Annette Rubery

Creative Content. Stories with Impact.

I’m an award-winning writer and editor with a passion for explaining the impact that universities make in the world. Have a look around and let me know if I can help.

Contact me
W is for Writing

Writing

I have years of experience in alumni communications and features writing. I have written countless alumni features, profiles and case studies. I also write SEO-friendly web copy and social media content.

Digital

I’m a keen stills photographer and have recently starting making short films and animations. I’m familiar with video editing packages (Kinemaster, Adobe Premiere Pro) and can create motion graphics in Adobe After Effects. Have a look at some of my personal projects.

Editing

I’ve worked as a commissioning editor for 20 years, both in print and online, and love unearthing interesting stories. I particularly enjoy working with academics to bring their research to non-specialist audiences.

Research

I’m a published author and independent researcher with a specialism in 18th-century theatre. I’ve won the Society for Theatre Research’s New Scholar’s Prize and have presented papers at Bath Spa University, NUI Galway and St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Writing Projects

I’ve worked in various communications roles over the years, firstly as an arts journalist on a daily newspaper and then in higher education. For universities I’ve held roles in marketing (writing everything from web and brochure copy to exhibition signage) and alumni relations (web and print features, alumni case studies, social media posts). I’ve also written press releases, funding bids, and have had blogs published by the Guardian and the Times Higher Education.

In my spare time I’m a researcher of 18th-century theatre. I’ve written popular history for general audiences (Lichfield Then & Now for The History Press) as well as academic papers (Life Writing, Theatre Notebook) and a book chapter for Routledge. I’m a member of the Samuel Johnson Society’s Council and sit on the editorial board of the Society’s journal, Transactions (where I also publish occasional articles). Find out more >>

Battling the Fake News of Sex Difference (Aston University, 2018)

For this feature I interviewed cognitive neuroscientist Professor Gina Rippon about the myth of the “female brain”. She had just published her book The Gendered Brain and talked about the importance of battling gender stereotypes such as the myth that men are better at map-reading (“the Mars and Venus hokum” as she put it) because even these beliefs influence brain development and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Read the edition here >>

Bonfire of the Humanities article for University of Birmingham alumni magazine

The Bonfire of the Humanities (University of Birmingham, 2012)

I was commissioned to write about the impact of funding cuts on the arts in the wake of the global financial crisis. I interviewed the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the College of Arts and Law, who reassured alumni that the University was determined to protect courses and high standards of education.

How to... Practice Victorian Medicine (Aston University, 2018)

I wrote this article as part of a regular “How to…” series in Aston University’s alumni magazine. I created the series for a readership with an inquisitive and practical mindset and the pieces were often playful but rooted in scientific problem-solving. For this article I worked across multiple departments, starting with English Literature, where Dr Abigail Boucher selected a series of extracts from Victorian novels about medicine and the body. I then approached academics in Pharmacy, Biology and Aston Medical School and interviewed them about their reactions, revealing some interesting changes in perceptions and practices around health over the centuries.

Read the edition here >>

 

Two Projects for Aston University's 50th Anniversary

 In 2016 Aston University celebrated 50 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded its Charter, transforming it from a College of Advanced Technology into a University. Amongst the various projects I worked on, two of my favourites were signage for the paternoster lift and the construction of a celebratory exhibition in the foyer. The lift had been bricked up in the 1980s but a glass panel was installed in 2016 so the curious could see inside this historic piece of machinery. I researched its history, wrote copy, commissioned photography and negotiated the rights to some lovely archive film of the paternoster in its heyday.

I also created The History of Aston in 20 Objects exhibition which involved everything from researching and obtaining historic objects from across the University, interviewing people from the Aston community as source material for captions, and writing copy for posters and other marketing materials (including a feature for the alumni magazine).

Editing Projects

In 2014 I re-launched Aston University’s annual alumni magazine and have been editing it ever since. It’s a print publication that’s mailed to 60,000+ graduates worldwide every year. In 2020 it won a Silver in the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards, acknowledging the high quality of its writing and design.

Before that I worked for ten years as a writer and commissioning editor on a daily, national newspaper (Metro). I’ve brought my understanding of journalism and public relations into the educational sphere, helping to translate complex subjects into accessible stories.

I also spent three years at the University of Warwick, first as a writer, and then editor, of The Knowledge Centre. This digital magazine covered the University’s research and learning materials via written features, videos and podcasts. I got to meet some fascinating people during my time at Warwick, one of the most memorable being the late, great Oliver Sacks (I recorded a podcast interview in which he told me why he thought Joan of Arc suffered from temporal lobe hallucinations).

Metro Life food feature

Digital Projects

Remembering the Forgotten Borough is a short documentary which I shot entirely on my iPhone during a trip to Manhattan and Staten Island in May 2019. The film follows my husband’s return to his childhood home on Staten Island, where he had moved, in 1977, from the United Kingdom with his parents and sister. He only lived there for a short time but it made a big impression; he wanted to see what he remembered and how much had changed in the intervening years. The film is narrated by Richard and includes vintage stills of New York, shot by my father-in-law. I edited it in Adobe Premiere Pro.

My Blog

The marketer in me wanted to make this blog very targeted and streamlined, but the creative in me wanted it to be looser, like a diary. I’ve compromised by splitting it into three themes: home, work and travel. 

If you’d like to read specifically about higher education, I’ve listed a few additional posts below that have appeared in national newspapers:

‘Will they switch off Game of Thrones for this?’ The art of alumni communication (the Guardian)

How to force metrics to take feelings into account (the Guardian)

Want researchers to save the world? Let them have fun (the Times Higher Education)

Introducing Rusty

It was in the summer of 2020 that we spotted an advert for Rusty on an animal shelter’s website. “I’m a big cuddly boy who came to the centre after being found as a...

In Praise of Polymaths

Back in 1991 I took a combined honours in English literature, art history and fine art. At the time my university made all of it students take an additional subject in...

In Memoriam: Boris Bratby (2004-2020)

We lost our cat, Boris, just before 8am on May 7th 2020 during the Coronavirus lockdown. We adopted him aged 4 in February 2009, having first chosen a dainty...

Travel Notebook: Magic Mountain

Magic: view of the Jakobshorn from the Schatzalp's terrace. Earlier this month I was taken on a trip to Davos in Switzerland. Davos may be home to The World Economic...

Get in touch!