Call For Papers: Waste: A Symposium
Apr10

Call For Papers: Waste: A Symposium

CFP: Waste: A Symposium, Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion Birkbeck, University of London, 21 September 2017 A one-day event to be held at Birkbeck College, University of London, on 21 September 2017.   Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Esther Leslie (Birkbeck, University of London) Dr Leo Mellor (University of Cambridge) Dr Rachele Dini (UCL / University of Cambridge) This one-day interdisciplinary event will make visible the untold story of waste by exploring its representations, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Through an investigation of waste’s presence (or lack thereof) within modern life, this conference will disrupt the entrenched value judgements surrounding objects, places and people otherwise deemed redundant. By exploring how we create, classify and treat waste material this discussion will simultaneously review and challenge the ethics of human waste(-ing); the marginalisation of populations rendered disposable within a globalised socio-economic framework. Calling on related discourses from the arts, social sciences, medical humanities and beyond, this symposium will bring together a diverse mix of academics, artists and industry experts to share insights on a (waste) matter that impacts and implicates us all. The event will be free to attend, with lunch and refreshments provided on the day and a drinks reception for attendees and speakers in the evening.   Call for papers (deadline 1 May 2017): Proposals are invited for twenty minute papers which will be presented in panels of three. Abstracts of up to 500 words should be submitted to: wasteconference2017.mailbox@bbk.ac.uk by the 1st of May 2017. Please also include a short bio (no more than 150 words), contact details, and any institutional or industry affiliation. Possible paper topics include (but are not limited to) the following: Pollution and toxicity (e.g. physical / metaphorical, environmental, social) Junk, dirt and rubbish (e.g. the abject, hygiene, creation of) Decomposition and decay (e.g. illness, corpses, physical ‘wasting’) The temporality of waste (e.g. ‘wasting time’, ageing and depletion) The geography of waste (e.g. LULUs, derelict spaces, wastelands) Literatures of waste (e.g. fiction about waste, recycling, printing) Human waste / Wasted humans (e.g. bodily matter, biopolitics of disposability) Petrocultures and industrial waste (e.g. extraction, environmental damage of) Economies of waste (e.g. commodification, the cost of waste, disposal industries) Following the conference, there will be the opportunity to submit papers for a Special Collection in the journal Open Library of Humanities (8,000 words, peer reviewed) and Alluvium Journal (2,000 words, non-peer reviewed).     Featured image by Alan Levine under a CC BY...

Read More
Caroline Edwards on Kim Stanley Robinson and Francis Spufford in conversation with Adam Roberts, 3 April 2017
Apr05

Caroline Edwards on Kim Stanley Robinson and Francis Spufford in conversation with Adam Roberts, 3 April 2017

This review by the CCL's Dr Caroline Edwards originally appeared on the Birkbeck Department of English and Humanities staff blog (click here to view the original post). A recent author event at Waterstones Piccadilly (Europe’s largest bookshop apparently) surpassed my expectations for the kinds of awkward conversations you often experience at meet-the-author readings. The first reason for this was obvious: the moderator of the conversation was Adam Roberts who is not only a renowned science fiction (SF) author and academic professor but also – and I speak from direct experience here (Roberts has participated in several events at Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Literature) – a gifted comedian when it comes to live performances and always entertaining in person. The second reason was a fact of which I was unaware: that Spufford and Robinson appeared to be friends and exuded an easy camaraderie as well as an unlikely set of shared interests. I say unlikely because, on paper at least, the two authors appear very different. Spufford’s Golden Hill (2016) is published with Faber & Faber, well known for its high literary credentials having introduced writers like T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and Sylvia Plath to readers. Robinson’s New York 2140 (2016) is published with Orbit, a publisher that specialises in science fiction and fantasy titles, known for publishing SF heavyweights such as Iain M. Banks, Ken Macleod and Charles Stross, as well as acclaimed fantasy authors such as Trudi Canavan and Laurell K. Hamilton. Furthermore, Spufford’s new novel is a work of historical fiction set in mid-eighteenth-century Manhattan when the city was a settlement of just 7,000 British and Dutch traders. Although Robinson’s novel is set in the same city it takes place some 400 years in the future in a speculative twenty-second-century New York, as the metropolis sinks beneath the rising sea levels caused by global warming. What took place during this conversation was, to my mind at least, a fascinating insight into some of contemporary literature’s most pertinent questions concerning genre, setting, historical representation, and our ideas about lived time, or temporality. Roberts invited the two authors to consider their respective novelistic genres – the historical novel and science fiction – and to what extent each form invites the reader’s participation in worldbuilding. Both Spufford and Robinson agreed that the empirical world of the reader can be rendered less certain and more provisional through these two very different novelistic genres. Of course this is a well-known fact about science fiction – that the speculative futures it imagines serve as a mirror for the reader’s (and the author’s) present, inviting a critical reflection upon the kinds of...

Read More
He Doesn’t Talk Politics Anymore
Mar31

He Doesn’t Talk Politics Anymore

Thursday 18th May 2017 6pm-7.25pm B04, 43 Gordon Square How does fiction imagine worlds different from the one we know? Can works of fiction foster political change in the world beyond the book? Professor Martin Paul Eve, author of Pynchon and Philosophy (2014) and Literature Against Criticism (2017), explores these issues in a lecture, followed by Q&A and responses from Dr Joseph Brooker and Dr Catherine Flay (Birkbeck). This event forms part of Arts Week 2017. To book a free place at this event, click here.   Image from Barack Obama, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0...

Read More
Will 2017 be 1984?
Mar31

Will 2017 be 1984?

Wednesday 17th May 2017 6-7:25pm G01, 43 Gordon Square George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eight-Four (1949) was conceived as a warning, not a prophecy. But are we now in Orwell’s dystopia? Decide with our panel of experts from Birkbeck’s Departments of Politics and of English & Humanities, who will reexamine Orwell's novel and its meaning in the brave new world of 2017. Speakers include Dr Ben Worthy and Dr Caroline Edwards of the Centre for Contemporary Literature. This event forms part of Arts Week 2017. To book your free place at this event, click here.     Image by Jason Llagan, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0...

Read More
The Contemporary: an exhibition
Mar31

The Contemporary: an exhibition

Tuesday 16th May 2017 6-8pm G03, 43 Gordon Square What does the contemporary mean today? This special exhibition uses creative work to reflect upon this question, and the definition of the contemporary in life and culture. Join students from Birkbeck’s MA Contemporary Literature and Culture to interact with art, film, and artefacts exploring these issues. This event forms part of Arts Week 2017 at Birkbeck. To book your free place at this event, please click here.   Image by...

Read More
What Goes Around: Fifty Years of The Third Policeman
Mar31

What Goes Around: Fifty Years of The Third Policeman

Tuesday 16th May 2017 6-7:25pm Waterstone's, Gower Street 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Flann O’Brien’s remarkable novel The Third Policeman. This workshop explores the bizarre landscape and weird science of Flann O'Brien's masterpiece, and considers its significance in Irish and world literary history. The workshop, which forms part of Arts Week 2017, will be led by Tobias Harris, a postgraduate researcher into Flann O'Brien's work who is based in the Department of English & Humanities at Birkbeck. To book your free place at this event, click here.   Image by Keira Morgan, used under a CC BY-NC...

Read More