Cold War Legacies and Queer Histories of London – out now!

We’re delighted to announce the publication of two fantastic new essay collections put together by members of the IMCC.

First up is IMCC Director John Beck’s Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics, co-edited with Ryan Bishop, and based on an IMCC symposium held at the University of Westminster back in 2014. From futures research, pattern recognition algorithms, nuclear waste disposal and surveillance technologies, to smart weapons systems, contemporary fiction and art, this book shows that we are now living in a world imagined and engineered during the Cold War. A great list of contributors include Ken Hollings, Adrian MacKenzie, Jussi Parikka, Adam Piette and Aura Satz, as well as two contributions from John himself.

Order a copy from Edinburgh University Press here:

Also published this month is Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c. 1850 to the Present, edited by Simon Avery and Kate Graham, the organisers of Westminster’s wonderful Queer London Research Forum. Incorporating multidisciplinary perspectives – including social history, cultural geography, visual culture, literary representation, ethnography and social studies – the book features essays from an international range of established scholars and emergent voices. Its essays cover topics such as activist and radical communities and groups, AIDS and the city, art and literature, digital archives and technology, drag and performativity, lesbian Londons, notions of bohemianism and deviancy, sex reform and research and queer Black history.

Order a copy from Bloomsbury here:

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Walter Benjamin’s The Storyteller: Fiction & Form


Matt Charles will be in conversation with Howard Caygill (Kingston), Sara Salih (Toronto) and the editors and translators of The Storyteller, Sam Dolbear, Esther Leslie and Sebastian Truskolaski, for a special event to launch Walter Benjamin’s fiction, collected in English translation for the first time. The Storyteller (Verso, 2016) gathers the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher, best known for his groundbreaking studies of culture and literature, including Illuminations, One-Way Street and The Arcades Project. His stories revel in the erotic tensions of city life, cross the threshold between rational and hallucinatory realms, celebrate the importance of games, and delve into the peculiar relationship between gambling and fortune-telling, and explore the themes that defined Benjamin. The novellas, fables, histories, aphorisms, parables and riddles in this collection are brought to life by the playful imagery of the modernist artist and Bauhaus figure Paul Klee.

Walter Benjamin’s The Storyteller: Fiction & Form
18:30 – 20:00, Thu 22 September 2016,
The Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43-46 Gordon Square, London

UPDATE: you can now hear a recording of the event by the Backdoor Broadcasting Company.

You can also grab a free copy of Matt’s recent article in Pedagogy, Culture and Society discussing Walter Benjamin’s lesser known writings on education, some of which are translated into English for the first time in The Storyteller:

This follows on from the IMCC’s recent conferences on Avant-Garde Pedagogies (2016) and Walter Benjamin, Pedagogy and the Politics of Youth (2013).

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Legacies of Aurora Leigh conference, October 15th

Saturday 15th October, 9.15 – 6.45 (followed by reception)
University of Westminster, London

Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Legacies of Aurora Leigh: Literature, Politics, Society

On Saturday 15 October, the Department of English, Linguistics & Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster is hosting a one day conference on Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Legacies of Aurora Leigh. The day will include a range of talks on how Barrett Browning’s major work influenced later writers and thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and our two keynote speakers will be Professor Marjorie Stone, from Dalhousie University, and Professor Margaret Reynolds, from Queen Mary, University of London. There will also be a roundtable discussion on the future of Barrett Browning studies with Professor Cora Kaplan and a reading of extracts from Aurora Leigh by actor and writer, Sharon Eckman. The full programme can be found on the conference website at:

Registration is now open. Attendance at the conference is free but all attendees need to register through the conference website at:

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Caroline Bergvall in Conversation with Marina Warner, September 14th 2016


Zodiac, drawing and wall mural (2015).

Wednesday September 14th, 2016, 7-9pm.
Carroll/Fletcher Gallery, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8EQ.

£5 Tickets available here.

Dawn Poetics: Caroline Bergvall in Conversation with Marina Warner

Artist, writer and performer, Caroline Bergvall, will perform and present a few video documents from earlier works of which Ghost Cargo (2011), Drift (2014) before introducing her performance Ragadawn (2016). Ragadawn, Caroline’s much anticipated new work is a sunrise performance, which explores the crossing of boundaries and altered states of being through vocal composition, rhythmical speech patterns and recorded languages. Following the presentation and screenings, Caroline will join Professor Marina Warner in conversation to talk about dawn poetics, metamorphosis, liminality, gendering, and darkness and light.

Ragadawn (2016) will premiere in the UK as a one-off performance at the Estuary Festival, Sunday 18th September, 2016, 6:38am. The work is co-produced by Metal, Southend-on-Sea, and Festival de la Batie, Geneva. Ragadawn will embark on an international tour in 2017. Ragadawn is supported by Ville de Genève, Etat de Genève, Fondation Wilsdorf, Fondation Göhner and Royal Norwegian Embassy, London.

This event is part of the series Experimental Writing @ Carroll Fletcher, hosted by the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture in collaboration with Carroll Fletcher Gallery. For more information about the event, please contact Georgina Colby at

CAROLINE BERGVALL is an artist, writer and performer who works across artforms, media and languages. The recipient of many awards and commissions, her work frequently develops through exploring material traces, literary documents and linguistic detail, language and literary history, sites and histories, hidden or forgotten knowledges. Her sparse textual, spatial and audio works often expose hidden or difficult historical/political events. She is especially noted for her researched multigenre textual work and her strong verbal and vocal performances. Projects alternate between books, printed matter, audio pieces, collaborative performances, site-specific installations. Caroline is based in London and Geneva.

Most recent project: DRIFT (2013-2015): Texts, drawings and maps published as Drift by Nightboat Books (NY, 2014). A collaborative performance involving voice, percussion, datawork toured the UK and Scandinavia (2014) and premieres in Geneva Switzerland (2016). Solo show of graphic works and audio compositions at Callicoon Fine Art gallery (NY, 2015) and CAC (Geneva, 2016). New audio commission TOGETHER (2014), voicework in 3 parts, Swiss radio RTS2 & MAMCO Museum of Contemporary Art (Geneva). Premieres as a performance at Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, Oct’16.

Other available publications: Meddle English: New and Selected Texts (Nightboat Books, 2011), Middling English (John Hansard Publications, 2010), DVD of installations, Ghost Pieces: five language-based installations (John Hansard Publications, 2011).

Various selected solo and group shows: Whitney Biennial (NY), Tate Modern (London), Louisiania Literature Festival (Copenhagen), Khoj Art Centre (New Delhi), MCA (Denver), The Power Plant Gallery (Toronto), Norrlandsoperan (Sweden), Actoral (Marseille), Poetry International (Southbank Centre), Fundacio Tapiès (Barcelona), Hammer Museum (LA), KUMU (Tallinn), MOMA (NY), Samtidsmuseet (Oslo), Villa Bernasconi (Geneva), Shorelines Literature of the Sea (Southend).

Caroline was Judith E, Wilson Fellow, University of Cambridge (2013-2014), Writer-in-Residence, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2014), Visiting Professor, School of Art and Design, Geneva (2014-2015). Currently a Collaborative Arts Mellon Fellow, Logan Center, University of Chicago (2016).

MARINA WARNER is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Professorial Research Fellow, SOAS, 2014-2017.

Marina Warner’s mother was Italian and her father an English bookseller; she was brought up in Egypt, Belgium, and Cambridge, England. She has been a writer since she was young, specialising in mythology and fairy-tales, with an emphasis on the part women play in them. Her award-winning books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976), Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (l982), From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1994) and No Go the Bogeyman (1998). In 1994 she gave the BBC Reith Lectures on the theme of Six Myths of Our Time. Her books include Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media (2006), and Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011). She also writes fiction: The Lost Father (1988), was short listed for the Booker prize, and in 2000, The Leto Bundle (2000) was long-listed. She has curated exhibitions, including The Inner Eye (1996), Metamorphing (2002-3), and Only Make-Believe: Ways of Playing (2005). She chaired the Man Booker International Prize for 2015, and from 2013-15 she was a Two Year Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (OUP, 2014) will be coming out in paperback later this year. A collection of short stories Fly Away Home was published by Salt in autumn 2015. She is currently working on the theme of Sanctuary and culture in times of dislocation and diaspora, and is writing a memoir-cum-novel set in Cairo in the Fifties.

She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made DBE in 2015, and the same year was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities.

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Shorelines Literature Festival, September 17-18 2016

Saturday 17 – Sunday 18 September 2016
The Thames Estuary

Shorelines Literature Festival

Time to book your tickets for the Shorelines Literature Festival curated by our very own Rachel Lichtenstein. Taking place over the weekend of September 17-18, writers, artists, film-makers and performers – including Deborah Levy, Horatio Clare, Rose George and Patrick Wright – explore the Thames Estuary and related themes, alongside tours of Tilbury Port, Family Activities and Riverside Walks.

Rachel will also launch her new book Estuary: Out from London to the Sea (2016, Hamish Hamilton) at the festival at 5pm on Saturday 17 September; an immersive, intimate journey into the world of the Thames Estuary and the people who spend time there. Over many years she has travelled the length and breadth of this historic waterway many times over in vessels ranging from hardy tugboats to sailing barges to an inflatable military dinghy whilst gathering an extraordinary chorus of voices: mudlarkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, divers and oystercatchers, along with the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore. In this sparkling new book she captures these stories before they vanish from living memory, and merges them with personal experience of this place along with layers from different periods of history.

Further details at:

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Photography and Abstraction special issue out now!

The special issue of Photographies on “Photography and Abstraction”, based on an earlier IMCC symposium,  is now out from Routledge. Edited and introduced by John Beck and David Cunningham, with contributions from David Bate, Andy Fisher, John Roberts and Joanna Zylinska, as well as John B and David C., we’re hoping to have some kind of launch event next semester – so watch this space.

Full issue available here:

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Gwilym Jones’ Shakespeare’s Storms wins Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award

We’re delighted to announce that Gwilym Jones, Lecturer in Renaissance Literature in Westminster’s English Department, has won the 2016 Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award, which is awarded every two years to the best monograph by a first-time author in the field.

The award for Gwilym’s book Shakespeare’s Storms, published by Manchester University Press, will be presented by this year’s Sam Wanamaker Award winner and Fellow, Professor Gordon McMullan, and was judged by a panel of prestigious academics chaired by Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education at the Globe Theatre in London.

As this year’s Award winner, Gwilym will be delivering a public lecture in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on 6 October. Find out more and book tickets.

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Mapping Memories at Mitologia de la Tierra, The Koppel Project


Veronica Posada, who is currently studying on our MA Art and Visual Culture, will be presenting work from her research project ‘Mapping Memories’ (with Lorena Raigoso) alongside the Mitologia de la Tierra exhibition of seven Colombian artists at the Koppel Project in London (93 Baker Street, W1U 6RL). The show runs from September 15th to November 5th 2016. Further details here.

Mapping Memories is a research tool and visibilization platform that supports recognition of Latin Americans in the UK, as well as promoting processes of unification and resistance against gentrification. See their website at:

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Commodities, Things and Other Stuff

The final two installments of David Cunningham’s series of pieces on the theme of Photography and the Language of Things are now up on the Still Searching blog hosted by the Winterthur Fotomuseum in Switzerland: Part Five and Part Six.

Here’s the opening to the final piece …

I ended my last post with the suggestion that underlying the recent turn to the ‘object’ or ‘thing’ one might glimpse a certain ‘posthumanist’ anxiety – an anxiety occasioned by the degree to which capitalist modernity is a world “ruled by abstractions”, in the words of Marx; abstractions that have come to assume an objective reality which is ‘quasi-independent’ of the things, objects and individuals that constitute them, but which is not ‘material’ in any usual empirical sense. Such abstract social forms – money, the commodity, the value form – do not merely ‘conceal’ the ‘real’ social relations and objective networks constitutive of capitalism, but, on the contrary, actually are the ‘real’ relations that structure capitalist modernity as an increasingly global mode of social life encompassing human and non-human ‘things’ alike. The actual organisation of social and material relations is driven by a real abstraction that, far from being a question of mere faulty thinking or false consciousness, “moves within the object itself”. […]

Read more …

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New Blog Pieces for The Photographers Gallery’s “One Image”

In the second of our collaborations with the excellent “One Image” blog hosted by the Photographers Gallery in London, Sally Willow and Isabelle Coy-Dibley, who are both studying for PhDs in the Institute, have contributed short pieces on works currently on exhibition in the gallery.

Sally Willow writes on an image by Nancy Hellebrand, which features in the exhibition Double Take: Drawing and Photography: “The line has been traced: starting top-left, looping down into a heavy curve that rises, doubling-up lightly on the right to begin a swift and certain downward stroke with slight faltering hesitation at its stem. It is underlined for clarity at the base.” You can read the rest of Sally’s piece here.

Isabelle Coy-Dibley writes about Jolana Havelkova’s Fist Time Skating: “Like a fingerprint trapped in ice, the unique contours of a body inscribed in a transitory moment, imprinting what will be lost once the ice thaws, fleetingly capturing a temporal and spatial pattern drawn by an absent body refusing to be forgotten. The motif of fragmentation, shattering the coherency of a unified body, became the visual rhetoric of modernist art, rupturing the sense of totality within the individual subject. Havelkova’s First Time Skating extends and surpasses this rupture through the disembodiment of the body in its entirety.” Read the rest of Isabelle’s piece here.

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Reminder: Forms of Criticism this Thursday

Thursday 30 June 2016
Parasol Unit, 14 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

Forms of Criticism

Forms of Criticism proposes to think about critical practice as a creative experiment with form in its own right and invites a re-examination of the relationship between research and forms adopted for presenting, communicating, and disseminating it. By considering diverse sites of critical and creative production the project focuses on experimenting with modalities of criticism and ways of addressing formal critical-creative hybridity.

The event brings together artist, curators, writers, critics and scholars addressing questions of hybrid creative-critical forms in theory and practice though talks, performances, screenings, readings and installations. Speakers include: John Beck (IMCC), Kate Briggs (American University in Paris), Eric Cazdyn (University of Toronto), Ducks!, Gary Hall (Coventry University & Open Humanities Press), Peter Jaeger (poet and critic, Roehampton), Kristen Kreider (poet and artist, Royal Holloway), Richard Misek (filmmaker), Simon Morris (Leeds Beckett University), Jo Collinson Scott (musician and musicologist), Marquard Smith (Journal of Visual Culture and Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam), and Nick Thurston (artist, University of Pennsylvania and Leeds).

The event is free and open to all but places are limited and booking is essential. For more information about the event and to reserve tickets please go to:

For more information, please contact Kaja Marczewska:

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Screening of the Battle of the Somme

Tuesday 5th July 2016, 3-6 pm
University of Westminster, 4 – 12 Little Titchfield Street, London, W1W 7BY

Our friends in the Westminster Law School has collaborated with Imperial War Museums (IWM) to show the UNESCO listed film The Battle of the Somme, to audiences across the world. Shot and screened in 1916, it was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public. In the year of its release around 20 million people, almost half the population of Britain at the time, watched The Battle of the Somme many hoping to see the image of a loved-one, or friend captured on film. One hundred years later, this unique film from IWM’s collection, is being shown to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The event will be held at the University of Westminster building at Little Titchfield Street, London. The screening of the film will be followed by food and drink refreshments in Portland Hall where there will be additional archive material, displays and information to mark the centenary of this historic event.

Book a place here.

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Reminder: The Hypothetical Conference, June 25-26 2016


Saturday 25th 2016, 3.30 – 6.00 pm, followed by reception
Sunday 26th June 2016, 11.30 am – 5.30 pm
Room UG04, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW

The Hypothetical: Institutions, Fictions, Environments

A hypothesis is literally a placing under, and thus a foundation or basis for an argument. As a foundation, though, a hypothesis is less than concrete; it is a starting point, a premise, a conjecture, a supposition. A hypothesis stands in a provisional relation to the known facts — may, indeed, fly in the face of the facts — and at worst can be described as a mere assumption or guess. A hypothesis, then, is a provocation. It demands investigation, testing, evaluation, perhaps refutation. A hypothesis has expectations.

The purpose of this conference is to interrogate the ramifications of the hypothetical in its philosophical, scientific, technological, historical, literary and artistic forms. How do the fictional, the conjectural, or the notional provide the operational conditions for new knowledge, new social and political forms, and new modes of describing the world? What are the temporalities that govern the hypothetical? How does the hypothetical put pressure on existing forms and practices, within and across the arts and the sciences? Are there limits — organisational, structural, ideological, disciplinary — beyond which the hypothetical collapses into the simply impossible? Or is the impossible an ideological bracketing of the emancipatory potential of the hypothetical? Alternatively, does the hypothetical run the risk of producing hypocriticism, a mode of reflexive and opportunist self-interest that merely reinscribes the position of the hypothesist?

Speakers: Claudia Aradau (King’s College London); Mark Currie (Queen Mary, University of London); Elizabeth Ellsworth & Jamie Kruse (by video link) (The New School, New York City); Mikhail Epstein (Emory University); Greg Garrard (University of British Columbia); John Richard Sageng (University of Oslo); David Wittenberg (University of Iowa).

View the conference programme here

The conference is free but it is essential to register via Eventbrite

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Open City Documentary Film talk

Amanda Millis who is currently studying on the IMCC’s Art and Visual Culture MA is giving a talk this evening, Friday 24th June, after a documentary screening at Hackney Picturehouse as part of the Open City Documentary Festival. Directly following the UK premiere of Desert Migration, Amanda with Doc Duhon will be discussing the film and long-term HIV/AIDS survival. The discussion will be framed through the feminist psychoanalytic theory of Matrixial Subjectivity created by the artist and psychoanalyst, Bracha L. Ettinger. They will address matters such as the lack of an HIV/AIDS memorial in London and the immediate need for the NHS to provide PrEP. Following the dialogue, there will be an audience Q&A as well as information on accessible activist actions to provide PrEP on the NHS now.

Further details here:

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Anne Witchard on London Nobody Knows

Anne Witchard is part of a panel discussing the 1962 film The London Nobody Knows at the Genesis Cinema organised by the Luxury Book Club.

The London Nobody Knows is an important film every Londoner should watch once. It’s a privilege to re-experience the city through the prism of Geoffrey Fletcher’s eccentric gaze. Fletcher loves the romance of ruins, relishing are the places where a fragile connection with the past remains intact. He’s an explorer and an adventurer, a Londonologist. The film sees James Mason (smart casual and dressed for adversity in a flat cap) taking a stroll through shabby 1960s London. Edwardian tearooms, unusual gas lamps and crumbling terraces, rococo funeral parlours and art nouveau pubs, the ‘sleazy snack bars’ and the cast-iron balconies, forlorn music halls, old Jewish tailors and outmoded East End boutiques; redundant curiosities on the brink of oblivion.

Further details here.

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Experimental Writing @ Carroll / Fletcher: Nick Thurston (Information as Material)

iam3 copy

Wednesday 29 June 2016, 7pm, Carroll/Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8EQ
Tickets £5, available here

Nick Thurston, an artist and critic, will discuss the work of Information as Material, an independent publishing project, which he co-edits with Simon Morris and Craig Dworkin. Thurston will address questions of materiality of language and independent and experimental publishing, and explore ideas about appropriated and subverted technologies of communication.

The talk will be followed by a conversation between Nick and critic and academic, Stephen Voyce.

This is the fifth event in the Experimental Writing @ Carroll/Fletcher series. Organised by the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture at University of Westminster and Carroll/Fletcher, the series showcases contemporary developments in experimental writing and their relationship to the visual arts.

Nick Thurston has exhibited and performed internationally at Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Toulouse Museum of Contemporary Art, The Laurence Sterne Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, and Bury City Art Gallery, amongst others. He is the author of numerous publications ranging from poetry to prose essays. Since 2006, he has been a co-editor of Information as Material (iam). iam operates as a collective of writer-editors and as an independent imprint that publishes work by artists who use extant material — selecting it and reframing it to generate new meanings — and who, in doing so, disrupt the existing order of things. The imprint’s activities involve writing, publishing, exhibiting, curating, web-based projects, lectures and workshops. iam’s publications and editions are held in private and public collections around the world including Tate (UK), National Library of France (FR), and MoMA (USA). Nick’s own work is collected by the Electronic Poetry Center (University of Buffalo and University of Pennsylvania), which archived his work in 2015. The collection includes his poems, short writings, interviews and book extracts (2006-2014). Nick is a Programme Director of interdisciplinary undergraduate Fine Arts programme at the University of Leeds and a Visiting Fellow in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stephen Voyce is Professor at the English Department at the University of Iowa, where he also holds appointments in the Digital Studio for the Public Arts & Humanities and the Center for the Book. He is the author of Poetic Community: Avant-Garde Activism and Cold War Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2013), the editor of a book of variations: love – zygal – art facts (Coach House Books, 2013), and the Director of the Fluxus Digital Collection. His work also appears in journals such as Jacket2 MagazineModernism/modernityCriticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the ArtsPostmodern Culture, and Open Letter. Voyce’s primary teaching and research interests include twentieth-century poetry, media studies, Marxist criticism and theory, and critical digital studies. Before joining the University of Iowa, he worked in the music industry and as a SSHRC-postdoctoral fellow at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Center in Toronto, Canada.

For more information, please contact either Kaja Marczewska:
or Asya Bachelis:

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Without Borders: LGBTQ+ ALMS conference June 22-24

Wednesday 22nd – Friday 24th 2016
Bishopsgate Institute, University of Westminster, London Metropolitan Archives

“Without Borders”: LGBTQ+ Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections

The Queer London Research Forum at the University of Westminster is co-hosting the three-day 2016 LGBTQ+ Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections conference in collaboration with the Bishopsgate Institute and the City of London through the London Metropolitan Archives.

ALMS is an international conference focussed on the work by public, private, academic, and grassroots organisations which are collecting, capture and preserving archives of LGBTQ+ experiences. The conference began in Minnesota in 2006 when the Tretter Collection and Quatrefoil Library co-hosted the first LGBT ALMS Conference. The last conference took place in Amsterdam in 2012 and saw archivists, activists, librarians, museums professionals and academics from around the world coming together to share success stories and discuss challenges involved in recording LGBTQ+ lives. The 2016 conference is titled ‘Without Borders’, and the aim is to generate a dialogue within the co-dependent fields of LGBTQ+ historical research and collecting, and share experiences, ideas and best practice through a programme of presentations and short talks that explore margins, borders, barriers and intersections, past and present.

An evening reception to welcome delegates to London and the conference will be held in the Boardroom of the University of Westminster’s building at 309 Regent Street from 6-9pm on Tuesday 21st June. To help with drinks catering, please register via this Eventbrite page:

The three days of the conference will then take place at the Bishopsgate Institute (June 22nd), University of Westminster, 309 Regent St (June 23rd), and the London Metropolitan Archives (June 24th).

Full details and conference programme at:

Full three day ticket (includes Tuesday evening reception)

£220 Institution
£100 Self-funded / unaffiliated
£40 students / unwaged / concessions (proof required)

You can book online here.

Photography and the Language of Things Parts 2-4

Stephen Shore, "Perrine, Florida, November 11", 1977, © Stephen Shore, from American Surfaces

The second, third and fourth installments of David Cunningham’s series of pieces on the theme of Photography and the Language of Things are now up on the Still Searching blog hosted by our friends at the Winterthur Fotomuseum in Switzerland: Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.

Here’s the intro to the second:

In my previous post I tried to sketch out some of those questions provoked by a contemporary desire, in the words of Hito Steyerl, to side with and affirm the object. While this affirmation has coincided with a more general turn towards the object or thing in recent theoretical writing – and, consequently, away (or so it is said) from earlier concerns with language, text, discourse and sign – it has also been attached, in Steyerl and others, to a more specific call to rethink the character of ‘the image’, and of ‘our’ relationship to it, as one framed not by an “identification” with the image “as representation”, but precisely “with the image as thing”.

I want to focus in future posts upon some of the wider philosophical and political issues that are, I think, at stake in this, for photographic theory at least – including those quasi-animistic claims often made today for the capacity of the thing or object to speak of its own accord (sometimes combined with rather over-excited accounts of machine vision and photography’s automation), as well as, in my final post, the kinds of political oppositions, between, for example, a politics of representation and one of participation, that are frequently said to follow from this. In this current post, however, it seems useful, before doing so, to trace something like a ‘pre-history’ of the contemporary valorisation of the image as thing (as opposed to the image as representation) in order to try to draw out more clearly in my subsequent posts what might be distinctive about the particular ways in which this is conceived of today. [Continue …]

Parts Five and Six will be appearing before the end of June.

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Programme for McLuhan’s Media Practice – this Monday 20th June

Monday 20th June, 10.30 am – 4.00 pm
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1

McLuhan’s Media Practice: Literature and Communication

Marshall McLuhan is a central and provocative figure in early media discourse – some of his pronouncements shaped the subject while others were divisive or obscure. However, his wide-ranging literary research, teaching and ground-breaking contributions to publishing still require detailed attention – for example, recent accessibility to his own richly annotated library presents a remarkable new research resource, while his collaborations with book designers remain hugely influential if inadequately understood. This symposium addresses McLuhan’s media practice from the dual perspectives of communication and literature, and introduces a new digital resource of archival McLuhan materials gathered from seven independent institutions and scholars during the last twelve months.

10.30-11.00 Coffee and Introductions

11.00-12.30 McLuhan’s Modernisms

McLuhan and Literary Modernism: David Cunningham, IMCC, University of Westminster
Annotation in Marshall McLuhan’s Library: John Shoesmith, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto
McLuhan and Modernist Spaces: Jon Goodbun, Architecture, University of Westminster
Fiore, McLuhan & Book Design: Doris Gassert, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Universität Basel
Contemporary Criticism and Small Presses: Leigh Wilson, IMCC, University of Westminster

12.30-2.00 Lunch and Discussion

2.00-3.15 Reading McLuhan Reading

Reading in the Future: Tom Lamberty, Merve Verlag, Berlin
The McLuhan Digital Resource: Simon Worthington, Mute Magazine, Berlin
McLuhan’s Media Practice: Graham Larkin, Curator, Ottawa

3.15-4.00 Closing Discussion

Register for a place here.

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Reminder: Sexual Violence Against Women symposium, Friday 17th June

Friday 17th June 2016
St Pancras Room, King’s Place, 09:30-17:00

Sexual Violence Against Women: Voice and Representation

This one-day symposium organised by the IMCC’s Dr Georgina Colby with Hannah Camplin aims to bring keynote academics and practitioners in the fields of law, politics, and charities into dialogue with writers, artists, and filmmakers who take up the issues surrounding sexual violence against women in their works.

The symposium will open with a keynote address by Professor Jacqueline Rose (FBA, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London), entitled ‘Feminism and the Abomination of Violence.’ Professor Rose’s keynote address will be followed by a lunchtime keynote paper by Keir Starmer MP, Holborn and St Pancras. There will be two afternoon panels on ‘Sexual Violence, Belief, and Credibility’, and ‘Voice and Representation: Empowering Voice and Enacting Change Through the Arts and Humanities’.

Tickets are priced at £6.00, excluding booking fee (£1.52). All proceeds from tickets sales will go to the Women’s Project at Asylum Aid. Tickets include coffee and refreshments throughout the day.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Contact Georgina Colby for further information:

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