Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture in Historical Perspective Reading Group – 30 May 2018

Reading Group: Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture in Historical Perspective

30 May, 6.30pm

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square

This open reading group will look at key texts in the history of psychoanalysis, exploring their potential connections to visual culture.

Readings are intended for anyone who’s interested in delving into this literature with a like minded group of non-experts from disciplines across art history, visual culture, film and media studies etc.

For the first session on Wednesday 30 May6.30pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, we’ve picked three texts from the mid-twentieth century related to British Object Relations:

Ronald Fairbairn, ‘The War Neuroses – their Nature and Signifcance’ (1943)

Donald Winnicott, ‘Playing: Its Theoretical Status in the Clinical Situation’ (1968)

and… not directly associated with object relations but a key point of reference…

Melanie Klein, ‘On the Sense of Loneliness’ (1963) 

Readings in links above, or available to download via google drive here:

If you’re only able to read one or two of the texts, please do still come along. We’re also inviting people to bring 2-3 images that they’re working on – to help spark our visual thinking and draw out any potential connections, applications, tangents etc.

Assuming there’s an appetite to continue the readings, we’ll pick the texts and date for the next session following on from this first one. Please bring suggestions for readings if you have them!

To RSVP and for more information, please contact:

Alistair Cartwright (Birkbeck, History of Art) —

Christy Slobogin (Birkbeck, History of Art) —

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Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities Reading Group – Summer Term 2018

Please find below details of upcoming events linked to the Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities.

Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group – Summer Term 2018

Tuesday 29th May, 2-3.30 pm, Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Extracts from Jasbir Puar, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. Duke UP, 2017. We will read the Preface, Introduction, and (optionally) Chapter 2: Crip Nationalism: From Narrative Prosthesis to Disaster Capitalism

Tuesday 26th June, 4-5.30 pm, Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Extracts from Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling With Cure. Duke UP, 2017. We will read Chapter 1: Ideology of Cure, Chapter 2: Violence of Cure, and (optionally) Chapter 3: In Tandem With Cure.

Email Sophie Jones ( for access to the reading (include your Dropbox-linked email address if you have one).



Please note that the Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities website is currently under maintenance and will be updated with details of the above events as soon as possible.

Please visit the site for more information about our activities, and do forward this on to any interested parties.


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Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group Spring Term 2018

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group will meet twice in the Spring Term to consider Attention and its Medicalization. The sessions will speak to each other but it’s fine to attend just one.  Everyone is welcome! There is no need to book.

1 March 2018, 2-3.30pm, Malet Street Building, London, WC1E 7HX – Room 420: Reading Attention

22 March 2018, 2-3.30pm, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD – Room 114 (Keynes Library): Medicalizing Attention

  • Matthew Smith, “The First Hyperactive Children”, Hyperactive: The Controversial History of ADHD. Reaktion, 2012, pp. 46-74.
  • Ilina Singh, “A disorder of anger and aggression: Children’s perspectives on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the UK”, Social Science and Medicine 73 (2011): 889-896.

Further reading: Simon Bailey, “ADHD Mythology”, in Rethinking Disability Theory and Practice: Challenging Essentialism, ed. Karin Lesnik Oberstein. Palgrave, 2015, pp. 98-117.

Led by Sophie A. Jones and Bozhena Zoritch.

Email Sophie ( for a copy of the reading (include your Dropbox-linked email address if you have one). For directions to our Bloomsbury campus please see

Visit the Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities website for more information about our activities, and please do forward this on to any interested parties.

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Comparing the Contemporary – Student Discussion Group Spring Term 2018

Comparing the Contemporary – Student Discussion Group

Spring Term 2018

Wonderful universes lie unexplored at the very doorstep of our libraries, stories and people and histories often given for granted and never fully investigated. Voices from beyond the Channel and beyond the Ocean and beyond the West that have remained unheard. Voices that the sessions of ‘Comparing the Contemporary’ wish to discuss through a series of meetings aimed at travelling the literary world, bringing together the experience of the diverse Birkbeck student body.

You’re invited; come join an informal student discussion group that will widen your horizons and provide fresh perspectives on key issues of contemporary criticism and theory. This discussion group is organised by postgraduate students based in Birkbeck’ Department of English and Humanities, and is open to enrolled students within the English & Humanities Department and beyond with an interest in expanding the scope of their studies to consider non-Anglophone literature and theory. We are MA students but welcome students at all levels, from BA to PhD.

What can comparative analysis say about the literary renditions of World War I across national boundaries? Can we bring postmodern critical concepts such as Baudrillard’s ‘simulacrum’ to bear on The Invention of Morel, an Argentine SF novel published in 1940? These are the sort of topics and texts that this group will seek to explore. The focus is placed on 20th and 21st century primary texts, and critical sources that enable a comparative perspective rather than being limited to one national or linguistic literary tradition. We aim to bring together a group of like-minded Birkbeck students, and the current organisers are MA students. We are not teachers, and we do not purport to be experts in the texts or topics discussed–the goal is that through joint analysis and debate, all the group’s participants can gain a richer understanding of the texts and appreciate the usefulness of comparative analysis to locate literary texts in a global context.

Get in touch with Valentina Salvatierra (MA Contemporary Literature & Culture, in order to sign up for our emails and get access to the shared folder where meeting schedule and texts will be uploaded.

No knowledge of languages other than English is required to participate, as we will be working with texts in translation–although you are welcome to read the original if you know the language.

Meeting structure

We will meet every 2 weeks throughout the Spring term. Each meeting will have a designated chair in charge of starting and guiding the group discussion. The chair will contextualise the text, provide a short extract or clip (if relevant), and a brief critical discussion of the text(s). This should take between 10-20 minutes, and the rest of the session will be dedicated to seminar-style discussion around the topic and text(s). The first two sessions’ topics and texts will be:

Friday 2nd February, 18:00 – 19:00

Room: MAL 630 (Malet Street Building)

The Carnival of War

Primary texts:

  1. Erich Maria Remarque (1929) All Quiet on the Western Front (chapter 11)       Full text:
  2. Dalton Trumbo (1939) Johnny Got His Gun (introduction, chapter 20)

Full text:

  1. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1909)“The Futurist Manifesto”

Full text:

Secondary texts:

  • Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy, (Simon and Schuster 2011).
  • Lenin, Vladimir, “War and Revolution”, (1917).

Full text:

  • Dauterich, Ed. “”Johnny Got His Gun” and Working Class Students: Using Rhetorical Analysis to Intellectualize Pacifism.” Peace Research, 42 (2010 1/2) pp. 127-41.

Friday 16 February, 18:00 – 19:00

Room: MAL 629 (Malet Street Building)

Speculative fictions: North and South

  • Baudrillard, Jean, and Arthur B. Evans, ‘Two Essays (“Simulacra and Science Fiction” and “Ballard’s Crash”)’, Science Fiction Studies, 18 (1991) <>
  • Bioy Casares, Adolfo, The Invention of Morel (1940) [extracts to be supplied]
  • Heinlein, Robert, ‘—And He Built a Crooked House—’, Astounding Science Fiction, February 1941, pp. 68–83 <>

If you wish to moderate or get involved in the organisation of the group, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with the organisers Carmela Morgillo ( or Valentina Salvatierra ( to discuss the details. We also welcome suggestions for texts or topics for discussion, and the schedule is flexible and open to modification depending on participants’ interests.

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Christmas PGR Research Collective – Wednesday 13 December 2017 7pm

All School of Arts research students are warmly invited to the Christmas PGR Research Collective taking place this Wednesday at 7pm.

Christmas PGR Collective Flyer

The Collective gives PGR students across the school a friendly space in which to practice, present, explore and question your work in progress.

There will be mince pies!

Best wishes

Mara and Laura

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Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group – 7 December 2017

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group meets on 7th December to consider the topic of non-conception. The meeting is preceded by a guided tour of the Conceiving Histories exhibition for those that can make it. Full details of the prior reading are below.

On Non-Conception

The Reading Group will meet on 7th December 3-4.30, Room 321, 43 Gordon Square, London. WC1H 0PD.

Led by Dr Isabel Davis

This session of the Reading Group coincides with the  Conceiving Histories Exhibition in the Peltz Gallery, 8th November-13th December. Members attending the group might like to visit the exhibtion before the Reading Group meets. A guided tour will be starting at 2pm on 7th December if you would like to join. Meet in the gallery. No need to book.

Prior reading:
Is available by following the links below. To print it out you need to download the whole file and then select the correct page numbers on your print options.

  • William Harvey, On Conception. This is added on to On Generation. You can read an English translation in The Works of William Harvey, trans. R. Willis (London: Sydenham Society, 1847), pp. 575-86. Link:
  • Robert Lyall, The medical evidence relative to the duration of human pregnancy, as given in the Gardner peerage cause, before the Committee for Privileges of the House of lords in 1825-26 (London: Burgess and Hill, 1826), footnote plan for the Experimental Conception Hospital. The whole book is interesting, but the footnote in question is on page xvii. Link:

Everyone is welcome. 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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Medical Humanities Reading Group 23 November 17 and digest of other events

23rd November 3-4.30 in Room B02, 43 Gordon Square, London.
For more information about travelling to Birkbeck School of Arts, click here.

Prior reading for Skin II:

Roger Willoughby, ‘Between the Basic Fault and Second Skin’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis 85 (2004): 179-96.

Claudia Benthien, Skin: On the Cultural Border between the Self and the World (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). Chapter 2.

Reading is available as pdfs, please email  me (Isabel Davis – to request a dropbox link.

Other events at Birkbeck:

The Reading Group will meet for the last session of term on 7th December 3-4.30pm (room 321, 43 Gordon Square). The topic will be non-conception and the reading will be made available shortly.

Before the reading group there will be a free tour of the Conceiving Histories Exhibition (meet on 7th December in the Peltz gallery at 2pm, 43 Gordon Square).

The Conceiving Histories exhibition is free and on at the Peltz Gallery until 13th December.

Conference. 29th-30th November: Putting theory into practice: exploring the role of practice-based medical humanities. This is a free event but you must book a place.

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Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: 30 November 17

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group:

Reading Group, led by Emma Dowley, ‘Propaganda and Satire during the Jacobite Rebellion of ’45’

12-2pm, Thursday 30 November

Room 317, 43 Gordon Square

The last Jacobite rebellion of 1745/6 saw Charles Edward Stuart attempt to overthrow George II on behalf of his father, James. The growing market appetite for printed imagery that the rebellion spawned was consistent with a pattern set during times of political turbulence, reaching back to the Exclusion Crisis of the seventeenth century, but the volume of the output in 1745 and 1746 was unprecedented. The prints that are the subject of my thesis addressed the broader political and religious debates that were the principal causes of the division between the supporters of the house of Hanover and the exiled line of the Stuart dynasty. They attempted to paint as damaging a picture as possible of the Jacobites, France and the Catholic Church (the latter two presumed to be backing the rising), the ideological underpinning of Charles Edward’s mission and the potential consequences if he eventually succeeded. There is no evidence that the prints were part of a government orchestrated propaganda campaign, but Herbert Atherton has stated that, ‘their effect, taken in the context of the contemporary moment, may have given them the value of propaganda, especially when the tempo of polemic quickened’, as it did in 1745.

During the reading group session, I am interested in exploring to what extent these prints may be considered as propaganda, even if they were not officially sponsored. The preparatory ‘reading’ is the following three images:

The Invasion, or Perkin’s Triumph:

The Highland Visitors:

The Fate of Rebellion:

Emma Dowley is a PhD student in History of Art at Birkbeck, working on anti-jacobite imagery in the eighteenth century.

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Capital Reading Group Vol 2 – 31 October 2017 and beyond

Do you want to read Marx’s Capital?

Having completed Volume I, Birkbeck’s Capital Reading Group is beginning Volume II and you’re invited to join us. The group meets fortnightly on Tuesdays and is a friendly setting in which to study the text closely, ask any questions you may have and gain a deeper understanding of Marx’s work and concepts.

The next session takes place at 7pm on 31 October in Room 106, 43 Gordon Square. No reading is necessary for this session, which will consist of an introductory presentation about Volume II and a discussion of the reading strategy for the coming weeks.

The edition we’re using is the Penguin Classics version, but the use of other editions and translations is more than welcome.

For more session times and resources, please visit or contact

Many thanks,


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Digital Aesthetics Reading Group – 27 October 2017 4-6pm

The first meeting of this year’s Digital Aesthetics Reading Group will take place on the 27th of October from 4pm to 6pm in the Vasari.

For this session we will explore the theme of “The Interface,” led by Dr. Scott Rodgers. Scott has chosen the following texts for us to read:

The chapter “The Unworkable Interface” from Alexander Galloway’s The Interface Effect:


And the chapter “Interface” from James Ash’s The Interface Envelope: Gaming, Technology, Power:

The Architecture, Space and Society Centre lecture by Douglas Spencer is that evening at 6pm, so we will wrap up in time to attend.

All the best,




Dr. Joel McKim

Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies

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