Head of English Dr Gareth Downes lectured at Swansea University’s Dylan Thomas Centenary Conference last month, along with colleagues from Cambridge University, Swansea University, Bangor University, University of Sydney, Sheffield Hallam University, Sorbonne-Nouvelle-Paris 3 University, Birkbeck, University of London and universities in the Ukraine and Finland. Experts on the Welsh poet came together for three days to mark the Centenary with lectures, performances and excursions.

Dr Downes said: “The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born in October 1914 and, in this centenary year, events have been organised throughout the world to celebrate his life and work.  

I delivered a paper on the modernist pastoralism of Thomas’s later poetry. Having completed my MA on the 1930s’ poetry of David Jones and Dylan Thomas at Swansea nearly twenty years ago, it was a real joy to return to my old university to take part in this academic celebration of Wales’s most iconic and notorious writer.  It was a tremendous experience.

Although I had worked on Thomas as research student years ago, my paper grew out of the more recent experience of teaching Thomas as part of a course on the pastoral with last year’s upper sixth AQA A Level English Literature students.”

The University has recently secured funding to host a series of events to participate in Being Human, the UK’s first national festival of the humanities, made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For more information on November’s ‘Rediscovering Dylan’ visit 


Follow Sedbergh: