The Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales brings together expertise and resources in matters Welsh located across the College of Arts and Humanities, encouraging cutting-edge research of international quality and maximizing synergies across disciplines. It functions as an interdisciplinary research forum, running a research seminar series, an annual conference on a distinct theme of contemporary and academic relevance, and attracting visiting scholars.
Its ethos is that Wales is a plural society with important co-existing and complementary cultural and historical traditions in both the Welsh and the English languages. Wales is also situated within a number of wider historical and contemporary contexts. It is part of the United Kingdom. It is, at some level, a Celtic country. It is a European territory. It has very significant connections with diasporic communities in North and South America and Australasia. It has been and remains home to migrants from many different parts of the world, who have continually helped to redefine what it is to be Welsh.
The Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales takes its name from the renowned stage actor and film star, born Richard Walter Jenkins at Pontrhydyfen in the Afan valley in 1925, who took the surname of his legal guardian Philip Burton in 1943. Richard Burton was nominated for an Academy Award on seven occasions. His most celebrated film performances include roles as Mark Antony in Cleopatra (1963), Thomas a Becket in Becket (1964), Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days (1970) and as O’Brien in 1984 (1984). In 2005 Richard Burton’s personal papers were deposited in Swansea University, and form a central part of the new Richard Burton Archive facility, which was formally opened in April 2010.