Black History Month Seminar Series: Dr Carmen Fracchia 4th November 2016




Depicting the Emergence of the Afro-Hispanic Subject and the Formation of the Black Nation in early modern Spain Dr Carmen Fracchia, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cultures and Languages

6.30pm-8.30pm on Friday 4 November 2016, in the Keynes Library (Room 114), Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square. London WC1H 0PD

The Afro-Hispanic proverb Black but Human will serve as a lens through which I explore the ways in which certain early modern visual representation of slavery both embody and reproduce hegemonic visions of subaltern groups and at the same time provide material for critical and emancipatory practices by African slaves and ex-slaves themselves in Habsburg Spain. My paper will argue that deep ethnic prejudices against black slaves and ex-slaves in the crowns of Castile and Aragón did not prevent the emergence of the ‘Afro-Hispanic subject’ in the visual form articulated by a range of artists from Spain, the Spanish territories in Europe, and New Spain (Mexico). I will focus on the extraordinary seventeenth-century case of the portrait of the slave Juan de Pareja by his celebrated slave owner, Diego Velázquez and the self-portrait of freedman Juan de Pareja in his paintingThe Calling of St Matthew. This paper will also explore the ways in which the Black but Human topos codifies the multilayered processes through which a ‘black nation’ forges a collective resistance and the ways in which it is articulated in Pareja’s 3-metre long masterpiece for the Habsburg court in Madrid (now in the basement of the Prado Museum).

*The Seminar is convened and chaired by Dr Mpalive Msiska (, Reader in English and Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom.


No booking required

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University of London Society of Bibliophiles Launch Party 28 October 2016

University of London Society of Bibliophiles Launch Party


Friday 28th October 2016, 7-9pm

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

On Friday 28th October, there will be a drinks reception to launch the new UoL Bibliophiles Society. Hosted by the University of London, the society has been kindly sponsored by Bonhams, alongside the ABA Educational Trust, Maggs Bros Books and the Private Libraries Association.

The society is open to all and aims to provide an opportunity for those who are interested book-collecting – whether it’s rare books, comics, or classic Penguins – to meet up with like-minded people. Meetings will be held monthly and the programme of events will include talks and visits to Lambeth Palace Library, Peterhouse College, Cambridge and London Rare Books Week 2017, amongst others.

Please do join us on the 28th- we look forward to seeing you there!

If you have any questions or would like to register your interest in becoming a committee member, please do not hesitate to get in contact at:

Blog: www.


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Gender and Medieval Studies Student Essay Prize 2016: deadline 21 November 2016

Gender and Medieval Studies Student Essay Prize 2016

The Gender and Medieval Studies Group offers a postgraduate student essay prize, which is awarded at the GMS conference in January each year. The competition is open to students at all levels including those who will be completing their degree in the coming year.

Essays should be between 4,000 and 6,000 words in length (including notes) and should engage with questions of gender and/or sexuality in the Middle Ages. Essays should follow a recognised academic referencing system (such as MHRA), should include a bibliography and all images should be captioned.

Submissions from postgraduates working within any discipline in the field are encouraged.

The prize gives free registration to the GMS conference (held every January at a different UK institution) for two years (2017 and 2018) and a contribution towards UK travel costs to the conference. In 2017 the conference will be on Gender, Places, Spaces, Thresholds and will be held at Canterbury, Christchurch University (12th-15th January).

The winning essay will also be considered for publication in the academic journal Medieval Feminist Forum, run by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship (SMFS).

There may be years when no prize is awarded, depending upon submissions in any given year.

Electronic submissions should be submitted to Isabel Davis ( by November 21st 2016.

To keep up-to-date on the GMS conference series, please subscribe to the listserv address: or follow the link on the GMS homepage.

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CFP: Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period – deadline 15 Oct 15

Please find attached a Call for Papers for the bicentennial conference Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period.

The conference will take place at Birkbeck College, London, on the 21 and 22 of July 2017, with plenary papers from Professor Deidre Shauna Lynch and Professor Seamus Perry.

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be emailed to by 15 October 2016. More information can be found on our website:

We would be very grateful if you could circulate this information via your mailing lists and on social media. Please get in touch with any questions.

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London Nineteenth-Century Postgraduate Colloquium 10 Sept 2016

Please find attached call for papers and poster for this year’s London Nineteenth-Century Postgraduate Colloquium, hosted by the Institute of English Studies.

This year’s colloquium will be held on the 10th September at Senate House

The conference blog is available here:

This is a multi- and interdisciplinary conference and proposals are welcomed for papers on a wide range of topics.

The deadline for proposals is 31 July.


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Professor Lynda Mugglestone: ‘Rethinking history and historical principles: Andrew Clark and the language of the First World War’ – 19th November

The Queen Mary School of English and Drama’s Postgraduate Research Seminar


Professor Lynda Mugglestone (University of Oxford)

speaking on

‘Rethinking history and historical principles: Andrew Clark and the language of the First World War’


Thursday 19th November

Lock Keeper’s Cottage, Mile End Campus

Queen Mary University of London


That WW1 was a period marked by the failure of language has become a critical truism. It was, to quote Henry James, a period which ‘ran out of words’. Even in the Oxford English Dictionary, the period between 1914 and 918 is marked by what Joan Beal has described as a ‘trough’ of innovation, whether lexical or semantic.  War, she concludes, ‘does not stimulate lexical innovation’. The Words in War-Time Project, running at the University of Oxford, takes a different approach. Using the archival resources assembled by Andrew Clark, a historian, linguist, and writer (and village rector) between August 1914 and the late 1919, it tracks the extraordinary fertility of language and language change at this time. Clark, an erstwhile volunteer on the OED, decided to apply historical principles to language on the move in WW1, moving outside the canonical to explore language use in ephemera, news discourse, advertising, and private letters. This lecture will examine some of the results of the project so far,  as well as their implications for what we might understand about conventional readings of language  and WW1.

Lynda Mugglestone is Professor of the History of English at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. Her publications include Talking Proper: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol (revised ed. 2007), Lost for Words: The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary (2005), Dictionaries: A Very Short Introduction (2011), and, as editor, The Oxford History of English (revised ed. 2012), and Samuel Johnson: The Arc of the Pendulum (2012). She recently completed Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words (OUP, 2015), and is currently working on a book about language and the first world war, and running the English Words in War-Time Project at Oxford.

All are welcome. 

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London Renaissance Seminar: Peele and the Ends of Narrative – 27th November

Peele and the Ends of Narrative: London Renaissance Seminar at the Early Modern Reading Group – Friday 27th November 2015

For the Early Modern Reading Group’s first meeting of the new academic year, Professor Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia) will give a short talk and lead discussion of George Peele’s play The Old Wives Tale (1595).  Professor Guy-Bray writes:

George Peele’s The Old Wives Tale is remarkable for the fact that it dramatizes how narrative becomes stage action: that is, the characters in the story that the old wife is telling become actual people moving about the stage. I want to use this play and its consideration of narrative to address questions of the purpose of narrative more generally. Do literary texts require narrative? Is it possible to escape narrative?

The Old Wives Tale is available on EEBO here.  Please bring a copy of the text with you.

The reading group will meet at 6pm in Room 221, 43 Gordon Square; drinks and snacks will be provided.

The Early Modern Reading Group is a postgraduate reading group which meets every month to discuss a variety of texts from the early modern period.  For more information, visit the Early Modern Reading Group on Dandelion or the London Renaissance Seminar website.

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Professor Tita Chico: ‘Aesthetics, Mediation, and Difference: British Literature and Science’ – 10th November

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group:

Lecture by Prof. Tita Chico, ‘Aesthetics, Mediation, and Difference: British Literature and Science’

6pm, Tuesday 10th November, Keynes Library, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square

The Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group is delighted to announce a forthcoming lecture by Tita Chico, Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland.

Professor Chico is the author of Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture (2005), and co-editor of Atlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century: Seduction and Sentiment (2012), with Toni Bowers. She is also editor of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. This talk relates to her current book project, Experimentalism: Literary Knowledge and Science in the British Enlightenment.

For further information, please contact Ann Lewis:

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Victorian Supernatural Reading Group Autumn Term 2015 details

Our informal, student-run group sets out to consider different ways in which notions of the supernatural were tied in with Victorian ideology. Our definition of the ‘supernatural’ is very broad and we always welcome reading suggestions.

Our first session this term will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday 19 November in room 112, 43 Gordon Square, and is entitled ‘Strangers on a Train: Fear and loathing in Victorian travel fiction’.

We will be reading the following stories, both of which can be accessed online:
– Rhoda Broughton, ‘Under the Cloak’ (1873):
– Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Little Governess’ (1920):

Students can join our mailing list by writing to We have a Facebook group as well (Victorian Supernatural Reading Group).

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