Posts from October 2013

The View from Dover talk, Nov 12

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David Herd, ‘The View from Dover’ Tuesday 12 November 2013, 7pm

The Old Cinema, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

‘The View from Dover’ is the first of a series of talks and essays by David Herd that take their bearings from the site of The Citadel on Dover’s Western Heights. Originally constructed at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, as part of a network of fortifications, The Citadel knew various functions before its present use as an immigration removal centre. Starting at the building itself, with its iconic location, this talk asks what it means to view contemporary culture from such a contested site. Focusing questions of movement and belonging, Dover’s Citadel offers one of the most striking views in modern Britain. What becomes visible, the talk will ask, from a site held legally and linguistically just outside?

David Herd is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Kent, where he is director of the Centre for Modern Poetry. He is the author of Outwith (Bookthug 2012), All Just (Carcanet 2012), Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature (Manchester 2007), and John Ashbery and American Poetry (Manchester 2001).

For further information please contact either Georgina Colby g.colby@westminster or John Beck

The algorithmic heist and narrative control seminar, Oct 30th

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Criminal Programming: The algorithmic heist and narrative control
Hallvard Haug, Birkbeck, University of London

Wednesday 30 October, 4pm
Room 106, University of Westminster,  Wells Street

The heist is a staple of popular crime cinema. Developed to a mature, codified form in the 1950s, the traditional heist film centered on a band of criminals executing a carefully planned crime together, with emphasis on the successful execution of the heist itself. Based on the traditional detective story, early examples in fiction usually had the gentleman thief, such as Arsène Lupin or Raffles, rather than the ensemble. While the genre has been reworked in films such as Reservoir Dogs (1991) and Sexy Beast (2000), moving the focus away from the heist itself, there has been several highly stylised big-budget films in the traditional heist format in the last decade: the Oceans Eleven remake and its sequels (2001-2007), the remake of The Italian Job (2003) and in such recent blockbuster cinema such as Fast Five (2011) and Now You See Me (2013), as well as television series such as Leverage (2008). With roots in the classical detective story, which relies on careful narrative control in order to reveal the mechanics of a crime, one might say that the traditional detective story relied on the common pre-relativistic view of a deterministic universe to legitimise such narrative control. This paper proposes that the contemporary heist movie, while still relying on strict narrative technique and convention, has turned to a modern form of determinism: the control afforded by information and algorithm. To explore this, the paper will compare the original Ocean’s 11 and Italian Job films with their contemporary remakes to explore how programming and algorithms have become colloquial metaphors for controlling outcome.

Black Gold film showing tonight

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Black Gold film showing
Room LA103, University of Westminster, Marylebone, Tues 22 October, 6pm

If you’ve never given much thought to the lives affected each time you choose one brand of coffee over another, allow this handsomely mounted documentary from British filmmakers Marc and Nick Francis to serve as a bracing, double-shot of reality. Focusing exclusively on the coffee-producing regions of Ethiopia — the so-called “birthplace of coffee” — the Francis brothers explore the long and unnecessarily convoluted chain that brings the area’s highly prized coffee beans to the shelves of your supermarket, specialty store or Starbucks. The market prices for coffee are set by buyers and sellers in the financial capitals of New York and London, far from the growers who are most often unaware of the market rate, and at the time of filming, farmers’ profits dropped to a 30-year low: One kilo of beans, which can brew up to 80 cups of $3-a-shot coffee nets the grower less than 23 cents. And yet over the last 15 years, retail sales of coffee have nearly tripled to $80 billion a year with four multinational corporations — Kraft, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee — dominating the market.

Followed by Q&A with the directors.

Staging Science events, Dec 6 and 7 2013

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Hosted by our colleagues in the new Centre for the Study of Science and Imagination, a series of exciting events on Staging Science in December:

Staging Historical and Contemporary Science: A Roundtable
Friday December 6, 2013, 6.30-8.00pm (drinks from 6pm)
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Jim Al-Khalili (Physicist, Science Communicator and Broadcaster)
Tim Boon (Head of Research, Science Museum)
Imran Khan (Chief Executive, British Science Association)
Katrina Nilsson (Head of Contemporary Science, Science Museum)
Jonathan Renouf (Executive Producer, BBC Science Unit)

Staging Science ColloquiumSaturday December 7, 2013, 9.00-6.00pm
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Speakers include: Iwan Morus (Aberystwyth), Daniel Brown (Southampton), Robert Kargon (Johns Hopkins), Jeremy Brooker (Independent Researcher), Tiffany Watt-Smith (Queen Mary), Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford), Jean-Baptiste Gouyon (Science Museum, London), Bernard Lightman (York, Canada), Martin Willis (Westminster)

6.00-7.00pm: Drinks Reception and Book Launch for Jeremy Brooker’s Temple of Minerva (Regent Street Building Foyer)

followed by
A Performance of the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion with Charles Dickens’s ‘The Haunted Man’
Produced, directed and performed by Richard Hand and Geraint D’Arcy (University of South Wales)

There will be 2 performances of the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion – 7.00-7.30 and 7.45-8.15 (The Old Cinema)

Places for all the events that make up Staging Science are limited. Please apply early for each event as below. In your email please make clear which event or events you wish to attend. Many thanks.

To reserve a place at the Roundtable (Friday evening) please contact Rebecca Spear on

To reserve a place at the colloquium (Saturday day), which comes with an invitation to the Pepper’s Ghost performance (Saturday evening), please contact Rebecca Spear on
Please do advise Rebecca if you wish to come to the colloquium but are not able to attend the evening Performance.

To inquire about a place at the Pepper’s Ghost performance only please contact Professor Martin Willis on

For updates on Staging Science connect to SCIMAG’s blog site at:

Reading group at Carroll / Fletcher: Hard Road to Renewal, Nov 12th

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A quick plug for our friends and neighbours at the Carroll/Fletcher Gallery:

Reading Group | Chapter 5: The Hard Road to Renewal with Peter Osborne
Tuesday 12 November, 7:00-9:00pm
Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8EQ
Tickets £5.00, refreshments included

“There is no alternative to making anew the ‘revolution of our times’ or sinking slowly into historical irrelevance.  I believe, with Gramsci, that we must first attend ‘violently’ to things as they are, without illusions or false hopes, if we are to transcend the present. … And from that starting point, begin to construct a possible alternative scenario, an alternative conception of ‘modernity’, an alternative future.”
Stuart Hall, The Hard Road to Renewal, 1988

Chapter 5, led by Professor Peter Osborne, will take as its starting point the introduction and conclusion of Stuart Hall’s 1988 collection of essays The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left.  In the twenty-five years since the publication of The Hard Road to Renewal, a period that included thirteen continuous years of Labour government, how has the Left in Britain (both the Labour party and the non-Labour left) responded to Thatcherism’s ‘authoritarian populism’ and ‘the decisive break with the post-war consensus, the profound reshaping of social life which it has set in motion’?  And does Hall’s analysis of Thatcherism as a ‘hegemonic conception of politics as a war of position’, and his adoption of a ‘discursive conception of ideology’ and, after Ralph Milliband, of a notion of ‘an accelerated process of recomposition’ of class, provide the basis for an ‘alternative conception of modernity, an alternative future’?

Reading material: Please click here to download.

Book here:

Perspectives in Digital Curation roundtable, Nov 7th

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Thursday 7th November 2013, 6.30 – 8.30
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Perspectives in Digital Curation:
Museum and University collaborations in this emerging field of museum practice

The University of Westminster MA Programme in Museums, Galleries and Contemporary Culture and the Johns Hopkins University Master’s Program in Museum Studies cordially invite you to a roundtable discussion, with the participation of Phyllis Hecht, Director of the JHU MA in Museum Studies, which has this autumn launched a Digital Curation program on this certificate program will also contribute to the new professional literature in the field. Further details at:

R.S.V.P. Sharon Sinclair,

Ecocriticism, Genocide and Representation in the wake of the Holocaust seminar, Oct 16

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October 16th 2013
University of Westminster, room 106, Wells Street, London W1T

Jessica Rapson, Kings College London
‘Closely Allied Structures: Ecocriticism, Genocide and Representation in the wake of the Holocaust’

Historical Novel of the Contemporary Symposium

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The Historical Novel of the Contemporary: A Symposium
Tuesday 3rd December, 2-6pm
Carroll / Fletcher Gallery, 56 – 57 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8EQ

Speakers: Emmanuel Bouju (Rennes), David Cunningham (Westminster), John Kraniauskas (Birkbeck), Fiona Price (Chichester), Leigh Wilson (Westminster)

The subject of a revival in recent decades, in both its ‘literary’ and ‘popular’ forms, for Georg Lukács the historical novel was, above all, that which narrated the ‘pre-history of the present’. Discussing authors ranging from Roberto Bolano to David Peace, Hilary Mantel to Wu Ming, this afternoon symposium considers the historiographic and political forms of the historical novel today as it might narrate the pre-history of our own contemporary.