Sunday, 17 May 2015

GradProg talks this Weds (20/5): Prison as Conflict Memory Archive / "Calvary", Faith and Doubt

External Speaker: Prof Cahal McLaughlin (Creative Arts, Queens University of Belfast)
3.30-4.30, Room 2.20. MediaCityUK, University of Salford campus.

The Prisons Memory Archive: Representing Memories from a Conflict

The Prisons Memory Archive is investigating ways that narratives of a conflicted past are negotiated in a contested present in Ireland. The Haas (2013), Eames-Bradley (2009), and the Bloomfield (1998) Reports all recommended storytelling as a way of engaging with this issue that is both politically and psychically sensitive. Given the government’s failed attempts at established an official process for addressing the legacy of the past, there are a number of community and academic initiatives that have taken up this task. The Prisons Memory Archive is one such project, whose aim is to research the possibilities of engaging with the story of the ‘other’ in a society that is emerging from decades of political violence. The Prisons Memory Archive (PMA) filmed interviews back inside the prisons with those who passed through the Maze and Long Kesh Prison and Armagh Gaol, which were both touchstone and tinderbox during the 30 years of violent conflict in the North of Ireland. Using protocols of co-ownership, inclusivity and life-story telling, we filmed a range of participants including prison staff, prisoners, visitors, teachers, chaplains and probation officers.

Cahal McLaughlin is chair of Film Studies at Queens University Belfast. He is a documentary filmmaker and director of the Prisons Memory Archive. His latest films are We Were There (2014) on the role of women in the Maze and Long Kesh Prison, and We Never Give Up II (2012) on reparations in South Africa. His publications include Recording Memories from Political Conflict: a filmmakers journey (2010: Intellect).

External Speaker: Catherine Wheatley (Kings College London)
4.35-5.30, Room 2.20. MediaCityUK, University of Salford campus.

John McDonagh's 'Calvary' a Place Between Faith and Uncertainty
Following the last days of Catholic priest Father James (Brendan Gleeson), John Michael McDonagh’sCalvary contemplates the place of religion in contemporary Ireland, a country hit badly by the economic collapse and struggling with revelations of sexual abuse by priests and its institutional covering-up. McDonagh describes the film thus: “The mise en scène indebted to Andrew Wyeth. The philosophy to Jean Améry. The transcendental style inspired by Robert Bresson.” Yet while the film’s style and subject matter place it firmly in a cinematic tradition which starts with Carl Dreyer and moves through Bresson to, in different ways, Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick, the inclusion of dark humour reframes its consideration of faith and uncertainty. In my talk, I want to pay particular attention to how the director negotiates between satire and the serious possibility of grace in order to create a gap in which a genuine ambivalence towards the film’s subject matter can arise. We can connect this gap, this space which is inhabited by both Father James and by the film’s spectators to Gillian Rose’s concept of “the broken middle”, a place suspended between immanence and transcendence (Rose, 1992). This is precisely the position in which Father James finds himself. But this, says Rose, is where the sacred is to be found: in the space between religion and secularity; the personal and the institutional; faith and cynicism. Finally, I will briefly consider the film’s reception amongst critics and audiences, with whom Calvary has seen surprising success. I want to ask whether this critical success comes in spite or because of the fact that the film is, to quote Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw, “far less anti-clerical than one might expect” (Bradshaw, 2014).

Catherine Wheatley is Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. She has published books on the films of Michael Haneke, Film and Ethics, and French Film in transit. Catherine is a regular contributor to Sight and Sound Magazine, and is currently writing a monograph on iterations of Christianity in contemporary European Cinema.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

"Awake in your Dreams"

Our thanks to Shemin B Nair for presenting his most recent (and award-winning) short film to the Graduate Programme. We look forward to a screening of the next one!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Grad Prog (13 May): Public Broadcasting to Internet Protocol / Screening "Awake In Your Dreams"

MedicCity UK, Room 3.17/3.18


Dr Marko Ala-Fossi (University of Tampere, Finland)

‘The Short Future of Public Broadcasting: Replacing Digital Terrestrial TV with Internet Protocol?’

According to recent European estimates, the life expectancy of broadcasting as a free-to-air television platform may not be more than 15 years. Both the BBC and YLE, the public service media companies in the UK and Finland – as well as the UK regulator Ofcom – have independently reached this conclusion in recent reports about the future of news, media distribution and digital terrestrial television (DTT). Although broadcasting is expected to be necessary at least until 2030, all three organizations assume that after that time DTT can be switched off and – under certain conditions – completely replaced with IP-based solutions for PSM delivery.

This is not the first time a new distribution technology has been expected to replace earlier one(s). Television was expected to replace radio, FM to replace AM, DAB to replace FM, etc. But so far the telegraph is the only communication technology that has been completely displaced by newer systems. In the light of retrospective analysis in this paper, the idea of IPTV taking over DTT is a more sophisticated version of this “black box fallacy”. Predictions of the early demise of the DTT are also contradictory. For example, in the UK Ofcom continues to support DAB digital radio broadcasting. The Finnish case is perhaps more straightforward as the spectrum for digital radio is used in clearing the 700 MHz band from DTT for mobile broadband use. But it is evident that in both countries the expectations of the growth of the mobile media ecosystem and economic profits are part of the force driving the latest version of an old idea.

Using a theoretical perspective combining new institutionalism and political economy of communication, this paper examines potential and existing problems in replacing one sort of socio-technological system, i.e. broadcasting, with a completely different one. There are crucial technical difficulties and normative questions also arise. Would it be possible to secure universal access to public service content on a common platform? Would new gatekeepers emerge with access to IP-related data on users’ identities and locations? How might data flows be tracked and managed? And how secure might such data remain?

430-530pm, Shemin Nair (Salford PhD sutdent)

Film screening and Q and A

Awake in Your Dreams

Laura needs a redemption from her haunting dreams.


Laura experiences her kid’s death in her dreams at the very same time it happens. But she can’t respond as she is in a state called as sleep paralysis. And she experiences a series of hallucinations and dreams. Louis tries to rescue her. The film has a surreal form and is non descriptive and non narrative.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Alexei Penzin

Our thanks to Alexei Penzin for his talk on sleep: new territories of capitalist real subsumption, sleep as interrupted continuum, the Grundrisse re-read for Neo-Liberal times

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Grad Prog 6/5: Social Media and PGR Profiles / "Sleep, Vigilance and Modern Power"

Wednesday 6th May 2015

Room 2.20 MediaCityUK (University of Salford building; please sign in at reception for the Graduate Programme)

3.30 PM - 4.30PM
Internal Speaker: Dr Gillian James (University of Salford)

Making the Most of Social Media to Aid Your Research Profile
You may be used to using social media to stay in touch with friends. However, it is also a very powerful tool for making connections with others researching in your field, whether your research is academic or practice-based. This session looks at optimising the use of:
We explore the most useful aspect of each of these platforms and look at several scenarios and establish which platform is the most appropriate tool for each one. In addition we look at setting up a blog and maintaining it in an effective way, possibly converting it into a full-blown web site. Most people would probably not want to use all of these tools, at least at first. The session will help you establish what is right for you.
4.30PM - 5.30PM

External Speaker: Dr Alexei Penzin (What is to be done? Collective/Univerity of Wolverhampton)
The Capitalist Continuum: Sleep, Vigilance and Modern Power

Departing from criticisms addressed to the Jonathan Crary’s recent book 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (Verso, 2013) and referring to some other works in emergent field of critical sleep studies, I would like to present my own research project, suggesting an account of sleep in the contemporary or “terminal” capitalism. Its essential feature, in my view, is the uninterrupted or permanently “wakeful” continuity of production, exchange, consumption, communication and control. Marx stated already in Capital, vol. 1: “Capitalist production … drives, by its inherent nature, towards the appropriation of labor throughout the whole of the 24 hours in the day”. Maybe, instead of asking desperate though understandable question “when and how, finally, will capitalism end? The Left critique would better investigate this monstrous continuity itself. So the key questions for this account would be: what would be a genealogy of this obsessive continuity of contemporary capitalism? Is sleep just the last “natural barrier”–the term Marx used in theGrundrisse–in front of complete colonization of society by the incessant forms of life, shaped by 24/7 drive of capitalist production? How can the figure of sleeper be related to the constitution of a resisting subjectivity? Do we need a specific ontology to conceptualize and crack the oppressive continuity?

Alexei Penzin is Reader at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Wolverhampton (UK), and Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. His major
fields of interest are philosophical anthropology, Marxism, Soviet and post-Soviet studies, and the philosophy of art. He lectures widely on these topics and has participated in many international research projects, seminars, and symposia. Penzin has written numerous articles including the essay Rex Exsomnis: Sleep and Subjectivity in Capitalist Modernity (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012). Alexei is a member of the group Chto Delat (What is to Be Done?), which works in the space between theory, art, and political activism. Penzin is also a member of editorial boards of the journal Stasis (Saint-Petersburg) and the Moscow Art Magazine. He currently lives and works between London and Moscow.