UNREST screening 14 June 2019 and Medical Humanities Reading Group 4 July 2019

Contested Conditions Screening: Unrest (Jennifer Brea, 2017)

Friday 14th June, 18:00-21:00, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square

Suddenly afflicted with a debilitating illness, director Jennifer Brea is eventually diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Frustrated by doctors’ insistence that her condition is psychosomatic, Brea makes contact from her bed with an activist community engaged in lobbying for further research into the disease. Spanning the categories of documentary, personal testimony and activist intervention, Unrest offers insight into a little-understood chronic illness, and explores what role the movie camera might play in giving image and voice to people living with the condition.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Louise Kenward, Raju Rage and Daniella Valz Gen. Book your place here.

This event, part of the Contested Conditions screening series, is funded by an ISSF grant from Birkbeck and the Wellcome Trust, and organised in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image.

Medical Humanities Reading Group: Exploring deaf ways of seeing through film-making techniques and visual media technologies

Thursday 4th July 2019, 14:30-16:00, Room 106, 43 Gordon Square

Are there deaf ways of seeing? And if so, what might this mean for filmmaking by and for the deaf? In this session led by Dr Rebekah Cupitt, we will explore these questions through the following readings:

  • Anu Sharma and Hannah Glick, “Cross-Modal Re-Organization in Clinical Populations with Hearing Loss”, Brain Sciences, 2016, 6, 4.
  • Patricia Durr, “Deconstructing the Forced Assimilation of Deaf People Via De’VIA Resistance and Affirmation Art”, Visual Anthropology Review, 15.2 (Fall/Winter 1999-2000)

The readings for each session are held in a shared Dropbox folder. If you need access, email sophie.jones@bbk.ac.uk (include your Dropbox-linked email address, if you have one).

Everyone is welcome at the reading group. There is no need to book.

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group aims to create a space in which academics, clinicians and students can come together to explore key readings, ideas and materials in the field of medical humanities. Our endeavour is to find ways of talking across the different disciplines of the humanities and medicine, and we welcome participation from colleagues and students interested and engaged in these areas. For details of previous sessions, please click here.

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Murray Seminar: Luca Palozzi, The Holy-Water Basin of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia, – 12 June 2019 5pm

On Wednesday, 12th June, Luca Palozzi will be speaking about his latest research on a strange and little-known work by Giovanni Pisano. We’ll return to our usual location in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in The Keynes Library (Room 114) at 5pm.  The talk will finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and will then be followed by discussion and refreshments.

Luca Palozzi

The Holy-Water Basin of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia,

c. 1270: Petrography, Materiality and Function

Giorgio Vasari writes in his Lives of the Artists that Giovanni Pisano “carved in marble the holy-water font of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Pistoia,” and that this work, “by reason of its having then been held very beautiful, was placed in the centre of that church as a remarkable thing (come cosa singolare).” Despite Vasari’s mention in his Lives, the Pistoia holy-water basin remains little-known. The scant literature focusses on issues of style, date and authorship, failing to address the reasons why contemporary observers considered the Pistoia holy-water basin a truly beautiful and remarkable object. This paper explores this object’s surprising materiality, considering Nicola and Giovanni Pisano’s daring technical and artistic experimentations with stones and minerals scarcely used in monumental sculpture from the period. Their knowledge of materials, as well as their awareness of liturgy, crucially informed the making of this extraordinary object. The basin casts light on the ‘material turn’ of the 1260s and 1270s in Italian sculpture–a phenomenon whose magnitude and importance still await to be assessed.

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