MCH host a variety of talks, seminars, events, film screenings and symposia each academic year, and we are delighted to welcome and work with speakers from all over the world, as well as those based here in Newcastle.
As part of the MCH Seminar series, our next event is on Wednesday, November 30, 1pm – 3pm, G.22 Politics Building, Newcastle University. (Lunch available from 12.30pm in the Politics Staff Common Room.)
Hosted in cooperation with Politics, for this seminar we are delighted to welcome Dr Debbie Lisle (Queen’s University Belfast).
Crisis in Slow motion: the stubborn habits of migration
This paper contests the temporal ordering of crisis and emergency that framed EU migration during the summer of 2015 and continues to shape official responses to the supposed ‘weakening’ of Europe’s borders.
Focusing specifically on arrival and reception experiences on the Greek island of Kos, this paper thinks with and alongside the encounters that are occluded by dominant crisis-framings in government, policy, media and activist circles. It begins by exploring the mundane actions, daily habits and embodied rhythms of simply getting on in the midst of a crisis – the stubborn and often indifferent acts of living, persisting and moving despite the claim of emergency.
Of particular interest here are the everyday human / non-human relations that persist in repetitive acts of daily living (e.g. washing, eating, playing) as well as the complex relationships that people on the move have with objects (e.g. backpacks, smartphones). Focusing on these embodied and material relations is one way to visualize not only the rich, vibrant agencies that persist in and through moments of crisis, but also the non-spectacular moments of solidarity, care and circulation that contest dominant modes of abjection and rescue.
MCH Seminar Series: Self-Representation in Digital Culture
Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 3-5pm, 2.90 Armstrong Building, Newcastle University
Since the pro-anorexia phenomenon, also referred to as pro-ana or simply ana, began to emerge on the internet in the early 1990s, there has been a growing body of academic work on pro-ana communities online. Underpinned by diverse and often conflicting disciplinary perspectives, most of this work focuses on websites and blogs. In recent years, however, the pro-ana ‘movement’ has migrated onto social media platforms. When, in 2012, both Tumblr and Pinterest imposed a ban to restrict pro-ana sharing, many pro-anas turned their attention to Instagram, a strongly visual application that was originally designed for editing and sharing photos. There is, however, a dearth of research, particularly gender-aware research, on pro-ana practices and discourses in the context of newer mobile social platforms such as Instagram. Using a dataset of 7,560 images, this study explores pro-anorexia and thinspiration image sharing practices on Instagram. It asks whether the shift from websites and blogs to this social media platform has entailed significant changes in terms of how the pro-ana community communicates and discursively constructs itself. We conclude that memes and the memetic nature of image sharing as well as the more peripherally governed, participatory nature of Instagram impact upon pro-ana communicative practices in new ways that are worthy of feminist scholarly attention.
Using the original concept of ‘Bodies that Stutter’ this paper will focus on how post-queer practices of self-representation on digital and networked media (captured in the practice of the sexually explicit ‘selfie’) frame a rhetoric of desire that reconsiders queer identity and body politics through processes of post-queer identification and those queer bodies that have previously ‘mattered’ (Butler, 1993) and ‘muttered’ (Dean, 2000). Using the work of Jacques Lacan to reposition Tim Deans and Judith Butler concepts of bodies that matter and bodies that mutter this post-queer body that stutters is reflective of the hesitancy, frustration, exhilaration, and repetition that it subversively contains, as well as remaining vulnerable to metonymic contiguity and transposition of a symbolically normative language it cannot control. ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are also the bodies that attempt to express a powerful jouissance through a language of the ‘personal’ and the metaphorical signifier. Yet, unlike Imaginary bodies that rely upon ego, the ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are subject to an impersonal Other that underpins how their desire is expressed metonymically – through this process they symbolically-stutter. A lot like desire, stuttering is reliant upon stops and starts, structure and chaos, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. It is also something that cannot be contained or applied to one body above another or indeed one identity and/or identity type. This paper uses the contextual focus of the sexually explicit selfie and its ubiquity among gay men on the website tumblr to suggest that bodies that stutter form a practice of ‘symbolic stuttering’ that might well occur in multiple, ambiguous, and oblique ways.
The format will be 30 minutes for each paper, followed by a discussion chaired by Dr Clifton Evers. We will have tea, coffee and something sweet at 3pm, followed by a drinks reception at 4.30pm.
Film Praxis Screening & Seminar Series
Supported by Research Centre for Film
Talk by Nick Broomfield followed by
Newcastle University Film Research Showcase
Wednesday 2 November, 2-6pm
The Ballroom, Culture Lab
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield will give a presentation in Culture Lab, Newcastle University, on Wednesday 2 November 2016. He will talk about his forthcoming documentary on the legendary singer Whitney Houston, following which he will preside over a Film Research Showcase.
Currently a Visiting Professor in Film Practice at the University, Nick will also talk about ‘Going Going Gone’, his two films about heritage buildings for the BBC. Nick’s talk will be followed by a series of short presentations to showcase the range and quality of film research by academics and filmmakers at Newcastle University.
The event is free and an opportunity for students and staff to attend Nick Broomfield’s presentation. It is also an opportunity to know about the range of exciting film research projects, both ongoing and in development, undertaken by staff at the University.
2.00 – 2.10 pm:
Introduction: Ian McDonald
2.10 – 3.00 pm:
Presentation: Nick Broomfield
3.15 – 5.00 pm:
Film Research Showcase
Presenters: Guy Austin, Alastair Cole, Tina Gharavi, Geetha Jayaraman, Ian McDonald, Andrew Shail, Sabrina Q Yu.
5.00 – 6.00 pm:
Networking with wine and snacks
For further details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the MCH Seminar series, our next event is on Wednesday, 12 October between 1pm and 2pm, and looks at the implications of Brexit for teaching and research.
Contributors: Areti Galani, Darren Kelsey, Majid Khosravanik, Rhiannon Mason
Wednesday, October 12, 1pm – 2pm at Armstrong Building 2.90, Newcastle University
Empathy in Museums: Digital experiences, mixed emotions and encounters with ‘otherness’
27th April 2016
We are delighted to welcome keynote speaker Andrea Witcomb, alongside Rhiannon Mason, Areti Galani and Abigail Durrant for this MCH seminer exploring empathy in museums.
Prof Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University) – Building empathy through digital experiences in museums
In an early piece of mine (Witcomb 2003) I theorized the existence of different forms of interactivity in exhibitions, arguing that there was a world of difference between what I called a technical form of interactivity – push a button and get a response _ and a dialogical form of interactivity in which there was a space for what I have called a poetics of the imagination. Such a poetics, I argued, was interested in challenging received narratives about the past. Since then, I have consistently looked for examples of multimedia use in exhibitions that strain towards a poetics informed by a desire to challenge narratives of the self – whether at an individual or collective level. What I am interested in is not the use of digital forms of interactivity that promote tolerance but those that promote empathy or the ability to ask ourselves what our relationship to someone else might be and, in the process, what our ethical relationship to them is.
Obviously, such questions are particularly important in contexts of ‘difficult histories (MacDonald 2009) when the aim is to acknowledge experiences of trauma, ask questions of civic responsibility or engage in a process of changing collective attitudes towards a group of people or some event in the past that impacts on social relations in the present.
In this paper, I will explore examples of the use of digital media in Australia, dealing specifically with two issues – reconciliation and policies of migration – since 2001. At the heart of my exploration lie two concerns – the ways in which digital forms of communication can be used to challenge our assumption of a break between the past and the present and the ways in which they break down the usual distance between subject and object, self and other, that has been so important in traditional forms of display. These two elements are not only what constitute a dialogic practice, they are also key elements of what I have elsewhere called a ‘pedagogy of feeling’ (Witcomb 2014, 2015a and b). I will explore these issues through a discussion of the use of mimetic forms of communication (Gibbs 2010) and their role in producing affective experiences that lead to a degree of critical insight into relations between self and other.
Andrea Witcomb is a Professor in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University where she directs the Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific and is the Deputy Director (Governance) of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. She has a long standing interest in the ways in which exhibition practices can be used to create conversations across cultural differences. She has focused on the use of immersive exhibition practices to achieve this end, looking in detail at the poetic side of exhibitions – how objects, first person narratives, multimedia and sensorial modes of communication are used to produce an affective experience for museum visitors that have the potential to challenge collective memories and understandings. Andrea is the author of Reimagining the Museum: Beyond the Mausoleum (Routledge 2003), From the Barracks to the Burrup: the National Trust in Western Australia with Kate Gregory (UNSW Press 2010) and co-editor with Chris Healy of South Pacific Museums: Experiments in Culture (Monash epress 2006; 2012) and, with Kylie Message of Museum Theory (Wiley Blackwell 2015) as well as many book chapters and journal articles.
Professor Rhiannon Mason, Newcastle University – Experiencing Mixed Emotions in the Museum: Empathy and Memory in Visitors’ Responses to Histories of Migration (with thanks to Dr Katherine Lloyd, Herriot-Watt University, Dr Areti Galani, Newcastle University, and to Dr Joanne Sayner, Birmingham University).
This paper explores visitor responses to museum histories of migration, particularly regarding empathy. We argue that unanticipated, wider memory discourses interplay with the emotional responses expressively invited by the museum display. This raises important questions about the complexity of understanding the museum visit in terms of affective practices. It asks us to consider to what extent different kinds of emotions may come into conflict with, frame, or support, one another. It also alerts us to the importance of attending to the interplay between individual, personal emotional responses to specific displays and those which are connected to broader discourses of identity circulating within certain memory communities.
Dr Areti Galani (Media Culture, Heritage, Newcastle University) and Dr Abigail Durrant (Open Lab, Newcastle University) – Sit with Me: re-imagining digital encounters of ‘otherness’ through design-driven museum research (with thanks to Professor Rhiannon Mason, Newcastle University)
This talk discusses the design process of Sit with Me, an interactive digital media installation in the exhibition Destination Tyneside, at the Discovery Museum. Sit with Me explores the role of dialogue-driven interpretive strategies in scaffolding visitors’ affective engagement with difficult topics. It combines the use of archival records and photographs with responsive mirror and screen-based technology to surprise and challenge visitors’ own assumptions around historic and contemporary migration in the region.
The paper articulates how the interactional qualities of ambiguity, surprise and the uncanny emerged through the design process as a meaningful way of combining content, technology and museum context to shape museum visitors’ encounters with ‘otherness’. It particularly reflects on the challenges and opportunities of design-driven research and methodologies in re-imagining the nature of embodied, social and affective encounters between visitors and challenging histories in museum settings.
Prof. Richard Clay – Digital Humanities
23rd March 2016
Richard Clay will speak about some of his experiences of working on digital humanities projects, his perspectives on this growing field, and his vision for Digital Humanities at Newcastle in the context of recent developments in the funding landscape.
Garry Whannel – News, digital media and vortextuality
9th March 2016
The internet, digitalisation and social media have together restructured the nature, place and routines of “news”. In analysing these processes, I developed the concept of vortextuality in which the media constantly feed off each other and off public responses, and, in an era of electronic and digital information exchange, the speed at which this happens has become very rapid. Regularly, particular events come to dominate the headlines to such an extent that it becomes temporarily difficult for columnists and commentators to discuss anything else. They are drawn in, as if by a vortex.
Garry Whannel is a writer and researcher, and was Professor of Media Cultures (1999-2015). His webpage can be found at: garrywhannel.com
Benjamin De Cleen (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) – The articulation of nationalism, populism and conservatism in populist radical right rhetoric: a discourse-theoretical perspective
2nd March 2016
Convened by the Critical Discourse Group
In this talk I will argue that populist radical right (PRR) rhetoric is usefully understood as the articulation of three main components: nationalism, populism, and conservatism. I will first present a discourse-theoretical definition of nationalism, populism and conservatism, building on the work of Laclau and Mouffe (2001), Laclau’s work on populism (1977, 2005) and Glynos and Howarth’s (2007) work on a logics approach to politics. Such an approach results in definitions of a rather formal nature that focus on the structure of nationalism, populism and conservatism across the diversity of nationalisms, populisms and conservatisms – rather than on their substance (what is the nation, the people, what needs to be conserved). This allows covering the very diverse and competing ways in which nationalism, populism and conservatism have been used by PRR and other parties and movements (as for example the difference between left and right-wing populism exemplifies). Such an approach allows grasping the flexible, evolving, and contradictory manner in which PRR parties and movements have used and combined nationalism, populism and conservatism. I will look at the rhetoric of the Flemish PRR party VB (Vlaams Blok / Vlaams Belang) to illustrate this argument, drawing mainly on examples of analyses of VB rhetoric about expressive culture and journalism.
Mark Dueze (University of Amsterdam) – Media Life
24th February 2016, 4-6pm
Convened by the Critical Discourse Group
Research consistently shows how, through the years, more of our time is spent using media, how media multiply in everyday life, and that consuming media for most people takes place alongside producing media. Media Life, as a concept, is a primer on how we may think of our lives as lived in rather than with media. The way people experience media – the way humanity is digital – can be used as a prism to understand key issues in contemporary society, in which reality is open source, identities are – like websites – always under construction, and private life is lived in public forever more. Ultimately, media are to us as water is to fish. The question is: how can we live a good life in media, like fish in water? This presentation offers a compass for the way ahead.