Posts from July 2011

Materialities of text online conference

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Materialities of Text: Between the Codex and the Net
An Online Conference, from October 24th – November 4th 2011.

The book, in its traditional codex form, appears in transition from print media to digital media; a condition nevertheless complicated by its forms of survival, as indicated by the term ‘webpage’. Despite the epochal significance of the scroll, the codex, and the digital text, such material figures of inscription are necessarily hybrid; a hybridity that especially characterises the current historico-technical relation between print and digital media. Hybridity, of course, has been championed, for example, in postcolonial studies, as a figure of subversion, but it is also clear that hybrid text, as much as it is an object of possible democratisation within the digital public sphere, is also an object of intense capitalisation. Thus, the apparent waning of the hegemony of print is drawing questions of the politics of textual materialism into critical perception, and the need to interrogate the specificity of these materials, in their complex relations to the sensual form of paper and the ‘dispersed’ textuality of the digital medium. What, then, are the new materialities of hybrid text-media? What are the politics of digital/print hybrids, artists’ books, writing technologies, and digital publishing? How does media hybridity transform the political book, the artists’ book, or the work of literature? What effects do new materialities of text have on patterns of reading? Has media process replaced the media object? What are the sensory forms of new media materialities? How is the commodity-form of the book altered by new media platforms? What are the conditions and forms of specific media hybridities? What does new media do to the ‘perversions’ of the book – to bibliomania, to fetishism? Are we still ‘people of the book’ – what remains of the authority of the book? How has independent publishing responded to new materialities of text? What might figures of the book offer in the way of new or counter-knowledges, forms of community and communication?

Platform / Participants:
In keeping with its theme, the project will centre on an online conference, held on this website, which will allow the uploading of short texts and images, and user-generated commentary and debate. The organisers invite responses to texts and related questions from thinkers in all disciplines: literary-cultural studies, art-practice, critical theory and philosophy, book and publishing history and practice, etc.

Abstracts of included texts: Janneke Adema & Gary Hall (Coventry University): ‘(Im)materialities of Text: The Book as a Form of Political & Conceptual Resistance in Art and Academia’; Richard Burt (University of Florida): ‘Shelf-Life’; Johanna Drucker (UCLA): ‘Diagrammatic Writing’; Davin Heckman (Siena Heights University): ‘The Politics of Plasticity: Neoliberalism, Deliberation & the Digital Text’; Sas Mays (University of Westminster) ‘Mnemopolitics: Philosophy & the Archive in the Digital Public Sphere’; Daniel Selcer (Duquesne University): ‘Invisible Ink: Atomizing Textual Materialism’; Nick Thoburn (university of Manchester): ‘Materialities of Political Publishing’.

The organisers – Sas Mays (IMCC, Westminster) and Nick Thorburn (Manchester) – intend this forum to allow discussion that may be included within the second form of dissemination, and may feed into contributors’ articles within it: a special issue of the journal New Formations to be published in 2012.

Contemporary Vernacular Photographies symposium

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Contemporary Vernacular Photographies
Saturday 3rd September 2011, 9.30 – 5.00
Portland Hall, University of Westminster, 101 New Cavendish Street, London W1W

The term ‘vernacular photography’ has been used to describe a type of imagery that has been produced by a non-professional for private purposes, and can also refer to photographs of vernacular practices that have been sanctioned by state mechanisms. In these contexts, this symposium will specifically address the political, cultural, and aesthetic ramifications of the relationship between private images and their migration to the public realm in the era of digitisation.

The day-long symposium will examine ways in which contemporary practices might contest traditional definitions of vernacular photography today, and topics for discussion will include: authenticity in light of citizenship journalism; personal images on shared online platforms; the ethics of family imagery in the media; oral history and the family album; and the problematic ubiquity of digital media and computing.

Speakers: Dr Sophie Beard (UCA); Dr Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths); Trish Morrissey (Photographer); Dr Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton); Prof Gillian Rose (The Open University); and Prof Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute of Art).

Click the red links for abstracts and timetable.

Tickets are free for University of Westminster staff and students in English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, but numbers are limited so please book a place by email from Sas Mays: Other interested parties should book tickets online through The Photographers’ Gallery.

Co-Organised by Sas Mays (IMCC), in association with Johanna Empson and Karen McQuaid at The Photographer’s Gallery.

New Radical Philosophy website

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A plug for the new website for Radical Philosophy. The address remains the same – – but as well as updating the way the website looks and works, every single item from the back catalogue has now been added to the online archive, from the first Radical Philosophy published in Spring 1972 through to the very latest issue.

Subscribers continue to have full access to and unlimited downloads from the archive, including all articles, interviews and reviews now available from RP1 to the present. Non-subscribing readers will enjoy free access all the commentaries, obituaries, conference and news reports, plus highlights from back issues and new access to hundreds of items from the expanded archive. A new feature of the website will also allow non-subscribers to purchase and download pdfs of individual items from the archive at an affordable price of £3 for any article or interview and £2 for the reviews sections from recent issues.

When the first issue of Radical Philosophy was published in January 1972, it sought – in the wake of the rise of the New Left and the student movements of the 1960s – to challenge the institutional divisions that it saw as contributing to the impoverishment of contemporary philosophical practice: divisions that existed between academic departments, between teachers and their students, and between the university and society. “Our main aim,” the Editorial Collective declared, “is to free ourselves from the restricting institutions and orthodoxies of the academic world, and thereby to encourage important philosophical work to develop: Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom!”. In the ensuing forty years much has changed about contemporary philosophy, in the UK and elsewhere.  But as testified by recent dossiers on transdisciplinarity, campaign reports on the revitalized student movement, and regular philosophically-informed commentaries on contemporary social and political issues, those problematic disciplinary, pedagogical and social divisions continue to be challenged by those writing in Radical Philosophy.

To access the expanded archive, subscribe to the journal, check out selected content from the latest issue, or download the current free gift from the back catalogue – Jacques Rancière’s ‘On the Theory of Ideology’ (originally published in RP7, Spring 1974) – simply click here.