The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group – 31 January 2019

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group will meet on 31st January 2019, 14:30-16:00 in the Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD to consider work on the topic of the politics of bodily comportment. This session will be led by Dr Harriet Cooper, Researcher in Rights-based Rehabilitation at the University of East Anglia, and the material to be discussed is as follows:

  • Iris Marion Young, ‘Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Bodily Comportment, Motility and Spatiality’, Human Studies, 3, 137-156 (1980)




The readings for each session – including the Iris Marion Young essay not linked above – are held in a shared Dropbox folder. If you need access, email (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 Seminars at Birkbeck, Summer Term


All seminars are held at 5pm in The Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43, Gordon Sq., London, WC1H OPD. A break at 5.50pm is followed by discussion and refreshments. 

1 May, Cristina Guarnieri, University of Padua

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore, and Venetian folding reliquary altarpieces

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore are one of the masterpieces of Italian Late Gothic painting, but their function has been little understood. Re-evaluating prevailing theories about the panels’ purpose and display, this paper proposes that they formed a folding reliquary altarpiece, and considers other examples of this type which was once common in the Veneto.

5 June, Michelle O’Malley, the Warburg Institute

Botticelli: A conundrum of production

Two versions of Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with an Adoring Angel suggest raise fundamental questions about the specifics of authorship in the workshop and how we, as art historians, understand Renaissance artistic practice and construct attribution. This paper looks again at the technical evidence and the value of connoisseurship in tracking the development of the use of reproductive technique in late fifteenth-century Florence.

27 June, Alison Wright, UCL

Gold against the Body:  gold surfaces and their limits, medieval to early modern

The myth, famously invoked in Goldfinger, of the human body suffocated by being coated in gold exemplifies the fascination and danger attached to the idea of an ‘excess’ of gold, especially in respect to human skin. This paper explores the slippery boundaries of when, where and for whom gold surfaces might be deemed excessive in relation to European art, especially Italian, of the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries.

All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm.  Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.  We hope to see you there.

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Symposium – Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities – 5 June 2018

Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities


School of Arts, Birkbeck University of London

5th of June 2018. 1pm to 5pm

Room 124, 43 Gordon Square


The symposium Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities will interweave ideas of art, activism, politics and urban commons, aiming for a dialogue around how we understand the creation of interdisciplinary platforms of exchange and community action in relation to artistic practices in different locations.

Read more about the event and register on Eventbrite-


Evanthia Tselika; Paul Watt; Stephen Pritchard; Lorraine Leeson; Sophie Hope


The dialogue will involve presenters and symposium participants so as to consider ideas around art, activism, politics and urban commons. We will be addressing:

  • New structures of living together – refugee realities and the implication of art.
  • Gentrification and the visual capitalization of marginalization.
  • Cultures of global mobility and digital interactions.

    Initiated by | Evanthia Tselika, Assistant Professor University of Nicosia, Cyprus & Associate Research Fellow, School of the arts,  Birkbeck University of London

    Supported by | Corkscrew Network, Birkbeck

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CASTING CODE: Reflections on 3D Printing half day symposium – 14th May 2018

CASTING CODE: Reflections on 3D Printing half day symposium

Date: Monday 14 May 2018

Time: 1-5pm

Venue: Keynes Library, School of Arts Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Free to attend, but registration is required. Book here

All welcome

This half-day interdisciplinary symposium will explore how digital 3D technologies are transforming the ways that art and cultural artefacts are produced, stored and shared.

3D printing has been used to reconstruct destroyed ancient monuments, inspire activist communities and help reimagine contemporary art practice. As digital 3D technology finds new applications in an ever-growing number of fields, it has opened up new possibilities for digital reproduction on a global scale, seeming to promise new alternatives to mass-manufacture and unprecedented opportunities for the circulation and exchange of objects.

The increasing role of digital 3D technology in the production and reception of art and cultural heritage raises numerous urgent aesthetic and ethical questions. Although many of these concerns – such as big tech monopolies, uneven accessibility and energy consumption – are shared with other areas of digital culture, their particular manifestations in relation to 3D printing technologies frequently animate these issues in ways that emphasise the interconnection between the digital and the material. As such, critical explorations of digital 3D technology can help to challenge out-dated distinctions between virtual processes and material objects and infrastructures, revealing some of the ways in which our world is being radically, but often silently, reshaped by the power structures that underpin digital technology.

This interdisciplinary symposium brings together artists, curators, conservators and researchers working in art history, law, media studies to explore the significance of 3D printing and associated digital 3D technologies for artistic and cultural practice.

Event schedule

13:00     Welcome: Elizabeth Johnson (Birkbeck)

13:15     Amelia Knowlson (Sheffield Hallam University) will present new research on the curatorial decision-making processes behind 3D digitisation at The British Museum. Her work used design-based methods to examine micro pre-existing and emerging 3D projects across curatorial departments.

13:45     Xavier Aure (University of West England) will discuss the influence of computer graphics techniques in his research on visualisation and texture reproduction of paintings.

14:15     Dukki Hong (Bournemouth University) will introduce some IP issues in relation to emerging 3D printing technologies, considering what IP law is; how it is constructed; and most importantly why 3D printing matters to IP law.

14:45     Break

15:15     Mara-Johanna Kolmel (Leuphana University Lüneburg,) will be speaking about Reforming the Formless. An art historical perspective on 3D technologies.

15:45     Daniel Rourke (Goldsmiths) will discuss The 3D Additivist Cookbook, a compendium of 3D .obj and .stl files, critical and fictional texts, templates, recipes, (im)practical designs and methodologies for living in this most contradictory of times, which he devised and edited in collaboration with artist Morehshin Allahyari.

16.15     Discussion chaired by Joel McKim, (Birkbeck)

If you have any additional access requirements please get in touch

This event is kindly supported by the Lorraine Lim Postgraduate Fund and the Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology

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CFP: ‘Testing toleration in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world’ – Submissions Deadline 12 February 2018

Call for Papers

‘Testing toleration in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world’

A Doctoral and ECR conference at Birkbeck, University of London

Friday 15th June, 2018

The question of the nature and limits of toleration is now as pressing as it has ever been.  We live in turbulent times with increasingly polarised – and perhaps intolerant – public debate as perceived differences between people become a site of controversy and values become oppositional.  In modern Britain, for example, promotion of the supposed British value of toleration is challenged by increased evidence of Islamophobia. The problems of defining and testing toleration are not new. They have both roots and precedence in a world of empires. How did questions of toleration emerge in Britain’s empire and how were they dealt with? What is their legacy in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world?

This inter-disciplinary doctoral and ECR conference at Birkbeck, University of London on Friday 15th June 2018 aims to explore the concept and limits of toleration in imperial and post-colonial attitudes and interactions between the people, religions and cultures of the nations which once constituted the British empire.

The conference will be particularly, but not exclusively, focused on the encounter between the people, cultures and religions of Britain and the Indian sub-continent and Africa in situ and in migrant communities in Britain from c. 1750 to the present day.

Wider themes include: assimilation, tolerance, relativism, universalism, empire, integration, religion, secularism, multiculturalism, pluralism, liberalism.

Papers are invited on any topic related to the indicative themes and questions explored in the conference:

What did it mean to be tolerant in the context of empire?

  • Who was being tolerant and what was being tolerated?
  • Did this change over time? How and why?
  • What was intolerable and to whom?

Have concepts of toleration that developed during the Empire affected the concept of national identity in the post-empire era?

  • Who was being tolerant and what was being tolerated?
  • What are the limits of toleration in the post-Empire world?
  • Does the practice of “tolerance” in society signify inequality?

The concept of toleration

  • What does it mean to be tolerant?
  • What is the relationship between power and toleration?
  • What is the relationship between toleration and assimilation, integration, pluralism and multiculturalism?

 We welcome proposals from all relevant academic disciplines, which may include History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Psychology and Psychosocial Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Literature Studies, History of Art.

If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract (max 300 words) along with a short paragraph (max 200 words) which outlines your institution, the academic discipline in which you are researching and your main doctoral/research project to the conference convenors, Sue Blunn and Helen Carr (to whom any queries can also be sent) at:

Deadline for proposals: Monday 12th  February 2018

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Art in the Archives: Insights into the 18th century Art Collections at Longford Castle, Wiltshire with Amelia Smith

Current Birkbeck History of Art PhD student Amelia Smith will be presenting Art in the Archives: Some Insights into the 18th century Art Collections at Longford Castle, Wiltshire

Amelia Smith is currently writing a PhD on ‘Patronage, Acquisition and Display: Contextualising the Art Collections of Longford Castle during the Long Eighteenth Century’, a collaborative project between the National Gallery and Birkbeck, University of London. She is co-supervised by Dr Kate Retford and Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (the National Gallery). Kate is the History of Art Head of Department and you can read her blog here.

There will be an illustrated talk on the art of Longford Castle on Thursday 12 May 2016, at 7pm, at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. While the talk is FREE it is essential to book a ticket in advance, from (or tel 01249 705500), to avoid disappointment. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served, basis.

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