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...

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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...

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Call for Papers: Organic Systems
Mar30

Call for Papers: Organic Systems

Organic Systems: Environments, Bodies and Cultures in Science Fiction A one day conference organised by the London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC) 16 September 2017 Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck School of Arts, London WC1H 0PD Deadline for Proposals: 31st May 2017 Though often understood in ecological terms, the word ‘environment’ can also be viewed more widely as the surroundings and conditions of a specific system—whether they be mechanical, biological, social or chemical. Culture arises from and then informs these systems, becoming itself a further component of environments. Science fictional texts have explored the interactions between culture, environments and bodies on a wide spectrum of scale: from the level of a planetary biosphere or climate system (e.g. terraforming) to a single body or organ (e.g. genetic engineering). This conference will gather Science Fiction researchers, critics, authors and readers together to discuss intersections between cultural and organic systems in all forms of SF media. Potential topics for presentation include, but are not limited to: ·        Interactions between culture, ecosystems and organisms; ·        Rhetorics, stylistics and tropes common to ecological SF; ·        Ecological SF’s relationship to its context of production; ·        Living worlds (e.g. the Gaia hypothesis); ·        Analogical connections between smaller bodies (e.g. humans) and larger (e.g. cities, planets, universes); ·        Environmental utopian and dystopian themes; ·        The technological versus the natural in environmental systems; ·        The relationship between socio-political systems and the environment; ·        The impact of radically altered bodies and conceptions of the body on culture, and vice versa; ·        The aesthetic and conceptual significance of modes and subcategories such as Biopunk and Ribofunk; ·        Interrelations between posthuman theories and texts and different types of technological and environmental change; ·        Transhumanism, both as a movement and an ideology; ·        Connections between SF media and the geohumanities. The conference will also feature a keynote session with environmental humanities researcher Chris Pak, author and researcher Adam Roberts, award-winning SF author Paul McAuley and award-winning SF and fantasy author Gwyneth Jones. Conference organizers: Francis Gene-Rowe (PhD, Royal Holloway, University of London), Rhodri Davies (PhD, Birkbeck, University of London), Aren Roukema (PhD, Birkbeck, University of London). This conference is supported by the Centre for Contemporary Literature, Birkbeck, and the Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London. Submit abstracts of up to 300 words for 20-minute papers by 31st May 2017 to: londonsfsymposium@gmail.com. Please include a brief biography of no more than 100 words. Applicants will receive a response by 1st July. For a PDF of the call for papers click here. Image: Hermetic Island by Tristram Lansdowne: watercolour on paper, 34 x 43 inches,...

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Call For Papers: Child Be Strange
Jan25

Call For Papers: Child Be Strange

Child Be Strange: A Symposium on Penda's Fen 10 June 2017 10am–5pm, with a public screening at 6:20pm Venue: NFT3, BFI Southbank, London Featuring a Q&A with screenwriter David Rudkin Including contributions from: Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck), Yvonne Salmon (Cambridge University), Will Fowler (BFI), Gareth Evans (Whitechapel Gallery), and more tbc. The Centre for Contemporary Literature is glad to support Child be Strange, a one-day symposium on the TV series Penda’s Fen, organized in partnership with the British Film Institute, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, and Strange Attractor Press. Proposals are now invited for papers at this conference. When Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen was first broadcast in 1974 as a BBC Play for Today, The Times commented that it was a “major work of television” and praised David Rudkin’s writing for its “beauty, imagination and depth.” Including the film in its 2011 selection of the best 100 British films, Time Out magazine described Penda's Fen as a “multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines.” It has since been recognized as an extraordinary contribution to 1970s counter-cultural investigations of alternative ‘pagan’ histories of landscape, myth, theology and psyche at a crucial transitional moment in post-war Britain. The film vanished into unseen cult status, but after decades of unavailability the BFI has released Penda’s Fen on Blu-ray and DVD. This one-day symposium seeks to bring together academics, writers, and artists from across different fields to excavate this weird and wonderful cultural artefact. Suggested topics for papers might include but are not limited to Penda’s Fen and: History – Folklore & Folk Horror – Politics, Nationalism & Romanticism – Music – Genre – Gender – David Rudkin – Television studies – Theology, Paganism & Occulture – Queer studies – Ecocriticism – Landscape and Place Conference organisers Matthew Harle (BFI/Barbican) and James Machin (Birkbeck) invite abstracts of 350 words for 20-minute papers; please submit along with a short biographical note by 1st March 2017 to childbestrangeconference@gmail.com. Strange Attractor Press will be producing a critical anthology of writing on Penda’s Fen, edited by the conference organizers, which will include outcomes from the conference.     Image by … …, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0...

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First Contact
Jan12

First Contact

The ‘First Contact’ Research Cluster First Contact is a group of researchers at Birkbeck College in the School of Arts, both faculty and students. Our work is focused on science fiction, weird fiction and ‘slipstream’ literature, but investigates the implications of technocultural transformation in modern narrative through a wide diversity of forms that include literature, film, comics, photography, art, and cultural history. We meet informally as a support group for our individual projects and to explore the potential for collaboration. We meet formally through Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Literature, but like to think we are slowly corrupting its DNA to produce new kinds of hybrid monsters. Our ambition is to set up a series of Futurological Congresses to explore a number of inter-related SFnal themes. Since we are all committed to the idea that this fiction is good to think with, we envisage First Contact as a think tank dedicated to wrestling the future back from apocalyptic forces intent on cancelling it.   Recent publication highlights: Martin Eve, Password (Bloomsbury, 2016) H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, edited by Roger Luckhurst (Oxford World’s Classics, 2017)   Faculty includes: Heike Bauer teaches on 21st century feminism and fiction and writes on graphic narratives, co-editing special issues of Studies in Comics and Journal of Lesbian Studies. Mark Blacklock teaches Science Fiction at Birkbeck and convenes the MA in Cultural and Critical Studies. His first monograph, The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017, investigates the roots of the science-fictional idea of higher-dimensional space, reading its imaginative forms in work by H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft. He has recently published articles on Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and New Horror Theories and is planning a research project into science-fictional languages. Dr Blacklock is also a novelist and writer for the national press. Joseph Brooker is Reader in Modern Literature at Birkbeck: author of books on Irish modernism and on British writers of the 1980s, he is now writing a book centred around the US novelist Jonathan Lethem which explores questions of genre hybridity, the relations of SF to mainstream fiction and other genres, and new connections between contemporary writing and literary history. Caroline Edwards is completing a book about time in contemporary fiction. She is co-editor with Tony Venezia of China Miéville: Critical Essays (Gylphi, 2015). An expert on dystopian and utopian narratives, she is often invited to discuss these topics in public forums and national media. Dr Edwards is currently co-editing a Special Collection on ‘Powering the Future: Energy Resources in Science Fiction and Fantasy’ with Graeme Macdonald for the Open Library of Humanities. Martin Eve specialises in...

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Bloomsbury Research Lectures
Oct28

Bloomsbury Research Lectures

During the Autumn Term 2016, the School of Arts will host two Bloomsbury Research Lectures on topics related to contemporary literature. Thursday 17th November 2016 7:40pm-9pm Julia Bell (Birkbeck), ‘The Territory of the Strange Room’ How does a writer find and define their territory? Before this lecture, please read Damon Galgut’s short 'novel' In A Strange Room and Zadie Smith’s Essay ‘Fail Better’. Thursday 1st December 2016 6:00-7:30pm Agnes Woolley (RHUL), Literature, Law and the 'Asylum Story' In a moment of anxiety over the meaning and scope of citizenship comparable to that of the post-War period – and facing a ‘refugee crisis’ of similar scale – an investigation of the means by which asylum protection is constituted by and enacted through narrative forms is long overdue. The entanglement of literary and legal technologies in the asylum decision-making process as it operates today in legal, advocacy and creative circles, excludes asylum seekers from incorporation as rights-bearing individuals if they do not conform to a particular narrative of persecution. This paper will analyse the procedural characteristics of the asylum decision-making process, which produces what I call the ‘asylum story’: an idealized version of refugeehood on which the civic incorporation of the asylum seeker depends and which circulates in a narrative economy that sets the terms for the enunciation of refugee experience. It considers how the notion of a discoverable truth has inflected literary engagements with asylum, which are beset by the same anxieties around veracity and authenticity endemic to the legal process of decision-making on asylum. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story ‘The American Embassy’ from her 2009 collection The Thing Around Your Neck offers an insight into the narrative instabilities of the asylum determination process, highlighting the ways in which those international institutions designed to protect human rights continue to be deeply implicated in regimes of truth which regulate upon whom they may be conferred. Dr Agnes Woolley is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research interests are in contemporary and postcolonial literature, theatre and film, with a focus on concepts of migration and diaspora. She is the author of Contemporary Asylum Narratives: Representing Refugees in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and has published extensively on asylum, climate change and contemporary literature. She is also Chair of a London drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees and a regular contributor to openDemocracy, reporting on migration issues.   The Bloomsbury Research lectures are organized by Dr Ana Parejo Vadillo.  ...

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