Contemporaries

University of Cambridge Contemporary Research Group

OPEN DISCUSSION OF The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing

Join editors  Susheila Nasta and Mark U. Stein as they discuss their new book covering four centuries of black and Asian British writing from the eighteenth century to the present. The book provides contextualized introductions to a wide range of writers, exploring form, style, and genre within necessary social, political, and cultural contexts.

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1265198545379883022

Susheila Nasta is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary, University of London.

Mark U. Stein is Professor of English, Postcolonial, and Media Studies at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany where he founded the interdisciplinary M.A. in National and Transnational Studies.

Kabe Wilson: On Being Still

Artist Kabe Wilson gives a diaristic account of his attempt to engage with Bloomsbury modernism over the lockdown period and against the backdrop of the global Black Lives Matter protests: https://modernistreviewcouk.wordpress.com/2020/11/09/on-being-still/

 

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: An Online Reading and Discussion 11 Nov at 4pm

11th November 2020, 16:00 to 17:00, Online (Zoom)

A 20th and 21st Century Research Seminar, Durham University. This event is open to all, including members of the public. Register via Eventbrite.

While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encountered the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie—letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognized herself in the letters’ language but did not see Carson as history has portrayed her. And so, Shapland was compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of Carson’s life. Longlisted for the National Book Award, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers combines memoir and biography to articulate the often solitary and unspoken search for identity in figures from the past. In genre-defying vignettes, Shapland interweaves her own story with Carson’s to create a vital new portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

Jenn Shapland is a writer living in New Mexico. Her essay “Finders, Keepers” won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and she was awarded the 2019 Rabkin Foundation Award for art journalism. She has a PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has received support from the Georgia O’Keeffe fellowship, residencies at Ucross, Yaddo, the Carson McCullers Center for Artists and Musicians, and Vermont Studio Center, the Tin House Writers Workshop, and the Harry Ransom Center graduate internship.

To get your Zoom logon, register via Eventbrite. For further queries, contact Joshua Pugh (david.j.pugh@durham.ac.uk) or Noreen Masud (noreen.masud@durham.ac.uk)

Contact david.j.pugh@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

‘We Are Hopelessly Hooked’, Jacob Weisberg on our use of digital media

Photograph by Eric Pickersgill from his series ‘Removed,’ in which he shows his subjects’ attachment to their cell phones and other handheld devices by asking them to ‘hold their stare and posture’ as he removes the devices from their hands and then takes their portrait
Eric Pickersgill/www.removed.social

Photograph by Eric Pickersgill from his series ‘Removed,’ in which he shows his subjects’ attachment to their cell phones and other handheld devices by asking them to ‘hold their stare and posture’ as he removes the devices from their hands and then takes their portrait

1.

“As smoking gives us something to do with our hands when we aren’t using them,Time gives us something to do with our minds when we aren’t thinking,” Dwight Macdonald wrote in 1957. With smartphones, the issue never arises. Hands and mind are continuously occupied texting, e-mailing, liking, tweeting, watching YouTube videos, and playing Candy Crush.

Americans spend an average of five and a half hours a day with digital media, more than half of that time on mobile devices, according to the research firm eMarketer. Among some groups, the numbers range much higher. In one recent survey, female students at Baylor University reported using their cell phones an average of ten hours a day. Three quarters of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones immediately upon waking up in the morning. Once out of bed, we check our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes—according to a UK study. This number actually may be too low, since people tend to underestimate their own mobile usage. In a 2015 Gallup survey, 61 percent of people said they checked their phones less frequently than others they knew.

 

Read the full article in the New York Review of Books

LICHEN BEACONS

Lichen Beacons is a collaborative installation by Tom Hall, Drew Milne and Barry Byford involving slow immersive portable sound, images and poetry. It was first shown in the UK as Lichen Ohms Seriatim in Corpus Christi College Chapel in October, as part of the 2015 Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

Music, Composition & Sound: Tom Hall
Image, Text & Voice: Drew Milne
Raspberry Pi Code: Barry Byford

LichenQhiRes-650_16_9

Lichens, poetics and the digital environment

Lichens have for some time been recognised as pollution monitors, and as beacons of environmental health. Digital photography and the ability to look at lichens on digital screens have transformed the awareness and representation of lichens. The 2015 Cambridge Festival of Ideas focused on art, power and resistance, providing a context for this installation. The world of lichens offers multiple resistances to human perceptions and aesthetics, suggesting different modalities of time, and a slower, calmer sense of sound and motion. Lichen Ohms Seriatim offered a site-responsive installation involving spoken word texts, music, and photographs conveyed through a dialogue between Bluetooth beacons and Raspberry Pis with screens and headphones.

 

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