Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture: ‘Are we not both human beings?’ Professor Anne Phillips, 10 February 2016

‘Are we not both human beings?’: Professor Anne Phillips
Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture

Date and time: Wednesday 10 February 2016, 6:30pm

Location: Room B04, 43 Gordon Square
Reserve a free place on Eventbrite

In ‘On Humanity in Dark Times’, Hannah Arendt questions the limitations of a humanism that pretends to a commonality while evading the reality of a ‘world become inhuman’. Anne Phillips takes this as a starting point for an exploration of the notion of the human. Though the assertion of our common humanity remains a powerful ethical and political ideal, it too often involves either a substantive account of what it is to be human that then becomes the basis for gradations, or else a stripped down contentless account that denies important differences. Professor Phillips argues that we need to think of the human, rather, as an enactment of and commitment to equality.

Anne Phillips is Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science and Professor of Political and Gender Theory at the London School of Economics. Her work has been influential in questioning liberal positions in contemporary political thought, and provides important insights into feminist theory and politics, democracy, equality, multiculturalism, and difference. She is the author of Engendering Democracy (Polity, 1991), The Politics of Presence (Clarendon Press, 1995), Which Equalities Matter (Polity, 1999), Multiculturalism without Culture (Princeton University Press, 2007), and Our Bodies, Whose Property? (Princeton University Press). Her latest book is The Politics of the Human (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Reserve on Eventbrite or contact Jason Edwards.

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Conference Call for Papers: ‘Re’ words in British Women’s Writing between 1930 and 1960, deadline 15 March 2016

Conference Call for Papers

Revision, Re-evaluation, Rediscovery… 

‘Re’ words in British Women’s Writing between 1930 and 1960

A One Day conference at the University of Hull

June 24th, 2016

Revision; Re-evaluation; Revival; Recovery; Resistance; Retrenchment; Reclamation; Rebellion; Revival; Resignation; Rescue; Revolution, Re-working…
Co-organised by Dr Jane Thomas and Sue Kennedy Department of English

Keynote speakers:
Professor Mary Joannou, Anglia Ruskin, Professor Gill Plain, St Andrews

The period of women’s literary history between 1930 and 1960 is beginning to receive the closer attention of literary scholars, feminists and cultural historians. It is a period characterised in many ways by the prefix ‘re’; emblematic of the recurring need for re-evaluation of women’s writing that occupies an uncertain, liminal place in relation to the canon.

Located in the ‘no-man’s land’ recently labelled ‘intermodernism’ by Kristin Bluemel and others, the work of women writers in the period between 1930 and 1960 has been too easily overlooked in assessments of large movements in literature. Situated after the Women’s Suffrage movement, World War One, and high modernism, it remains distinct from the Auden generation, but precedes the appearance of the ‘kitchen sink’, the ‘sexual revolution’, and the woman’s ‘confessional novel’. The thirty-year time-span nonetheless encompasses the destabilisation of Europe, total war, recovery, reconstruction and reform. Whether and how such experiences influenced, implicitly or explicitly, the creative output of the woman writer is a key question for the conference.

While the range and quality of fiction, drama and poetry by British women is attracting more extensive scholarly attention, there is also a growing appreciative audience of what one might call ‘common readers’. It would seem timely now to harvest opinion and analyses of a diverse range of women-authored writing in a broad-based forum. The event will have an interdisciplinary element, welcoming delegates from literary studies, feminist studies, life writing, film, and cultural history, as well as engaging the enthusiastic reader. In addition to celebrating the diversity of women’s writing it is hoped to identify ‘vital figures and cultural forms that disappear in discussions of modernism or postmodernism’ (Bluemel: 6).

We invite abstracts of no more than 250 words for papers of 20 minutes or panels of up to 60 minutes. Please include brief biographical details.
Further details on website:
Facebook Group: Hull Conference on British Women Writers 1930 to 1960
Twitter: @britwmwriters

In addition to ideas inspired by the ‘re’ words, the following may provide starting points:

  • Single author or comparative accounts
  • Relationship to realism, modernism, intermodernism, postmodernism, and other ‘–isms’
  • The problem of the popular
  • Film and other adaptations
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Women writing genres (Lesbian pulp fiction, Crime, Science fictions, Children’s)
  • Women poets
  • Transgression and Transformation
  • The personal and the political
  • Social class, Race
  • ‘The Battle of the Brows
  • Nostalgia, Memory, Trauma
  • ‘Battlegrounds’ of the domestic novel
  • Romance
  • The ‘Condition of England’
  • Humour
  • The Hull Connection, e.g. Stevie Smith, Winifred Holtby.  (City of Culture 2017)

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Mary Joannou. Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Gill Plain. University of St Andrews

Please e-mail with any queries/clarification
Contact email:
British Women Writers 1930 – 1960 Website

Closing date for submissions: March 15th, 2016

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Birkbeck 18th Century Research Group: Reading Group, Tuesday 16 February 2016

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: Reading Group
Date: Tuesday 16th February 2016
Time: 12.30-2 pm
Location: Room 112, School of Arts, Gordon Square


A Life Scribbled in the Margins: The World of Joseph Bufton of Coggeshall, 1650-1718

Brodie Waddell, Lecturer in Early Modern History at Birkbeck

Joseph Bufton was an inconsequential tradesman who lived a rather ordinary life in later Stuart Essex. However, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, he left a substantial collection of writings to posterity, comprising eleven volumes of notes, memorandum, extracts and even some poetry. He used the blank pages and margins of printed almanacs to chronicle his family, his trade, his community, his religion and his nation. Dr. Brodie Waddell will introduce Bufton and attempt to show why we should care about this obscure individual. What is the value of such a microhistory?

Dr. Waddell researches early modern English history, focusing on social relations, economic life and popular culture. His book is entitled God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720 (Boydell, 2012), and his most recent article is ‘The Politics of Economic Distress in the Aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, 1689-1702’, English Historical Review (April 2015).

In preparation for the reading group, please take a look at the selection of extracts from two of Bufton’s notebooks printed in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on Manuscripts in Various Collections, Vol. VIII (1912), pp. 569-92. Digital images of the original three of the volumes are available at: Alternatively, please contact Kate Retford for a copy.

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Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship in Visual History at USC, deadline 1 February 2016

Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship in Visual History at the University of Southern California

The University of Southern California seeks applications for a one-year Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship on the topic “Visual History: The Past in Images.” The annual salary is $65,000. The fellow will be affiliated with the Visual Studies Research Institute (VSRI,

The successful candidate will take a leading role in a year-long John E. Sawyer Seminar funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation on “Visual History: The Past in Images.”  The seminar will be hosted by the VSRI and directed by Professors Vanessa Schwartz and Daniela Bleichmar. The Mellon Fellow will participate in all scholarly activities associated  with the Sawyer Seminar, which will include workshops and lectures; will help organize a  graduate class team-taught by the seminar directors in Spring 2017 (with minimal teaching duties of their own); and will advance their own research agenda while contributing to the seminar’s scholarly output through a public lecture and participation in a publication project. The fellow will be mentored by the seminar organizers and additional members of the USC faculty if appropriate depending on specialization.

Applicants may work in any period, medium, discipline, or geographical region. They should demonstrate a research agenda that examines the role of visual materials and/or practices in creating knowledge about the past. Their work may address such topics as the depiction of historical narratives, practices or cases of pictorial reporting, visualisations of the past, the role of visual archives in the production of history, or methodologies of visual history, among others. This research should engage deeply with visual sources and examine the visual representation of the past, and may involve not only writing about images but also writing “in” images in some capacity. The successful candidate will have excellent writing, analytical, and organizational skills and strong interdisciplinary interests.

Candidates must have received their Ph.D. no earlier than July 1, 2012 and must have degree in hand by July 1, 2016. To apply, please go to and submit: (1)  a cover letter that includes a summary of the dissertation, addresses the candidate’s interdisciplinarity, and  discusses how the candidate’s research aligns with the seminar’s theme of “Visual History;” (2) a CV; (3) two writing samples, at least one of which should be a dissertation chapter; and (4) the names of three academic references who will be prompted via email to submit letters electronically. The deadline for the receipt of all materials is February 1st, 2016. Inquiries should be directed to

USC strongly values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment. Women and men, and members of all racial and ethnic groups, are encouraged to apply.

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Call for Proposals: Satellite, deadline 29 February 2016

Satellite – the School of Arts group/subcommittee focused on technology-enhanced learning, broadly defined – is pleased to announce a Call for Proposals for exploratory events to take place this Summer Term 2015-16.

These exploratory events are an opportunity to explore more subject-, disciplinary- or problem-specific developments, innovations and issues related to technology-enhanced learning. You may, for instance, want to organise an event around alternative approaches to assessment that make use of techniques such as mobile video, social media or blogging. Or an event which considers the ways in which the digitalisation of our research objects or methods might shift how we teach and assess our subject areas. Or the indeterminate role learning technologies might play in your professional development as an early career researcher. These examples are not exhaustive, and there are many other possibilities.

Satellite is very keen to receive proposals for these exploratory events from postgraduate research students in the School of Arts (proposals can also be submitted by School academics, teaching and scholarship staff and administrative staff).

Proposals are due by 5pm on 29 February 2016 and must include the following:

  • Event Title
  • Event Convenor(s) (name and short bio / link to web profile)
  • Event Description (no more than 500 words)
  • Requested funding amount and its purpose(s) (e.g. catering costs – please specify if Satellite funding will be paired with other funds, e.g. from department or research centre)

Please submit your proposal to Scott Rodgers at Feel free to get in touch with Scott should you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss a potential idea further.

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PhD student placement opportunity at the British Library

There is a 3-month PhD student placement opportunity at the British Library, to investigate the question of non-traditional PhD theses.

The opportunity is one of 17 placements on offer, spanning all disciplines .

The placement will examine how (or whether) the nature of the thesis is changing, and the barriers and drivers for further change in future. The main activity for the placement student will to organise a workshop bringing together students, academic and library colleagues to explore the question of non-traditional theses and barriers to wider institutional take-up.

The closing date for applications is 15 February, 2016.

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Birkbeck Poetry Workshop meeting, 2 February 2016

The next meeting of The BIRKBECK POETRY WORKSHOP (an Alumni Group)

2nd February 2016, 7pm to 9pm


(For constructive criticism of each poem read out.)

Chair: Bryn Studwick


Themes for poem to bring along:

1)     Footfall

2)     Fireside

3)     Unrequited love


Form to write poem in:

a) Sonnet

b) Rhyming couplets

c) Villanelle


“For Poets with a Birkbeck connection”


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Exhibition Launch: Manual Labours – The Complaining Body at Peltz Gallery, 5 February 2016

Manual Labours : The Complaining Body

Exhibition Launch: Friday 5 February 2016, 6-8pm
Dates: Saturday 6 February – Thursday 3rd March 2016
Location: Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-8pm and Saturday: 10am – 5pm. Closed Sundays.

Join us at The Peltz Gallery for the first presentation of research from Manual Labours: The Complaining Body and the launch of our third publication Manual Labours Manual #3.

The Complaining Body
Manual Labours: The Complaining Body is a one month exhibition at The Peltz Gallery and presents the process, findings and analysis of an 18 month long investigation into the physical and emotional affects of complaining, receiving complaints and not being able to complain in the context of work. Our research has involved a series of workshops with call centre workers in a London Borough Council, commuters on a train station platform in Worcester and staff dealing with student complaints in a UK University. The exhibition presents our practice-based methodologies and offers a moment for new contributors to engage and discuss the findings, drawing on what complaints we share and can collectivise around.

Manual Labours: The Complaining Body asks: what are the physical impacts on the body when complaining, receiving complaints and when you feel unable to complain?  The emotional labour involved in listening to and managing complaints; the social and cultural conditions of complaining and the affect of not complaining all have repercussions on the body as a site of resistance, absorption and expulsion. The research explores the normative discourses of the good, healthy, productive body which are disrupted by the complaining body.  The uncomplaining body is often in fact a sick body, having to perform a healthy body and happy self by internalising and stifling our complaints.  The exhibition reflects on stories of how and why the complaining body is performed, silenced and internalised.

Manual Labours: The Complaining Body is a practice-based research project by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards, developed with the artist Sarah Browne, choreographer Hamish MacPherson and writer Ivor Southwood who have produced three new commissions in response to the theme. Strands of their research will be presented at the Peltz Gallery.  Ivor Southwood launches a new essay, The Uncomplaining Body, which investigates the culture of a large workplace from the perspective of an outsourced temporary cleaner/porter.  Hamish MacPherson invites you to join him in Breastbeating – a card game simulating an after work session in the pub where the only thing you have to do is complain. And on March 1st a curated screening by Sarah Browne entitled The Revolting Body shares research that has informed her new commission Report to an Academy, concerned with the academic environment as a workplace. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned feedback form by artist Barry Sykes and a newly designed table to host complaining bodies designed by architects Samson Adjei and Greg Epps.

Manual Labours: The Complaining Body Events

Exhibition Launch: Friday 5 February 2016, 6-8pm
Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Launch of the exhibition and the new publication Manual Labours Manual #3 alongside Ivor Southwood’s commissioned essay, The Uncomplaining Body. Ivor will introduce his essay and refreshments will be served!

Analysing The Uncomplaining Body: Tuesday 1 March 2016
4-6pm Round Table Workshop
Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Join us for an afternoon round-table workshop to collectively analyse some of the research gathered through The Complaining Body project.  The event focuses on the physical implications of the stifling of complaints and how the body responds through the expulsions of matter in the form of diarrhoea, vomiting and crying. We invite you to join us in sharing your experiences and perspectives, helping to construct and imagine what the physical effects of a collective complaint might produce.

The Revolting Body, selected by Sarah Browne: Tuesday 1 March 2016, 6pm Screening
Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Following the workshop we will screen The Revolting Body a selection of moving image material from diverse sources including artist film and video, amateur collectives and contemporary protest groups, produced over the last forty years.  The ‘body’ alluded to in the programme title might be an individual or a collective body, troubled with imminent eruption.

Whistleblowing as Complaining; Blacklisting as Bullying: 3 March, 6-9pm
Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

This workshop brings together activists and academics to explore cases of speaking out and complaining about working conditions individually and collectively. We will be sharing examples of the personal, mental, physical, material and legal ingredients needed to complain and the impacts and implications. Presentations include Lucy Parker’s current project Blacklist and her research into the experiences of blacklisted workers.

Full details of the events programme go to: or email
All events are free.

Spring Exhibitions

Manual Labours: The Complaining Body has been developed in partnership with In Certain Places, Preston, Movement, Worcester and The Showroom Gallery, London. Each of these organisations form a site to distribute our research and present the new commissions by Sarah Browne, Hamish MacPherson and Ivor Southwood.

In November 2015 we returned to In Certain Places to present a special event in collaboration with University of Central Lancashire’s Institute for research into Organisations Work and Employment (iROWE).  Together with Sweta Rajan-Rankin (lecturer in Social Policy at Brunel University, London) we discussed the processes of complaining from making to managing to mellowing.  Hamish MacPherson presented the first stage of his commission Breastbeating.

1) Manual Labours : The Complaining Body
Sarah Browne, Hamish MacPherson and Ivor Southwood
The Showroom Gallery
Penfold Street, London
4-12 April 2016

All three new commissions will be presented in a special exhibition at The Showroom Gallery this April.  The exhibition includes a new project by Sarah Browne titled Report to an Academy (drawing from the Kafka story of the same title) which explores the physical sensations and impacts of speech, in search of new articulacy and agility.  Ivor Southwood will share his new essay The Uncomplaining Body and Hamish MacPherson will invite new contributors to take part in his ongoing work Breastbeating, a card game developed from a series of workshops with call centre workers in a London borough council.

2) Manual Labours : The Complaining Body
Sarah Browne, Hamish MacPherson and Ivor Southwood
2 Worcester Foregate Street Railway Station, Worcester
22 June 22 – 22 July 2016

Sarah Browne’s new film Report to an Academy will be screened in a month long exhibition at Movement, an artist-run space located on the Worcester Foregate Street train station platform.

About Manual Labours
Manual Labours is a research project exploring physical and emotional relationships to work, initiated by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.  Manual Labours: The Complaining Body is the second phase of our research and explores the world of workplace complaints with artists Sarah Browne, choreographer Hamish MacPherson and writer Ivor Southwood and is developed in partnership with In Certain Places, Preston, Movement, Worcester and The Showroom Gallery, London.  Manual Labours : The Complaining Body is supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, The Elephant Trust, The Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund and Birkbeck University Widening Access.

If you would like to find out more or contribute to this project please email us: or visit

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Call for Papers: ‘Have you Heard…? Navigating the Interstices Between Public and Private Knowledge’, deadline 15 February 2016

Have you Heard…?

Navigating the Interstices Between Public and Private Knowledge

The annual MHRA Conference on Friday 14 October 2016

 at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, Senate House, London, WC1E 7HU

Keynote speakers: Professor Alison Sinclair (University of Cambridge) and Dr Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck College, University of London)

One of the things that makes us human is language, both in the power of speech, and the production of written texts. How do ideas and opinions get into the public domain, and what is the nature of the sometimes fragile boundary between public and private?  The aim of this conference is to explore the power and vicissitudes of the transmission of knowledge, and of unofficial modes of communication.  Its intention is to go beyond the corpus of public elite literature and to bring into consideration the transmission of knowledge in a broad range of forms, including the trivial and ephemeral (as in pamphlets, chapbooks, street literature and newspapers). This range of material allows us to explore the cultural imaginary in ways that are many, various and erratically policed.  What we choose to suppress in terms of public knowledge may well be as significant as what we choose to propagate. This interdisciplinary conference aims to consider the interactions between public and private knowledge, and the ambiguous, unofficial space that lies between.

We invite proposals covering a range of periods (from the medieval and early-modern to the twenty-first century) and across different national contexts (including French-, Hispanic-, Germanic-, Italian-, Slavonic- and English-speaking cultures).  We hope to attract scholars working in different fields (Modern Languages, English studies, Comparative Literature, Cultural History, Film and Media studies and Digital Humanities, Performance and Reception History, History of the Book and of Print Culture, and others).  Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.


Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Unofficial production and consumption:  peddling, trafficking, barter
  • Purposeful or purposeless dissemination of news, ideas, opinion, images
  • Construction, regulation, censorship: public opinion, the cultural imaginary
  • Gossip, rumour and the power of hearsay
  • Gender and power in public and private knowledge
  • Private vs published materials: correspondences, diaries, the ‘hidden’ archive
  • Theorising the ‘unofficial’ (theorists might include, but are not limited to: Bakhtin, Bourdieu, Habermas, Foucault, Simmel, de Certeau)
  • Questions of power and pleasure in the reception and/or dissemination of knowledge

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers.  Please send your abstract – of no more than 250 words – accompanied by a short biographical statement on the same page, to by 15 February 2016.

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