Monday, 2 May 2011

Full Graduate Programme: 2010-11

Graduate Programme, 2010/11 session

Nov 3
Internal session: Ben Light

Understanding Science and Technology Studies: A Case Involving Media, Music and Performance

In this session I will provide a brief introduction to Science and Technology Studies and then illustrate these ideas through a discussion of ethnographic work around SingStar (a Karaoke based game) that I have been engaged with since March 2006. 
Bijker, W. E., T. P. Hughes, and T. Pinch Eds. (1987). The Social Construction of Technological Systems. London, The MIT Press.
Bijker, W. E. and J. Law (1994). Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
Oudshoorn, N. and T. Pinch, Eds. (2005). How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology (2005 Paperback edition). London, MIT Press.

Mediations Talk: Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths; host MG)

Our Silent Battle Fronts: Notes on Landscape and Violence in the films of Adachi and Wakamatsu

This talk will focus on the representations of systemic violence and revolutionary violence in films by the Japanese directors Masao Adachi and Koji Wakamatsu, in particular AKA Serial Killer (Adachi, 1969) Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War (Adachi and Wakamatsu, 1971), Ecstasy of the Angels (Wakamatsu, 1972) and United Red Army (2008). I will trace the unique strategies put forward by Adachi and others under the rubric of fukeiron (landscape theory), for representing the social violence of capitalism, contrasting it with the contemporary preoccupation with landscapes of power in cinema and photography. I will then consider how these fatal landscapes of oppression, imperialism and capitalism provide the foil and backdrop for figurations of anti-systemic violence - in its militant (Red Army/PFLP), deliriously sectarian (Ecstasy) and finally (in the brutal United Red Army) self-destructively fanatical modalities. What does it mean to represent militant conviction, both in its midst (Adachi was a member of the Japanese Red Army/PFLP) and in retrospect? And how do the representational problems that concern political violence relate to those stemming from the need to register and combat systemic violence?

Nov 17
No internal session.

Mediations Talk: Charlie Gere (Lancanster; host: MG)

Derrida, Hopkins and Luther Blissett

The talk looks at the concept of friendship in an age of social
networks, especially in light of the idea of 'friends' in Facebook and
MySpace. Friendship has been an important theme in Jacques Derrida's
work throughout his career, especially in relation to death, mourning
and memory. In a late paper dedicated to his friend J Hillis Miller
Derrida playfully discusses the name concealed in Miller's initial and
invokes the many Josephs in literature. He suggests that 'Joseph is
anyone whatsoever. A pseudonym for anyone whatsoever. Me or the wholly
other'. This leads to a discussion of the Italian 'multiple name'
project 'Luther Blissett' in which anybody can be Luther Blissett, which
is seen as a response to an increasingly networked culture.

Dec 1
Internal Session: Michael Goddard

Post-Structuralist Thought and Postmodern Culture

Postmodernism was a dominant paradigm in art, architecture, film, music and other forms of cultural production in the last decades of the Twentieth Century. However, Postmodernism remains a slippery construct, defined in paradoxical if not contradictory terms; is it a shift in cultural practices? Politcal and economic structures? A response to globalisation and the spread of the mass media? A condition, an era or a transition between different sociopolitical regimes? This session will explore postmodernism in relation to the poststructuralist thought that informed it including the work of Baudrillard, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard, Derrida and Jameson. Examples of postmodern culture in cinema, music and writing will be examined in the light of these theories and the continued relevance of the postmodern paradigm in thought and culture in the Twenty First Century will be examined.

Key Works:
Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations
Deleuze and Guattari, 'Towards a Minor Literature'
Jameson, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition

External speaker: Laura Wilson (University of Manchester; host BH)

Extreme Cinema: Physical Spectatorship and Body Horror. 

What is meant by “physical spectatorship” and “body horror”? This paper will consider different theories of affect and questions the limitations of different theoretical frameworks in relation to the study of affect, aesthetics, and sound
in cinema.

Dec 15:
Internal session: Benjamin Halligan

Fordism to Post-Fordism: Theorising Work, Showing the Worker

The relationship between modernism and industrialisation is historically understood in the evolution and implementation of “Fordist” work practices, but what of the post-industrial phase, of new financial paradigms arising from globalisation, virtual realities, and the shift to “immaterial labour” of the “post-Fordist” phase?
This session will explore these key terms, and the theorisation of postmodern work practices, drawing on texts from Hardt and Negri (Empire, Multitude) and The Invisible Committee (The Coming Insurrection). Film examples will include Chaplin’s Modern Times and Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and music examples from the solo work of the former members of Destiny’s Child. Reading will be provided during the session. 

External speaker:
Sarah Hill (University of Cardiff; host: DS)

‘”Ripples: San Francisco and the Long 60s’’

From about 1965 until the close of the decade the larger metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area was home to a popular music which fused folk, country and rock with philosophy, anarchy and acid.  The one band which came to embody the essence of that time was the Grateful Dead.  The Dead enjoyed an unprecedented longevity, and unlike many of their contemporaries, managed to transcend the barrier between performers and audience, engendering their own multi-generational, nomadic community in the process.   In this paper I will explore the ways in which the spirit of 1960s San Francisco was perpetuated in the Dead’s studio recordings and by considering the relationship between hallucinogens and lyrical inspiration, illustrate how the Dead came to be a byword for a decade of musical and psychological liberation.  

*** Christmas Party ***

Jan 19 2011:
NB Start 2.45, Ground Floor Lecture theatre. No PhD presentations.

Internal session: David Sanjek:

Mess Around: Commingling the Categories in Cultural Analysis

Critical analysis often depends upon critical categories, and often those very categories are drawn up as dualisms; sets of oppositions that neatly organize information into divergent camps. However, often such thinking and such templates prove to be far simpler than the information that they are meant to explain. American popular culture is one such sphere, as, almost routinely, categories that might seem antithetical fuse and commingle. We will look at some examples from music that illustrate this phenomenon (blues, country music); literature (Henry James; Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter; Henry Louis Gates on signifying); film (Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help it and Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising as examples of what J. Hoberman dubs “vulgar modernism”).

No external speaker.

Feb 2
Internal session: Mary Oliver, on Practice as Research (“PAR”)

Mary Oliver
Practice as Research Seminar

This session will be useful for anyone interested in research methods for creative practitioners. Mary's will use a number of her recent interdisciplinary performance and technology projects as case studies with which to distinguish the differences between practice and practice-as-research. She will focus on planning, writing proposals, execution (specifically working in interdisciplinary teams) documentation and dissemination of PAR.

Brief Biography
Mary Oliver has been a performance artist for almost 30 years working across the fields of theatre, music, fine art and creative technology. For over a decade she has focussed on the creation of digital performance works and has collaborated with animators, film-makers, composers, computer programmers and most recently with a cognitive psychologist on the creation of interactive performance works that often play with the humour of the human-technological interface. Mary is Reader in Performance, Head of the Performance Research Centre and is leading the development of Digital Performance Research at the new Digital Media Performance Lab at MCUK.

External speaker: Derek Scott (Leeds; host BH)
Imagining the Nation, Imagining Europe: The Eurovision Song Contest
To what extent have the musical styles employed in Eurovision songs attempted to reconcile a desire to give voice to individual national identity with an ambition to address the values of a wider European community? Eurovision songs have rarely been marked with any strong ethnic character, and usually embrace a variety of music I describe as the “third type”: this is neither classical music nor folk music, but the commercial popular music that developed in urban environments as part of a leisure industry. Four categories of song that have become familiar over the years of the contest are examined to see if there is any recipe for Eurovision success to be found in the music and lyrics of former winning songs, or if victory is down to the performers, their costumes and choreographed routines, and the esteem (political or neighbourly) felt for their countries on one particular night in one particular year.
Feb 16
Internal session: George McKay

Getting Published

In this session  Prof McKay draws on his experience over the years as an academic journal editor, book series editor, and editor of numerous collections of essays to explain and hopefully demystify the processes of getting your work published. Drawing on book proposals, readers' reports and other essential texts of the academic publishing world, the session includes time for discussion and knowledge-sharing

External speaker: Kylie Jarrett (host BL)

Knowing Google: The epistemology of the culture of search

As the dominant power within the field of search, Google’s position is doubly articulated. It is both adherent to the order of values produced by the confluence of forces that have shaped that field, but is also an active generator of those values. Google is both effect and cause of the particular practices that constitute ‘search’ today. Thus the particular model of search that Google utilises – its model of relevance – offers insight into the organisation of industry dynamics and the ways in which we information gathering is understood and valued today. In this latter role, Google’s model of relevance defines not only what we know, but how we come to know it. This paper explores the qualities of this model of relevance and how these in turn constitute a way of knowing that is specific to the contemporary culture of search.

2 March
Internal session: Seamus Simpson

Articulations of Public Service in Media Systems

'Concepts and practices of public service have been an integral part of the evolution of communication media  systems for decades in Europe and beyond. This session will commence with an exploration of some of the key ideas that have shaped articulations of public service in media systems, illustrated through examples from broadcasting and telecommunication. Thereafter, focusing on the present and looking to the future, the session will explore and discuss the extent to which public service is relevant today in our diverse-yet-converging, highly commercialised, digital multi-media systems. Students will be asked to think about the extent, if at all, public service concepts and practices might be extrapolated to putative so-called Next Generation Network communication media environments'.

External speaker: Brian Winston (Lincoln)

“I thought it was all bullshit”: Robert Flaherty and the roots of documentary

Brian Winston’s A Boatload of Wild Irishmen is a documentary about Robert Flaherty, recognized as the man who pioneered the documentary film with Nanook of the North in 1921/2.  He was the first to work out how to transform film of real people going about their everyday lives from mere shapeless surveillance-camera observation into a dramatic, enthralling narrative: and that, in essence, is what documentary is. This was a brilliant breakthrough, but it can cause real moral dilemmas. The wonders of observing real life are balanced by the ease with which people in the film can be misrepresented or even, as was sometimes the case with Flaherty’s productions, real danger.

With a budget of €330,000, provided by the Irish Film Board and TG4 (Irish Language Television) with support from emMedia, the East Midlands media agency and Brussels, it was produced and directed by MacDara O’Curraidhin. The film was written and co-produced by Professor Brian Winston. Kay Marriott, then working with the MHT Faculty, was the production assistant. The film editor was Christ Hainstock, long-time BBC editor now senior MHT lecturer. One Sparkhouse Studios company, Brightspark Productions, provided production services and another, Electric Egg, designed the animated graphics.

Winston has a long history of professional involvement with documentary, starting with his first job on World in Action in 1963. He won a US Prime Time Emmy for documentary script writing in 1985. Boatload relies heavily on his academic research.

The University of Lincoln gets its first production credit on a feature length film with this release. Universities are now charged with making their research as widely known as possible. This film, a contribution to the important debate about media ethics, answers that challenge. It is already booked to be seen in Ireland, Brazil, the Netherlands, Finland and Germany as well as the UK.

16 March
Internal session: Sarie Mairs Slee
Case study: the Studio Matejka project in Poland. Partnerships and collaborative research, practice-led research and performance ethnography
External speaker: Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff; host BL)

"How Audiences and Journalists View User-Generated Content: The value of authenticity and the problem of public opinion."

This talk examines audience and journalists' views of user-generated content. Researchers have investigated the production practices and journalistic cultures surrounding UGC, but have paid less attention to the audiences who produce and consume the content. My talk, based on a multi-method study of UGC at the BBC, seeks to fill this gap in knowledge to understand why audiences value particular forms of UGC and renounce others, and how audience perceptions differ from those of producers.

It focuses on why and how audiences value news-based UGC or audience content (in the form of images, footages and eyewitness accounts), which is perceived as authentic, immediate and ‘real’. This is contrasted with a dislike for audience comment, or opinion-based contributions, which is seen as ill-informed, repetitive and extremist. In comparison, BBC producers and journalists interviewed for the study are more concerned with UGC as a tool to supplement traditional news-gathering practices.

Ultimately, the talk highlights the importance of personalised story-telling as a counterweight to both journalistic impartiality and political talk, but also explores the limitations of this paradigm.

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen is a Reader at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and external examiner for the MA Social Media. She is the author of Journalists and the Public (Hampton Press, 2007), co-author of Citizens or Consumers? (Open University Press, 2005, with Justin Lewis and Sanna Inthorn) and edited the Handbook of Journalism Studies (Routledge, 2009, with Thomas Hanitzsch), among other titles. In addition to writing several journal articles and book chapters about the user-generated content study, she is currently completing a co-authored volume on Disasters and the Media (Peter Lang, with Mervi Pantti and Simon Cottle) and gearing up to work on a book about emotions and mediated public participation.

30 March
Internal session: Phoebe Moore

Free Software and Open Source: Is this Marxism?

Free(Libre)/Open Source Software (FLOSS) is an open, evolutionary arena wherein hundreds and sometimes thousands of users voluntarily explore design codes, spot bugs in codes, make contributions to the code, release software, create artwork, and develop licenses in a fashion that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the otherwise hugely monopolised software market. This ‘computerization movement’ emerged as a challenge to the monopolisation of the software market by such mammoth firms as Microsoft and IBM, and is portrayed as being revolutionary (Elliot and Scacchi 2003; DiBona, Ockman, and Stone 1999; Kling and Iacono 1988), an ‘ultimate goal’; ‘to provide free software to do all of the jobs computer users want to do, and thus make proprietary software obsolete’ (Free Software Foundation 2005).

However, if it is to succeed in bringing about a new social order (Kling and Iacono 1988) or proceed to the post-capitalist era within the dialectical materialist trajectory, then we must scrutinise this movement from a critical standpoint through a look into the practices toward knowledge production of participants and associated subjectivities of participants. Free Software may be viewed as a social movement while Open Source is perhaps a development methodology, but it is not always necessary to isolate analysis to one or the other firstly due to the extensive overlap in software communities, and also because their rhizomatic roots emerge from a shared intellectual and moral response to exploitation of markets by powerful firms (see Elliot and Scacchi 2004). This piece queries whether the behaviours of collaborative software producers as well as the activities in the hardware production communities that release playbots and other blueprints for machine replications can indeed be perceived as revolutionary in the Marxist sense, and what should happen for this to be so.

External speaker: Matt Davies (Newcastle; host PM):

The Popular Aesthetics of the Financial Crisis: Work, Culture, Politics

Can a popular aesthetic of finance shed light on the effects of financialisation and the financial crisis on work? The current financial crisis – or “credit crunch” – has a particular aesthetic that is both abstract/formal and representational. Short educational films distributed through sites such as YouTube purport to explain the crisis, its origins and consequences, contributing to popular education in financial literacy and thus to the common sense of what the crisis is and what must be done to deal with it. These short films thus play a significant role in contemporary economic transformation, especially in financialisation. Yet while contemporary economic transformations have as much to do with struggles over the control of the labour process as with financialization, popular representations of finance has tended to make work obscure or invisible. Consequently, the “imagined recovery” from the crisis focuses on fiscal austerity and financial prudence; the role, nature, and qualities of work in the recovery are givens, and thus invisible, and thus excluded from politics. This article analyses four short films all distributed through YouTube to show not only how their visual, sound, and narrative elements organise particular subjectivities of finance for an anti-politics of finance, but also to find in the popular aesthetic a different “distribution of the sensible” (Rancière) that permits moments of suspension or rupture that can politicise financialized subjectivity. The article examines the latent consequences of financialization for a politics of work, to contribute to an aesthetic and political theory of work.

6 April: ESPATCH session “On Academic Publishing” (Tony Mason of Manchester Uni Press and Prof Jim Newell of Salford)
Crescent House, G38e, 4-6pm

13 April
Internal speaker: Carole O’Reilly:

Leisure and Pleasure: Citizenship in the Modern City

This session introduces the very modern concepts of leisure and pleasure in the urban environment of the early twentieth century. Using archival material from newspapers, cartoons, poems and other writings, the transition from the Victorian period of leisure as an improving activity that would unite social classes to one that shaped the individual into a modern citizen will be explored. Membership of organisations such as the Boy Scout movement was intended not just to provide group leisure activities but to form future citizens of the modern city. The impact of concepts like citizenship on urban dwellers was profound but, it can be argued, often excluded the very poorest classes and women. Thus, many leisure activities remained polarised along class and gender lines.

External speaker: John Street (East Anglia; host: DS):
            Silence in Class: The Politics of Noise and Silence
This paper reflects on two recent developments in the discussion of music and sound. The first is the focus on the use of music and noise as forms of torture and control (see, for example, Bruce Johnson and Martin Cloonan’s, The Dark Side of Music). The second is a spate of books on silence – its pleasures, and its absence in modern life. The paper draws the two together in a discussion of their relationship to politics: the use of sound as a form of surveillance and silence as a form of freedom.

4 May: ESPATCH session “Proofreading my PhD, the Viva and post-Viva” (Dr Maggie Scott, Dr Gillian James)
Crescent House, G38e, 4-6pm

11 May Benjamin Halligan – session for Salford staff engaged in postgrad research, and social event for them.

External speaker: Jackie Stacey (Manchester; host KF)

Cosmopolitan Cinema and the Limits of Transparency

Is cinema a place where borders can be crossed that can‘t be crossed politically (as Jacqueline Rose claimed for literature recently)? This paper begins with a consideration of how cosmopolitanism might be thought through in relation to the place of cinema in modern culture. It discusses the idea of cosmopolitanism as an’ openness to the difference of others’ by looking at the ways in which cinema might be seen to offer new forms of mobility to the modern subject. Following Giuliana Bruno‘s claim that early cinema invited spectators to travel to other cultures, to be ‘in transito‘, we might ask: what kinds of intersubjectivity can the cinema generate and how might this connection to other people and other places operate through a fantasy intimacy with others? These very general questions about an intimacy or empathy with those on the screen will then be connected to questions of cosmopolitan cinema in so-called postmodern, globalised cultures. What kinds of technologies now promise a new universalised mobility, connectivity and legibility? This paper will offer a brief discussion of the limits of transparency in the cosmopolitan spaces of Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000), Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom, 2004), and Yes (Sally Potter, 2004).

25 May
Internal session: Yu-Wei Lin – Technofeminism

In this talk, I will introduce techno-feminism and other related theories around feminist technoscience studies. I will also share my own experience of adopting this analytical approach for the research on women in free/open source software and user participatory cultures.

Internal session: Sharif Mowlabocus (host BL)

W**ker: The Cruel Optimism of Pornographic Consumption.

The (re)emergence of porn studies has, unsurprisingly, occurred during a period when pornographic consumption is said to have dramatically increased. This alleged increase has been attributed to the ‘triple AAA’ effect of the Internet (accessibility, affordability, anonymity) identified by Cooper (1998).  Meanwhile the sexualisation of mainstream culture has been examined and critiqued in published collections (such as Hall & Bishop (2007) and Paasonen et al. (2007)) and funded research networks (See ESRC (Gill, 2010) and AHRC (Attwood, 2010)). Perhaps echoing the Feminist roots of much scholarship on porn, often (though by no means always), the focus of porn research has been on texts, practices and performers. What is being performed? Who is performing it? And what are the power relations involved in such textual productions?
While the boundary between performer and consumer has become increasingly porous (see Attwood 2007 and Paasonen, in press) it is still legitimate to talk about consumers of porn (even when they might also be producers) and of pornography as a consumption practice. Indeed it is vital that we do.
In this exploratory paper I set out to consider the practice of consuming digital pornography within contemporary Western culture. Specifically I plot a critical route through online porn consumption that brings to the fore the issues of labour and (false) promise involved in such consumption. Drawing on Berlant’s (2006) definition of cruel optimism, the argument I sketch out develops Jensen’s (2007) claim that pornography (and pornographers) exploit their male consumers. At one level this might seem like a facile statement; of course porn exploits its punters – welcome to late capitalism! However, beyond simplistic understandings of this claim lies a challenging and hitherto unexplored discussion regarding (male) consumer’s relationship to the pornography they consume. Where Jensen’s work draws upon ethnographic and empirical data, my discussion turns to the terrain of critical theory –deploying it as a tool for interrogating the practices of searching out, clicking on and navigating through digital pornography. My chief claim is that the structures through which we encounter pornography, twinned with the ‘atomisation’ of pornography (instigating practices of textual ‘suturing’ within the consumption experience), cause a realignment of the relationship between consumer and text - a realignment that reveals the methods by which pornography has become further incorporated into late-capitalist projects of neo-liberal self-entrepreneurship. As such the ** within the title of this paper are interchangeable, reflecting both the assumed activity of the consumer of pornography and the underlying relationship that such consumption has with labour, affective or otherwise.

1 June: ESPATCH session: “Creating my CV and filling in academic job applications” (Dr Scott Brewster and Dr Kirstin Ewins)
Crescent House, G38e, 4-6pm

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