Transdisciplinary Problematics

For those of a heavy theory bent, the special issue of Theory, Culture and Society on Transdisciplinary Problematics has finally appeared, including David Cunningham’s ‘Logics of Generalization: Derrida, Grammatology and Transdisciplinarity‘, as well as further articles by Eric Alliez, Etienne Balibar, Lisa Baraitser, Felix Guattari, Peter Osborne, Nina Power, Stella Sandford, Michel Serres, and others. Available from the TC&S website here.

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Beck on Wark in RP

Catch it before it goes: John Beck’s review of McKenzie Wark’s Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene is currently up as a freebie on the Radical Philosophy website here.

Buy the whole issue and get Lucy Bond’s review of Morgan Wortham’s Thought in Pain thrown in for good measure:

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Selected Works of Andrew Lang nominated for Katharine Briggs Award

We’re delighted to report that Alex Warwick and Leigh Wilson’s co-edited Selected Writings of Andrew Lang (Edinburgh University Press) has been nominated for the Folklore Society’s 2015 Katharine Briggs Award (previously won by Vladimir Propp and E.P. Thompson, among others). The winner will be announced at a reception at the Warburg Institute on Wednesday 18th November.

Time to save up some money and buy a copy of the two volumes here.

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British Story’s Magic Band

A lovely compliment to Michael Nath’s “great, very intense book … the elegant, rococo noir-ish British Story” from the great guitarist and former Captain Beefheart collaborator Gary Lucas on his facebook site here.

In tribute, here are two of Gary’s own greatest, most intense moments…


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English Literature and Cultural Studies seminars

Wells Street

We have a great series of fortnightly seminars lined up for the new semester. Venue is Wells Street Room 105 at 5pm. All welcome.

14th October
Dr Victoria Browne (Oxford Brookes), with Sanna Melin.
‘Generational Politics in Feminist Theory’

28th October
Prof Andrew Benjamin (Kingston), with Kaja Marczewska, Matthew Charles and David Cunningham.
‘A Colloquium on Art’s Philosophical Work’

11th November
Dr Katherine Graham (Westminster), with Simon Avery.
‘“[N]or bear I in this breast / So much cold spirit to be called a woman”: the queerness of female revenge’

25th November
Dr Andreas Kramer (Goldsmiths), with John Beck.
‘Inventing Maps: Towards a Geography of the Avant-Garde’

9th December
Dr Shela Sheik (Goldsmiths), with tba.
‘Take This Instant: Video-testimony, Performativity and the Fabrication of Truth’

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The Institute welcomes three new members

The Institute is delighted to welcome three new Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellows who are joining the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies this academic year.

Sara Dominici

Sara Dominici works on photography and its cultural history within the fields of visual culture and cultural studies. Her ongoing research is in the visual culture of The Regent Street Polytechnic and its spin-off organisation, The Polytechnic Touring Association. Specifically, she is exploring the changing relationship between photography and travel and tourism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, investigating how the development of popular photography influenced the shifting relationship between ‘high’, or established, and ‘low’, or emerging, forms of culture. Sara completed a PhD at the University of Westminster (2014), and previously studied at La Sapienza University, Rome (Laurea quinquennale in Scienze della Comunicazione, 2004), at the London College of Communication (FdA in Photojournalism, 2006), and holds an MA in Visual Culture from the University of Westminster (2010). She has also worked as a picture editor in both commercial and non-profit organisations.


Kaja Marczewska’s research interests span avant-garde and experimental literature and art, both contemporary and historical, conceptual art and writing, small press publishing, material texts, contemporary cultural, literary and art theory, digital aesthetics, as well as intersections of humanities and law. She holds a PhD in English from Durham University and an MA in Comparative Literature from King’s College, London. Kaja’s PhD, titled The Iterative TIMCCurn, investigated the implications of the increasingly prominent propensity to copy as a creative practice in contemporary culture. It was an attempt at defining a cultural condition that triggers novel attitudes to creativity and reconceptualising copying as a creative category. Her current research builds on ideas explored in the PhD and interrogates diverse aesthetic developments triggered by the turn towards iteration, including among others creative responses to online surveillance culture, experimental forms of writing criticism, the emergence of curating as a dominant contemporary model of cultural production, and digital kitsch.


Elinor Taylor previously taught at the University of Salford, where she completed her PhD, and at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research so far has focused on relationships between British literary culture and the political left. In particular, she is interested interrelationships between Marxism, modernism and realism, the history of Marxism and Communism in Britain, theories of populism, and the novel form. Elinor is currently revising revising her doctoral thesis on fiction associated with the ‘Popular Front’ anti-fascist formation in Britain, as well as writing about Communist historical narrative. She is also interested in archival practices, especially in activist archives, and she plans to develop links with institutions of this kind in London.

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The Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer

Anne Witchard has contributed to the new collection Lord of Strange Deaths: The Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer, edited by Phil Baker and Anthony Clayton, and published by Strange Attractor Press. It’s a limited edition of 500 copies, so order your copy now! Further details here:

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The Shaken and the Stirred: Canadian Literature event

The Centre for Law Society and Popular Culture, in conjunction with the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies is delighted to announce an international poetry event to be held at the University of Westminster on 13th October.

Hosted by the University of Westminster’s spoken word Artist in Residence, Mike Garry, “The Shaken and the Stirred”, a group comprising four renowned Canadian poets and novelists, will present their work in a public reading. The group, sponsored by the Centre for Creative Learning in Canada, includes prize winning authors Jeanette Lynes, Steven Heighton, Ian Burgham and Catherine Graham reading from their recently released and upcoming collections. For more on Mike Garry, including news of his recent Saint Anthony project, see here

These writers, all of whom have been recognized internationally, not only represent some of the best work being produced in Canada, but demonstrate a wide range of the types of poetry and themes that currently can be found in the Canadian literary landscape.  

Free tickets available at this link.

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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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