Birkbeck College, Part of the Renowned University of London, Is a Unique Launching Pad for New Literary Talent

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Birkbeck College, rated the highest grade attainable, a 6*, from the UK Research Assessment Exercise, is now a training ground for some of the UK and USA's most promising literary talent, including Xiao En, author of The Empire Menaced.

Since its founding in 1823, Birkbeck College has always had a reputation for academic excellence. It is currently ranked among the leading UK university institutions for its programs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Now it can also claim a new status — as a training ground for some of the UK’s most promising literary talent.

Birkbeck College specializes in offering high quality education to adult learners. Most of the classes are part-time in the evening, to accommodate its students’ busy professional lives. It’s incredible to think that Birkbeck’s founder, Dr. George Birkbeck, had the foresight to see the need for such an institution as far back as 1823. Over the years, the college has grown and prospered — it currently offers over 1000 continuing education and diploma courses, undergraduate and foundation degree programs and over 90 postgraduate programs and research opportunities. More than 85 per cent of Birkbeck research is ranked as being of international importance.

The Birkbeck School of English and Humanities recently received the prestigious 6* ranking from the UK Research Assessment Exercise, the highest grade attainable, putting it in a class with Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Last year, the school also launched a new masters program in creative writing, which promises to contribute a significant representation among the next generation of British and North American novelists and playwrights.

But it’s not just the students enrolled in the creative writing program who consider themselves authors. Many other writers take classes at Birkbeck. Xiao En, a Birkbeck MA graduate and author of _The Empire Menaced: the unauthorized autobiography of Dearth Nadir_, his second novel, said, “I wanted to study at Birkbeck because of its excellent reputation and the quality of teaching. I haven’t been disappointed. In fact, The Empire Menaced was inspired by one of the courses I took there: Dr. Carol Watt’s ‘Text into Film and Film as Text: Towards a Concept of Adaptation’.”

Xiao En went on to explain: “As you know, most adaptations go from novel to movie. In this sense, The Empire Menaced is unusual because the direction is reversed. It’s a novel adapted from a movie—all six of the Star Wars movies, in fact. Another unusual thing about it is that, unlike most adaptations, it’s intentionally unfaithful to the originals.’

Look for more books from Birkbeck graduates in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out _The Empire Menaced_ at


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Xiao En