Swimming Britain @ The Gallery (£9)
Jul 24 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Sean Conway arrives at John O'Groats after being the first person to swim the length of the UK

Sean Conway became the first man to swim the length of Britain last year.

The gruelling 900-mile swim from Lands End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland took him more than four months.

During the swim, he endured freezing temperatures, sea sickness and jellyfish stings to his face.

Come and hear the author and endurance cyclist as he embarks on his next great adventure – inspiring people to live their dreams.

1914: Goodbye to All That (£8/£6/£5)
Jul 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

lavina-greenlaw239x150In Robert Graves’s autobiography Goodbye to All That he writes of his “bitter leave-taking of England” not only referring to the First World War, but the questions it raised: how to live, how to live with each other, and how to write.

Lavinia Greenlaw, one of Britain’s most eminent literary figures, invites writers from countries involved in the First World War to respond to Graves’ autobiography Goodbye to All That.

In readings and conversation, Ales Steger, Ali Smith, Daniel Kehlmann, Erwin Mortier, Kamila Shamsie and Xiaolu Guo reflect on the loss and discovery of literary innocence and ideals, the question of artistic freedom and the freedoms that have informed their own artistic lives.

Their written responses to Graves’ book are published as an anthology 1914 Goodbye to All That: Writers on the Conflict between Life and Art by Pushkin Press.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions

Blogging, Social Media & Events @ MOO (£16/£14)
Jul 30 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Crafty-Fox-Talks-Image cropSo you’ve created a great product or service. The next step is to get the word out there and there’s no better way to do this than through blogging, social media and events. Join us to learn how blogging, pop-up shops, workshops and creative events can boost your fledgling business. Our fantastic line-up of speakers also have some great tips to share about how they use social media to their advantage.

Join us at the MOO offices in Shoreditch, meet fellow crafty creatives, share your work on our inspiration table and create your own picture to share on social media in the photo booth. Then enjoy a drink and take home a crafty goodie bag stuffed with treats.

The Science of Happiness @ The Camden Centre (£15/don)
Jul 31 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Join us for a fascinating evening with Dr Tal Ben-Shahar as he explores the science of happiness and shares practical tools for a happy and fulfilling life.

About Tal Ben-Shahar

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is a renowned author, lecturer and expert in the science of wellbeing. His Positive Psychology class became one of the most popular courses taught at Harvard. He is co-founder and Chief Learning Officer of Wholebeing Instituteand teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel, where he co-founded The Institute for Positive Psychology in Education.

Tal is author of five books, including the bestseller Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. He holds a doctorate in organisational behaviour and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology from Harvard.

The Folklore of Discworld @ The Vaults at Dirty Dicks (£3)
Jul 31 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

paul_kidby_discworldTake a trip to Discworld with award-winning author Dr Jacqueline Simpson. Jacqueline has written many books on folklore, including The Folklore of Sussex, British Dragons, Scandinavian Folktales, and The Lore of the Land (in collaboration with Jennifer Westwood).

She is also a great admirer of Terry Pratchett’s fantasies, which often involve folklore, so when she met him at a book signing in 1997 they inevitably talked about folklore – magpies, to be precise.

From this came a friendship and, in due course, their joint book on The Folklore of
Discworld (2008, with an updated edition in 2014).

We begin each evening with our monthly round-up of fortean news stories from the month.

After 2015: Development and its Alternatives w/ @CliveSG (£50/£20)
Sep 10 @ 9:30 am – Sep 11 @ 5:00 pm

13588The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire in 2015, with mixed results. This conference takes a social and political perspective on why development fails, and how local knowledge might inform a post-MDG environment more sensitive to those structurally disadvantaged by the global economy. Within mainstream debates there has been little room for the developmental alternatives lived by people in conditions of poverty and thus no space for exploring more critical and alternative paradigms of development to the orthodox neoliberal-MDG paradigm. This conference brings together leading critical scholars on development, and activists from the global anti-poverty, buen vivir and degrowth movements.

Central Banks: Powerful, Political and Unaccountable? (Free)
Sep 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm

13591The economic and political importance of central banks has been much enhanced recently. With governments unwilling or unable to use countercyclical fiscal policy, monetary policy, conventional and unconventional often is the only stabilisation tool in town.

Much of the enhanced significance of central banks is due, however, to their lender of last resort and market maker of last resort roles for financial institutions and sovereigns.

The (quasi-) fiscal roles played by central banks have also grown materially.

These quintessentially political growing roles have not been matched by greater accountability, both formal and substantive, of central banks. Possible remedies are discussed.

About the Speaker:
Willem Buiter is Chief Economist at Citi since 2010. He taught at the LSE, and the universities of Princeton, Yale, Cambridge and Bristol. He was an external MPC member from 1997 till 2000 and Chief Economist at the EBRD from 2000 till 2005.

‘Mind-reading’ as a gatekeeper in development with @HappeLab (Free)
Sep 23 @ 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm

13732Typically-developing children show a precocious ability to track what others are thinking, referred to as ‘theory of mind’ or ‘mentalising’. Children with autism, by contrast, struggle with this intuitive mind-reading. Mind-blindness may explain social and communication difficulties in autism; why lying doesn’t come naturally, and jokes and irony are taken literally. This talk will explore the downstream or developmental effects of mentalizing, which I will argue is a gatekeeper function that opens doors in typical development. Obligatory mentalising in typical development and mindblindness in autism lead to very different learning environments, arguably each having both positive and negative aspects.

About the speaker:
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the MRC SGDP Centre, Francesca Happé’s research focuses on autism spectrum conditions. She has explored the nature of social understanding in a/typical development and non-social assets in autism. She has received the BPS Spearman Medal, the EPS Prize and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award. She is President of the International Society for Autism Research.

What are Prime Ministers for? (Free)
Oct 13 @ 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm

An examination of the accruing functions of the UK Prime Minister since 1945. Thoughts on the expectations placed upon premiers by parliamentary and public opinion and ever burgeoning media pressure. Possible future developments.

About the Speaker:
Peter Hennessy is Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London and an independent crossbench peer in the House of Lords.
FREE. Registration not required.
Seats allocated on a first come, first served basis.

‘A most extraordinary pair’: Wollstonecraft & Godwin @ St Pancras Old Church (£10/£7.50)
Oct 16 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Fundraiser imageProfessor Todd (University of Cambridge) will be introducing Wollstonecraft as the most famous female political author of the revolutionary period. She was one of a group of literary women involved in enlightenment political debates about society—debates as
all-embracing as any ever held in England.

To purchase tickets online, please make a minimum donation of £10 per ticket (or £7.50 for students, with student card) and include your name and number of tickets required. Tickets will be held under your name at the door.

Bar opens at 6:30pm and the lecture begins at 7pm. Please do stay afterwards, for the chance to ask questions of our speaker and join us for a drink.

Our Kind of Town? Citizen Social Science, Participatory Mapping & the Struggle for a Just City @ Birkbeck, Room 101 (first floor) (Free)
Oct 23 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

ffa62ade806d8a0371d414824a35f91aPublic lecture by Prof Phil Cohen

Respondent: Dr Paul Watt, GEDS

The emergence of Citizen Social Science (CSS) has challenged many of the claims staked by academic sociology to possess a methodology giving unique access to social reality. But under what conditions does the active participation of citizens in social research actually improve the quality of data and its interpretation, and how far does it exercise what C. Wright Mills called the ‘sociological imagination’?

The question has been posed with special clarity by projects which make use of participatory mapping techniques to elicit, record and analyse real and imagined communities of engagement with contemporary issues of urban policy. In this lecture I will explore the tension between the desire to validate locally situated structures of feeling and knowledge, and the need to construct a space of critical reflection or ‘deconstruction’, looking at a number of historical precedents of CSS, including Mass Observation, Bill Bunge’s ‘expeditionary geography’, and various attempts to construct public ethnographies in which informants have a material stake.

The lecture concludes by drawing on some recent work by Living Maps in East London, focussed on the legacy impact of the 2012 Olympics on local communities, to consider the limits and conditions of Citizen Social Science in supporting struggles against gentrification and the privatisation of public space and amenity.

This event is free and open to all, but booking is essential – book your place here

* * * * *

Phil Cohen is Visiting Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies at Birkbeck and Emeritus Professor in Cultural Studies at the University of East London, where he was the first director of the London East Research Institute. He recently co-founded Living Maps, a network of academics, artists and activists interested in the theory and practice of critical cartography.

Since the 1980s Phil has carried out ethnographic research on issues of class, race and regeneration, much of this work having a focus on East London. Prior to this, his work on youth cultures established his international reputation. More recently he carried out a five year study into the local impact of the Olympics; On the Wrong Side of the Track? East London and the Post Olympics was published in May 2013 by Lawrence & Wishart. He is currently collaborating with Paul Watt on A Hollow Legacy? London 2012 and the Post Olympics, an edited book about the longer-term Olympic legacy. He is the author of Knuckle Sandwich: Growing Up in the Working Class City (with Dave Robins); Rethinking the Youth Question; Finding the Way Home: Young People’s Narratives of Race, Place and Identity in London Docklands and Hamburg (with Nora Rathzel), and London’s Turning: The Making of Thames Gateway (with Mike Rustin). A collection of his academic work, Material Dreams: Maps and Territories in the Un/making of Modernity, is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan.

‘Curse, bless, me now’: Dylan Thomas & Saunders Lewis – a reappraisal (Free)
Oct 24 @ 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm

13603Chaired by: Professor Wynn Thomas OBE FBA, Swansea University

More often than not, Dylan Thomas, the Swansea-born writer of English, and Saunders Lewis, the Wallasey-born writer of Welsh, are set in differing discursive camps – entrenchments of their own design, some might say, or perhaps their fathers’. Memorable quotations – ‘I cannot read Welsh.’ ‘He belongs to the English.’ – continually drive them apart. Yet these two writers shared not only similar experiences, locations and a host of literary influences – e.g. Yeats, Eliot, Freud, hymns, Hamlet – but also an understanding that poetry must ‘work from words … not towards words’, energised by form. Were they right? If so, what now? A fleeting handshake in no-man’s land?

About the speaker:
Tudur Hallam is Professor of Welsh at Swansea University. His specialisms include comparative poetics and canon formation. Recent work relevant to the lecture include his chapter in Slanderous Tongues: essays on Welsh poetry in English: 1975-2005 and his monograph on Saunders Lewis’ plays, Saunders y Dramodydd.

FREE. Registration is not required.
Seats allocated on a first come, first served basis.

‘Rivers of Blood’: Illustrating Violence & Virtue in Russia’s Early Modern Empire (Free)
Nov 6 @ 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm

13609Chaired by: Professor Hamish Scott FBA, FRSE

In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, between the reign of Ivan the Terrible and that of Peter the Great, Muscovite Russian forces swept eastward, conquering, colonizing, and controlling territories reaching from the Volga to the Pacific. While early modern European thinkers such as Las Casas, Sepulveda, Hobbes and Locke pondered the pragmatics and ethics of imperial conquest, Muscovites wasted little time on theory. In the absence of textual treatises, visual depictions of bloody battles, ruthless punishment, and colonial rule reveal surprising patterns, with significant, and unexpected, implications for understanding Russian policies of imperial incorporation.

About the speaker:
Valerie Kivelson (PhD Stanford University) teaches at the University of Michigan. Her publications include Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia (2013); Cartographies of Tsardom: The Land and Its Meanings in Seventeenth-Century Russia (2006), and Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture, co-edited with Joan Neuberger (2008).
FREE. Registration is not required.
Seats allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The First World War: Literature, Culture, Modernity (Free)
Nov 12 @ 9:30 am – Nov 13 @ 5:00 pm

13606Convenors: Dr Santanu Das, King’s College London, and Dr Kate McLoughlin, University of Oxford

A hundred years after the war’s outbreak, this conference brings together some of the world’s leading experts and emerging scholars to reassess its literary and cultural impact and explore its vexed relationship to modernity. Was the war a ‘crack in the table of history’ or did it reinforce deep continuities? What is the relationship between artistic form and historical violence, and between combatant and civilian creative responses? What are the colonial and transnational dimensions of First World War literature? Spanning across literature, the visual arts and music, the conference will adopt an international perspective as it investigates the war’s continuing legacies.

Speakers include:
Professor Fran Brearton, Queen’s University, Belfast
Profesor Geert Guelens, University of Utrecht
Professor Sarah Cole, Columbia University
Professor Laura Doan, University of Manchester
Professor Ann-Marie Einhaus, University of Northumbria
Professor Sandra Gilbert, University of California, Davis
Professor Tim Kendall, University of Exeter
Professor Margaret Higonnet, University of Connecticut (Storrs)
Dr Britta Lange, University of Bonn
Professor Dame Hermione Lee FBA, University of Oxford
Professor Angela Leighton FBA, University of Cambridge
Professor Edna Longley FBA, Queen’s University, Belfast
Professor Laura Marcus FBA, University of Oxford
Dr Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes University
Professor Jahan Ramazani, University of Virginia
Dr Eugene Rogan, University of Oxford
Professor Max Saunders, King’s College London
Professor Vincent Sherry, University of Washington, St Louis
Dr Hope Wolf, University of Cambridge