Steph Mastoris – Oral History and Reminiscence

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 4th, 2011





Event Date: 4 March 2011 14:00-16:30
Ironbridge Institute, IGMT, Coalbrookdale
Telford TF8 7DX

 

Oral History and Reminiscence

 

Steph Mastoris (National Waterfront Museum, Swansea):  Oral Hostory and Reminiscence

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Part Two:

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Personal Artefacts

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Part Three

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Part Four

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Françoise Balibar in Conversation

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 2nd, 2011

Event date: 2 March 2011 17:00 – 19:00
Boardroom, 2 Gower Street
London, WC1E 6DP

 

 

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Françoise Balibar in Conversation

The Collège International de Philosophie (CIPh) can be viewed as, and in fact is, a by-product of the French May `68 revolt. That it started among students, especially students in philosophy, had two consequences in the following years: firstly, there was a major demand for more reflection on political and philosophical matters among those who had participated in the movement; secondly, the political (and centralized) power, once it had regained mastery of the situation, was naturally inclined to reduce the importance of philosophy, a discipline taught in the lycées and at the university level, and viewed as subversive. I shall examine how the conjunction of these two factors (a new interest in philosophy outside the field of its professional and traditional practice and the attacks on its very existence inside the educational system) resulted in the search for a renewed practice of philosophy among a group of philosophers around Jacques Derrida. I shall review the different steps which led, in 1983, to the foundation of the CIPh. It will appear that, from the beginning, the CIPh was at the same time inside the institution (its birth was made possible by the election of Mitterrand as President in 1981 and the renewal of the administration which ensued); but also outside of the institution, `sans référence aux garanties, hiérarchies ou légitimités antérieures’ (Derrida).

In the second part of my talk, I shall try to explain the mystery of its longevity. How is it that the CIPh, rooted as it is in the ideology of may 68, has survived up to now, nearly 30 years later, in a general context increasingly so alien to such an ideology? I shall argue, as a tentative explanation, that the strength of the CIPh lies in its extravagancy; in the way it exceeds institutional limits. The mere definition of the CIPh as a place for research (`recherche et formation à la recherche’) in a country such as France where dedicated state institutions (CNRS, INSERM and so on) have the monopoly (through grants and logistics) of research activities was, and still is, one of these extravagancies. Another extravagancy was (but is no more) the definition of the CIPh as situated on the borders common to two more more traditional disciplines; still, the CIPh has a different approach to pluridisciplinarity: it involves, not a collection of talks and papers by specialists, one after the other in their own field, but `seminars’, a modality of research activity borrowed from the German University as founded by Humboldt. These extravagancies, and some others into the details of which I shall enter, are what make the CIPh so special. But one should not indulge in too much auto-satisfaction: the CIPh has its weaknesses (on which I shall insist) that make it as fragile as a piece of chinaware.

Biography: Françoise Balibar; Born 1941 in Clermont-Ferrand. Student in the ENSJF (Ecole Normale Supérieure pour Jeunes Filles) in the science section (1960-1964). 1964-2001 teaches Physics, first as assistant at the Sorbonne, then from 1971 onwards, as full professor at Paris VII University. Co-author (with Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond) of a textbook on Quantum Physics, translated into English under the title Quantics and unorthdox in intention. From 1981 to 1991, translator into French of Einstein’s works (6 volumes including scientific, philosophical and political writings).

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Introduction by Professor Andrew Gibson .

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Roundtable on theatre and citizenship

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 2nd, 2011

Event date: 2 March 2011 16:30-19:00

IN244
Royal Holloway, Egham
Surrey TW20 0EX

 

 

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) presents:

Roundtable on theatre and citizenship


The event was  organized in conjunction with the publication of David Wiles Theatre and Citizenship: the history of a practice,  published by Cambridge University Press in February 2011.

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Introduction .

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David Wiles (RHUL) -
Theatre and citizenship: a historical perspective

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Simon Parry (University of Manchester) –
Civil assemblies: critical mass and the performance of public space

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Nadine Holdsworth (University of Warwick) –
Performing Cardboard Citizens, the RSC and the ethics of participation

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Helen Nicholson (RHUL) –
Altruism, industry and volunteering: applying theatre to civic participation

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Nick Allen (Dept of Politics and International Relations, RHUL) – respondent

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Discussion .
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The Weird: a discussion of fiction and politics with China Miéville

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 2nd, 2011

Event Date: 2 March 2011
Kingston University
JG0002, John Galsworthy Building
Penrhyn Road Campus
Kingston KT1 2EE

 

The Weird: a discussion of fiction and politics with China Miéville


At the start of the twentieth century, H. P . Lovecraft summed up the encounter between horror and strangeness as ‘pictures of shattered natural laws’ and encounters with ‘cosmic outsideness’. At the start of the 21st century, the weird has alerted us, once again, to the persistence of this ‘mood or feeling’. The new weird – generically indeterminate as it is – offers a potent trope linking pasts and presents and opening new terrains for writing creatively and differently even though its political, philosphical and cultural ramifications may be less easy to fathom.This talk with China Miéville and the Faculty of Kingston’s London Graduate School and School of Humanities seeks to revisit the idea of the weird in fiction and politics. The session will betake the form of an open discussion where contributions from faculty and audience will consider the relevance of the idea of the weird to various fields of study in the humanities.

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Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past, Present, and Future (1880 – Present) – conference page

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

The fear of Civilization collapse is a thread that runs through much of the literature, cinema, and other media of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Whereas the Utopian moment is paradigmatically in the future, the Dystopic moment is paradigmatically in the past. Dark ages, political catastrophes, and apocalyptic ends haunt the modern. For the Western tradition, a key narrative is the ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’, but this is far from being the only catastrophic trope within modern and late-modern cultures. Twentieth-century ends of the world have ranged from alien invasion and self-destruction through to the misuse of technology or spectacular technological failure, extenuated class conflict, or an apathetic decline into barbarity or moral degeneration, alongside religious conflagration, environmental and climatic change. The sheer inventiveness of the manifold ways in which the world may be brought to an end encourages us to understand the apocalyptic urge as a central element within contemporary societies.

This workshop aims to investigate how and why the apocalyptic urge manifests itself in modern societies. We propose a multi-disciplinary approach to challenge methodological conventions and allow a triangulation of the emerging narrative within diering critical traditions. To this end, we invite contributions from across the arts, humanities and social sciences that address those.

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Introduction: Professor Richard Alston (RHUL) .

Why Civilizational Collapse?
Anyone who studies Roman history works in the shadow of civilizational collapse, be it the end of the Republic or the end of the Roman empire. The field of study centres on an absence, an ending of a world. But the ruins and ruination of Rome are not ‘distant’ from contemporary culture; they are continuously invoked and re-imagined. Further, although the ‘end’ dominates the historiography, there is little evidence that the prevalent decline (which in some accounts lasts seven centuries)  was felt in such ‘final’ terms by contemporaries. The cultural import of ‘the End’ needs explanation. I suggest three characteristics.
a.    Collapse is culturally pervasive: Jameson argues that the utopian urge can be seen in virtually all literary production, a view of what society could be and has not achieved. Conversely, one could argue that the dystopic is similarly present, a vision of the ‘bad’ that society could become.
b.    Collapse is temporal: The moment of civilizational collapse is a moment which is beyond time, when time must have a stop (Walter Benjamin) and thus outside the normal historical sequences. After the revolution, time may recommence, but the gap is pervasive because it is not within a temporal structure.
c.    Collapse is spatial: often located in the city, often seen from above, civilizational collapse is a feature of the mass society.
d.    Collapse is psychological: there is exhilaration in catastrophe, when disciplinary structures come to an end, and there is also opportunity. Particular forms of masculinity take to the road and heroism (once more) becomes possible.
This leads to three issues which we might address
i.    Is dystopia utopia’s evil twin?
ii.    What is the chronological relationship of dystopia (present, past, and future)?
iii.    Are dystopic visions inherently conservative?

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Professor Greg Claeys (RHUL)  - Utopia: A Return to Definition [AUDIO HERE]
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Dr Lindsay Allen (King’s College London) – Finding identity in ruins: post-war childrenís literature [AUDIO HERE]
Dr Phiroze Vasunia (Reading) Ends of Empires [ABSTRACT HERE]
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Professor Patrick Parrinder (Reading) Suburban Apocalypse (1880-1920) [AUDIO HERE]
Professor Richard Overy (Exeter) – Will Civilization Crash? British anxieties between the World Wars [AUDIO HERE]
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Professor Klaus Dodds (RHUL)  - Geographies of the end of the world: Hollywood and the contemporary disaster movie [AUDIO HERE]
Dr Joanna Paul (Liverpool) – A Vesuvian Apocalypse: Imagining the End of the World at Pompeii [AUDIO HERE]
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Professor Ahuvia Kahane (RHUL) – The Jewish Conception of Ruin [AUDIO HERE]
Dr Ika Willis (Bristol) - Apocalypse Then: Carl Schmitt and Civil War [AUDIO HERE]
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EVENT SUPPORTED BY:
Royal Holloway Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC),
Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome (CRGR),
Institute of Classical Studies (SAS),
British Library.

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Ika Willis – Apocalypse Then: Carl Schmitt and Civil War

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 


The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

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Ika Willis: Apocalypse Then: Carl Schmitt and Civil War

The German political philosopher Carl Schmitt has recently enjoyed a surprising popularity, especially among philosophers of the left. This recuperation is particularly surprising given his historical position as philosopher and lawyer of Nazi Germany. The return to Schmitt is in part due to his rejection of liberal views of the state and his consideration of power in the formation of political bodies. Schmitt’s state was defined territorially as the region in which a particular zone of law applied: law defined territory. Belonging to a territory was a matter of defining who was an enemy. An enemy was a person whom was prepared to kill, and who was thus situated outside the protection of the law. But he also had a view of sovereignty as being vested in the body who or which was able to suspend law: sovereignty was thus the suspension of law, and this co-existed uneasily with the conception of territory. Civil war became the moment in which the law of the state was suspended in the rule of sovereignty. It was thus a calamitous moment (a civilizational suspension or collapse). Imaging that moment becomes possible in reading the first century CE poet Lucan. Lucan’s Civil War is apocalyptic in envisioning an end of the state and, indeed, an end of the universe in the civil war of 49 BCE. This resulted in the rule of the sovereign in which law was continuously and perpetually suspended. Notable in Lucan is the amalgamation of identities of the Caesars so that his Nero is also (Julius) Caesar. After the collapse is sovereign power.

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Ahuvia Kahane – The Jewish Ruin

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 


The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

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Ahuvia Kahane: The Jewish Ruin

There is a distinctive Jewish relationship to the ruin, different from that in Greek and Roman and modern cultures. Whereas in Classical cultures the ruin is a flat and lost place (Troy) barely discoverable, in Jewish thought the ruin is present. The ruin carries with it the memory of the violence of its destruction. But the memory of destruction on destruction becomes a way of constructing the past. Benjamin’s Angel of History looks back on history as ruin upon ruin, and destruction on destruction. But instead of this being a series of ends, it is a fundamental means in which Jewish time is constructed. Absence is central to the story of repeated ruination that is at the centre of Jewish time. In a continuous looking backwards through the sequences of destruction, the future is a forbidden object of speculation. Yet in the continuous process of ruination there is also a continuous prospect of the emergence of the messianic moment. Redemption is in the potential of destruction.

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Joanna Paul – Vesuvian Apocalypse

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 


The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

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Joanna Paul: Vesuvian Apocalypse

From the mid nineteenth century, and possibly early, the dead cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum had a powerful hold over Victorian imagination. Bulwer-Lytton’s (1834) Last Days of Pompeii was one of the most popular books of the nineteenth-century and its influence was felt not just in literary depictions of Pompeii but in history paintings derived from the novel. The scandalous society of Roman luxury was depicted in a strongly Christian moral schema and the eventual destruction of Pompeii became a moral/divine retribution in keeping with Biblical destructions of sinful communities. Leaping forward a century, the depiction of life under the Volcano loses some of its moralising strength. In Malcolm Lowry’s Pompeii, the city comes to stand for a sort of moral vacuum. The Classical paradigm is reduced by comparison with North-Western suburb life and the tour of Pompeii becomes a cultural pretence. Real life is lived away from the city in a rural (Canadian) arcadia. The city of culture is seen to be of little value. With Primo Levi, the volcano comes to be seen as a hostile environmental force that might sweep away not just civilization but the lives of children. The fragility of the environment becomes a comment on human atrocities, and perhaps also on the vanity of human endeavours, in a world of such possibilities of natural destruction. There is thus a shift from moral turpitude threatening the city to environmental crisis.

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Klaus Dodds – Geographies of the end of the world: Hollywood and the contemporary disaster movie

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 


The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

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Klaus Dodds:
Geographies of the end of the world: Hollywood and the contemporary disaster movie

Disaster movies have been a mainstay of cinema since the turn of the century, with Pompeii movies figuring significantly in the early history of cinema. Such films go through cycles of development, identifying apocalyptical threats from different sources. In recent films, the environmental disaster has figured significantly. Such depictions have a definite moral economy, and a definite geography, often based in a certain economic logic. Two key examples, The Day after Tomorrow and 2012 can be used to illustrate core features of the genre. Disasters often arise from remote places and strike at the heart of America, being particularly prone to attack cities, city-scapes and the most prominent and internationally recognised monuments. There may be technical reasons for this: a recognisable topography appeals to a wider audience; great cities provide a scale for disaster; filming might be easy in the city; but certain kinds of shots (the tsunami wave) become more powerful within a recognised grid plan city. Yet, the shift from a remote topography of original disaster to a familiar topography of actual disaster is replicated in a remote geography of redemption and resolution. The new community is built away from the city, sometimes in the verdant lands of the southern hemisphere. In the moral economy, the fractured family of the modern is repaired in the crisis; such a repair may stretch beyond the family to the community and the nation, but is strongly normative, heterosexual and reproductive, and sometimes national.

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Richard Overy – Will Civilization Crash?

in Academic Service - Archive by on March 1st, 2011

Event date:1 March 2011 10.30 – 17.00
British Library
London Room MR4

 

 


The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at
Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)

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Richard Overy: Will Civilization Crash?

The period from 1918 to 1939 was marked by powerfully polarised visions of politics in society. By 1939, the war against fascism could be represented as a war in defence of civilization against a threat that might extinguish that civilization. The stakes of the war were enormous, far beyond the fate of the nation which appears to have animated German thinking about the war effort. The effects of such extremity were to make moral radical acts, such as the mass bombing campaigns, since they became justifiable if civilization was to be preserved. The crisis of civilization is reflected in numerous publications, lectures, and newspapers through the period. It was the major trope of sociological thought. Nevertheless, there are problems in this English obsession. Despite the 1929 crash, capitalism in Great Britain restored itself relatively quickly. The empire was not under any great threat. The origins of this are complex: they lie partly in the first world war, and the great losses that resulted. That war also showed the mechanisation of slaughter that was brought about by science. Scientific and political progressivism suffered in the experience of modern warfare, suggesting a civilization about to destroy itself. Images of ‘Barbarians at the Gate’ are common, and although civilization was in itself taken for granted, a fact which no-one needed to define, it was quite difficult to locate. The masses provided a threat to civilization. Similarly, environmental degradation threatened to break with the ‘natural’ conditions of man, worries expressed in eugenics, and furthermore there was the vision of future weapons capable of bringing vast destruction and ending the institutions of civilized and killing the civilized man alongside his more humble brethren.

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