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Radical Attention

Venue: Online

Attention pays. In today‘s online economy it has become a commodity to be bought and sold. Bombarding us with free smartphone apps and news websites, developers and advertisers have turned what and how focus our attention into the world‘s fastest growing industry.

In exchange for our attention, information and entertainment is ever at our fingertips. But at what cost? In this essay, at once personal and polemical, meditative and militant, Julia Bell asks what has been lost in this trade off. How can we reclaim our attention? In a world of infinite distraction, how can attention become radical?

In this event, Julia Bell will read from her new work, Radical Attention, an essay on the battle for our attention in the age of distraction. Following the reading, Julia will be in conversation with Esther Leslie, co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

This is an online event to be hosted on Blackboard Collaborate. Joining instructions will be sent to registered participants before the start of the event.


Julia Bell is a writer and Reader in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, where she is the Course Director of the MA in Creative Writing. Her recent creative work includes poetry, lyric essays and short stories published in the Paris Review, Times Literary Supplement, The White Review, Mal Journal, Comma Press, and recorded for the BBC.

Esther Leslie is Professor in Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck University of London, and Co-director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. She has research interests in Marxist theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. Other research interests include the poetics of science, the bleeding edge of technologies, European literary and visual modernism and avant gardes, animation, colour and madness, art philosophy and politics.

This event is supported by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research.

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