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Dean's Welcome

Welcome from Professor Anthony Bale, Dean of the School of Arts

Welcome to Birkbeck Arts Weeks 2020: online, our arts festival running over the next five weeks!  

Our Arts Weeks are an opportunity for us to showcase, and for you to experience, the creativity of research and teaching in the arts and humanities at Birkbeck. This year, we have moved Arts Weeks online, offering you a thrilling range of events, from the local to the global: during this uniquely challenging time, by transforming Arts Weeks into an online series of events, we can bring you a wider range of activities. Some you can experience live, while others you can enjoy at any time. See research come to life, and get to know the many ways of thinking and creating that animate Birkbeck’s School of Arts. 

Each week we will have special events and offerings. Among week 1’s features you will find Booker Prize-shortlisted author Deborah Levy in conversation with Birkbeck’s Julia Bell. Birkbeck professor Catherine Grant has created a wonderful essay film, Dissolving the Secret, a visual meditation on the film dissolve as used in John Sayles’ 1994 film The Secret of Roan Inish. And medieval scholar Isabel Davis teaches you how to make a volvelle – a medieval fortune-telling device – accompanied by philosophical insights regarding the constancy of change. 

Week 1 of Arts Weeks 2020 introduces our regular series, too, which will appear every Monday of the festival. 

  • ‘The Secret Life Of…’ discloses the stories behind images and objects, as explored by Birkbeck’s experts in visual art, culture and museum studies. In the first edition, hear Mark Crinson discuss an intriguing engraved vista of ‘shock city’ Manchester in 1876: a time when this first industrial city seemed a fearsome place.   
  • In ‘Birkbeck Writers Read’, you will have a chance to listen to some of Birkbeck’s creative writers reading aloud from their published works or giving a sneak preview of their forthcoming writings. Week 1 sees Katherine Angel offer a reading from her forthcoming book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent, to be published by Verso in 2021.
  • Birkbeck’s Derek Jarman Lab film unit presents a selection of scrapbooks exploring their diverse projects. This series begins with Dear Ella, Lily Ford’s splendid film investigation of the early aviator Ella Pilcher (c. 1865-1939). Like other female aviators, Pilcher’s life and work has been underexplored, so the anniversary of her death this week gives us a great opportunity to put her in the spotlight.
  • And scroll down to find our regular last word – ‘A Week in the Life of...’ series, brought to you in week 1 by Joanne Leal from Birkbeck’s Department of Cultures and Languages. 

Please join us for as many of these events as you can, and learn about the vibrant culture we have in the School of Arts. It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Arts Week 2020 and to Birkbeck’s School of Arts!