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Arts Week 2014

Monday 19 May 2014

  • The Condition of the Working Class: In 1844, Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England. What has changed since then? In eight weeks a group of working-class people from Salford and Manchester developed a performance in order to answer the question. Directors Deirdre O'Neill and Mike Wayne led a discussion following the screening.
  • After the Battle: Soldiers' Homecomings in Poetry and Prose: Soldiers have been coming home in literature since Homer's Odysseus. Much anticipated, the homecoming does not always turn out as envisaged. In this talk, Dr Kate McLoughlin (Birkbeck) looked at the joyful and not-so-joyful reunions, the mis-recognitions and rejections, the relief and the difficulties depicted by writers from Homer onwards as they portray the veteran's return.
  • Composing Performance: This practical workshop was organised for theatre-makers interested in how we montage performance material both for the performer and for an audience. Peader Kirk is Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck as well as being an artist and director working in the fields of performance and sound art. 
  • Let us pray: Representations of Prayer in Word and Image, 1300-1900: In our secular world, prayer has become unfamiliar, and past cultures where prayer was more central are harder to understand. Dr Isabel Davis (Birkbeck), Reverend Dr Jessica Martin and Dr Nicola Bown (Birkbeck) discussed representations of prayer in literature and art in the Middle Ages, the seventeenth century and the Victorian period.
  • Re-Rooming Virginia: Rewriting Woolf for the Twenty-first Century: Artist Kabe Wilson's Of One Woman or So takes all 37,971 words of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own and rearranged them to produce a novel about a young English student inspired by the Black Rights movement of the 1960s. 
  • Clouds: Objects, Metaphor, Phenomena: Clouds are not only meteorological phenomena: they are also ethereal bodies with a long history of association with the emotions and with literary and social metaphor. Dr Vladimir Jankovic (Manchester), Dr Richard Hamblyn (Birkbeck) and Professor Esther Leslie (Birkbeck) discussed clouds from eighteenth-century meteorology and Romantic poetry to nuclear mushrooms and cloud computing.
  • The Body in Performance: Participants included Riccardo Buscarini (winner of the Place Prize 2013 and Lecturer in Choreography at Birkbeck), Nobuko Anan (Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Theatre and Performance at Birkbeck) and Maria Koripas (Director of Dance at Birkbeck). Screenings included Athletes, Buscarini's prize-winning piece.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

  • Beyond Gone with the Wind: Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave: While 12 Years a Slave is arguably candid about the horrors of the slave past, does it offer us historical closure in ways that draw a line between the viewer and that which is viewed, or does the film open up conversations about contemporary race relations and slavery's ongoing legacy? What are the politics of abolitionist melodrama in contemporary cinema? Dr Anna Hartnell (Birkbeck), Dr Emily Senior (Birkbeck) and Professor Tim Armstrong (Royal Holloway) explored these issues and more in an interesting panel.
  • Thinking Visually: Iberian and Latin American Images in Practice and Research: A photographer, two curators and a performer discussed what it means to work on Iberian and Latin American visual cultures. Each speaker explored the conflicts and synergies between practice-based research as an artist or curator and the demands of academic inquiry.
  • Working with Photographs: Archives: From domestic attics to national institutions, photographs are part of many archival collections, where they play a variety of roles as precious specimens, assets to be exploited, or miscellaneous 'stuff' taking up too much room. In this informal panel discussion, Graham Head, who as Head of Information Services at the British Museum, led their image and photography programmes, Heidi Hudson from the Kennel Club Picture Library, and Stefan Dickers, Head of the Library and Archives at Bishopsgate Institute, spoke about their experience of working with photographs.
  • Theatre Conversation: Theatres of Nostalgia: Nostalgia, a feeling of deep longing to re-experience past events, is a ubiquitous theme in music, film and fashion. How does theatre engage with nostalgia? How might theatre show us how nostalgia works? Birkbeck's theatre practitioners and academics for a lively round-table debating theatre, performance and the past.
  • Multicultural TV Drama in Britain: History and Future: An evening of screenings and discussion about the origins of multicultural TV drama, the current state of affairs, and issues of future funding, policy, training and possibilities. Key panellists included two award-winning producers, Tara Prem and Peter Ansorge, who will discuss some of their ground breaking work for BBC and Channel 4; Carol Russell, Founder of 'Fresh Voices UK' and Dr Clive James Nwonka, Screenwriter (Brunel University). Screened extracts will include: A Touch of Eastern Promise (BBC, 1973), Empire Road (BBC, 1978-79), Black Christmas (BBC2, 1977) Tandoori Nights (C4, 1985-87), Gangsters (BBC, 1976-78), Luther (BBC1, 2010-2013) and Britz (C4, 2007).
  • Shell Shock, Celluloid and WW1: The discomforts of being a spectator: In 1918, the physician Hurst filmed shell-shocked soldiers at Netley Hospital. The footage is generally presented as evidence of alarming illness. But a closer look reveals patients shamming their symptoms for the cameras and laughing at their fellow invalids. Theatre expert and cultural critic Tiffany Watt-Smith explored how film-making was part of Hurst's therapeutic approach and considers the uncomfortable role of the spectator in it.
  • The Way We Read Now: A discussion on the way in which we read and research texts in the 21st century. The panel included Dr Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck), Dr Michael James Collins (University of Kent), Dr Bianca Leggett ( Birkbeck), Dr Martin Eve (University of Lincoln), Dr Zara Dinnen (University of Birmingham) and Dr Daniel O'Gorman (Royal Holloway). 

Wednesday 21 May 2014

  • Stranger Than Fiction: An Evening with Travis Elborough: Travis Elborough, co-editor of A London Year, discussed the attraction of London diarists. In conversation with host Joe Brooker, he discussed topics from across his successful series of books: London buses, the seaside, vinyl records, and the practice of non-fiction and historical research.
  • Listening by Larry Sider: It is rare to listen - just listen - as a group. Whether at the cinema, a concert, the theatre or facing some sort of screen, we have images to keep our hearing company. This programme of narrative, abstract, film, radio and documentary material, was an opportunity for an audience to listen, together, in the dark, without images. To immerse themselves in unfamiliar worlds and strange stories; to confront unexpected emotions, feelings, impressions; to share the unseen with those around you – all through sound.
  • The Mediated City: A Tour of Media and Mediation in West End London: This tour explored West End London as a lens into the appearance of media in city life and its environments. A range of buildings and neighbourhoods associated with major media industries are seen in addition to some more unconventional forms of urban media and communication. 
  • Theatre Scratch Night: Students from our theatre and creative writing programmes, from BA to PhD, shared their work in progress, including the first showing of several short new plays. 
  • The Future of the Book: Can publishing innovation save the book? What are the implications for writers and readers? Rebecca Rouillard, editor of the Writers' Hub, chaired a panel of guests including Emma Wright (The Emma Press), Adam Freudenheim (Pushkin Press) and Dan Kieran (Unbound) to discuss the future of the book.
  • London: A Renaissance City?: What was the Renissance and where did it happen? Famously, something happened in fourteenth-century Italy that set Europe on a new course. But what happened in England and especially in London? This panel asked whether we should consider London as having a Renaissance – and if so, when and for whom with Birkbeck experts Dr Stephen Clucas, Dr Brodie Wadell, Dr Gill Woods and Professor Sue Wiseman.
  • Bibliographical Blunders : Error and Print in Renaissance England: We all make mistakes....But what can we do with them? Nowhere is error more shaping and more permanent than in the printed book. Expert in Renaissance Literature, Dr Adam Smyth (Balliol College, Oxford) explores the role of the Renaissance invention of the printing press in initiating whole new vistas of error. Looking at errata, pasted scraps, cancelled pages and a wide variety of bibliographical blunders, this talk follows errors into the world.
  • From Text to Screen and Back: Adaptation Across Media: Dr Richard Taws (UCL), Dr Silke Arnold de Simine (Birkbeck), Dr Ann Lewis (Birkbeck) explored the contested but highly productive concept of intermediality, and its relation to ideas of adaptation, through case studies taken from across English, French and German-speaking cultures.
  • What is so special about the arts and humanities?: A panel of distinguished speakers will debate these contentious questions, including the relevance of studying the arts and humanities in today's society and the intrinsic value it affords.

Thursday 22 May 2014

  • The Carnation Revolution Between African Anticolonialism and European Rebellion: This three day international conference gathered historians, sociologists, film scholars, art historians and political scientists to discuss the 1974-75 Carnation Revolution in Portugal, in the year of its fortieth anniversary. The Revolution is one of the most intriguing events in European contemporary history, in between post-war African anticolonialism and the context of social rebellion of the long 1960s. 
  • Shakespeare in the Classroom: Text and Performance: This panel of academics and teachers explored why we teach Shakespeare and the complex issues of value, tradition, text and performance that his plays present within and beyond the classroom.Panellists included Birkbeck experts Dr Gillian Woods, Paul LaRochelle and Jacqueline Watson.
  • Curating 'Empire' at Tate: Dissonance and British Art: In this talk Birkbeck's Dr Sarah Thomas discussed some of the challenges encountered during preparations for a major exhibition, confronting the troubling legacies of Britain's imperial past planned at Tate Britain for 2015.
  • Laughter and Tears: This event explored laughter and tears in French and German literature from the Renaissance as part of a history of emotions, and asks how public attitudes may have changed.
  • Poetry in Film: A screening of Poetry Films made by National Film and Television School students, followed by a panel discussion led by poet Martina Evans, with Jane Corbett (filmmaker and writer), Roger Crittenden (former Head of Programme at the NFTS), Liane Strauss, (Head of Poetry at Birkbeck), and film director Asher Tlalim.
  • Theatre North presents MIRANDO: a new work in progress: MIRANDO - A queer re-imagining of Shakespeare's Tempest. Following the success of Naked Homo and Handel's Cross, Andrew McKinnon and Martin Lewton returned to Birkbeck Arts Week with Theatre North's latest project. 
  • Natural Histories of the Book: This Material Texts event considered the animal nature of books from medieval to modern and uncovered the curious animal life of books. With Dr Luisa Cale (Birkbeck).

Friday 23 May 2014

  • Writing for Young Adults: To explore the issues of reading as a young adult and writing for young adults, a panel of writers (John Lucas, Nicole Burstein) and teachers (Jane Bassett, Matthew Hilton-Dennis) included short talks, reading from fiction and a Q and A with our panellists.
  • The Acts Between: The Acts Between was a performance exploring the themes of mental health and the passing of time. It responds to the spaces of 43 Gordon Square, making links to the building's history and former Bloomsbury resident Virginia Woolf. For Arts Week 2014, the company presented a 90 minute installation version of the performance. 
  • The Carnation Revolution Between African Anticolonialism and European Rebellion: This three-day international conference gathered historians, sociologists, film scholars, art historians and political scientists to discuss the 1974-75 Carnation Revolution in Portugal, in the year of its fortieth anniversary. The Revolution is one of the most intriguing events in European contemporary history, in between post-war African anti-colonialism and the context of social rebellion of the long 1960s. 
  • International Contemporary Art Trends: Views from Hamburg: Founded by Dr Falckenberg, the Collection which bears his name is a leader in Germany and contains 2,000 works, emphasising German and American contemporary art of the last 30 years. This lecture focused on trends in contemporary art and also to numerous Visiting Exhibitions at Hamburg's Deichtorhallen Falckenberg Collection, featuring prominent artists such as William Burroughs and Mike Kelley.
  • Writing for a Shakespearean Stage: New Plays for The Globe: For the past seventeen years, the reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe has played host to many productions of plays originally written for Elizabethan and Jacobean theatres. A lively panel discussion featuring renowned playwrights including David Eldridge (Holy Warriors, 2014) and Jessica Swale (Bluestockings, 2013), chaired by Dr Gillian Woods (Birkbeck) explored How do playwrights approach the task of writing new plays for this distinctive stage.
  • Fire Walk with Me: Trauma, Catharsis and the Fantasy of Fantastical Kinship: Andrew Asibong (author of Mameluke Bath, 2013) and Hannah Eaton (author of Naming Monsters, 2013) discussed the impact of David Lynch's frequently dismissed 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me on their work, and considered Lynch's importance for imaginative responses to trauma, fantasy and catharsis. 
  • While they should be sleeping...: Some of the School's finest performers played live and unplugged.