and Jamie Harris (Aberystwyth University) are this year’s winners of the prestigious M. Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding academic work in the field of Welsh Writing in English. Once again, submissions were of a very high quality, and the judging panel (Dr Matthew Jarvis, Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity St David, Dr Aidan Byrne, Wolverhampton University and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch, Swansea University) were hard-pushed to arrive at a decision. The panel felt that the winners’ work showed exceptional scholarship as well as the willingness to explore new territory.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous sponsorship of University of Wales Press. Winners receive £150 each and a full set of the Library of Wales titles published by Parthian Books, whom we would also like to thank for their generous gift.

The prize will be awarded at the annual conference of the Association for Welsh Writing in English, ‘The Country and the City: Rural and Urban Wales’, to be held at Gregynog Hall, Powys, 27-29 March 2015.


M Wynn Thomas Prize: Deadline extended


  1. Wynn Thomas Prize 2015

The M. Wynn Thomas Prize is offered to celebrate outstanding scholarly work in the field of Welsh writing in English. There are two prize categories: the ‘Open’ category and the ‘New Scholars’ category. Essays submitted may be unpublished or published, in English or in Welsh. Published essays should be from 2013/14. Topics may include all aspects of Welsh writing in English as well as the inter-relationship of Welsh writing in English with cognate areas (Welsh Studies, history, cultural studies, film/media studies, translation studies, performance/theatre studies, digital humanities, comparative literature etc.). The judging panel for the 2015 Prize will be Dr Matthew Jarvis (Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity Saint David), Dr Aidan Byrne (University of Wolverhampton) and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch (Swansea University).

The prize is awarded for a piece of substantial scholarship that is engagingly written. We encourage submissions that are ground-breaking in terms of subject-matter and/or methodology/disciplinarity. Essays that grapple with new ideas in an intelligent and conceptualised way are preferred. It is awarded at the annual conference of the Association of Welsh writing in English, which takes place around Easter every year in Gregynog Hall (near Newtown).

Prize categories:

‘Open’ Category

Essays in this category will be ca. 6,000-8,000 words long, of the highest scholarly quality and either already published in, or of a standard appropriate to an international, peer-reviewed journal. Authors may be academics or scholars, who are not affiliated with an HE institution.

Prize: £150 and a full set of the Library of Wales series of books published by Parthian.


‘New Scholars’ Category

Essays in this category will be ca. 4,000-7,000 words long and of highly developed scholarly quality appropriate to the author’s level of (postgraduate) study. Authors may be postgraduate students or students who have recently graduated.

Prize: £150 and a full set of the Library of Wales series of books published by Parthian.


Essays must be submitted by email or by post by 31 JANUARY 2015.

Contact Alyce von Rothkirch for more information and to submit your essays:

Dr Alyce von Rothkirch

DACE, Swansea University

Singleton Park

Swansea SA2 8PP

The Future of Welsh Studies

This blog entry highlights a recent event organised by the Learned Society of Wales, with support from HEFCW, to discuss the future of Welsh Studies. It’s a discussion that needs to be had outside the Learned Society, too…

CfP: AWWE Conference

The Country and the City:
Rural and Urban Wales
Gregynog Hall, Nr Newtown, Powys
27-29 March 2015
A country of geographical, social and cultural contrasts, Wales encompasses a wide variety of different rural and urban landscapes. From urban Cardiff and the industrial/post-industrial mining valleys of the south through the ‘green desert’ of mid-Wales to the mountains of the north, these contrasting areas are depicted in many and various ways in the literatures of Wales.
As Raymond Williams famously noted, ‘country’ and ‘city’ are ‘very powerful words’ which gather and evoke the political, cultural and emotional importance of space and place, not least in relation to notions of the nation and the national.
The conference invites contributions on any topic relating to Welsh writing in English and the country and the city, the rural and the urban. Contributions are encouraged from across disciplines, historical periods, and methodological approaches. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:
·         The ‘country’ and the nation
·         Children’s Welsh writing in English
·         The industrial and/or the post-industrial
·         Gendering the urban/rural
·         Genre fiction/s
·         Comparative contexts
·         Urban/rural Gothic/s
·         The city and the capital
Abstracts of 250 words for twenty-minute papers should be submitted to  by Friday 9 January 2015. Proposals for panels of three twenty-minute papers are also welcomed. Applicants will be informed by 26 January.
Organisers: Dr Aidan Byrne (University of Wolverhampton) and Professor Diana Wallace (University of South Wales).
Association for Welsh Writing in English
Annual Conference 2015

‘The Country and the City: Rural and Urban Wales’

Gregynog Hall,
27-29 March April 2015

Deadline for Abstracts: Friday 9 January 

Send to:
 Dr Aidan Byrne
Senior Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies
MC217 Faculty of Arts
University of Wolverhampton
Wulfruna Street
tel: 01902 323430
Diana Wallace
Professor of English Literature
Division of English, FBS
University of South Wales
CF37 1DL
tel: 01443 482809