Posts by john

Masterclass with Christian Bök

11 May 2016

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Monday 23 May, 11:00 am-1.30 pm, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW.

We are delighted to announce a Masterclass with Canadian writer Christian Bök. The Masterclass is part of our Experimental Writing series and coincides with an event @Carroll/Fletcher later this month (further details will be available in due course).

This masterclass will introduce some of the techniques of Conceptualism, a school of writing that often uses technical resources on the Internet to explore the aesthetics of “the uncreative”: for example, the readymade writing of the unoriginal text; the mannerist writing of the constrained text; the illegible writing of the unreadable text; and the aleatoric writing of the authorless text. The class explores these four ways of writing so that participants might torque them to their own, otherwise “creative,” purposes.

Participation in the Masterclass is free but places are limited and registration is essential. While priority will be given to postgraduate students (both taught and research) and early career researchers, all applications are welcome!

For further information, please contact Kaja at k.marczewska@westminster.ac.uk

Registration: http://goo.gl/forms/9an5RDI9Y2

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Welcome to Carmen Caruso, Junior Visiting Research Fellow

6 May 2016

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The IMCC is delighted to welcome Carmen Caruso as our visiting research fellow during the Spring and Summer of 2016. Carmen has a Ph.D. in Migration Studies (University of Catania), an MA in Gender Studies (SOAS), and a BA in Political Science (University of Bologna). She is a teaching assistant in Applied Ethics in the Philosophy Department at the University of Calabria (UNICAL). Carmen was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where she developed a project on the Lebanese diaspora in the UK from a gender perspesctive. To date, her research has focused on three interrelated areas of inquiry: human mobility (with an emphasis on diasporas from the Arab world), identity and citizenship, aesthetics and the material and performative dimension of culture. Recently she has edited a volume on the city of Jerusalem.

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Sexual Violence Against Women: Voice and Representation

28 April 2016

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

This one-day symposium organised by Dr Georgina Colby and 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), titled ‘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: g.colby@westminster.ac.uk.

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Mark Amerika, Mobile Phone Film, Immobilité

28 April 2016

Wednesday, 11 May 2016, 6:00 pm
Regent St Cinema, 309 Regent St, London W1B 2UW

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We are delighted to announce the UK premiere of Mark Amerika’s work of early mobile phone video art, Immobilité.

Released in 2009, Mark Amerika’s Immobilité appropriates the stylistic tendencies of the “feature-length foreign film.” The artwork introduces the creative use of subtitles that double as a literary text depicting a future world where the dream of living in utopia can only be sustained by a nomadic tribe of artists and intellectuals living on the edge of apocalypse.

According to Amerika, “Immobilité mashes up the language of auteur-driven ‘foreign films’ with a more amateur video vernacular we now associate with social media platforms like YouTube and Vine.” By experimenting with a low-tech glitch aesthetic associated with pre-HD mobile phone video recording technology as well as more sophisticated forms of motion picture narrative found in European art-house movies, Amerika makes an attempt at interrogating the question: “What is the future of cinema?”

Shot entirely on a Nokia N95 mobile phone in 2007 (before the release of the iPhone), Immobilité was filmed on location in the Cornwall region of England and received support from the University of Falmouth iRES research group, Tate Media, and the University of Colorado Innovative Seed Grant. Solo exhibitions of Immobilité have taken place at the Denver Art Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, and the Chelsea Art Museum.

For more information on Immobilité, visit immobilite.com
For further information about the event, please contact Kaja Marczewska: k.marczewska@westminster.ac.uk

The film will be introduced by Mark Amerika, in conversation with Chris Meigh-Andrews.

The event is free and open to all. Booking is essential and tickets are available here.

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Experimental Writing @ Carroll / Fletcher: Nick Montfort with Manfred Mohr

4 February 2016

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Friday, 12 February 2016, 7pm
Carroll/Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8EQ

Experimental Writing @ Carroll / Fletcher: Nick Montfort with Manfred Mohr

£5; tickets available here

Nick Montfort, a poet and artist working with computer-generated texts, will read from a selection of his works, including #! (Counterpath Press, 2015) and the forthcoming 2×6 (Les Figues, 2016). In addition, he will present some of his recent Commodore 64 visual poems, and discuss code-generated poetry, as well as broader questions of computation, language and creativity.

The reading will be followed by a conversation between Nick, digital art pioneer Manfred Mohr, and writer and academic Matthew Fuller.

This is the first event in the Experimental Writing @ Carroll/Fletcher series. Organised by the Institute for 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 Montfort develops computational art and poetry, often collaboratively, and works as an Associate Professor of Digital Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he also runs The Trope Tank, a DIY, boundary-transgressing MIT research lab hosting both academic and creative projects. Montfort holds a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Creative Writing (poetry) from Boston University and a Masters in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT. He has been one of the key figures behind the development of platform studies, critical code studies, and electronic literature. His works have been translated into half a dozen languages and served as a basis for numerous remixes.

#! (Counterpath, 2014; the title is pronounced “shebang”) is Montfort’s latest book, and contains programs and poems. Forthcoming in 2016 is Montfort’s Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities (MIT Press), which continues his long-term project to teach programming as a method of culturally engaged inquiry and making. Also coming in 2016 is 2×6 (Les Figues), a book of computer-generated poems created in collaboration with six others, in English and five other languages.

Manfred Mohr lives and works in NYC. He is a pioneer of digital art and one of the very first artists to produce drawings, paintings and sculptures using a computer. Mohr originally trained as a painter, and has made rigorously minimal, geometric paintings and drawings since the late 1950s, informed by Abstract Expressionism. He has been experimenting with algorithms and formal constraints since the 1960s, developing what he called a ‘programmed aesthetic’ inspired by philosopher Max Bense’s thinking that a ‘clear and logical’ form of art making was possible – and indeed desirable. These first experiments set Mohr on a path that he has followed to this day, despite the art world’s resistance to the idea of the computer as a legitimate art medium.

Selected solo exhibitions include Artificiata II, bitforms, New York (2015); The Algorithm of Manfred Mohr. 1963−now, ZKM – Media Museum, Karlsruhe (2013); one and zero, Carroll / Fletcher, London (2012); Kunsthalle Bremen (2007) and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris (1971). He has exhibited in group shows at prestigious institutions including the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (1984); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1980); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (1978, 1992). His work is held in major international institutions and private collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal; and Borusan Art Collection, Istanbul.

Matthew Fuller’s books include ‘Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture’, (MIT) ‘Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software’ and ‘Elephant & Castle’. (both Autonomedia) With Usman Haque, he is co-author of ‘Urban Versioning System v1.0’ (ALNY) and with Andrew Goffey, of ‘Evil Media’. (MIT)  Editor of ‘Software Studies, a lexicon’, (MIT) and co-editor of of the Journal Computational Culture, he is involved in a number of projects in art, media and software and is Professor at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Mohr’s Artificiata II is on show at Carroll/Fletcher, 12 February – 2 April 2016.

For more information, please contact either Kaja Marczewska at k.marczewska@westminster.ac.uk or Asya Bachelis at asya@carrollfletcher.com

 

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Georgina Colby on Kathy Acker

1 February 2016

Acker

Wednesday 3 February, 5pm
Room 105, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

‘Writing-Through’: Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream
Georgina Colby (Westminster), with a response by Leigh Wilson

This paper reads Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream as a form of non-procedural ‘writing-through’, a term that has its roots in the procedural practices of John Cage and Jackson Mac Low. In Don Quixote Acker’s experimental practice displaces centralized narrative, to offer a new feminist temporality. Reading the work with attention to Acker’s practice of abstraction, experimentation with translation, paragrammatic play, and the protosemantic, a method of writing-through emerges whereby voice is imbricated with the negation of language.

All welcome and entrance free. Non-Westminster guests can sign in at reception.

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‘Take this Instant’: Sacrifice, Testimony and the Gift of My Death

3 December 2015

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Wednesday 9 December, 5pm
Room 105, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

‘Take this Instant’: Sacrifice, Testimony and the Gift of My Death
Shela Sheikh (Goldsmiths), with a response by Elinor Taylor

In Aporias: Dying—Awaiting (One Another at) the “Limits of Truth”, Jacques Derrida poses the question: ‘My death—is it possible?’ How is this question to be understood, and who can pose it? And if my death is properly mine, how am I to account for—in fact, to give an account of—this? This paper responds to these questions by turning to accounts of both being-towards and surviving death in Maurice Blanchot’s fictional/autobiographical récit, ‘The Instant of my Death’, but also the phenomenon of pre-recorded video-testimonies in which the subject announces his/her own death, and does so from a temporality that is at once past, present and futural. Through a reading of technically-mediated performances of accounting for and bearing witness to one’s ‘own’ death—and with this a consideration of the logic of sacrifice, radical passivity, the gift of death, and the contemporary conjunction between religion, geopolitical conflict and media—Sheikh proposes that such accounts bears witness to what Derrida identifies as the anachronistic ‘history of death’ in the Christian West, before supplementing this focus on the West with further consideration of what Nelson Maldonado-Torres names ‘the coloniality of being’.

All welcome and entrance free. Non-Westminster guests can sign in at reception.
Followed by drinks in the Green Man…

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Culture, Memory & Extinction

30 November 2015

11 December 2015, 9.00am-5.00pm
Natural History Museum, London

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Culture, Memory & Extinction

Recent months have seen an explosion of public, media and academic interest in the idea, threat and reality of extinction. This acknowledgement has contributed to debates over climate change and other, related, ways that humanity has altered environments and ecosystems in this epoch we have begun to call the Anthropocene. This one-day conference asks what role can culture play in widening the understanding, representation and, indeed, remembrance of this unfolding and catastrophic species loss. With this in mind, the event aims to foster dialogue between academics, journalists, museum curators, charities, writers, environmental groups, and the media to explore how societies engage with the complexities of the processes of extinction and remember the extinct. More specifically, the event examines how increased dialogue between these communities and constituencies contributes to the public re-evaluation and remembrance of life on our planet.

Speakers:

Dan Barnard & Rachel Briscoe. Lead Artists, fanSHEN Environmental Theatre Collective.
Fae Brauer. Professor of Art and Visual Culture, University of East London.
Sbastian Brooke. Director, MEMO (Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory).
Melanie Challenger. Author, On Extinction.
Cathy Dean. Director, Save the Rhino.
Sebastian Groes. English and Creative Writing, Roehampton University.
Steve Parker. Author, Extinction: Not the End of the World?.
Jules Pretty. Professor of Environment and Society, University of Essex.
Bernd Scherer. Director, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.
Matt Williams. Associate Director, A Focus on Nature.
Matthew Wills. Biodiversity Lab, University of Bath.

Free tickets: register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/culture-memory-and-extinction-tickets-19379987063
Website: https://naturalhistoryofmemory.wordpress.com/london-2015/
Email: memoryandextinction@gmail.com

Organised by The Natural History of Memory: Dr Lucy Bond (Westminster), Dr Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths), Dr Jessica Rapson (King’s College London); Research assistant: Ifor Duncan (Goldsmiths).

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Andrew Benjamin: A Colloquium on Art’s Philosophical Work

29 October 2015

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Wednesday 4th November 2015, 5pm
Westminster Forum, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW.

Professor Andrew Benjamin (Kingston) will be with us at the Institute to discuss his new book Art’s Philosophical Work. The book offers an argument for how art ‘works’, using examples from Nicholas Poussin, Albrecht Dürer, Georg Baselitz, El Lissitsky and Karel Appel. Andrew’s talk will be followed by responses from Kaja Marczewska on ‘iteration’, David Cunningham on ‘relationality’ and Matthew Charles on ‘colour’.

The event is free and open to the public (guests will need to sign-in at reception).
Followed by drinks in The Green Man, Riding House Street.

Andrew Benjamin is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Kingston University, UK, and Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Monash University, Australia. His many publications include Working with Walter Benjamin (2012), Of Jews and Animals (2010), Place, Commonality and Judgment (2010) and Style and Time: Essays on the Politics of Appearance (2006).

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English Literature and Cultural Studies seminars

25 September 2015

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’

4th November
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

21 September 2015

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

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

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

17 August 2015

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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: http://www.westminster.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/380075/SSH-4-Penguins-China-Reading-China-in-Paperback.pdf

For further information, please contact Dr Anne Witchard: A.Witchard@westminster.ac.uk

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

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Welcome to Katharina Donn, Junior Visiting Research Fellow

29 January 2015

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

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

19 January 2015

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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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Fitzrovia Reading CANCELLED

30 September 2014

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CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS. WE HOPE TO RESCHEDULE THIS EVENT SOON.

Fitzrovia Atlas and Stepaway Magazine present an evening of new writing by Joan Byrne, Tony Rickaby, and Kate Wise.

Thursday 9 October 2014, 6-30pm
Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW
Admission FREE. All Welcome.

FITZROVIA ATLAS is a project based in the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster dedicated to exploring the literary and cultural life of Fitzrovia.

STEPAWAY MAGAZINE is an established online literary magazine that publishes the best urban flash fiction and poetry by writers from across the globe. http://stepawaymagazine.com

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Reading: Simon Perril at the ICA, Thursday 19th June

10 June 2014

The idea of cinema in the mind of a painting: poetry, film, collage

Thursday 19 June, 6.30pm
ICA Studio, The Mall
, London 
SW1Y 5AH
Free admission

As part of IMCC’s Print Screen: Writing and the Moving Image series, poet Simon Perril will be reading at the ICA next Thursday, followed by a drinks reception. All welcome.

Simon is a poet, critic, and programme leader for Creative Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester. His poetry publications include Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman 2013), Newton’s Splinter (Open House 2012), Nitrate (Salt 2010), A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher 2009), and Hearing is Itself Suddenly a Kind of Singing (Salt 2004). He has also published in magazines such as P.N. Review, Jacket, Poetry Wales, Shearsman and Angel Exhaust. He is the editor of The Salt Companion to John James and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling, and has also written on Tom Raworth, J.H. Prynne, John Tranter, and Peter Riley, among others. For the last decade he has made visual collages, and has a collage ‘novel’ in progress called Under Austerity Rubble, Ancient Bird Folk Lay Future Eggs.

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Natural History of Memory Inaugural Seminar

14 April 2014

The Natural History of Memory Inaugural Seminar (hosted by the Cultural Memory Seminar Series, sponsored by the Department of English, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies, University of Westminster)

17th May, 11 am – 4 pm. Room G37, Senate House, University of London.

Speakers:

Professor Anna Reading (King’s College London), ‘Where Do Clouds Come From? A Natural History of Digital Memory’

Dr Frank Uekoetter (University of Birmingham), ‘The Boll Weevil, the Post-Slavery Plantation, and the Global World of Monoculture’

Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (UCL), ‘London Submerged: Eco-Fictions of a Vanishing Present’

Chairs: Drs Lucy Bond (Westminster), Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths), Jessica Rapson (King’s)

The Natural History of Memory explores the ways that environments register and mediate the memories of catastrophe and injustice. Moving beyond Walter Benjamin’s conception of natural history as the naturalization of historical events and their representation in teleological fashion, the project examines the manifold imbrications of landscape and the lived experience of violence over time. While memory studies typically positions historical sites and landscapes as the places where past catastrophes unfolded, this project understands these environments as the very media through which these disasters took place, lent agency and co-opted by the perpetrators of those events, thereby enabling their occurrence. Challenging the construction of ‘nature’ as a passive canvas for the inscription and organization of history, this research seeks to develop an environmental literacy for reading (or reconstructing) memory where landscapes and experiences have become indistinct. The Natural History of Memory thus frames strands of research that seek to examine environmental agency in both catastrophic events and their remembrance.

The Natural History of Memory Partner Institutions: Goldsmiths University of London, King’s College London, University of Westminster, and University of Ghent.

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The Art School and the Culture Shed book

1 April 2014

John Beck (University of Westminster) and Matthew Cornford (University of Brighton) have been tracking down and photographing the sites of British art schools for around five years. While many towns in the UK used to have a dedicated art school, now there are only a handful left; most of the buildings have been repurposed or, in some cases, demolished. This 48pp book, published by Kingston University’s Centre for Useless Splendour, is the latest bulletin from their ongoing project. While there is a historical side to Beck and Cornford’s investigations that seeks to situate the history of art education in the UK within a broader cultural history (the massive impact of art school education on postwar British culture, for example), there is also, the book argues, a contemporary relevance to seeking out old art school buildings. Instead of educational institutions dedicated to the study of art and design, British towns are now more likely to contain signature gallery and museum buildings intended, in part, to contribute to local regeneration, heritage, and/or tourist agendas. What does the decline of the local art school and the rise of the ‘destination’ art gallery tell us about changing ideas about the function of art, its possible civic purpose, and the relationship between participation and spectatorship? What can old buildings tell us about new ones? How did the ‘creative economy’ come to replace ‘art school’ as a descriptor of local cultural value and why does it matter?

For a copy of the book, please contact Dean Kenning, Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, Kingston University (D.Kenning@kingston.ac.uk).

For further information on Beck and Cornford’s art school project, email John Beck (j.beck@westminster.ac.uk) or Matthew Cornford (m.cornford@brighton.ac.uk).

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The Continuities of Cold War Systems Symposium

10 January 2014

The Continuities of Cold War Systems: A Symposium
Thursday 27th February 2014, 9am-6pm.
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Hosted by John Beck (Westminster) and Ryan Bishop (Winchester School of Art), participants include Ele Carpenter (Goldsmiths), Fabienne Collignon (Sheffield), Mark Coté (King’s), Dan Grausam (Durham), Ken Hollings (Middlesex), Adrian Mackenzie (Lancaster), Jussi Parikka (Winchester), John Phillips (Singapore), Adam Piette (Sheffield), Jennifer Pybus (Winchester), James Purdon (Cambridge), Aura Satz (London Consortium), Neal White (Bournemouth).

From the late 1940s through the 1980s systems analysis, cybernetics, and information theory came to shape military, business, government and academic thinking on a wide array of subjects. The influence of such thinking is also evident in the arts, from the so-called systems novels of the 1960s and 70s, to minimalist and electronic music, conceptual art, and the emergence of electronic media. The end of the Cold War did not end systems thinking; indeed, given the phenomenal expansion of computer technologies into every aspect of contemporary life it is fair to say that we are now living in a world imagined and engineered during the Cold War. This event seeks to address the ways the Cold War, particularly through a consideration of systems thinking, continues to shape the contemporary.

RSVP John Beck: j.beck@westminster.ac.uk.

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Kreider + O’Leary, Ways to Cut the Earth Open, Jan 17

10 December 2013

Kreider + O’Leary, ‘Ways to Cut the Earth Open’

Friday 17 January, 7pm
The Old Cinema, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

‘Ways to Cut the Earth Open’ is a cross-platform survey that examines a number of sites recently explored by Kreider + O’Leary in their nomadic practice. Using the sectional cut and the filmic splice as starting points they explore strands from their recent site-based works to thread together narratives of place and displacement. Predicated on an aesthetics of response while engaging with the complexity inherent in a given site, their work is both a form and act of communication: therefore, and necessarily, clouded by ambiguity. This prompts a critical investigation into the role of ambiguity for creative practices that relate to site, including writing and the moving image.

Kreider + O’Leary are a poet and architect who collaborate to make performance, installation and time-based media work in relation to sites of architectural and cultural interest. Since 2003, they have worked collaboratively to construct work in prisons, churches, military sites, film locations and desert environments, as well as in more traditional gallery venues across the UK, Europe, the US, Australia, and Japan. Their work ‘Light Vessel Automatic’ was exhibited at Performing Architecture at Tate Britain in February 2013. They are currently exhibiting a new work entitled ‘Edge City’ at the Lisbon Architecture Triennale.

Visit: http://www.kreider-oleary.net/

All welcome

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