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
tbc

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

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The Queerness of Interwar Progressives seminar

The IMCC is very happy to publicise the first Queer London Research Forum event of 2015: a talk by the Wellcome Library’s Lesley A. Hall, entitled ‘‘‘Bearded Fruit-Juice Drinkers”: the Queerness of Interwar Progressives’. The talk will take place on 9th February at 18:30 in the Cayley Room (room 152) in the University of Westminster’s building at 309 Regent Street and will be followed by a wine reception. Attendance is free, but places must be booked; please email queerlondonresearchforum@gmail.com to confirm your place.

Abstract: “There was a significant mass of individuals and organisations in Britain between the wars, concentrated in the metropolis, who were widely perceived as ‘queer’ both in the contemporary popular sense of generally eccentric and cranky and also on account of their contravention of gender and sexual norms. This paper will look at the ways this somewhat amorphous group destabilised prevalent assumptions of the day, with particular attention to the ways in which they were felt to be violating hegemonic masculinity, whether through belief in pacifism, a dedication to vegetarianism, unconventional personal fashion style, or enjoyment of such unmanly forms of exercise as yoga and folk-dancing, alongside their liberal attitudes towards homosexuality and on other matters of sexual conduct.”

Lesley Hall, FRHistS, PhD, is Senior Archivist at the Wellcome Library and Honorary Lecturer in History of Medicine, University College London. She is the author of numerous works on gender and sexuality in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, including Sex, Gender, and Social Change in Britain since 1880 The Life and Times of Stella Browne: Feminist and Free Spirit and Ouspoken Women: Women Writing About Sex, 1870-1969.

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The Contemporary Small Press: A Symposium and Book Fair, February 20

smallpress

The Contemporary Small Press: A Symposium
The Boardroom, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster
10:00-17:00

The Contemporary Small Press Book Fair
The Fyvie Hall, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster
18:00-21:00

Friday 20th February 2015

The last decade has witnessed a turn to considering the legacies of modernism prevalent and operative within contemporary literature and culture. Within the scholarly discourses surrounding this shift, there has been little discussion of the status of the small press in the twenty-first century, and its vital role in the dissemination of avant-garde writing. This symposium seeks to address the role and status of the small press in the UK as a field of academic enquiry. We aim to offer a forum that will bring together a number of small presses, and facilitate productive dialogue between the diverse publishers working with contemporary innovative writers and poets.

The day symposium consists of three panels of scholars, publishers, writers, and poets, which will explore the history of the small press, literary politics and the relationship between the small press and the mainstream, and take up issues surrounding materialities of the text and small press publishing. The Contemporary Small Press Book Fair following the symposium will showcase and market the rich and varied work currently being published by small presses.

Poets and writers reading from their work throughout the day, and into the evening, include Carol Watts, Peter Hughes, Toby Litt, Robert Hampson, Jennifer Cooke, Nicholas Royle, Amy Cutler, Rod Mengham, Tony White, and Michael Nath.

Participating presses include Oystercatcher Press, Reality Street, Route, Veer Books, Comma Press, and Equipage.

A collection of new writing by writers and poets taking part in the symposium, outLINES: from the Small Press, published in collaboration with Oystercatcher Press, will be available on the day.

The symposium is free to all but booking is essential. Places for the symposium can be reserved through Eventbrite: https://eventbrite.co.uk/event/15401181348/

For further details about the conference, or if you are the editor of a small press and would like to take part in the Book Fair, please contact Leigh Wilson (wilsonl@westminster.ac.uk), or Georgina Colby (g.colby@westminster.ac.uk).

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English Literature and Culture research seminars semester 1 2015

A new year and a new series of fortnightly English Literature and Culture research seminars.

All seminars will be held in room 311 in the University of Westminster’s Wells Street building at 4.15pm, followed by the obligatory retirement to The Green Man. All welcome.

Full titles and abstracts to follow.

Wednesday 4 February: Professor Mark Currie, Queen Mary, University of London

Wednesday 4 March: Dr Gwilym Jones, University of Westminster

Wednesday 18 March: Professor Alex Warwick, University of Westminster

Wednesday 25 March: Professor John Armitage, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton

Wednesday 1 April: Professor Fred Botting, Kingston University

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Reminder: 5 4 3 2 1 … Berlin RP conference, Jan 16-17

Radical Philosophy Berlin Conference 2015
5 4 3 2 1…

Friday 16 – Saturday 17 January
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Die Radical Philosophy Conference, 2015 erstmals in Deutschland, widmet sich zentralen Themen unserer Zeit. Am Freitag, dem 16. und Samstag, dem 17. Januar diskutieren internationale Vortragende mit verschiedenen disziplinären Hintergründen die Themen Acceleration & the New, Artistic Strike, Secrecy & Surveillance, Queer Theory & Geopolitics, Pedagogization, Philosophy of the Essay-Film, Animalities, On Organization.

With Fahim Amir, Claudia Aradau, David Blacker, Christa Blümlinger, Victoria Browne, Gregoire Chamayou, Matthew Charles, Claire Fontaine, David Cunningham, Antke Engel, Frank Engster, Arianna Ferrari, Peter Hallward, Gertrud Koch, Esther Leslie, Stewart Martin, Mark Neocleous, Peter Osborne, Silvia Posocco, Nina Power, Rahul Rao, Frank Ruda, Nora Sternfeld, Hito Steyerl, Chris Wilbert, and Burkhardt Wolf.  More…

Free download of the Radical Philosophy iOS app is available at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt until the 1 February. More…

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Commie Book of the Year for British Story

Michael Nath’s exceptionally fine British Story has picked up a Book of the Year endorsement from the only newspaper that matters. Full details here: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-5f55-Arts-round-up-2014-1-2-3-4#.VKEgUQN8Bg

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Some Early Christmas Presents

OK, we all know it’s destructive neoliberal nonsense, but still … hard not to offer some congratulations today. In the results announced yesterday for REF 2014 – the UK government’s periodic assessment of research across all British universities and subjects areas – there were fantastic successes for both the main units of assessment in which staff in the IMCC submit their work.

In Art and Design, Westminster were ranked third overall, only being pipped to the top spot by Reading’s specialised Typography and Graphic Communications unit and the Courtauld Institute, with a remarkable 45% of its research judged as being of ‘world-leading’ quality.

Meanwhile, in English Language and Literature, Westminster jumped nearly 50 places in the rankings to be judged overall at 28th out of 89 departments, in a joint position with the University of Edinburgh. On the assessment of publications alone, Westminster’s English submission broke into the top 20, putting it ahead of the likes of Oxford, Manchester and King’s, with around a third of its work assessed as being of ‘world-leading’ quality and nearly 80% ‘internationally excellent’ or better.

The full list of results can be found here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/ref-2014-results-by-subject/2017594.article

A nice start to the holiday season. See you in January.

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Anne Witchard on Understanding China, the Country and the Myth

Understanding China, the Country and the Myth 
February 28 2015, 11.00-12.00
Guidhall, Bath

The IMCC’s Anne Witchard is speaking at the Bath Literature Festival alongside author and film-maker Xiaolu Guo, who called her most personal novel to date, I am China, a “goodbye love letter to China”. The event is chaired by Isabel Hilton.

Tickets £8, or £7 for reductions.

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Radical Philosophy in Berlin, Jan 16-17 2015

 

Radical Philosophy Berlin Conference 2015
5 4 3 2 1…

Friday 16 – Saturday 17 January
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

For our German friends, the journal Radical Philosophy will be holding its regular mega-conference in Berlin next year, with speakers including the IMCC’s own Matt Charles and David Cunningham. Other participants include Christa Blumlinger, Gregoire Chamayou, Claire Fontaine, Peter Hallward, Gertrud Koch, Esther Leslie, Mark Neocleous, Peter Osborne, Nina Power, Frank Ruda, Hito Steyerl, and many others.

Further details on the HKW website at:
http://www.hkw.de/en/programm/projekte/2015/radical_philosophy/radical_philosophy_start.php

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Rhetorics and Pragmatics of Sustainability in the Digital Humanities

December 11, 2014, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Location: 1-N-10 Green Hall, Princeton University

For our American friends: Director of the IMCC’s Data Futures Lab, Peter Cornwell, is speaking at Princeton University on the Rhetorics and Pragmatics of Sustainability in the Digital Humanities.

Over the last decade, factors threatening the sustainability of digital collections have multiplied dramatically. Early digital humanities projects employed database and website content management systems which made them vulnerable to rapid internet evolution and ensuing technology obsolescence. More recent collection ecosystems support internationally recognized metadata standards and have gained a level of independence from deployment technologies. This autonomy has,however, created a new dependency on the stability of the standards specifications and standards organizations themselves – in effect, only shifting the focus of sustainability concerns. The proliferation of metadata definition activities, together with frequent revision of standards, has actually made technology planning increasingly difficult for collection implementers (for example the NISO MIX, SEPIADES and VRA standards overlap in many ways for representation of photographic images). This situation is further complicated by standards bodies themselves becoming tainted by the competing interests of territorial industry associations and government agencies. Despite the dramatic urgency of these issues (80% of raw research data is lost within two decades), and the equally serious challenges to digital scholarship posed by the growing recognition that annotation metadata must be structured independently of object metadata, research funding still fails to accord long-term accessibility of digital research data the priority it clearly demands.
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Print Screen: Writing and the Image, December 17

Print Screen: Writing and the Image
The Photographer’s Gallery, London
Wednesday 17th December 2014

This symposium – a collaboration between the IMCC and the Photographer’s Gallery – addresses current thinking on the relationship between writing and the image, with particular emphasis on connections across the fields of experimental literature, photography, and film.

Presenters include: Laura Mulvey, Redell Olsen, Patrick Keiller, Jonathan Long, Daniel Kane and our own Leigh Wilson.

Laura Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. A renowned film theorist, her influential work Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) and subsequent collection of essays Visual and Other Pleasures (1989) established feminist film theory as a field of enquiry. As well as publishing widely in film and media studies, she has also co-written and co-produced with Peter Wollen a number of films including Riddles of the Sphinx (1977).

Redell Olsen is a poet and text based artist whose visual work involves live performance with stills or moving image. Film Poems (Les Figues, 2014) collects the texts for her films and performances from 2007–2012. She is currently a Reader in Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Patrick Keiller is a filmmaker and writer. His celebrated films dealing with the poetics of place include London (1994), Robinson in Space(1997), and Robinson in Ruins (2010). His commission for Tate Britain,The Robinson Institute, was exhibited in 2012 and a book of essays,The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes, was published by Verso in 2013.

Jonathan Long is Professor of German and Visual Culture at Durham University. He has published extensively on writing and photography. His books include W. G. Sebald: Image, Archive, Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2007), and current research focuses on the photographic book in the Weimar Republic.

Daniel Kane is a poet, critic, and Reader in English & American Literature at the University of Sussex. His books include All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s (2003) andWe Saw the Light: Conversations Between the New American Cinema and Poetry (2009).

Leigh Wilson is Reader in English Literature at the University of Westminster. She writes mainly on modernism and British fiction and her recent publications include Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (2013).

Free admission, but booking required. Further details at: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/print-screen-writing-and-the-image#-INFO

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Macbeth as Sceptic Medium, December 10th

Wednesday 10 December, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Dr Nigel Mapp, University of Westminster
“The very painting of your fear”: Macbeth as Sceptic Medium

Any convincing account of agency – one that does not, for instance, sceptically limit responsibility to intentions – must see it as theatrical. Deeds are socially expressed and corrigible. What then of Macbeth’s theatricality? The play seems to offer a drastically over-determined picture of agency – of who does and decides to do what, and why. But what sort of “picture” of a dismantled significance is this? The paper considers the question in terms of Macbeth’s Stoic and nominalist emphases and the violent self-domination, effected through faith and adherence to alien law, represented in its protagonist. The play, it is argued, mortifies this wish to escape a fate internally related to deeds – call it the tragic – by intensification of what appears to be a sceptical process of formal self-reflection. By examining the role of some visions and images, and of the iconoclastic (demystifying, false) theories of these laid out in the play, the reading pieces out a theatre of a modern fate: the deathliness that scepticism would ward off, but everywhere reproduces.

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‘Plastic Words’ at Raven Row, Dec-Jan

Plastic Words
December 2014 – January 2015
Raven Row, 56 Artillery lane, London E1 7LS

The East London gallery Raven Row is playing host, for six weeks across December and January, to a series of public events that mine the contested space between contemporary literature and art. Speakers include (on Weds 21st January) the IMCC’s David Cunningham, in conversation with Peter Osborne on ‘New Contemporaneities’, as well as host of others including Brian Dillon, Chris Kraus, Tom McCarthy, Donald Nicholson-Smith and McKenzie Wark.

Further details at: http://www.ravenrow.org/forthcoming/

Flier listing all the events attached here: Plastic Words_RR_PW_flyer.

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From Peking to Paris: China and the First World War

Our very own Anne Witchard will be appearing an exciting-looking event at Asia House in February to mark the publication of a new series of Penguin China books which includes Anne’s England’s Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great War:

From Peking to Paris: China and the First World War 
February 3rd 2015, 6.45 – 8.00 pm
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G

During the First World War, 95,000 Chinese farm labourers volunteered to leave their remote villages and work for Britain. They were labelled “the forgotten of the forgotten”, as their stories failed to form part of the public record on the War. This is just one example of many of the lesser known stories relating to China and the Great War. But these stories are now starting to be addressed.

To mark the centenary of the First World War, Penguin China has published a series of short histories on the economic and social costs it brought to China and the Chinese. Each book – written by a leading expert in the field – tells a fascinating tale which will fill the gaps of your China and WWI knowledge, including the only land battle in East Asia fought by Japan and Britain against the German concession in Shandong.

Further details at: http://asiahouse.org/events/peking-paris-china-first-world-war/

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Modernist Children seminar Nov 26th

Wednesday 26 November, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Dr Daniela Caselli, University of Manchester
“Modernist Children​”

Modernism and the child are a rather disconcerting couple: where the first term stands for serious and radically experimental literature suspicious of the masses, the second is associated with spontaneity, simplicity, and sentimentality. Yet, the apparent incompatibility of this pair (artifice and nature) is celebrated by modernist authors: in his writings of the 1920s, Roger Fry recommended artists to look at the world with the innocence of a child; Virginia Woolf referred in her diaries to her ‘childish vision’; and Pablo Picasso famously quipped that ‘if an adult can draw like a child at forty he is a genius’. Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are often read as reproducing a child’s mind, and so are Woolf’s The Waves and sections of To the Lighthouse. Generation and parturition are central metaphors in H.D.’s work, whilst children are the focus of many short stories by Katherine Mansfield. Walter Benjamin broadcast children’s programmes in 1929 and 1930; Gertrude Stein made extensive use of ‘childish’ language in her prose; and Wyndham Lewis, in contrary fashion, deplored the ‘child cult’ that, for him, afflicted modernists from Stein to Hemingway and Anderson. The pervasiveness of the child’s presence in early twentieth-century literature has gone almost unrecorded . The project from which this paper derives argues that such an oversight is relevant because the child in modernism signals a disavowed attachment to the notion of the human in the midst of revolutionary and self-critical aesthetic practices. The paper looks at some examples from Woolf, Joyce, and Beckett to analyse the allegedly invisible nexus of self-evident, material affectivity – the child – in the context of a disenchanted project of modernism that is still, however, fascinated by the pull of materiality.

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The Anthropocene: Cities, Politics, Law as Geological Agents

The Anthropocene: Cities, Politics, Law as Geological Agents

November 25 2014, 17.00 – 19.00, followed by a drinks reception
Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London

The Anthropocene has been posited as a new geologic epoch, defined by unprecedented human disturbance of the earth’s ecosystems. Buildings and cities, politics and law come into view as geological agents mobilising earth materials, minerals and energies, with unintended consequences becoming increasingly palpable. For some, the anthropocene signals the final enclosure of politics and culture within ecology; for others it calls for more rationality, planning and management; for others, the unitary ‘human’ of the anthropocene hides political difference and elevates a particular kind of consumer into a motor of history.

In this, the first of a series of panel discussions between the Faculties of Architecture and Built Environment and Social Sciences and Humanities aiming to open up novel and trans-disciplinary conversations between scholars in different fields working on matters of common concern, these issues will be debated.

FABE: Jon Goodbun, Senior Lecturer in Architecture; Tony Lloyd Jones, Reader in International Planning and Sustainable Development

SSH: Lucy Bond, Lecturer in English Literature; David Chandler, Professor of International Relations, CSD; Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law & Theory

Discussant: Lindsay Bremner, Director of Architectural Research

Register here via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fabessh-panel-discussion-tickets-14217321391

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Empathic Media seminar, Nov 12th

Wednesday 12 November, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Dr Andy McStay, Bangor University
“Exploring the Pharmacology of Empathic Media: Health, Wearables and Analytics​”

This talk provides an account of  ‘empathic media’ in relation to health, wearable technologies and data analytics. Developed in Andy McStay’s recent book Privacy and Philosophy: New Media and Affective Protocol (2014), this odd sounding expression has less to do with sympathy, but technologies able to interpret people and their environments by means of text, images, facial recognition, speech, behaviour, gesture and bodily movement. Although there are questions to be asked in regard to data and privacy, the focus of this talk is on the ‘pharmacological’ dimensions of empathic media – or that which is both poison and cure. Developed by Bernard Stiegler (but appropriated from Jacques Derrida and originally Plato), this principle of moral ambivalence applies well to the growth of emotion-sensitive technologies in the area of health. In developing these topics, the paper reflects on interviews conducted with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office on empathic media and data processing, and wearable health companies in the Silicon Valley region of the US.

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Final Reminder: Educational Eliminationism symposium, Nov 7th

Educational Eliminationism & Cultural Colonization
Friday 7th November, 2pm – 6pm (followed by drinks reception)
Westminster Forum, 5th Floor, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T

A HEAT (Higher Education & Theory) Symposium, co-hosted by Institute for Modern & Contemporary Culture (IMCC) and the Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) at the University of Westminster.

David J. Blacker, author of The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame, defines educational eliminationism as a state of affairs in which elites no longer find it necessary to utilize mass schooling as a first link in the long chain of the process of the extraction of workers’ surplus labour value but instead cut their losses and abandon public schooling altogether. In The Art School and the Culture Shed, John Beck and Matthew Cornford have charted the decline of local art schools and concordant rise of the ‘destination’ art gallery, and asked what this tells us about the changing relationship between the function of education and art in the new creative economy. Nina Power (One-Dimensional Woman) argues that current attacks on the education system are part and parcel of a broader war on cognitive and immaterial labour, upon which the art world provides a peculiarly privileged vantage point.

Drawing on the etymological and political association between culture and colonization, this symposium seeks to investigate the currently shifting relationship between education and culture through the themes of eliminationism and colonization.

rsvp to the organizer: M.Charles1@westminster.ac.uk

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Mnemoscape 1: The Anarchival Impulse

A quick plug for the first issue of Mnemoscape Magazine, “The Anarchival Impulse”, and for their brand new website: www.mnemoscape.org

Mnemoscape Magazine is a biannual online magazine dedicated to furthering research into contemporary visual culture and art practices that operate at the interstices of political and historical scrutiny, with a special focus on issues of memory, methodology and the archival impulse.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

0.The Anarchival Impulse / editorial by Mnemoscape

1.the Archive of Destruction: Pedro Lagoa interviewed by Elisa Adami

2.Anarchaeology Series. A Project by Az.Namusn.Art / article by Alessandra Ferrini

3.Watered down modernity. Iconoclastic fluids in Alexander Apóstol’s archival mediations / Alexander Apóstol in conversation with Lisa Blackmore

4.Against Historiographical Positivism: Some Skeptical Reflections about the Archival Fetishism / article by Giulia Bassi

5. Art Criticism 2.0 / article by Paolo Chiasera

6.Showcase: Alessandro Di Pietro, dOCUMENTA (13) Das Begleitbuch / The Guidebook KATALOG / CATALOG 4/3

7.Between the Archive and the Unarchivable / article by Wolfgang Ernst

8.Simon Starling’s Show ‘Analogue Analogies’ at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart / exhibition review by Yvonne Bialek

9.(An)Archival Experiment through the ICA / article by Lucy Bayley, Ben Cranfield and Anne Massey

10.The Pathological Rhythm of the Archive / article by Eirini Grigoriadou

11.Multiple Signatures of Subtraction / article by Robert Luzar

12.Showcase: Emilio Vavarella, The Sicilian Family

13.Returning to the Tabularium / curatorial essay by Alana Kushnir (with showcase by Lawrence Lek, Memory Palace)

14.Retrograde Stairwell / short story by Chris Mason

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Fridtjof Nansen’s Farthest North and the Arctic route to Romantic Nationalism seminar, Oct 29th

Wednesday 29 October, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Professor Cian Duffy, St Mary’s University
‘[T]hat voyage will not cease to stir the imagination’: Fridtjof Nansen’s Farthest North, the Sublime, and the Arctic route to Romantic Nationalism

This talk will examine the various ways in which Fridtjof Nansen’s celebrated account of his attempt to reach the North Pole in 1893-96 draws upon a Romantic aesthetics of natural sublime in order to formulate arguments about the relationship between social and natural histories. The paper considers Nansen’s contribution to the developing relationship between science writing and literature, the importance of a Romantic construction of the natural sublime to Norwegian nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, and Nansen’s debts to British as well as Norwegian Romantic writers.

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