Transitions 8
Oct04

Transitions 8

Saturday 10th November 2018 Main Building, Malet Street Birkbeck, University of London The Centre for Contemporary Literature is delighted to announce the programme for Transitions 8: our eighth symposium dedicated to comics and graphic narrative. Details follow. They can all be viewed as a PDF here. * Transitions was originally conceived and launched by Tony Venezia in 2010, while writing his PhD at Birkbeck. The symposium  is organised with support from the Centre for Contemporary Literature and the Department of English and Humanities. Since 2010, Transitions has become an important fixture in the landscape of UK comics studies, and increasingly also attracts participants from further afield. Our aim has been to maintain the spirit of inclusivity and support for emerging research that informed the original ethos of this event. After a brief absence in 2017, the current team: Hallvard Haug (Birkbeck), Nina Mickwitz (University of the Arts London) and John Miers (Kingston) are pleased to welcome you to Transitions 8. We are also delighted to welcome Dr. Maggie Gray (Kingston), author of Alan Moore, Out from the Underground: Cartooning, Performance and Dissent (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) as this year’s keynote speaker. You will need to make your own arrangements for refreshments and food during the day, but beyond the coffee shop just inside the Torrington Square entrance to the building, there are also various shops and cafes in the close vicinity of Birkbeck. Thanks to the generosity of the Centre for Contemporary Literature there will be a small wine reception at the end of the day, as per tradition. This event is free of charge and open to all, but in order to gauge numbers we ask that you register your attendance in advance, using this link at EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/transitions-8-new-directions-in-comics-studiestickets-50783275143 TRANSITIONS 8 PROGRAMME 9.30 – 10.00 Registration 10.00 – 10.20 (B20) Brief Welcomes Joe Brooker and Hallvard Haug (Birkbeck) 10.20 -11.20 Keynote by Dr. Maggie Gray (Kingston) + Q&A. Chair: John Miers. Break 10 minutes 11.30am – 1.00pm PANELS 1A AND 1B 1A Speculative fictions (532) Chair: Joe Sutliff Sanders Barbara Chamberlin (University of Brighton): ‘What Lurks Beneath: the spectral reader and the witch in comics’ Kevin Hoffin (Birmingham City University): ‘Magick as Transgression through DC/Vertigo’s “John Constantine”: An ultra-realist approach to the discussion of comics as cultural criminology’ Corinna Lenhardt (University of Münster): ‘The Final Frontier: Futurism and survivance in Indigenous sci-fi comic book stories’ 1B Maternity and comics (B20) Chair: Nicola Streeten Roundtable discussion convened by Sarah Lightman (Birkbeck). Speakers to include: Camille Aubry (Toddler Moments, A Journey to Motherhood); Francesca Cassaveti (The Most Natural Thing In The World); Dr Isabel Davis (Birkbeck) and Anna Burel (Conceiving Histories); Dr Hattie...

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Sublime Cognition
Sep08

Sublime Cognition

Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction & Metaphysics Friday 14th – Saturday 15th September 2018 School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square The Centre for Contemporary Literature is glad to be supporting the London Science Fiction Research Community’s Sublime Cognition conference, taking place 14–15 September at 43 Gordon Square, London. The conference will explore science fiction’s lost history of engagement with the mythical, magical and mystical, via papers and discussion panels featuring nearly 40 speakers. There will be keynote addresses from Roger Luckhurst and Helen De Cruz, and a roundtable discussion featuring SF authors Jeff Noon, Justina Robson and Fiona Moore. The programme is now available for viewing here. Please go here to register. What follows is a fuller description of the conference theme and programme. * Many SF critics have understood science fiction to be specifically guided by a rational empiricist epistemology, and have thus disregarded the important presence of magical, religious, spiritual and metaphysical phenomena in science fiction. Deploying the broad catch-all of ‘metaphysics’, this conference will explore SF’s lost history of engagement with the mythical and mystical. Central areas of focus will include an assessment of what role (if any) metaphysical phenomena have played in science fiction, and to what degree SF can be distanced from the spiritual, supernatural and numinous concerns of other literatures of the fantastic. Assessing SF’s complex relationship with the metaphysical opens into many other productive areas of inquiry as well: How can science fictional texts help us understand broader cultural processes of knowledge formation and paradigm shift? To what degree does SF act as a protected space for ideas that have been proposed within empiricist frameworks, but disproved and/or rejected by established scientific networks? In what way have references to religious cultures and institutions been used to reinforce or undermine normative gender roles in SF texts? How do treatments of metaphysical phenomena in Western SF differ from those which originate in other areas of the globe? How important are the symbols, tropes and imagery of an array of global religious traditions to the quality of enchantment that is as vital to SF as any other fantastic genre? The conference will feature keynote addresses by Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck) and Helen de Cruz (Oxford Brookes), as well as a roundtable with authors Justina Robson, Jeff Noon and Fiona Moore (Royal Holloway), moderated by Jim Clarke (Coventry) Conference Organisers: Rhodri Davies (PhD, Birkbeck), Aren Roukema (PhD, Birkbeck), Francis Gene-Rowe (PhD, Royal Holloway) Schedule: Friday 14th September 9.30 – 10.00 Registration 10.00 – 10.15 Conference Introduction 10.15 – 11.15 Keynote 1 (Roger Luckhurst) 11.15 – 11.30 Break 11.30 – 12.30 Parallel Panels 1 12.30 – 13.30 Lunch 13.30 – 14.30 Parallel Panels 2 14.30 – 15.30 Parallel Panels 3 15.30 –...

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Call For Papers: Transitions 8
Jul09

Call For Papers: Transitions 8

CALL FOR PAPERS: TRANSITIONS 8 – new directions in comics studies 2018 Birkbeck, University of London Saturday 10th November 2018 After a year’s hiatus we are delighted to announce this call for papers for the interdisciplinary Transitions 2018 symposium. Originally convened by PhD students in 2010, Transitions at Birkbeck is a platform for emerging research that is free to attend and participate in. This event is focused towards postgraduate and early career speakers, and usually draws a diverse crowd of both new and more established researchers, as well as creators, aficionados and other interested parties. Our aim is to build connections between comics scholars working in diverse academic departments and contexts, to provide a platform for productive debate, and to create a space from which further collaborations can emerge. Keynote speaker: Dr Maggie Gray (Kingston University, London), author of Alan Moore, Out from the Underground: Cartooning, Performance, and Dissent (Palgrave 2017) Respondent: Professor Roger Sabin (University of the Arts London) Rather than adopting a narrow theme, the shape and identity of the programme will emerge from the submitted papers. We thus welcome abstracts for 20-minute papers, or pre-constituted panels of three, on topics including (but not limited to): Comics, comix, comic strips, graphic novels, manga, manhwa, bande dessinée Superheroes, adventure, war, horror, fantasy, crime, romance, humour & other genres; documentary/historical/journalistic comics, autobiographical/biographical modes , graphic medicine Politics of representation in comics, formal approaches, transgressive comics, educational and didactic comics, comics for young adults & children Readers and fandoms, creators, comics & the law, publishing histories, web-comics & comics exhibitions, transnational circulation, political economy of comics You can apply by email to  transitionssymposium@gmail.com. Please attach your abstract of 250-300 words plus a short biographical note (preferably as a Word document), indicating ‘abstract’ in the email subject line and your name in the file’s title. The deadline for submissions is Friday August 24th 2018. We aim to notify applicants by Monday September 17th. With best wishes, The Transition Team   Image from Terry McCombs, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0...

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Landscapes of Culture
May30

Landscapes of Culture

by Colm McAuliffe Perhaps everybody does love Raymond (Williams), cultural theorist, border-crossing Welshman, television critic, elegant pipe smoker. A special event during Birkbeck's Arts Week 2018, Landscapes of Culture: Raymond Williams Thirty Years On, depicted Williams across three separate television landscapes traversing 1970, 1979 and 1988, through the Welsh borders of his home, the class upheaval of Cambridge where he taught, and the country house of Tatton Hall, to its natural finale: a strangely lit television studio where his legacy was discussed by an ideologically unusual array of politicians, academics and writers. These three documentaries – rarely seen since their original terrestrial broadcasts – formed part of the London-wide archive television season Radical Broadcasts: Theory On TV, which I have curated with Dr Matthew Harle, an Associate Research Fellow of Birkbeck’s School of Arts. Our intention with this season was not simply to provide a series of snug, nostalgic broadcasts of complex ideas on vintage television but to open up questions around the role of public intellectuals and public service broadcasting: why did the commissioners at the BBC deem it important to give televisual space to such complex interlocutors of theory and criticism? And what could it actually mean to consume television during this period when your viewing options could be limited to a documentary on the meaning of culture in society or Match of the Day? Landscapes of Culture was the final screening in our inaugural run of Radical Broadcasts screenings. Our decision to host this at Birkbeck Arts Week was crucial – we were conscious of the enthusiasm for his work across the Department of English and Humanities (and beyond), verified by the sell-out nature of the screening. However, selling-out is a charge one could never level at Williams. His laconic and uncompromising mannerisms, often embellished by a series of astonishingly beige, to the point of almost anti-colour, turtlenecks, made Williams a reassuring and compelling television presence. In Border Country (1970), we witness Williams debating and walking these landscapes of culture with a pre-fame Dennis Potter acting as the effervescent postulant, with Williams the avuncular cultural confidant. We later catch Williams in a domestic setting, briefly setting down to type at his rather insular desk before stepping away to awkwardly recline and face the camera in his leather swivel chair, a strangely modish item amongst his sparse living room; indeed, one could never question Williams’ commitment to both aesthetic and domestic realism. The Country and the City (1979), helmed by the acclaimed television director Mike Dibb (who worked wonders on John Berger’s Ways of Seeing BBC series earlier in the decade), was a more stylish and dramatic depiction of...

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Gaelic Hardship
May29

Gaelic Hardship

Certainly, I suffered Gaelic hardship throughout my life – distress, need, ill-treatment, adversity, calamity, foul play, misery, famine and ill-luck. As part of Birkbeck's Arts Week 2018, the Centre for Contemporary Literature supported an event that completed a trilogy of annual workshops on the brilliant first three novels by the Irish writer Flann O'Brien. Gaelic Hardship explored his third novel An Béal Bocht, written in Irish in 1941 and published under the name Myles na gCopaleen – which was the pen-name that Brian O'Nolan, the creator of 'Flann O'Brien', had adopted as a newspaper columnist. O'Nolan (1911-1966) refused to permit an English translation of the novel during his lifetime, just as he refused to countenance a second attempt to publish his rejected manuscript Third Policeman (written in 1940 and the subject of last year's workshop). Yet just as that novel was published a year after his death, so too in 1973 an English translation of An Béal Bocht appeared, as The Hard Life, translated by Patrick C. Power. It is in this form that this slim volume has become known to the largest number of readers, though there are still calls for a new translation and suggestions that Power's version omits important aspects of the original. Given the linguistic complexities involved, organizers Joseph Brooker and Tobias Harris (Birkbeck) this time enlisted the expertise of Eoin Byrne, who is working at the University of Galway on a project about bilingual writers including Samuel Beckett as well as Brian O'Nolan. After our introductions to the area and to O'Nolan's career trajectory, Eoin offered an incisive account of key issues around this novel, including the state of Irish-language publishing in the early 1940s and the 'Gaeligores' or Irish-language enthusiasts satirized in the novel. With members of the audience joining in discussion, the workshop was then enriched by readings of particular passages: Hugh Wilde recited an early passage where the English-speaking schoolmaster beats the protagonist's Irish name out of him, and N.J. Harris read the close of the novel, where poignancy seemed to take over from comedy. In the meantime we also looked at Myles na gCopaleen's satiric portrayal of a Gaelic festival at which numerous local Gaels die of rain, starvation, drink or exhaustion from excess of Gaelic dancing; Eoin read the passage aloud in Irish. An Béal Bocht / The Poor Mouth has perhaps been overshadowed by its brilliant precursors At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, but this workshop placed it centre stage, reminding us of the ferocity of its irony and the sense that – as Eoin finally put it, deliberately echoing Richard Ellmann's words about James Joyce – we are still learning to be its contemporaries. A report on the event, by audience member, Charlotte Deadman, has...

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The Economic Sublime
May10

The Economic Sublime

10th May 2018 G04, 43 Gordon Square As part of the Bloomsbury Lecture Series, we are glad to present Dr Chris Pak's lecture: "The Economic Sublime!": Utopia and Dystopia in Three Contemporary Science Fiction Novels. Contemporary science fiction novels engaging with utopia and dystopia focus their narratives on the social implications of economic and political choices made in response to, or in spite of, knowledge of the Anthropocene. Paolo Bacigalupi's The Water Knife (2015), Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 (2017) and Cory Doctorow's Walkaway (2017) in particular use utopian structures and themes to portray and critique the economic, social and political trajectories implied by trends seen today. This talk asks how utopia and dystopia are configured in these three works of contemporary science fiction: whether they function as a form of critique, as a warning, or as experimental space for reflection on alternatives to contemporary socio-economic arrangements. Dr Chris Pak is the author of Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction, published by Liverpool University Press in 2016. He edited the Science Fiction Research Association's SFRA Review from 2014–2018 and is the current sub-editor of the Medical Humanities blog. Dr Pak's previous appointments include the Leverhulme-funded corpus linguistic project ‘“People,” “Products,” “Pests” and “Pets”: The Discursive Representation of Animals’ at Lancaster University from 2013–2016, and the Volkswagen Foundation-funded digital humanities project ‘Modelling Between Digital and Humanities: Thinking in Practice’ at King’s Digital Lab from 2017–2018.   Image by dnlspnk, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0...

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