Browning and Close Reading: A Workshop

‘To be compelled to look at a drama through a pair of horn spectacles would be a cheerful pastime compared with the ennui of tracing the course of Sordello through that veil of obscurity which Mr. Browning’s style of composition places between us and his conception’ (The Athenaeum, June 1864).

If you would like to indulge in such a cheerful pastime, please join us for a close reading workshop on Robert Browning’s poetry on Friday 11th December 2015 at the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, Birkbeck, University of London. There will be a session on each of the following four poems: Sordello, ‘Two in the Campagna’, ‘By the Fireside’, and ‘Caliban upon Setebos’. Speakers will offer a short reading of the poem and then open up discussion to the rest of the group. We have three speakers in each session, and the main focus of the day will be close reading as a group. The event will be chaired by Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck), Dr Clara Dawson (University of Manchester) and Dr Ana Vadillo (Birkbeck). Any enquiries can be addressed to

The workshop will take place in the Keynes Library at 46 Gordon Square, Kings Cross, London WC1H 0PD.

Registration will cost £25 to cover the cost of coffee, lunch and room hire and you can register at the following link:

Please register by 3 December to ensure your place.




Sordello: Matt Campbell (University of York)



‘By the Fireside’: Sarah Kremen-Hicks (University of Washington), Britta Martens, (University of the West of England) Andrew Hodgson (Durham University)



‘Caliban upon Setebos’: Jayne Thomas (Cardiff University), John Woolford (Independent scholar), James Williams (University of York)



‘Two in the Campagna’: Martin Dubios (Newcastle University), Suneel Mehmi (University of Westminster), Sophie Ratcliffe (University of Oxford)

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Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, with support from BiGS (Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality), presents:

Room G10, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD, Friday 27th November 5-6.30 pm.


A conversation between Sheree Rose and Martin O’Brien on sexuality, love death, pain and art.

Sheree Rose was born in Los Angeles, CA. She obtained her Master’s degree in psychology in the late 70s, and was extremely involved in political activism and The Women’s Movement. She received a second Masters Degree in Studio Art from UCI. Rose and Bob Flanagan met at a Halloween party in 1980 and began collaborating in life and on artwork. Together they explored issues of pain/pleasure, illness and death though profound works involving sadomasochism. They performed and exhibited throughout the world over a 16-year period and became one of the most significant performance art collaborations in history. Flanagan died of cystic fibrosis in 1996. Since Flanagan’s death, she has exhibited new work ‘Bobaloon’ in Tokyo, Japan, as well as other works at The Tate in London. She created a performance piece entitled ‘Nailed Again’ at Arizona State University and Galapagos in New York. Rose continues to explore and collaborate with performance artists, particularly with the UK based artist Martin O’Brien with whom she has made several pieces of work in London and LA.

Martin O’Brien has been commissioned and funded by the Live Art Development Agency, Arts Council England, Arts Catalyst, Midlands Art Centre, and the British Council. He has presented work throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. He has often collaborated with the legendary performance artist Sheree Rose. He was artist in residence at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, LA, in 2015. He curated the groundbreaking symposium ‘Illness and the Enduring Body’ in 2012. Martin received a PhD from the University of Reading and his work has received critical attention in publications such as Contemporary Theatre Review and the book ‘Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability’. He co-edited, with Gianna  Bouchard, a new edition of the journal Performance Research ‘On Medicine’ and is a lecturer at Queen Mary’s University of London.

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How Should Faith Communities Respond to Violence? – 25 November 2015

How Should Faith Communities Respond to Violence?

The Woolf Institute is holding an open seminar with Lord Rowan Williams, Dr Atif Imtiaz and Dr Ed Kessler on how faith communities should respond to violence.

There are significant concerns among all faith communities and the Cambridge Theological Federation, Cambridge Muslim College and the Woolf Institute are delighted to facilitate a much needed discussion.

The session will be chaired by Sughra Ahmed, Programmes Manager at the Woolf Institute and Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College will open the event.

The talk is open to all and will be held on

Wednesday 25 November 2015

1pm – 2pm

Healey Room, Westminster College

For further information contact:

Claire Curran,

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History and Theory of Photography Research Centre – Forthcoming Events 2015-16

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre – Forthcoming Events

Free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Friday 27 November 2015 – 6-7:30

Room 112

Thomas Galifot (Musèe d’Orsay)

About (Some) Women Photographers 1839-1919

Detail from Julia Margaret Cameron Mrs Herbert Duckworth April 12, 1867 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Relying on the histories of photography that have been re-evaluating, over the last forty years, women’s role in the development of the medium, the exhibition now on view at the musée de l’Orangerie is the first, in France, to approach the first eighty years of this phenomenon. Based on new research, it is also the first extensive study of French women photographers of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries. Forgotten or unknown talents are brought to the light of the exhibition walls next to their counterparts from Britain, where amateur and professional women’s camera work attained unparalleled levels of achievement and variety. This talk will give some keys to understand the disparities in the development of women’s photography in the different countries. It will also highlight previously unpublished or little-known photographs that help appreciate how a practice that has long borne the hall-mark of femininity actually revealed itself to be a potential vehicle for subversion and emancipation.

Tuesday 26 January 2016 – 6-8

Marta Weiss (Victoria and Albert Museum)

Julia Margaret Cameron: New Discoveries

Responding: Colin Ford (Founding Head, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television [now National Media Museum] Bradford)

Wednesday 17 February 2016 – 6-7:30

Linda Mulcahy (London School of Economics)

Docile Suffragettes? Resistance to Police Photography

Wednesday 9 March 2016 – 6-7:30

Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University & Birkbeck Institute for Humanities Visiting Fellow)

Picturing Modernization: Vision, Modernity and the Technological Image in Humphrey Jenning’s Pandaemonium

Saturday 2 July 2016 times and location TBC


Law and Photography

In collaboration with London School of Economics

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Tate Britain Conference 1790-present day: 25 and 26 November 2015

Dr Emily Senior (English and Humanities) and Sarah Thomas (History of Art) would like to invite you to a conference next week on Artist and Empire next week at Tate Britain.

The conference may be of interest to research students working on

  • colonialism
  • postcolonialism
  • visual culture
  • related fields

It covers the period 1790-the present day. At short notice we have some free student tickets available and would like to invite you on a first come first served basis to take these up.

If you would like to attend the conference, the main two days of which are next week 25 and 26 November, please email the conference administrator Jessica Knights stating your Birkbeck affiliation and mentioning this invitation.

She will then let you know if there are still spare free student tickets.

Please email asap if you’re interested.

The conference web page is below.

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Sensory Modernism 2, University of Leeds, 11th December 2015 – Registration now open!

The Sensory Modernism(s) Research Group (University of Leeds)

SM2, University of Leeds, December 11-12 2015 – [Registration now open!]

Sensory Modernism(s)#2 is a two-day interdisciplinary conference due to be held at the University of Leeds. The event, organised by the university’s Sensory Modernism(s) research group, follows the highly successful inaugural conference event held earlier this year.

The conference will seek to address the interrelationship of modernism with sensory perception. We will begin at 10am and run until approximately 6.45pm on both days of the conference. The conference will be held in the Alumni Room of the School of English. The event will be signposted but please use our campus map to help guide you:

You can register for the conference by following this link:

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The Raphael Samuel Memorial Lecture 2015: 10th December 2015

Raphael Samuel (1934-1996)

Thursday 10 December 2015

6.30 pm (wine reception to follow)

Free of charge, no booking required, everyone welcome.

Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck, University of London, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

Professor Sally Alexander (Emeritus Professor of Modern History, Goldsmiths University of London; founding editor, History Workshop Journal)

‘Social democracy’s super-ego? The politics of motherhood in mid-20thc Britain’

Questions of human nature were vital to the reconstruction of liberal nations in the aftermath of world war.   Stable democratic institutions – bulwarks against totalitarian states of mind and government – depended on understanding how mental life begins, where violence comes from, what is the basis of ethical belief?  Psychoanalysis, a new social science, listening to patients’ fears and anxieties made the super-ego – the inner voice of conscience – the conduit between inner and outside worlds.   Freud’s severe paternal super-ego was challenged in the 1920s.  Child analysts uncovered unconscious fantasies of maternal body and feeling in the first weeks of life.  Feminists, post-suffrage, dug deep into the psyche too.  Demands for both equality and recognition of mothers as independent citizens unsettled liberal and social democratic blueprints for the future.  Britain’s welfare state introduced by Clement Attlee’s two Labour Governments (1945-51), made family life its ethical foundation – meeting an exhausted people’s longing for private life again.

When sixties feminists rebelled against motherhood as destiny, confinement to the home and mothers’ responsibility for the mental health of future generations, the political context of the postwar settlement and with it the darker side of the maternal unconscious was buried in the Cold War.  Donald Winnicott, paediatrician and psychoanalyst,  whose ‘good enough’ homes and mothers was broadcast into every kitchen in the land during the forties and fifties, had warned that the repressed mother of unconscious fantasy, if unthought through, laid the foundations of rigid  -‘totalitarian ‘ – states of mind.   This lecture will revisit the politics of motherhood in feminist demand and unconscious feeling as they were understood at the time.

For more information email<>

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Public Launch of the Social Art Map: 2nd December 2015

Public Launch of the Social Art Map

Wednesday, 2 December, 2015, 6-8pm
Keynes Library, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Free, RSVP to and for more info go here.

The Social Art Map acts as a starting point and resource for people interested in social art practice, including those engaged in producing, commissioning, curating, collaborating and participating. The map was created by Dr Sophie Hope in partnership with Emily Druiff (Peckham Platform) supported by funding from Creativeworks London and maps the commissioning processes of ‘social art practices’ across five different organisations in London including: AIR, CREATE London, Chisenhale Gallery, Peckham Platform and The Showroom.

For more on Sophie’s research reflections go here.

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Off track? Alternative Media and Radical Failure Today: 28th November 2015

Off track? Alternative Media and Radical Failure Today

Saturday 28 November, 2015, 2-5pm (arrive from 1.30pm, starts at 2pm)
Keynes Library, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Free, for more info and to RSVP go here.

Three decades since the publication of ‘What a way to run a railroad: An analysis of radical failure’ in 1985, this discussion event asks what internal and external factors face alternative and radical media today? Contributors include: Hilary Wainwright, Kam Sandhu, Derek Richards and Tim Markham. Organised in collaboration with Herbert Pimlott.

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Free Tickets – Bunuel Retrospective

Hopefully you will have heard about the current CHASE collaboration with The ICA on the currently running Luis Bunuel retrospective:

As part of the collaboration, CHASE has been allocated 8 free tickets for each of the following events:

Please could I ask you to publicise the availability of these tickets to students and staff at your institutions. Tickets are available on a first come first served basis by emailing

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