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Celebrating culture: Birkbeck takes part in the Bloomsbury Festival

The history and artistic heritage of Bloomsbury will be discussed by experts from Birkbeck at free events during the Bloomsbury Festival

The history and artistic heritage of Bloomsbury will be discussed by experts from Birkbeck at free events during the Bloomsbury Festival. Speakers will share their research as part of the programme of activities, which includes talks, dance, drama, poetry and performance. Separate Birkbeck events are also taking place for Black History Month this October.

The Bloomsbury Festival from 19-21 October celebrates contemporary Bloomsbury and is proud to continue the traditions of social inclusivity and creative exploration which have flourished in the area for centuries.

Birkbeck is situated in the heart of Bloomsbury and its School of Arts specialises in teaching and research in the arts, including subjects related to Bloomsbury’s cultural history. Birkbeck is one of the Bloomsbury Festival’s official partners.

Birkbeck’s events: History, literature and film

Members of Birkbeck’s community are leading and contributing to various events, and will be speaking about a wide range of subjects, including the films of JM Barrie – the author of Peter Pan, fictional representations of Bloomsbury, and artefacts from Ancient Egypt (details below):

Imagining Bloomsbury’s Streets

Saturday 20 October, 15:00-16:00, Senate House, WC1E 7HU

Dr Joanne Winning, of Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities and Professor Rosemary Ashton, of UCL’s Bloomsbury Project, will discuss fictional representations of Bloomsbury down the years and ask whose work best represents both Bloomsbury the place and “Bloomsbury” the concept. Contemporary artist Robert Shepherd will reveal how Bloomsbury’s past and present meet in his graphic recreations of the area’s streets and squares. All three will be in conversation with Dr Joe Brooker, of Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities.

Dr Brooker said: “Bloomsbury has been a location of literary history for a long time. We've all heard of the Bloomsbury Group, but one thing that I think will emerge from our discussion at the Bloomsbury Festival is how many other writers have worked in, and written about, the area. It's a reminder of what a rich and interesting setting Birkbeck has in the heart of London.”

Physical imprints: Virtual impressions 2

Saturday 20 October, 15:30-16:00, Senate House, WC1E 7HU

    Birkbeck PhD student Zara Dinnen, co-convenor of the Contemporary Fiction Research Seminar at the Institute of English Studies will discuss innovative approaches to making books with Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen, founders of Visual Editions, and Richard T.Kelly, editor of Faber Finds.
    Dinnen said: “The Bloomsbury Festival is a really great opportunity to showcase some of the research and wider work being done on contemporary culture at Birkbeck. It's an honour to get the publishers Visual Editions and Faber Finds involved, and to discuss the state of publishing and printed books in such a lively, public setting.”

    A frustrated love affair? Bloomsbury and film

    Saturday 20 October, 16:00-17:15, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

    Professor Ian Christie
    , of Birkbeck’s Department of History of Art and Screen Media will survey Bloomsbury’s fascination – and frequent frustration – with film. JM Barrie – the author of Peter Pan – was a keen amateur filmmaker. Virginia Woolf and many of the Bloomsbury Group also founded the influential London Film Society in 1925, she summed up her hopes for cinema in a famous essay the following year, and the influence of film is apparent in her writing.

    The mummy's curse

    Saturday 20 October, 18:00-20:00, Petrie Museum, UCL, Malet Place, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT

    Professor Roger Luckhurst
    , of Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities, will explore the macabre receptions of Ancient Egypt, and the nature of the Gothic in relation to Egypt.

    He said: “The Bloomsbury Festival is a brilliant way of connecting up the weird and wonderful spaces for research in the area, and for making them accessible to the public. I'm talking about mummy curses amidst the amazing ancient Egyptian collection of the Petrie Museum, but I've also rummaged in the basement archives of the Institute of Archaeology at UCL, amongst the amazing resources of the British Museum, and have seen bits of mummy bandage in the rare books and manuscripts of the Wellcome Library. Bloomsbury contains a treasure trove of ancient, literary, and artistic artefacts, and I encourage everyone to make the most of this exciting Festival.”

    Black History Month

    Birkbeck is also staging cultural events this October to celebrate Black History Month.

    Reading and empowerment: The autobiography of Malcolm X

    Wednesday 17 October, 17:30-19:00, John Harvard Library, 211 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JA

    Dr Anna Hartnell, of Birkbeck's Department of English and Humanities, will talk about the autobiography of Malcolm X – one of the most powerful political autobiographies of the twentieth century. Central to Malcolm X’s personal and political transformation was his decision to learn to read. This session reflects on the connections between reading, empowerment and change.

    Pressure: Film screening and discussion

    Thursday 25 October, 17:00-19:30, North Kensington Library, 108 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, W11 1PZ

    A pioneering first feature length film by a Black British director, Pressure (1975) tells the story of the coming of age of Tony, a bright young teenager caught between the aspirations of his parents and the realities of growing up in Notting Hill. In this ground breaking film, directed by Horace Ové from a collaborative script with Trinidadian author Sam Selvon, Pressure uses a mixture of professionals and amateur actors to explore the dilemmas of being young, Black and British in mid-1970s London.

    The film will be followed by a discussion, led by Mike Berlin, of Birkbeck's Department of History, Classics, and Archaeology.

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