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Arts Week 2018

Birkbeck Arts Week 2018 will take place 14-18 May. We're busy working on a programme now and hope to have more details soon!

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In the meantime, you can get a feel for the kinds of events and activities that take place during Birkbeck Arts Week by looking at some of our previous programmes (see tabs to the left). Below are podcasts and blog posts covering a few of the events that took place in May 2017.


  • The Jo Spence Archive and Memorial Library: a workshop
    Jo Spence was a British photographer, writer and ‘cultural sniper’. In this workshop on her archive, and the implications of its recent history and dispersal. Birkbeck’s Patrizia di Bello spoke about the archive as ‘feminist family album’, and Steve Edwards reflected on British documentary in the 1970s.
  • Andy Smith: Dematerialising Theatre
    For the last fifteen years, both alone and in collaboration with Tim Crouch (An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), theatre-maker Andy Smith has been involved in creating a large body of work. He refers to this as a ‘dematerialised theatre’ – a theatre that attempts to do more with less. This talk reviewed some of the principles of the practice, and explores some of its origins.
  • Renaissance lives from the archives: grime, crime and a pirate
    How can we reconstruct the lives of Renaissance people from the archives? Panellists including Molly Murray (Columbia University), and Birkbeck’s Anthony Bale, Sue Jones and Robert Maniura examined fragments, trial transcripts, testimony and the crimes and misdemeanours that got the underclass noticed.
  • The Poetics of Fragility, a film by Nicolas Grandi and Lata Mani
    Panellists discuss The Poetics of Fragility - a film which uses story, poetry and performance to explore the question of human existence and its fragility. Is fragility a problem to be surmounted, or should we accept it as fundamental to our world and being?
  • Will 2017 be 1984? Rethinking Orwell’s dystopia
    1984 was conceived as a warning, not a prophecy. But are we now in Orwell’s dystopia? Hear our panel of experts from Birkbeck’s Departments of Politics and English & Humanities re-examine Orwell’s novel and its meaning in the brave new world of 2017.
  • Speaking in Brogues
    Maria Aristodemou (Birkbeck), Mattia Gallotti (School of Advanced Study, University of London), and Rut Blees (UCL) Luxemburg (Royal College of Art) discuss the role language can play in a period of increasing tensions over immigration and Europe with Birkbeck’s Marina Warner.
  • Mr A moves in mysterious ways: artists from the Adamson Collection
    In association with the Bethlem Gallery, a panel discussed a new exhibition of works from the Adamson Collection on show in Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery. The Adamson Collection is an internationally renowned archive of art objects made by residents of a long-stay British psychiatric hospital between 1946 and 1981, under the guidance of art-therapy pioneer Edward Adamson.
  • Eyes, hands, hearts: Anatomy, aesthetics, and the organization of life in the Hunterian Museums
    This talk examines the work of William Hunter and his younger brother John, two of the most important anatomists of the eighteenth century. Dahlia Porter (University of Glasgow) assesses museum displays of preserved organs alongside manuscript catalogues and plans, plaster casts, chalk drawings, and engravings – visual resources which contributed to the emergence of comparative anatomy.
  • The Sublime Real: painful excitements in eighteenth-century art and criticism
    This talk on the slippery relations between art and reality starts from a much misunderstood paragraph on ‘real sympathy’ in Edmund Burke. Speaker Aris Sarafianos (University of Ioannina, and visiting research fellow at Birkbeck) investigates the many interpretations and transformations of real sympathy in cases as diverse as George Stubbs’s paintings, William Hunter’s anatomical lectures at the Royal Academy, Diderot’s writings, De Loutherbourg’s theatrical machines and Charles Bell’s surgical drawings.
  • America in Crisis
    Hear two Birkbeck authors discuss two key moments of crisis in recent US history, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (1979) and Hurricane Katrina as it devastated the US Gulf Coast (2005).
  • Public Talk by John Beverley: A new Orientalism
    One of the legacies of postcolonial criticism is the proposition that modern literature itself was complicit in the processes of European colonization of the world, that literature and literary education are a “mask of conquest.” This talk uses that insight to explore the representation of an Islamic or Arab subject in three texts from the first decade of the 21st century.
  • Bill Gaskill Symposium: Panel 1: Welcome to a Life in the Theatre
    Theatre artists, critics and scholars discuss Bill Gaskill’s work.