British Library Open Days for Doctoral Students Jan – March 2017

The British Library is again running a series of Open Days for Doctoral Students, taking place in January, February and March 2017.  We would very much appreciate it if you were able to pass this information on to your new PhD students, as you feel appropriate.

Our Doctoral Open Days are a chance for PhD students who are new to the Library to discover the British Library’s unique research materials. From newspapers to maps, datasets to manuscripts, ships’ logs to websites, our collections cover a wide range of formats and languages spanning the last 3,000 years. Doctoral Open Days are designed to explain the practicalities of using the Library and its services, plus help you navigate our physical and online collections. As well as hearing from our expert and friendly staff, students will have the opportunity to meet researchers in all disciplines. Each day concentrates on a different aspect of the Library’s collections and most take an inter-disciplinary approach.  As well as hearing from our expert and friendly staff students will have the opportunity to meet researchers in all disciplines. Students are welcome to choose the day they feel is most relevant to their studies.

The Open Days are as follows:

Asian &African Collections                16 January

News & Media                                   13-Jan

Social Sciences                                   30-Jan

Boston Spa                                         01-Feb

 Music Collections                               13-Feb

Pre 1600 Collections                          20-Feb

17 & 18th Century Collections            27 February

19th Century Collections                    6 March

20th & 21st Century Collections         13 March

All events take place in the British Library Conference Centre at St Pancras, London, except for the event on 1 February 2017, which takes place at the Library’s site in Boston Spa, Yorkshire. This is a new addition to the programme for 2017. Suitable for researchers of all disciplines and subject areas, it will showcase the expanding range of research material accessible to researchers at Boston Spa. However, speakers will also provide an overarching introduction to the Library that will be of interest to anyone planning to explore our collections for PhD research – whether that is in Yorkshire, in London or online.

For further details of the all Open Days and how to book please see the British Library website. Places cost £10.00 including lunch and other refreshments.


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CFP: Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre – Deadline 9 Dec 2016


Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre

Friday 20 January 2017, 11am-7pm

Politics has long been acknowledged as a theatrical arena in which politicians perform their roles. But with the growth of marketing, public relations and celebrity culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, and developments in mass culture and social media, the connection between politicians and performers seems more intractable, and often confusing, than ever before.

In 2016 alone we have seen these dynamics play out in both UK and US political cultures. In her first Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, Conservative leader Theresa May’s delivery was widely received as a strategic mimicking of Margaret Thatcher’s very striking and painstakingly rehearsed mode. In the American Presidential race, part of the appeal of Republican candidate Donald Trump is that he is a global celebrity who has made and unmade personalities on his reality television show The Apprentice, but for others his clumsy improvisation betrays too little substance. Throughout her career, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s voice has been checked for being too shrill, her behaviour too cold, or her words too scripted. Meanwhile, various commentators have attributed the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders to their refusal of spin and the artfulness of public relations. John F. Kennedy’s presidency is remembered for inaugurating a biding link between US politics and glamour, which seemed to crystallise in the election of Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan. More recently, Barack and Michelle Obama rarely shy away from acting or singing in public, and have appeared on numerous talk shows and comedy platforms, sometimes alongside stars of stage and screen, as part of their campaigns – from Zack Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns to James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

It is against this backdrop that the day-long event asks: how might interpreting politicians and their work through some of the practices and concepts established in theatre and performance studies help us to better understand contemporary political life? The proceedings will consist of presentations, a public conversation and film screening (details to be confirmed).

We invite 10-15 minute presentations that examine the theatricality or performativity of a politician or group of politicians, including as they appear across a range of media (theatre, music, comedy, puppetry, television, film, radio etc.)

Topics for discussion might include:

  • movement and gesture;
  • voice and rhetoric;
  • style, dress and cosmetics;
  • charisma or dullness;
  • narcissism and exhibitionism;
  • sincerity and inauthenticity;
  • engagements with social media;
  • interactions with celebrity culture.

We welcome presentations from postgraduate students, academics and artists working across a range of disciplines including politics, film, media, sociology and theatre and performance.


Email 200 word abstracts and a short bio to by Friday 9 December 2016.

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DANDELION: Call for Submissions on The Contemporary

Call for Papers: Dandelion Journal

The Dandelion editors seek submissions on the theme of THE CONTEMPORARY for their forthcoming issue.

When will the contemporary end? When did it begin?

Contemporary cultural production and questions about the nature of contemporaneity itself have become dominant in recent scholarship but just what is ‘the contemporary’? What type of creative and scholarly work is being done under its aura? Should we apprehend the contemporary as a noun, offering definition and order to a discrete period in history; or is it rather as an adjective, traced with a particular structure of feeling, an interdisciplinary apprehension to what is happening Now and an anxiety towards what comes next?

We seek submissions that address how the social, political and aesthetic dilemmas that characterize our present are made manifest in the twenty-first century’s cultural production. For instance, if the contemporary is the cultural logic of neoliberal capitalism made tangible, then how can its ‘common sense’ be registered, revised, or resisted? Is the contemporary experienced similarly across the globe, or are its pressure points, modes and sites of dissent different depending on their location? How might we pull on the emergency brake?

We are also keen to examine emergent methodologies and debates that offer a barometer of the contemporary in humanities scholarship. For example, how to explicate ‘the contemporary’ is a matter of anxiety for art history: does the term simply denote a period that came after the modern, or were all works of art once contemporary? And what are the conceptual tools and interpretive frameworks we need to study contemporary writing in the present age? As literary scholars have noted, one of the defining features of twenty-first century fiction is the return of the novel about time. How, might we ask, are time and space to be negotiated in an era of transnational literary form and planetary ruination? Finally, we wish also to consider the fate of the humanities, and academic labour itself, inside the contemporary University.

The journal invites submissions from postgraduate students and early career scholars that address the theme of the contemporary across the spectrum of Arts and Humanities research.

Topics could include, but are by no means restricted to:

  • Periodisation and the competing temporalities of ‘the contemporary’ across the humanities: Beyond –modernisms, ‘Post-Post’?
  • Methodological shifts in the humanities: Digital Humanities, Medical Humanities, World Literature, Post-Critical.
  • Tone and the contemporary’s affective intensities: Hope and Pessimism, Anxiety and Belonging.
  • The Anthropocene: Environment and Ecocriticism.
  • Mapping the networks and flows of Late Capitalism and Neoliberalism: Towards a contemporary realism?
  • Contemporary Resistances: Digital Commons, the Hacker, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Social Movements.
  • Human, Non-Human, Post-Human: Artificial Intelligence, Prosthetics, and Augmented Reality; Embodiment and Subjectivity.
  • The Future of the Novel: Transnational, Graphic, Documentary, Historical, Science Fiction.
  • The Production, Philosophy, Criticism, and Curating of Contemporary Art.
  • The Relation between Contemporary Art and Art History.

Submission guidelines

We welcome short articles of 3000-5000 words, long articles of 5000-8000 words and critical reviews of books, film, and exhibitions. We also strongly encourage submissions of artwork including visual art; creative writing; podcasts and video footage (up to 10 minutes). We would be happy to discuss ideas for submissions with interested authors prior to the submission deadline.

Please send all completed submissions to by 6th February 2017.

Please also include a 50-word author biography and a 200-300-word abstract alongside your submission. All referencing and style is required in full MHRA format as a condition of publication and submitted articles should be academically rigorous and ready for immediate publication.

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Call for Papers: ACT UP: Thirty Years Fighting AIDS: Deadline 31 Jan 2017

Call for Papers: ACT UP: Thirty Years Fighting AIDS June 2nd, 2017

The University of York

Deadline for abstracts: January 31st, 2017

2017 is the 30th anniversary of the founding of ACT UP, the international advocacy group fighting to end the AIDS crisis. During the AIDS crisis ACT UP played a fundamental part in the fight against AIDS, promoting a social awareness of the disease. Today, the organization continues to fight, leading educational campaigns all over the world. To coincide with the anniversary of its foundation, we invite paper reflecting upon what has changed and what has not. Along with the one-day conference there will be a screening of the movie “United in Anger: A History of ACT UP” (2012), as well as an exhibition of The ACT UP Oral History Project.

We invite papers on AIDS and its social impact, ACT UP, and the role played by similar institutions in the fight against AIDS. All disciplines are welcome: art history, literature, history, sociology, gender studies, politics, and health studies.

Possible topics to consider but are not limited to:

  • Public/private bodies
  • Sex education
  • Protest in the digital age
  • Writing about AIDS/ the Language of the AIDS crisis
  • Representations of AIDS
  • The concept of ‘post-AIDS’
  • ‘Going Viral’
  • History and role of ACT UP

Please submit a 300-word abstract to for a 15-20 minute paper or presentation by January 31st, 2017. Proposals should include the title of the paper, the presenter’s name and a short bio.

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Essayistic Filmmaking: The Derek Jarman Lab 3/4 and 10/11 December 2016

For all those who are interested in using film in their research we offer a course in essayistic filmmaking for the second time this term. The dates are: 3rd and 4th December for filming and production sessions, and 10th and 11th December for an editing workshop. You can find more information about the course on our website:

The sessions take place in our offices:

The Derek Jarman Lab
36 Gordon Square Essay Essay Film
London WC1H 0PD

The training begins at 10am on each day of the 4-day course and we aim to finish around 6pm.

The cost of the course for Birkbeck students and staff is £300.

If you are interested in signing up for it, please send an email to by 29th November. Please also share this information with anyone who might be interested.

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London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group: 10th November 2016


Image credit: William Daniell, ‘Near Beachy Head’ (etching with aquatint), 1823. London: British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings. © Trustees of the British Museum.

London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group, 10th November – Everyday Geology in Beachy Head (1807)

Join us for this term’s first session of the London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group. We will be meeting  3.30 – 5 pm on Thursday 10th November, in the Small Committee Room, King’s Building at the Strand Campus of King’s College London.

The loose theme of the reading group this year is ‘the everyday’. On the 10th, we will be looking at Charlotte Smith’s posthumously-published Beachy Head, together with a recent article on the poem by Kevis Goodman, which argues that Smith uses geology as a means through which to think about everyday experience and ‘comprehend the ground of Beachy Head as simultaneously local and global’. The readings are:

Charlotte Smith, Beachy Head (1807)

Kevis Goodman, ‘Conjectures on Beachy Head: Charlotte Smith’s Geological Poetics and the Ground of the Present’, ELH, 81.3 (2014), 983-1006.

A text of Beachy Head can be viewed here; Goodman’s article is available here.

Topics for discussion might include: Goodman argues that the kinds of quotidian experience she is discussing (and Smith is writing) have complex historical conditions of possibility; how useful is her approach for thinking about the history mediated by writing, or the situation of writing in history? How productive is it to think about literature through the category of the everyday, or a ‘complex historical present’? How does natural history / science figure in Goodman’s account of Smith’s poetry?

The London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group is a student-run reading group organised in collaboration with the Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s and Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group. Staff and students at all London universities are very welcome. The reading group concentrates on a different theme each academic year, with an emphasis on primary texts and recent criticism. For more informations, view the reading group’s blog.

If you have any queries about the readings or the reading group, please contact Robert Stearn ( or Jess Frith (

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Birkbeck 18th Century Group – Autumn Term 2016 Events

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group, Autumn 2016

Tuesday 29 November,


Keynes Library

Dr Kate Tunstall (Worcester College, Oxford) ‘Magots and Pagodes: The Politics and Aesthetics of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century France’

Chaired by Dr Ann Lewis

[link to illustration:]

Abstract: In this paper, which is part of a larger project on Diderot’s materialisms, I focus on Diderot’s various writings on luxury and, in particular, on the numerous and rather remarkable references he makes to magots and pagodes, objects of chinoiserie, one of which can be seen, for instance, in Boucher’s Woman on a daybed (Frick, 1743).

Bio: Kate Tunstall is University Lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Worcester College. She is the author of Blindness and Enlightenment (2011); she edited Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment (2012); she and Caroline Warman translated Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau together for the open access multimedia edition, which won the 2014 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Prize for Best Digital Resource. Most recently, her and Katie Scott’s new edition and translation of Diderot’s Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre appeared in the Oxford Art Journal.

Birkbeck 18C Reading Group:

Wednesday 7 December

12.00-2.00, Keynes Library

Dr Katharina Boehme (Regensburg) will introduce Vetusta Monumenta (1747) and selections from Stukeley’s Itinerarium Curiosum (1724).

The session will consider three plates reproduced in Vetusta Monumenta, published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1747 in the first of seven volumes of large-scale, highly-finished copper-plate engravings of many different kinds of antiquities, printed between 1747 and 1906. The reading will consist of excerpts and illustrations from two works by William Stukeley (1687-1765). Stukeley was a leading figure in antiquarian debates in the first half of the eighteenth century and the Society of Antiquary’s first secretary. The publication of Itinerarium Curiosum (1724) marked the rise of the ‘domestic tour’ – a compound of travelogue, chorography and guidebook. Stonehenge: A Temple Restor’d to the Druids (1740) presents the results of Stukeley’s fieldwork at Stonehenge and suggests that Stonehenge had been erected as a place of worship by ancient British druids.

Katharina Boehm is Assistant Professor in English Literature at the University of Regensburg. Her main research interests are in British literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in the history of science. Her first monograph, Charles Dickens and the Sciences of Childhood: Popular Medicine, Child Health and Victorian Culture (Palgrave Macmillan) was published in 2013. Her current project explores antiquarian cultures of the long eighteenth century and their impact on the novel and other contemporary prose genres such as the domestic tour and the historical romance. She is currently co-editing an annotated digital edition of the antiquarian plate book Vetusta Monumenta and a special issue of Word & Image entitled “Mediating the Materiality of the Past, 1700-1930”.

Contact Luisa Calè for the readings (


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Be Birkbeck Challenging Heritage: Uncanny Encounters in Mr Straw’s House – 14 November 6.30-8.00pm

How do seemingly conventional heritage sites such as Mr Straw’s House, a National Trust Property in the North of England, challenge audiences’ perception of the past and their interactions with it?

This talk will explore the discrepancies between the way the Trust markets the house as a time capsule and the far more complex and uncanny stories Mr Straw’s House itself tantalisingly hints at. The way these sites are experienced depends very much on what audiences bring to them and how they engage with them.

How and why do these sites inspire imaginative investment and empathy in visitors? They facilitate encounters which allow for memories, fears and desires to form and resurface and in this talk I will attempt to reconnect them with the social and cultural contexts from which they originate.

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Medical Humanities Reading Group 16 November 2016 3-4.30pm

The next sesson of the Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group explores the theme of breath, and also continues our engagement with the recent publication The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, recently introduced by the editors Anne Whitehead and Angela Woods at a lunchtime lecture at Birkbeck.


  • Jane McNaughton and Havi Carel, ‘Breathing and Breathlessness in Clinic and Culture: Using Critical Medical Humanities to Bridge an Epistemic Gap’, in The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, ed. by Anne Whitehead and Angela Woods (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), pp. 294-309. An open access version of the text can be found by following this link (chapter 16)
  • Paul Capsis & Michaela Burger, from new production of Rumpelstiltskin (composer: Jethro Woodward), Adelaide Festival Centre: please find link here
  • Bjork, studio version of ‘The Pleasure is All Mine’ from Medulla (2004): please find link here.

We are also very pleased to welcome visual artist Jayne Wilton, who will introduce her work which explores the breath as a unit of exchange between people and their environments.

We will meet on Wednesday 16 November, 3-4.30pm, in the Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts. 43 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD.

For more information about the readings and Jayne Wilton, please visit our website.

Please do also forward on to any interested colleagues and postgraduate students.

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