PhD Studentship Opportunity: Penguin’s China: Reading China in Paperback

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The Department of English Literature, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster invites applications for a PhD studentship. The studentship consists of a fee waiver and annual stipend of £16,000 for three years. The Studentship will commence in January 2016, and is available to applicants with a Home fee status only (usually defined as applicants from the UK and EU). The research topic, to be supervised by Dr Anne Witchard and Dr Leigh Wilson, is ‘Penguin’s China: Reading China in Paperback’.

Penguin was the revolutionary paperback imprint of Allen Lane, and has played a broad and overtly political and cultural role in our society. An innovative British brand, Penguin’s publications offer a window on the development of thought and fashion through the twentieth century and, for the purposes of this doctoral project, on the varied ways in which British readers, adult and children, have thought about China.

The proposed PhD will investigate the role Penguin has had in shaping readers’ responses to China by assessing Penguin’s early back catalogue of books about China or on Chinese themes by both Western and Chinese authors during the 1930s and 1940s. The archive held at the University of Bristol holds an array of novels, poetry, reportage and non‐fiction for adults and children, from Pearl Buck’s classic The Good Earth (1960), to Sax Rohmer’s The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu (1938) as well as other works of forgotten writers such as Winifred Galbraith and children’s author, Tsui Chi. The diversity of titles encompasses the range of responses to and interactions with China during the early twentieth century. The PhD will not only explore the works held in the catalogue, but go beyond this to investigate the publishing decisions, the marketing strategies and the readers’ responses which were so significant in constructing the image of China in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s.

Full details on how to apply can be accessed here:

For further information, please contact Dr Anne Witchard:

The closing date for applications is 5pm on 30 September 2015.

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A Marxist Heresy? Accelerationism and its Discontents

David Cunningham’s article in the latest issue of Radical Philosophy on the current debates around “accelerationism” is currently up as a freebie on the Radical Philosophy website here.

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Shklovsky, Error and the End of Saint Petersburg, Thurs 4th June

Thursday June 4th
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1T

5:30 – 7.30 pm Keynote Lecture: John Roberts (University of Wolverhampton)
Shklovsky, Error and the End of Saint Petersburg

John Roberts is Professor of Art and Aesthetics at the University of Wolverhampton. His books include The Art of Interruption: Realism, Photography and the Everyday, The Philistine Controversy (with Dave Beech), Philosophizing the Everyday, The Intangibilities of Form and The Necessity of Errors.

John’s lecture is the opening address of Marx, Form, Isms. For further details see:

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TRACES conference, June 8th 2015

Monday 8 June, 9.00 – 19.00
The Pavilion, University of Westminster, New Cavendish Street, London

3rd Joint Researching the Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Conference

A Postgraduate conference, co-organised by Brunel University London and the University of Westminster

9:15 – 10:30  Ineffable Representations and Potentiality of Voice
Jaice Sara Titus, Sebastian Jenner, Jessica Worden

10:45 – 12:00  Unraveling Traces of Power and Conflict
Miriam Tedeschi, Simon Mcleod, Alejandra Perez

12:00 – 13:30  Vestiges and Reinterpretations of Marginalization
Lewis Church, Haein Song, Uyoyo Onemu, Gift Nyoni

13:30 – 14:30  Lunch

14:30 – 15:45  Retracing Accounts for Womanhood
Pernille Rubner-Peterson, Sarah Ann Milne, Suneel Mehmi

15:45 – 16:45  Tracing Aesthetics and Ethics
Marijana Nedeljkovic, Alice Tuppen

17:00 – 18:00  Keynote: Dr David Cunningham
“Traces of Capital, or, Are Some Things Unrepresentable?”

18:00 – 19:00  Prize Giving and Reception

Full programme here: Traces_Programme_1.

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Two Post-Doctoral Teaching and Research Fellowships advertised

The Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies is seeking to employ a couple of two-year fixed-term Post-Doctoral Teaching and Research Fellows in Visual Culture Studies and in Post-1800 English Literature; one or both of whom will be attached to the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture.

Such Fellowships are intended to offer postdoctoral career development opportunities and are aimed at recent PhD graduates (PhD award normally within the last 18 months). The main duties and responsibilities will be research and teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including, as appropriate, our MAs in Art & Visual Culture, Cultural & Critical Studies, English Literature: Modern & Contemporary Fictions, or Museums, Galleries & Contemporary Culture. In the UK Government’s REF 2014 assessment of research activity, English at Westminster was ranked 28th out of 89 departments in Britain, with 79% of its work judged to be of world leading or internationally excellent quality. In terms of research publications, Westminster was ranked in the top 20 UK departments, with around a third of the work judged to be world leading.

Closing date:  Monday 1 June 2015
Interviews are likely to be held on the week commencing: Monday 22 June 2015

Further details and applications at:

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in English Literature Post-1800:

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Visual Culture Studies:


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Marx, Form, Isms – June 4-5 2015

Thursday 4 – Friday 5 June
University of Westminster and Senate House, London

Marx, Form, Isms
A Re-Enactment of the 1920s Debates

Presented by the Retro-Formalism Group in cooperation with Marxism in Culture (University of London) and the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (University of Westminster)

‘Marx, Form, Isms’ continues the work of the Retro-Formalism working group on literary theory, with a specific focus on political debates. Rather than reconstructing the historical debate of the 1920s between Marxist and Formalist thinkers on how political action and experimental literature might be intermingled, the event would like to open up the text archive of formalist and Marxist thought for today and future purposes in search of an unpredictable past. Beginning with the 1920s debates in the Soviet Union, through the recovery of Formalist theory in Europe through Structuralism in 1960s and 1970s, and renewed interest in cultural critique post-1968 and in the New Left, to the contemporary revivals of discussion of form and value-form in Culture and Marxism, ‘Marx, Form, Isms’ aims to explore historical valences of Formalist theory in relation to Marxist thought.

Thursday June 4th
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1T

5:30 – 7.30 pm Keynote Lecture: John Roberts (University of Wolverhampton)
Shklovsky, Error and the End of Saint Petersburg

Friday June 5th (day event)
Room 401, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1T

10-11am Close Reading workshop on Osip Brik’s, “The So-Called Formalist Method” (1923)
Text: osip-brik-the-so-called-formal-method-1
Presented by Anke Hennig (CSM), David Cunningham (IMCC), Anthony Iles (Mute)

11:15-12:15 Panel I: Updating the Marxism-Formalism Debate
Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary, London)  Formalism and Soviet Power: A Necessary Reconsideration
Anke Henning (Central Saint Martins) Trotsky on Strindberg

12:15-1.15pm lunch

1.15-.145pm Panel II: Marxism and Formalism Today
Helen Palmer (Goldsmiths College, London) Queering Defamiliarization: Marxism, Manifestos and Matter

2-3:30pm Film Screening of Duncan Campbell It for Others (54mins)
Chaired by Anthony Iles

Friday June 5th (evening event)
Marxism in Culture Seminar, Torrington Room, Senate House, University of London

5:30 – 7.30 pm Final Roundtable: A Re-enactment of the Marxism-Formalism Debate
Participants: David Cunningham, Anke Hennig, Anthony Iles, Jan Levchenko, Marina Vishmidt

For more details please see the RetroFormalism website at:

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PhD Bursaries in Modern and Contemporary

The Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at Westminster is offering two studentships to prospective PhD students to begin in September 2015.

Full details and application here.

Based in the heart of London, we have a lively research culture consisting of conferences and research seminars, and the work done in our two research centres, the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture and the Centre for the Study of Science and the Imagination.

Applications are invited for the following awards for up to three years of full-time study:

One fee waiver (Home/EU rate) and £10,000 per year for three years.
One fee waiver (Home/EU rate) and £5,000 per year for three years.

We are looking for high-quality prospective doctoral students who will contribute to at least one of the following core areas of research in the department:

Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture
Literature and Science
English Language and Linguistics

Successful candidates will be expected to carry out a number of hours of duties in the department as part of their training and development.

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 31 May 2015.

Prospective candidates wishing to informally discuss an application should contact Dr Leigh Wilson (

Full details and application here.

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Bataille’s Vampire seminar, Weds 1st April

Wednesday 1st April, 4.15 pm
Room 215, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T

“Bataille’s Vampire”
Professor Fred Botting, Kingston University

This paper follows a footnote in a short essay by Georges Bataille to examine the significance of his apparent interest in a notorious German serial killer of the 1920s and 1930s.

Fred Botting has written extensively on Gothic fictions, and on theory, film and cultural forms. His books include Gothic Romanced (2008), Limits of Horror (2008) and, with Scott Wilson, Bataille (2001).

All welcome!

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Technology, Desire, and Cruel Optimism: MTV’s Catfish seminar, April 1st

Wednesday 1st April, 1-3 pm
University of Westminster, Room 106, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T

“Technology, Desire, and Cruel Optimism: MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show
Dr Sam McBean, Queen Mary, University of London

Taking the seminar series’ invitation to ruminate ‘On Desire’, this paper will consider the affective textures of a contemporary digital moment, focused in particular on how fantasies of desire become entangled with technology, particularly social media. The paper argues that, increasingly, narratives of technology are being mobilized to speak the narrative failings of enduring love. To explore this convergence, I will focus on MTV’s Catfish: The TV Series. Each episode of Catfish sees the co-hosts, Nev and Max, come to the rescue of someone who has been engaged in an online relationship with a partner who has been resistant to meeting in person. As online detectives, the co-hosts uncover the “truth” about this relationship – more often than not revealing that the beloved is not who they say they are. Lauren Berlant understands desire as ‘a state of attachment to something or someone’ and similarly suggests that ‘[a]ll attachment is optimistic’. Attachment becomes ‘cruelly optimistic’ when rather than enabling the self-flourishing of an individual, it becomes a barrier. The paper will explore how an attachment to a narrative of love – desire’s reciprocated ideal – and to a narrative of technology’s ability to provide this, functions in Catfish despite the repetition (in each episode and across the series as a whole) of the likely failure of both narratives.

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John Armitage on Luxury, March 25th

Wednesday 25th March, 4.15 pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T

“Luxury and Visual Culture: On the Semiology of the Bubble Bath”
Professor John Armitage, Winchester School of Art

Luxury, abundance, and sumptuous enjoyment influence visual culture and the objects of study to which visual culture attends from art history to new media. This illustrated seminar explores various forms of indulgence and visual culture’s range of responses from images of ‘English’ luxury to images of lasciviousness and the images of ‘luxury cinema’,  before going on to analyze the semiology of the bubble bath. The paper circumvents ideas relating to ideology and to the critique of consumer culture, preferring instead to concentrate on how matter dissolving becomes endowed with cultural values of cleanliness and how the foamy becomes a sign of everything from debauchery and health to happiness and even spiritual transformation. Participants are encouraged to bring their own bubbles.

John Armitage is Professor of Media Arts at Winchester School of Art-University of Southampton. John is currently co-editing Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, Media for Edinburgh University Press, The Luxury Reader for Bloomsbury, and writing Luxury and Visual Culture for Bloomsbury. He is the founder, and co-editor, with Ryan Bishop and Douglas Kellner, of the journal Cultural Politics.

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Consent, Normativity and Victim Blame seminar, March 11th

Wednesday 11th March, 1-3 pm
Room 357, University of Westminster, Regent Street, London

“Consent, Normativity and Victim Blame”
David Gurnham, University of Southampton

The next in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities seminar series of Desire at the University of Westminster. All welcome!

David Gurnham uses popular and classical texts, by authors including Shakespeare, Dickens, Euripides, Kafka, the Brothers Grimm, Huxley and Margaret Atwood to shed fresh light on such controversial legal and ethical issues as passionate homicide, life sentences, pornography and genetic enhancement. Gurnham’s overarching theme is the role of memory and imagination in shaping legal and ethical attitudes. Along this line, he examines the ways in which past wrongs are “remembered” and may be forcefully responded to, both by the criminal justice system itself and also by individuals responding to what they regard as gross insults, threats or personal violations.

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Mnemonics Network Summer School, September 2015

Mnemonics 2015: Memory and Materialism
London, September 8 – 10, 2015

The IMCC is delighted to announce its participation in both the Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies and (with colleagues at Goldsmiths and Kings) the London Cultural Memory Consortium with the following Call for Papers for the Mnemonics summer school to be held in London this September.

Call for papers: For the fourth edition of its annual summer school, the Mnemonics network, an international collaborative initiative for graduate education in memory studies, invites paper proposals that address the relations between materialities and cultural memory. The study of cultural memory is well versed in analyzing the material traces of the past. From the manifold historical objects that continue to inhere in the present as artifacts, ruins, traces, or even present absences, to the ways in which different representational media frame contemporary understandings of particular events through those objects, the discourses of memory studies have proven adept at investigating the use, circulation, value, and affect of historical remnants in processes of cultural remembrance. However, memory studies has so far been less attentive to the actual materiality of these objects. Accordingly, Mnemonics 2015 seeks to unearth the materials and matter that have been overlooked by present regimes of cultural memory, in theory and practice. By tracking their historical and cultural trajectories, we aim to chart the ways in which materials change over time and usage, examining the processes through which matter may be made to assemble, disassemble, metamorphose, and even disappear, to reinforce or challenge hegemonic constructions of memory and history.

Full Call for Papers can be downloaded here: Mnemonics 2015 cfp

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Stef Craps (Ghent University); Dr Joanne Garde-Hansen (University of Warwick); Professor Ursula Heise (UCLA); Professor Alex Warwick (University of Westminster)

Fees: £250 including accommodation in central London; £100 excluding accommodation.
All fees cover: attendance; all breakfasts, lunches, refreshments, and conference dinner.

Send: A 300-word abstract for a 15-minute paper (including title, presenter’s name, and institutional affiliation), a description of your graduate research project (one paragraph), and a short CV (max. one page) as a single Word document to:

Deadline: 1 April 2015.
Notification of Acceptance: 1 May 2015

The Mnemonics summer school serves as an interactive forum in which junior and senior memory scholars meet in an informal and convivial setting to discuss each other’s work and to reflect on new developments in the field of memory studies. The objective is to help graduate students refine their research questions, strengthen the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of their projects, and gain further insight into current trends in memory scholarship. Each of the three days of the summer school will start with a keynote lecture, followed by sessions consisting of three graduate student papers, responses, and extensive Q&A. In order to foster incisive and targeted feedback, all accepted papers will be pre-circulated among the participants and each presentation session will be chaired by a senior scholar who will also act as respondent.

Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies is a collaborative initiative for graduate education in memory studies between the Danish Network for Cultural Memory Studies; the Swedish Memory Studies Network; and programs at Ghent University (Belgium); Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany); The London Cultural Memory Studies Consortium (IMCC, Westminster; Goldsmiths; Kings); the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA); and Columbia University (USA, associate partner).

Further information about the network is available from the Mnemonics website at http://
Mnemonics on Facebook:
Mnemonics on Twitter: @mnemonics_net

For more information on Mnemonics 2015, contact Lucy Bond at

A more detailed Call for Papers is attached here: Mnemonics 2015 cfp.

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Speechless Shakespeare seminar, March 4th

Wednesday 4th March, 4.15 pm
Room 215, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T

“Speechless Shakespeare”
Gwylim Jones, University of Westminster

In the opening scene of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus says to Hippolyta: ‘I … won thy love, doing thee injuries, / But I will wed thee in another key’. The bride-to-be has no more lines in the scene. Similarly, Measure for Measure’s Isabella is bereft of words to respond to the Duke’s abrupt wooing in the play’s finale.  These are just two of Shakespeare’s great suggestive silences – rich and ambiguous spaces for actors and directors to fill – and their presentation on the stage can characterise the production as a whole.

These moments, key to rehearsal rooms and theatre reviews, have received little attention from literary and performance scholars. When the silences are less obvious – Claudio’s in Measure is even more capacious than Isabella’s – the response is even slighter. This leaves many questions unanswered. How does the acknowledgement of silence affect our approach to the re-emerging emphasis on character? Or on Shakespeare’s engagement with rhetoric? How did Shakespeare’s treatment of silence develop over his career? This paper will examine some of the ways in which silence can be read in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and will show how these writers develop and manipulate silences in order to represent authority and interiority.

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Michael Nath on Writers and their Lungs

A magnificent and heart-felt guest blog by our own Michael Nath at on writers and their lungs, from Lawrence Sterne to Proust.

As an extra distraction from the job of writing his life, Sterne gave his own worst organ to Tristram Shandy. Before we object to such a dubious gift, let’s marvel at the wrapping, that image of fluency contending with nature – not to mention the ‘Flanders’ effect (over the sea/close as the garden). Pickling disease with mirth, Tristram reports an episode of haemoptysis at the sight of a cardinal pissing with two hands. For the weak of lungs, every laugh is a dice throw. As an undergraduate, Sterne himself was already coughing blood; making it to 55 without Streptomycin must have required unusual vitality.

Read on here.

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The Queer Art of Crisis, Weds 25 Feb

Wednesday 25th February, 1-3 pm
Room 357, University of Westminster, Regent Street, London

“The Queer Art of Crisis”
Nicola Smith, University of Birmingham

The third in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities seminar series of Desire at the University of Westminster. All welcome!

Nicki Smith is Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Birmingham and has published on a range of issues surrounding globalisation and social justice. She is currently writing a monograph on Queer Sexual Economies for Palgrave and has published articles in SexualitiesThird World Quarterly and the British Journal of Politics and International Relations.

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LARB interview with Anne Witchard

There’s a great interview with our own Anne Witchard about her latest book, England’s Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great War up on the LA Review of Books blog.

England’s Yellow Peril builds on Witchard’s previous work, looking closely at British perceptions of China and the Chinese through literature and the arts in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. In England’s Yellow Peril she looks at how the outbreak of war accentuated and intensified many feelings of English racial dominance, Empire, and notions of the Yellow Peril that had arisen before the conflict. She concentrates on London’s old Chinatown of Limehouse in the East End, where swirling tales of opium smoking, gambling, and interracial romance had became synonymous with the presence of the Chinese.

You can read the interview here:

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An Unnatural History of London, Feb 18th

Wednesday 18 February, 6.00 pm
Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London

Professor Alex Warwick, “An Unnatural History of London”

An invitation to our own Alex Warwick’s inaugural professorial lecture at Westminster.

Archaeology had a profound impact on Victorian culture. As it emerges as a professional scientific practice in itself, it is also implicated in many of the century’s important debates. From the dramatic excavations at Pompeii in the late eighteenth century, through the arrivals of impressive objects like those found in Mesopotamia by Austen Henry Layard, to the troubling discoveries of human remains alongside extinct animals, archaeological digging produced objects and ideas that disturbed, excited and entertained the Victorians. The excavated cities held a special fascination, not least through the suggestive effect of the presence of the fragments of once-powerful lost civilizations in London’s museums and galleries. At the same time, London’s own buried history made its way to the surface.

As engineers dug foundations for new buildings or constructed tunnels for the underground railway, the new sewer system or gas pipes to light the street, they uncovered the cities of former times, paradoxically drawing attention to the antiquity, even the pre-history, of London. Just as the modern fabric of London is built on its own ruins, so archaeology proved a powerful force in negotiating the new conditions of capitalist modernity.

In the writings of archaeologists themselves, and in fiction, poetry and other popular texts of the period, archaeological objects, processes and sites become a means of engagement with the present and the unprecedented changes taking place. That nineteenth-century engagement continues to influence us now, more than a hundred years later.

Tickets for this event are free of charge, please register online.

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The Two Faces of Memory seminar

Wednesday 4th February, 4.15 pm
Room 215, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T

“The Two Faces of Memory”
Professor Mark Currie, Queen Mary, University of London

In My Struggle, Knausgaard claims to remember nothing from his early life while producing volumes of detailed memory. This paper aims to establish philosophical co-ordinates for this paradox, in the relationship between memory and imagination, the dynamic of remembering and forgetting, and the externalization of memory. It draws on the work of Bernard Stiegler and his elaboration of retentional finitude in Time and Technics. The argument focuses on the motif of the face in Knausgaard, as an object of recollection, and as a mode of enquiry into the nature of memory.

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Welcome to Katharina Donn, Junior Visiting Research Fellow

The Institute is delighted to welcome Katharina Donn as our Junior Visiting Research Fellow for Spring 2015.


Katharina’s main area of research is in contemporary American Literature. She is particularly interested in the ethics and aesthetics of imaginative literature in the face of trauma and terror. Katharina was a lecturer in American Studies at Augsburg University from 2011-2014, and received her doctorate with a thesis entitled Emergent Wounds: Poetics of Trauma after 9/11. As a fellow of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation), she worked on a funded interdisciplinary research project concerned with the 9/11 attacks and is currently developing a new project on embodiment and affect, Material Metaphors: Practices of Knowledge in Modernist Literature.

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On Desire: SSH Research Seminar Series 2015

Building on the success of last year’s series on Violence, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Westminster is pleased to announce a new series of open and interdisciplinary seminars this semester on the theme of desire ..

All seminars will be held in room 357 in the University of Westminster’s Regent Street building from 1-3pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 4 February:
Naomi Segal, Birkbeck, University of London
“Taking Your Skin-Ego for a Walk”

Wednesday 11 February:
Maria Aristodemou, Birkbeck, University of London
“Desire – Law = Disquiet”

Wednesday 18 February:
Phil Carney, University of Kent
“Desire and Power in the Spectacle”

Wednesday 25 February:
Nikki Smith, University of Birmingham
“The Queer Art of Crisis”

Wednesday 4 March:
Sam McBean, Queen Mary, University of London
“Technology, Desire and Cruel Optimism: MTV’s Catfish

Wednesday 11 March:
David Gurnham, University of Southampton
“Consent, Normativity and Victim Blame”

Wednesday 18 March:
Helen Palmer, Goldsmiths, University of London

Wednesday 25 March:
Victoria Brooks and Adam Eldridge, University of Westminster
“On Desire”

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