Friday, 25 April 2014

GradProg talk this Weds: Too Much Heaven -- The Kitsch Epiphany

Graduate Programme talks this Weds 30 April, 4-5pm.
Room 2.07, MediaCityUK

Dr Gavin Hopps (University of St Andrews)

Too Much Heaven: The Kitsch Epiphany

Most people in the contemporary western world are familiar with what Noel Coward, that connoisseur of kitsch, referred to as the extraordinary potency of cheap music – that is, the experience of being bowled over, 'carried away' or profoundly elated by an art-form that seems able to 'give more than it has'. But is it of any theological significance? Pop, rock, rap and rave have all been used in religious worship, but what about outside the church? Might such music be able to elicit what Paul Tillich refers to as an experience of 'revelatory ecstasy'? Does it make any sense to speak of a 'kitsch epiphany'? That music is capable of engendering such affects is of course something of a commonplace. Karl Barth, for example, famously claimed that it is possible to hear in Mozart’s music the goodness of the created order and, as such, that it may even serve as a kind of theodicy, since it communicates a sense of the lux perpetua in which the darkness of the world is enveloped. And yet such arguments, which have been cogently defended in recent years by Jeremy Begbie, Albert Blackwell, Richard Viladesau and others in relation to classical music in general, are rarely applied to popular forms. Since it seems unlikely that musical affects can be so neatly prescribed in advance, and that a medium of such peculiar potency should be excommunicated in its entirety, this paper will explore the possibility that pop music may be capable of eliciting the kinds of affects that Barth attributes to Mozart.

Gavin Hopps is Lecturer in Literature & Theology and Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews. He has been a Lecturer in English at the universities of Aachen, Oxford and Canterbury Christ Church and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He has published numerous articles on Romantic writing, a collection of essays on spectrality in Byron, and a monograph on the singer-songwriter Morrissey. He is currently working with Jane Stabler on a new edition of the complete poetical works of Lord Byron (to be published by Longman in 6 volumes), a monograph on popular music and radical wonder, entitled The Kitsch Epiphany, and another on the levity of Byron's Don Juan.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

“Creating Our Future Histories”

 “Creating Our Future Histories”
AHRC Collaborative Skills Training Programme
(Public Engagement and Partnership Building)
Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR)
Manchester Metropolitan University

Public engagement and external partnership building have become an important factor in the career progression of up-and-coming academics; it is now a standard requirement for all researchers to account for the relevance and impact of their research.
All of us are advised to incorporate public engagement and partnership building into the research process from the very conception of a new project; rather than simply integral to the research, public engagement must be constitutive of it, determining its genesis rather than merely accompanying its dissemination.
This new ‘ ideal’ research scenario not only raises questions regarding the appropriation of traditional research procedures, but also exposes a huge skills gap concerning effective methodological innovation. Our proposed training aims to fill this gap by equipping PGR/ECRs with ‘hands-on’ research partnership experience regarding the collaborative excavation, representation and recording of our community-based local histories.
In response to these demands, the Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR) are pleased to be hosting a new AHRC-funded collaborative skills training programme for 2014-15.
The programme consists of a series of practice-led workshops and multidisciplinary peer-group activities designed to equip PhD students and early-career researchers from a whole range of Arts and Humanities disciplines (including History, English & Creative Writing, Human Geography, Information & Communication Studies, Film Studies and Art) with public engagement and research partnership-building skills. The aim of the programme is to set up actual partnerships with local community groups and organisations interested in excavating and recording their histories. Our partners for this project will include:
GMVCO Ardwick Green Heritage Project
Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse
Dance Manchester
Ancoats Dispensary Trust
The Pankhurst Centre
The programme draws on the expertise of:
Manchester Centre for Regional History (MCRH)
University of Central Lancashire’s Institute for Local and Family History
People’s History Museum
Manchester Histories Festival
These groups will work in collaboration with additional experts in participative research, media representation and impact generation.
The individual workshops will focus on contact management, consultation and collaborative project design, media liaison, co-ownership of research results, as well as effective impact capture and evaluation.
The programme will be delivered as five workshops (including two two-day residential weekends) and a public exhibition event. The period between the workshops is dedicated to actual and virtual fieldwork, which will see the participants developing their partnerships with the community groups assigned to them. Participants will consolidate their understanding of public engagement by working through online materials made available by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
Time schedule
Please note that to maximise access to the training, the workshops will run at weekends. The venue for the workshops will be the People’s History Museum
Orientation Day (6 September 2014)
Workshop 1 (two-day residential: 27-28 September 2014)
Workshop 2 (two-day residential: 22-23 November 2014)
Workshop 3 (7 February 2015)
Workshop 4 (a Saturday in late March 2015, exact date TBC)
Public exhibition event (May 2015, exact dates TBC)
Workshop 5 (20 June 2015)
  • The programme is open to all PhD students enrolled at a British HEI as well as early-career researchers who have completed their doctoral studies since 2010. Priority will be given to final-year PhD students, especially if they are AHRC-funded. Additional preference will be given to ECRs not currently in full-time employment.
  • Applicants are expected to sign up for the whole programme.
  • Applications are invited from PhD/ECRs with a background in any Arts and Humanities discipline within the AHRC’s funding remit, but it is anticipated that at least three fifths of the 20-25 participants will be from a History background.
  • Due to the programme’s focus on Manchester, many participants will be based in the region, but this is by no means a prerequisite. Participants will be able to claim back travel expenses, and overnight accommodation (for the two residentials) is provided.
How to apply:
Please submit one pdf file, including:
  • - your CV (two pages maximum), including contact details of two academic referees
  • - a synopsis of your current research (500 words maximum)
  • - information on any prior public engagement experience, if applicable (200 words maximum)
  • - a personal statement detailing your interest in the training, particularly important if your home discipline is not History (200 words maximum)
Please submit your application to Mrs Helen Malarky (IHSSR Project Manager) at by 15 May 2014. Applicants will be  informed of the outcome of their application by no later than 20 June 2014.

GradProg talks at MCUK 2/4: Radical/Alternative Media, Multitudes and Activism

Wednesday 2 April, Room 2.04, MediaCityUK --- all welcome.

Internal Speaker: Michael Goddard (University of Salford, Media and Broadcast directorate), 2-3pm

Media Ecological Approaches to Alternative and Radical Media

This presentation will explore some of the issues in approaching alternative and radical media drawing on and extending the work of Downing et al (2000) on Radical Media and Atton on Alternative Media and An Alternative Internet (2001, 2004). In particular it will use the concept of media ecologies as developed by Matthew Fuller (Fuller 2005), as a way of approaching a range of case studies drawn from both analogue and digital media. Using examples ranging from free and pirate radio and guerrilla television to cyber-activism, this talk will look at how media ecologies and approaches to self organisation can shed light on both small scale media and activist use of larger media forms (television, social media etc).

External Speaker: Dr Joss Hands (Anglia Ruskin University), 3-4pm

Collective Idiocy: Of Digital Multitudes and Mobs

One of the most revisited concepts in critical and media theory is that of ‘general intellect’, as originally outlined by Karl Marx in his celebrated ‘Fragment on Machines’. The concept is often framed as containing a liberatory promise via the destruction of the value of labour power, and thus the capacity of capital to generate surplus value. While autonomist theories have speculated that this concept pre-empts characteristics of the digital revolution and the creation of cooperative common, there is a potential dark side of a digitally enhanced general intellect. The paper will ask whether such intelligence is indeed ‘intelligent’. This paper explores the question of whether this is actually closer to a general ‘idiocy.’ It will explore the idiotic tendencies embodied in such thinkers as Clay Shirky, James Surowiecki and Charles Leadbeater and the likely decomposition of the common into what Heidegger refers to as the ‘they’. The paper will ask whether such collective idiocy is part of our technical condition and what, to use a pointed phrase, is to be done?

Joss Hands teaches Communication and Media Studies at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge,
where he is also director of the Anglia Research Centre in Media and Culture. He is author of @ is for Activism: Dissent Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture published by Pluto Press.