Monday, 12 March 2012

Interview with Bookreel.tv - a new site showcasing the latest book trailers



With more and more writers and publishers releasing trailers for their new titles, there’s no doubt that book trailers are becoming a big part of the publishing industry. Bookreel.tv is a new website, showcasing the latest book trailers from around the net. I caught up with the site’s designer and editor to find out a bit more…

She-Wolf: So, tell me about the site…

Bookreel: Bookreel.tv is a site aiming to bring together book trailers from a wide range of genres, everything from children’s books to YA, romance, fantasy, horror...

SW: And what about you – what’s your background?

BR: My background is mostly in writing music, which in turn has led to an interest in building websites as well. I was left in charge of getting a site online for a band I write for, and tinkering with that led me further down the rabbit hole in terms of playing with coding… so maybe not such an odd progression as it initially seems!

SW: And so you decided to make a site dedicated to book trailers? Where did the idea for bookreel.tv come from?

BR: The idea was entirely accidental and grew from a discussion one evening with my fiancée. We were musing the online future of books in relation to the music and film industries and the trends digital media has brought about in consumerism. My partner mentioned book trailers, the existence of which I was aware of having written music for a couple of them, but I honestly hadn’t realized they were so big. So from there the creation of bookreel.tv was entirely organic. As consumers of books, we both thought a site that had book trailers categorized by genre and author, much like a library, would be useful to people.

SW: Are there really that many book trailers out there?

BR: Absolutely, yes! And there are more and more being made daily, from pretty much every corner of the publishing world – classics, children's books, thrillers, graphic novels and so on – I don’t think there’s any genre that hasn’t had a book trailer made.

SW: You’ve made the decision to include self-published and small press titles alongside titles from the big publishing houses – tell me about this decision.

BR: Essentially, I didn't want to exclude anything, but also book trailers are an accessible form of promotion for someone (i.e. many self-published authors) working on a tight budget. They’re a great way to make people aware of titles without having to spend a fortune, so in terms of the Big 6 and indie authors it’s a fairly level playing field.

SW: There are a couple of other book trailer sites out there, what makes bookreel.tv different?

BR: There’s a few others out there and they’re cool sites, but none of them seem to work in the way that I like to browse. For me it’s important to be able to look through information in different ways and I’m presuming (rightly or wrongly) that I'm not alone. So, for example, rather than trailers one after the other on one page, bookreel.tv works with one trailer to a page – with the synopsis underneath, links to where you can buy the book, a rating system, a comments system (whereby you can log in to comment via your Twitter or Facebook credentials rather than having to join yet another site) – all of which can be browsed by category (including a short excerpt of the synopsis) or alternatively there’s an A-Z of authors. And, naturally, there’s a good old fashioned search function too.

SW: So people can rate the trailers on the site?

BR: Yes. I just thought it’d be a nice interaction and would give people browsing for something new an indication of a book’s popularity.

SW: I notice there are also some interviews on the site as well. Why have you decided to include these?

BR: Although the site is primarily about the trailers, I didn’t want to move that away from the authors in any way, so I thought an interview section where the author can talk about their book and trailer would be interesting.

SW: You have a lot of trailers up so far – any personal favourites?

BR: There are some quality trailers out there, that’s for sure, and they seem to get cleverer each day! Singling out any personal favourites is really hard, but off the top of my head, I was very much taken with the trailer for Dorian Gray, a French graphic novel by Enrique Corominas, based on the novel by Oscar Wilde. [Ed. - to see this trailer, click here]

SW: And have you found any good books as a result of seeing a trailer?

BR: Yes, I recently bought The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson as a result of coming across the trailer. It’s a fantastic read by the way (and a cool trailer).

SW: Given all the trailers that you’ve seen, do you have any advice for writers thinking about getting a trailer made for their book?

BR: That’s a tough one. As a very general guide, I would say try and keep it around the 90 second mark, anything over that feels like it’s going on a bit. Watch a few other book trailers (preferably on bookreel.tv!) that fit with your genre and get a general feel for what works best. And please please please don’t use any images or music that aren’t your own without explicit permission first, or you'll end up in a heap of trouble! There’s also a few places online you can contact to make your trailer for a reasonable fee. Above all, though, it has to be representative of your book.

SW: So, finally, why do you think writers should consider making a trailer? What are the benefits?

BR: I think they’re a great way of getting people’s attention, and if executed correctly can reach a far wider audience than just getting your book online and hoping for the best.

SW: Thanks for talking to me, bookreel.tv. I’ll look forward to checking out new content on the site.

BR: And thanks for having me.

To watch and rate new trailers on bookreel.tv, send in your own, or to contact the Editor, click here.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Review of M.T. Murphy, Lucifera's Pet (M.T. Murphy, 2009, Smashwords Edition)



I like reading books and being able to say ‘that’s not what I was expecting’, and mean it in a good way. And that was exactly my first thought after finishing Lucifera’s Pet. It really wasn’t what I was expecting, and I do mean that in a good way.

On first glance, M.T. Murphy’s tale of a centuries-old all-powerful vampire, who battles to retain her power with the help of a werewolf familiar (the eponymous ‘pet’) sounds like well-trodden ground. Lucifera Romana has been a vampire for nearly two millennia, and, at the beginning of the book, is a ‘master vampire’ with a reputation for brutality and ruthlessness. She is also fantastically beautiful, though it appears that most vampires have never actually laid eyes on her. The book begins a werewolf killing and eating a mugger who was foolishly trying to rob him, which sets the scene for the violence that will follow in the rest of the book. In the opening chapters, this beautiful vampire and killer werewolf are set up as being of a fairly familiar type. Lucifera, for example, has a name that sounds like ‘Lucifer’, and is described thus:

‘After all these years living in a thousand different places, her husky voice still has a hint of an accent. Spanish? Romanian? No one can really guess her origin beyond the fact that she is not from around here.’

The werewolf, on the other hand, is more ‘urban’ – despite his Irish accent, he appears to be more at home in the Los Angeles setting than his vampire companion – and less aloof and disconnected.

The first part of the book, narrated from several different first person perspectives, tells of a battle between Lucifera (or, rather, her minions) and another vampire, who, it seems, is her nemesis. There is betrayal, double-crossing and violent assaults, which sets up the world of Lucifera’s Pet as a cold, calculating and unfeeling one. No matter how loyal or long their service, no-one can rely on the protection of their ‘master’.

There are some issues with Part I, which are a result of Murphy’s unusual story-telling technique. Each chapter has a different narrator, and I was a little confused at first. In the first three chapters, there was not enough difference between the narrative voices, or enough signalling of the shift in perspective, for me to work out who was narrating what. Murphy’s decision to use this unusual technique is a bold one, and I must admit that I was not convinced at first. In addition to this, Chapter Two is rather misleading. Given that this chapter – of all those in Part I – has the most intriguing backstory for its narrator, and names the speaker in the very first sentence, I assumed that this particular narrator (Christopher) would be one of the main characters. In fact, I almost forgot a lot of the details of the wolf and the vampire in the preceding chapter, as I was automatically reading them as secondary to Christopher.

Despite this, though, the quality of writing and the vividness of description and detail encouraged me to keep reading – and I’m really glad I did. By the end of Chapter Seven (the final chapter of the first part), the shifting perspective stops being confusing and becomes a really compelling aspect of the story. And in Part II, Lucifera’s Pet really comes into its own.

Without giving away too much of the story, the second part of the novel focuses on the vampire and her werewolf, offering much more of an insight into their relationship and their respective histories. The narration, again, shifts between first person voices, but this is restricted to Lucifera and her ‘pet’, and the story alternates between the two. The chronology also alternates, shifts and converges, but this is very much a strong point of the story, as it resists linear progressions for the protagonists – they do not simply move from ‘good’ human at the beginning to ‘bad’ supernatural being at the end. It also allows for some of the story to remain untold, giving the overall narrative of Part II a rather light touch.

Characterization is also a real strength of the second part of Lucifera’s Pet. Though the two eponymous characters appear to be very much ‘of a type’ in the opening chapters, the expanded version of their history gives them more depth and complexity. We learn about each of their lives prior to becoming a vampire/werewolf, but also of their initial transformations, adaptation to their new lives and, eventually, their meeting. Some things, which had previously seemed a little clichéd or stereotypical, are revealed as more nuanced – one important instance of this is the explanation of how Lucifera came by her name (which I found a charming detail, and somewhat unexpected).

There are unfortunately some slightly clunky anachronisms in this part of the book. The language that Mickey (which is, we find out, the werewolf’s name) uses during his childhood in eighteenth-century Ireland can be excused by the fact that this is a retrospective reflection, told as his life is ‘flashing before [his] eyes’ in the present day; however, the Ancient Roman ‘Romana Trading Company’ in Lucifera’s story didn’t really sound very authentic to me. I should probably also mention that there are a couple of minor editing errors (specifically a bit of inconsistency in capitalization). Nevertheless, these are, to some extent, mitigated by the engaging writing style and by how believable the characters and their motivations seem to be – their immortal supernatural status notwithstanding.

One detail I particularly liked, which I think gives a good indication of the subtlety with which Murphy draws his characters, comes shortly after Lucifera is transformed into a vampire. In an earlier chapter, it has been made quite clear that, as in many other vampire novels, a lack of remorse is part of the vampiric ‘curse’. When Lucifera goes on her first killing spree, she appears to have jettisoned human feelings. And yet, when faced with slaughtering the only woman who has previously trusted and supported her, she has a moment of pause, and decides to use her new powers to make the woman’s death as merciful as possible. She says:

'I took no pleasure as I tore the soft flesh of her neck. Her impending death troubled me far more than the others had. I wondered if she would haunt
me.

Then her blood hit my tongue. All my misgivings were washed away by that delicious nectar. Sulpicia spent her dying moments reunited with her lost family in her mind. I spent those moments with my face buried in her warm flesh, stealing her life one drink at a time. Merciful death never tasted so sweet.'

This combination of mercy and brutality, kindness and selfish desire, is typical of the way Murphy explores the moral grey areas of his characters. Though it doesn’t make his protagonists ‘good’ – and they really aren’t – it does make them, ultimately, sympathetic and kind of likeable.

Part III of the novel returns to the point at which Part II ended, in present-day Los Angeles, and continues the battle between Lucifera and her ‘master vampire’ rival, Emil Vladu. However, this story now has more layers as a result of what has been revealed in the central portion of the novel. As the story resumes, the implications and significance of various interactions seem clearer.

Overall, Lucifera’s Pet is a well-told and well-crafted story, with an individual story-telling style and some enjoyable characters. It doesn’t really offer any significant departure from the standard vampire and werewolf mythos – silver is toxic to both, crucifixes are a problem, and lycanthropic transformation is a painful but exhilarating experience. I did enjoy the fact that, in this world, werewolf blood (though rumoured to be poisonous to vampires) seems to be more of an aphrodisiac than anything else. Despite this, though, the conditions of being a vampire/werewolf in Lucifera’s Pet are similar to those found in other novels and films.

This is not a criticism, though, as Murphy’s characters are interesting enough not to need dramatic ‘new’ traits. Additionally, given the recent trend for ‘explaining’ vampirism or lycanthropy through spurious pseudo-science (it’s a virus that transforms DNA being a popular explanation at the moment), it was nice to read a novel that steered clear of any real rationalization, and just asked us to accept that these creatures exist. Lucifera and Mickey don’t seem to really care where vampires and werewolves come from – and it’s easy to go along with that.

Lucifera’s Pet is a strong recommendation for vampire and werewolf fans: a mixture of ruthless, bloody violence (why nip at the neck, when you can tear out the throat?), compelling and (almost) tender relationships, and a handful of sex scenes makes it an engaging and readable book that will appeal to fans of darker urban fantasy. It is self-published, but compares well to many traditionally-published titles (and is much better than some). Though it was first published a couple of years ago, I definitely encourage you to look out for this one.

Friday, 9 March 2012

CFP: The Place of Hell: Topographies, Structures, Genealogies

An International conference held at King’s College London and The Warburg Institute on May 31 and June 1, 2013.

Call for Papers

A belief in Hell has been a staple of Christian thought from the earliest period of this religion. The depiction of Hell and its denizens – the devil, demons and the punished sinners – has an equally long history going back to at least the sixth century. From the eleventh century onwards, images of Hell become proliferate and more detailed in their presentation of the damned and their torments – in parallel to such texts as the popular Apocalypse of the Virgin. Artists come up with different solutions in picturing the various torments inflicted upon the sinners as well as the places where these torments take place. In the art of the late Byzantine period and the late medieval west, the various figures of the damned are presented with inscriptions detailing the crimes and sins for which they are being punished. In western Europe, literary texts add detail to the vision of Hell as well, starting with the 11th-century Vision of Tondal and culminating in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The images as well as the texts that we assume they are illustrating offer a rich field for research. Questions of iconography as well as the exploration of social meanings attached to these powerful representations present themselves. The exploration of developments within the body of texts on and depictions of Hell can be particularly fruitful.

The aim of this conference is to explore the place Hell occupied within society and art as well as the way Hell was envisaged as a physical place. The conference is organized as part of the Leverhulme Trust International Network project Damned in Hell in the Frescoes of Venetian-dominated Crete (13th-17th centuries). The island of Crete was governed by the Venetians from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. During this period, the interplay of the religion and culture of the colonizers (Roman Catholic and Italian) and the majority of the population (Byzantine and Greek Orthodox) created tangible tensions. We are therefore particularly interested in material from the historical era covered by the project, approaches that involve comparisons between east and west, and presentations with a particular focus on Crete. Did depictions of Hell on the island’s churches follow theological debates and trends? Was their primary function the edification of the Orthodox congregations, or are other readings possible?

Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:

· Texts about Hell and punishments for sinners in the Greek Orthodox world and/or the Latin west(13th-17th centuries)
· Images of Hell, with particular emphasis on its layout and topography as well as the layout of its pictorial representation
· Comparative papers on the intera_ction between Orthodox and Catholic notions and representations of Hell in the late medieval and early modern eastern Mediterranean
· The origins – both textual and pictorial – of perceptions and representations of the Afterlife and Hell in particular within the Christian tradition
· The use of Hell and punishment for sinners within contexts of social control (especially in rural communities) and afterlife management strategies

Papers by early career scholars soon after the completion of their PhD are particularly welcome.

Papers are restricted to 25 mins. Please send a short abstract and a brief cv to: Dionysios Stathakopoulos and Rembrandt Duits by June 30 2012.

Accepted speakers will be offered free accommodation and either a full refund of or substantial assistance towards their travel costs.

Review of Jason McKinney, Dog World (Jason McKinney, 2011)

Two things that I’m quite taken with at the moment: werewolves (obviously) and the apocalypse. So, I was naturally intrigued when I was sent a review copy of Jason McKinney’s self-published novel, Dog World, a military thriller telling the story of the werewolf apocalypse. I was, however, also somewhat trepidatious, as the recent explosion of self-published novels has left the market swamped with vampire, werewolf and other supernatural novels.

McKinney’s novel begins in Iraq, with a group of US soldiers facing a brutal attack from an unknown enemy. Reports of wild dog attacks, and a growing pile of bodies, are eventually revealed to be indications of an organized lycanthropic assault. Many of the soldiers are killed, and the survivors must band together to fight their werewolf enemy. The reader discovers that this attack is the work of the Aberration, a powerful werewolf group hell-bent on world domination and the farming of human ‘cattle’. Not all ‘lycans’ side with the Aberration, though, and it is left to the ‘good’ werewolves and the surviving humans to fight off the coming ‘werewolf apocalypse’.

McKinney’s werewolves are of a recognizable type. By this I mean that the transformation scenes and bodily changes his ‘lycans’ undergo will be familiar to fans of werewolf fiction. For example, one character, changing for the first time, experiences it thus:


“He felt his bones growing as they moaned in protest to the new additions. A raspy groan echoed painfully from his throat. He was desperately fighting to not start howling because of the fiery pain that criss-crossed his body. He thought of all the werewolf movies he’d seen as a kid. He knew now that they howled not in triumph but in torment.”

The main difference, then, with McKinney’s werewolves is the setting – these animals are not forest-dwelling loners or city-dwellers hiding their secret, but members of the US military. As the other characters become more aware of the existence of werewolves, Dog World offers some idea of how such supernatural creatures might be integrated into the macho and brutal world of the US army and Marine Corps. I particularly liked the coining of the term “poodle” as a derogatory term for werewolves, as it seemed to fit well with the culture McKinney was trying to depict.

Another interesting departure in Dog World comes with the references to vampires. In McKinney’s novel, these creatures are not undead rock stars or pale-faced heart-throbs, but rather corrupted and diseased scavengers, who subsist on the leftovers of the werewolves’ kills. It is unusual to find the hierarchy of werewolf/vampire thus presented, and I think McKinney deserves credit for a rather original take on this.

However, as with the book in general, this interesting idea is sadly not very well executed. The idea is there, but the craftsmanship needs much further attention.

Overall, the book is marred by frequent punctuation, formatting, spelling and grammar errors. "Where” and “were” are misused, as are “too” and “to”; apostrophes are omitted or added incorrectly; the dread phrase ‘could of’ appears on numerous occasions; spellings are occasionally inconsistent (so the vehicle is a “Humvee” on one page, and a “Humm-Vee” on another). These, and other errors, should have been dealt with by a proof-reader.

As well as being in need of a very rigorous edit, Dog World would also have benefitted from a thorough critique from a writing partner or group prior to its publication. I struggled to follow the first few chapters, as the number of characters (with backstory) introduced was overwhelming. Most of these characters were incidental, and most died before the end of Chapter Two. By the time the main group of characters (of which there were nine, which is far too high for a novel of this type) came together, I had completely lost track of who was who. This made it difficult for me to identify with any of the characters later in the story.

In terms of plot, there is also too much going on, and I think a good writing group or partner would have helped trim this down. Again, I lost track on numerous occasions. More seriously, though, there were some contradictions and plot-holes – such as conflicting versions of how vampires came into existence – that were rather frustrating. This frustration was added to by some inaccuracies in the pop culture references and in the ‘historical accounts’ given throughout the book (in overly lengthy exposition passages) – for instance, the frequent references to “The Black Plague” rather than “The Black Death”, or the misnaming of the character from Lord of the Rings as “Golem”. That these points weren’t picked up at a critiquing or editing stage suggests to me that these necessary stages of book production were either rushed or ignored completely

That said, I am aware that I am not the target audience for Dog World. One of the reasons the wealth of characters lost me was that I couldn’t follow the military ranks, jargon and abbreviations used in describing them. In addition to this, I found it very hard to identify or sympathise with such brutal characters – for instance, at one point a reference is made to lobotomizing POWs (albeit lycanthropic ones), which the central characters seem to think is fair since they are at war. However, I know lots of readers who love books of this genre, and who would find these aspects a positive, rather than a negative, feature of a novel. With some work, McKinney’s writing would definitely appeal to these readers.

I think it is also fair to say that Dog World is for American readers only, unless readers from outside the US have a high tolerance for inner monologues from non-Americans waxing lyrical about how fair and good the US government/military is. English readers in particular might find the depiction of “Britishness” a little too hard to take seriously. Aside from the continued use of the word “British” by characters who would, in reality, have described themselves as “English”, Dog World also has a character with “a mild Cockney accent” (?) who uses phrases like “allow me to cut to the meat of it, gentlemen” and “thanks for the tip, fellows”. Perhaps the oddest "Britishisms” in the novel were the way all the English characters used the expression “you’re taking a piss” when accusing someone else of making fun of them (for non-UK readers, the expression is “you’re taking the piss”), and the way everyone blew a raspberry when they gave someone the Vs (again, for non-UK readers, this is a British hand gesture, roughly equivalent to giving someone the finger, and definitely not always accompanied by a raspberry!).

I don’t want to dwell on any more of these errors here. As I stated at the beginning of this review, McKinney’s basic idea for the novel, and his original take on werewolves (and their relationship to vampires) is great and could have been developed into a really strong thriller. Instead, sadly, the “finished” novel reads like a first draft, and so is something of a let-down.

Had this book been brought to the writing group I used to co-ordinate, I certainly wouldn’t have rejected it outright. I would have advised the writer to keep listening to feedback, working on it, trimming it, redrafting it and giving it some overall polish (and I wouldn’t have said that on a public website). However, this has not been presented as a work-in-progress, but rather a finished product that is available to buy. I wonder if the current boom in self-publishing is making it a little too easy to hit the “publish” button before a book is actually ready…

Thursday, 8 March 2012

CFP: 3rd Global Conference: Performance: Visual Aspects of Performance

Tuesday 13th November – Thursday 15th November 2012

Salzburg, Austria

Call For Papers:

Theatre and the many varied expressions of performance practice are by their nature inter-disciplinary forms of art. They draw ideas and symbolisms from diverse theoretical and creative fields of humanities, making historical references and links, presenting social relations, putting forward great ideas and dilemmas of the mind, highlighting aspects of the human personality and employing all existing art-forms in order to create a performance as a whole. Performance practice, whether in a theatrical space, site-specific space, or as a street or public performance of any nature, can be examined from the artistic point of view, but also from a cultural, a sociological, a historical, a psychological, a semiological, an anthropological, as well as from an educational perspective. The term “performance practice” refers to the interface within which the work of the director, performer, movement director and choreographer, scenographer (set and costume designer), musical director, composer, lighting designer and sound designer meet. It also includes all aspects and issues involving the creative process, from the initial concept to the final realization and presentation to an audience.

The aim of this conference is to develop discussion with a focus on the visual aspects of performance brought up by visual and spatial artists and researchers in various performance disciplines and practices.

Papers, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:

1. Narrative and Meaning
* Visual interpretation of text / of narrative
* Visual literacy and perception within performance
* The relationship between narrative, visuality and textuality
* Challenging of established aesthetics, the relationship of old and new traditions
* Visual expression and symbolism in theatre and performance
* The notion of the visual metaphor
* The role of imagination today (before, during and after a performance)

2. Design Processes
* The birth of a visual concept
* Design as theatrical action
* Visual resources, and interpretation in performance
* Scenographic materials, form, texture, composition and light
* From design to realization – the process for the creation of a visual/spatial environment
* Collaboration and practice in the visual aspect of performance making
* Aesthetics and visual principles in performance
* Media and new technology as performance visual elements
* Challenging traditions: New approaches in performance design and practice

3. Set and Costume, discourse and practice
* Scenographer: The author of space?
* History of scenography
* Leading figures in the world tradition of scenography
* Costume and the body, embodiment and expression
* Actor-character: Dressing the performer, dressing the character
* Body and space: The spatial dynamics of costume
* The performativity of costume / The narrative of dress inperformance
* Costume sociology

4. Perception
* The gaze of the spectator / Aspects of spectatorship
* Experience and perceptions of the performer
* Experience and perceptions of the audience
* Cross-cultural appropriation, Inter-disciplinarity and Interactivity in performance
* The impact of new media on performance
* Liveness / humanness and the contemporary technological context

5. Pedagogy & Policy
* Designing theatre for diverse settings and audiences (e.g. children, elders, communities, people with disability)
* Performance, ethics, poetics, and politics – visual approaches
* Teaching the visual aspects of performance practice, context and approaches

Papers will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012.

300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Performance3 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Sofia Pantouvaki
Professor of Costume Design for Theatre and Film
Aalto University
School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Finland

Rob Fisher Network
Founder and Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Freeland
Oxfordshire
United Kingdom

The conference is part of the Critical Issues programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s).

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Manchester Medieval Society Lecture: John Gillis

The Fadden More Psalter

MANCHESTER MEDIEVAL SOCIETY and MANCASS are delighted to host jointly a lecture on The Faddan More Psalter by John Gillis Senior Conservator of books and manuscripts at Trinity College Library

Thursday 22 March 2012 at 6 p.m.

A large, leather-covered book was unearthed in 2006 in a peat bog in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Despite its covering of brown peat, lettering and illuminated decoration were visible and it was immediately obvious that this was a Psalter (book of the Psalms), datable from its decorative style to the eighth-century, a golden age of manuscript illumination in Ireland and Northumbria. John Gillis is working with the National Museum of Ireland on examining and conserving the manuscript.

Venue: The Historic Reading Room, John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Deansgate Building.

Non-members are always welcome.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

CFP: 9th Global Conference: War, Civil Conflict, Security and Peace

Wednesday 7th November – Friday 9th November 2012

Salzburg, Austria

Call for Papers:

What is the experience of war and what does it mean to us? Is war an extension of politics by other means? The locomotive of technology? Does a state of peace truly exist, or do we perpetually live in absentia bello? Is humankind at war in its most natural state; or is human society – despite perceptions and ongoing conflict around the world today – actually moving toward an aversion to war and toward a state of peace? Are Human Rights illusory and is the quest for Human Security achievable?

This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference seeks to provide a challenging forum for the examination and evaluation of the nature, purpose and experience of war, and its impacts on all aspects of communities across the world. Viewing war as a multi-layered phenomenon, this conference series invites committed academics, non-academic based professionals from all walks of life, including those from Military forces, serving or retired, Emergency, Aid and Development Organisations (IOs, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs), NGOs and other Non-State Actors (NSAs) or Trans-National Social Movement (TNSMs), Commercial companies and corporate institutions, the public services, Faith based institutions, charities, the media, the medical professions, the arts and students in all related fields of interest, to explore the historical, legal, social, human, religious, economic, and political contexts of conflicts, and assess the place of nations, alliances, politics, the military, peace activism, science, academia, faith, the humanitarian sector, art, journalism, literature, music, the media and the internet in representation and interpretation of the experience of warfare. In particular papers, workshops, reports, formed panels and presentations are invited on any of the following themes;

1. How do we Talk about War? Portrayal, awareness, language and expression. How do we come to understand war in contemporary and historical cultures?
* The Language of modern contemporary warfare, the language of war in society, in the work space and popular culture; obscuration of conditions of being at ‘war’ and the condition of 'peace’.
* Militarization of society, propaganda, war toys, computer gaming; in fashion - ‘military chic’.
* Representing the realities of war versus ‘national interest’ – images of the heroism, glory, tacit and explicit justifications of war; the horror of war and societal responses.

2. Representations and Experiences Viewing War as a multi-layered social phenomena.
* The individual experience of war, the impact of war, in protest; in the alleviation of the impacts of war and in peace building.
* Nations, Communities and individuals recovering from war, trauma, rehabilitation and nation building.
* The experience of war; art, literature, music, poetry, cinema and the theatre; the role of the
media – journalism, radio, television, the internet; propaganda.
* The representations and experiences of protest.

3. History and Development of Warfare and War Fighting. How have we fought and why. Lessons learned, mistakes repeated.
* Warfare in human history, revisionism and post-revisionism.
* The sources, origins, and causes of war; why and how do wars begin?
* Means and methods in war – land, sea, air, space, nuclear, chemical, biological; terror and terrorism; conventional and guerrilla warfare; civil war; ‘total’ warfare’. Where are the new ‘battlespaces’?
* The nature of warfare; strategy and strategic thought; changes and the implications of changes in the ways wars are fought; the influenceand effect of technologies; nuclear deterrence/compellance; changes in the nature and role of military personnel; information and information warfare.
* New and perceived ‘Revolutions in Military Affairs’.

4. Extent, Conduct and Morality. Can war even be distinguished from peace, combatant from non-combatant, who are legitimate targets? The totalisation of war in modern society and culture.
* Where are we now? How has war pervaded our society and culture in everyday life?
* The extent of war; geo-political, physical; blockades, sanctions, defence expenditure and the impact on social and public policy; on social and human capital.
* The regulation and control of warfare; how is and should warfare be conducted? What are the limits of conflict? Are there any prohibitions in fighting a war?
* Globalization; the human, geographic, social and economic boundaries of war in the modern era.
* Resource warfare, food, water, oil and mineral wealth, challenges in the 21st century.
* International Humanitarian Law and Conflict.

5. Human Rights and Human Security. Have the means and methods in war, finally outpaced International law and norms of behaviour? What protection is available? If truth is the first casualty in war, is human rights the second?
* Human security issues; protection, shelter, economic security; public health.
* Human rights; protection, promotion and abuses; genocide, ethnic cleansing; terrorism; scorched earth; war crimes; crimes against humanity.
* The Humanitarian space in conflict.
* Armed non-state actors, roles, practices and regulation.
* Gender and Race in War and Peace.

6. The Boundaries of War. How far will humankind push the limits of acceptable behaviour and practice in war?
* The ‘morality’ and the ‘ethics’ of war; just war; deterrence; pre-emptive war; defence and self-defence; the influence of nationalism; the place of human rights; societies and the military; increases in moral sensibilities – qualms about carpet bombing, collateral damage; the status of combatants in warfare, the impact of civilians; neutrality.
* War and religion; the important role of religion, the church, and the intellectual elite in multi-ethnic conflict specifically and in war in general; just war, jihad and crusade.
* War and gender; women in war; impact, abuses, role in war as combatants and in peace building. Gender equality issues and peacebuilding, cultures of violence in society propagating conflict.
* Children and war, child soldiers, trauma, exposure, conditioning, propaganda, bereavement, expression though play, art and behaviour.
* Slavery and war; past, present and future; unwilling combatants, from janissaries to mamelukes, to conscripts and child soldiers.
* Resistance under occupation, where collaboration ends and resistance begins? Forms of resistance.

7. Prevention and Peacebuilding. Can we give peace a chance? Viewing war as un-natural, preventable within a variety of frameworks. The legal mechanisms and the trans-national social movements ‘waging peace’.
* Peace building; means and methods; negative peace and building apositive peace; war-termination and nation-building.
* The prevention of war; the role of conflict resolution; avoiding war; peace-keeping; the role and importance of law and international legal order; the rise and impact of non-violent movements.
* The effectiveness of Supra-National, Trans-National and International organsiations in conflict prevention, mediation and resolution.
* Peace and Balances of Power.
* Disarmament and Arms Control.
* Conscientious objection, alternative service.
* The Peace Movement.

8. The Role of Non-state Actors and NGOs in War and Post-conflict. Breaking the state conundrum, participation in relief from the depredations of war, alleviating the suffering, advocacy from theatres of war. Or compromising humanitarian Aid? Force multipliers?Abrogating combatants' responsibilities toward their populations.
* History: The Quakers to the Red Cross and beyond.
* NGOs, the ‘third space’ actors in the relief of the impact of warfare, aid and development programmes, refugees and IDPs, childsoldiers, landmines/cluster munitions; small arms light weapons (SALW/DDR), Depleted Uranium (DU), NGOs prolonging conflict by abrogating state and combatants responsibilities in time of conflict.
* Armed non-state actors. Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Private security companies and forces. Mercenaries in the modern world.

9. Future War: Revolutions in Military Affairs – Emerging Types of Warfare. Be afraid, be very afraid. Are there no limits to man's inhumanity to man?
* Cyber-war Virtual war; cyber-terrorism; cyber-power, cyber-war; computer technologies in the conduct of war.
* Technology leaps – acquiring WMD.
* Space war – fantasy or an emerging reality? Issue in the militarisation and weaponisation of space.
* Bio-warfare: gene warfare; the genetic codes of agriculture and livestock as targets in war
* Economic warfare in a Globalised world.

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4thMay 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012. 300 word abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: WAR Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Joint Organising Chairs:

Graeme Goldsworthy Webster
University and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS),
The Netherlands

Rob Fisher
Network Founder and Leader,
Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the Probing the Boundaries programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 2nd Global Conference: Writing: Paradigms, Power, Poetics, Praxis

Saturday 10th November – Monday 12th November 2012

Salzburg, Austria

Call for Papers:

This global research and publications project on Writing will explore the many facets of writing from an interdisciplinary perspective. It seeks to explore the many intertextual and intersemiotic facets of writing as they exist in the digital age but also taking into account the historical forces, process and mechanisms, their relationships to contemporary writing forms, and the possibilities of future directions. ‘All writing comes from somewhere’ and with this axiom in mind this project will not only examine the pragmatic elements of writing but also the complex issues concerning the metafunctions of writing as a creative and purposeful process across various disciplines.

Papers, presentations, reports, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on, but not limited to any of the following focus areas;

1. Writing as a Creative Process: Theory and Practice
* What are the origins and forms of creative writing?
* What are the personal and interpersonal relationship between creativity and writing?
* How is effective and creative writing developed and nurtured?
* How do various disciplines understand the pragmatic elements of writing and the thought processes that underpin writing?
* What are the similarities/differences in understanding between the related research disciplines?
* How can creative writing be fostered in a world dominated by measurement, outcomes and benchmarks?
* How do authors actually write?

2. Writing across the Disciplines: Theory and Practice
* How do various disciplines define writing?
* The psychology, philosophy and pedagogy of writing of various fields of thought
* What is creativity in theory and practice in the business world?
* Can writing be taught?
* How do readers engage with writing?
* What does engagement with writing and the writing process mean for adults and for children?
* How does writing develop in all age groups or across age groups?
* What are the various forms of Inter-disciplinary approaches to teaching writing?
* Historical and contemporary representations of writing as art, in film and literature?
* The future role of writing?
* How will the visual media be related to writing in the next decade or beyond?
* The relationships between children’s engagement with television, film, visual literacy and writing?
* Traditional forms of writing: what are they and how do they fit in the visual age?
* The role and nature of learning theories and their view of writing

3. Critical and Cultural Thinking
* How is writing linked to critical thinking? Is it the same ascritical literacy?
* Where does this writing ability come from?
* What is the role of the 'significant other' in developing critical engagement with writing at home, school and beyond?
* What are the conditions that foster critical thinking and critical writing?
* How is writing engendered and produced in different contexts of cultural contexts?
* Developing writing as life skills, social issues and education for citizenship in the 21st century

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: Writing2 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Phil Fitzsimmons
Faculty of Education,
Avondale College of Higher Learning
New South Wales, Australia

Rob Fisher
Network Leader
Inter-Disciplinary.Net,
Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the Education Hub series of research projects, which in turn belong to the At the Interface programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume or volumes.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 3rd Global Conference: Making Sense Of: Suffering

Tuesday 13th November – Thursday 15th November 2012
Salzburg, Austria

Call for Papers:

This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference seeks to explore if, or to what extent, meaning can be found in suffering. During the course of living our lives, we are invariably forced to stop and question why we suffer – be it through illness, pain, loss, grief or the multitude of distressing circumstances which we encounter. Problems arise in a variety of contexts and due to a bewildering variety of conditions. And because our lives are constant streams of experience, the nature of suffering and consequently the ‘meaning’ of such suffering continually varies and changes. The conference aims to raise and assess a variety of questions related to the nature of suffering, the origins of suffering, the ‘meaning’ of suffering, explanations for suffering and responding to suffering.

Papers, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:

I. What is Suffering?
• Defining ‘suffering’. What is ‘suffering’? How do we approach ‘suffering’?
• Is suffering unique or exclusive to human beings?
• Non-human suffering
• Categories of suffering. Suffering as – a problem; a condition; an expression; an experience; a position of powerlessness; a consequence of meaninglessness; a result of affliction.

II. The Roots of Suffering
• The origins of suffering
• Suffering as universal; as international; as national; as local; as particular
• Suffering and history
• The contexts and conditions of suffering
• Producing suffering

III. The Meaning of Suffering
• Suffering and meaning
• Suffering and language
• What is at stake when dealing with suffering?
• The ‘limits’ of suffering
• The dangers of suffering

IV. Explaining Suffering
• suffering and explanation
• theories of suffering: the work of the disciplines
• theories of suffering: the work of the professions
• theories of suffering: the work of the vocations
• silence and suffering

V. Suffering and Practice
• suffering, apathy and indifference
• alleviating suffering
• practices causing, prolonging, truncating, overcoming, relieving or resolving suffering
• suffering, hope and despair

VI. Suffering and Religion
• Suffering from the perspective of religious traditions
• Suffering and sacred texts
• Portraits of suffering and sufferers
• Suffering and ‘redemption’
• Suffering and atheism

VII. Representing Suffering
• suffering and representation
• suffering in literature
• suffering in the media
• suffering in tv, film, theatre and radio
• suffering in cybercultures

VIII. Confronting Suffering
• meaning, suffering and action
• overcoming suffering
• should suffering be overcome?
• case studies
• practice(s), resolution(s), settlement

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: Suffering 3 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Nate Hinerman
Nursing/Theology and Religious Studies
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, USA

Rob Fisher
Network Leader
Inter-Disciplinary.Net,
Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the Making Sense Of: series of research projects, which in turn belong to the Probing the Boundaries programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 1st Global Conference: Immersive Worlds and Transmedia Narratives

Tuesday 13th November – Thursday 15th November 2012

Salzburg, Austria

* The Novel
* The Film
* The Television Series
* The Graphic Novel
* The Facebook Page
* The Tweets
* The Fan-Sites
* The Video Game
* The You-Tube Clips
* The Smart Phone
* The Convention
* The Theme Park
* The Merchandising

THE CALL

This call for papers is about where the story starts and where it ends, about who writes the story and who reads it and whether any of these definitions apply when we are in the story itself. This then is about world making and about the media, mediums and machinery that converge to make it possible. The rhizomic qualities of a smart phone that enmesh us into the real world also connect and implicate large parts of ourselves in imaginary and virtual spaces; with people we have never met and places we will never see other than through the app, the blog or the social networking site.

“In the final decade of the 21st Century, men and women in rocketships landed on the moon. By 2200 AD, they had reached the other planets of our solar system. Almost at once there followed the discovery of hyperdrive through which the speed of light was first obtained and later greatly surpassed. And so, at last, mankind began the conquest and colonization of deep space”
(The Forbidden Planet)

THE EXAMPLE

True Blood. Originally from Charlene Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels. Now a hit television show. It has a facebook page and characters from the series produce You Tube videos (Jessica- Baby Vamp). The stars from the show share tweets with fans and each other but not as themselves but the characters they play. Viral marketing spreads adverts and teasers for products that come from the show, not just simple merchandising but items such as Tru-Blood, the synthetic blood substitute that bases the premise of the show where vampires can become part of society. The graphic novel,written by the television series creator Allan Ball and which extends storylines from the show. Fangtasia, the vampire bar from the series is recreated in actual real life venues and where people can dress as vampires. At each point of entry the “reader’ can choose which parts and to what level they want to engage, or participate, in the narrative enabling various levels of immersion and ways to influence and change the world that one is entering. Who writes the story and what story are they writing and who consumes what and who and is everyone welcome?

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!”(Dracula)

But who can enter this world and how does it impinge on our own? Is it only for the wealthy, the westernised, the capital-ised? How does it purposely exclude and include certain groups and why? What is the future of the technologies and the types of narratives involved? Will it become a world that people never want to leave or one that will expand to consume our former notions of what constituted reality. Where does the story end and real life begin? (Keywords: Transmedia, Convergence, Participatory, Affinity, ReMix, Hypersociability, Technologies, Medium, Narrative, Story, Play, Interaction, Immersive, Virtual)

THE WHAT?

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals, works in progress, performances, literary and visual presentations and practitioner case studies. Papers will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. All other significant dates, please see Details page.

THE WHO?

Those that study, research or take part in transmedia narratives or convergence cultures, film and media studies, gaming and virtual worlds, literature and fandom, marketing and advertising, graphic novels and animation, artists, writers… SHOULD APPLY

THE HOW?

Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: TM1 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

Phil Fitzsimmons

Rob Fisher

Simon Bacon

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a
position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: Journal Announcement: Monsters and the Monstrous

Volume 2, Number 1, Special Issue on Monstrous Memory

The Editors welcome contributions to the journal in the form of articles, reviews, reports, art and/or visual pieces and other forms of submission on the following or related themes:

Monstrous Memory

Sethe: "It's so hard for me to believe in . Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. . . But it's not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place - the picture of it - stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world".

Denver: "If it's still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies."

Sethe: "Nothing ever does." (Morrison, Beloved)

Monsters of memory, monstrous memories, monsters as memories.

Keywords: memory, remembrance, history, trauma, the past, undead, re-memory, undying, haunting, unheimlich, spectres, monsters, ghosts.

Call for Articles:

This special issue of Monsters and the Monstrous is looking for articles and reviews that are based around the idea of Monstrosity and Memory.

Memories of the past, whether individual, societal or national constantly invade our everyday lives. Sometimes as the remembrance of monstrous past events that can, and should, never die or be forgotten but also as disruptive and destructive presences that upset, intrude and invade our equilibrium and sense of self.

EXAMPLES:

Monstrous events and people that live on today:
-the holocaust and national geneocides, hiroshima etc.
-natural disasters, tsunamis, eartquakes and volcanic eruptions.
-monstrous figures from the past such as Rasputin, Jack the Ripper, Stalin.
-the national and cultural disparities in the conceptions of all of the above.

Monstrous entities from the past in fiction and film:
- Manifestations of the national past and political extremism, The Grudge, Godzilla, Dead Snow, Frostbite
- Representation of monsters that lived before humans, Cthulhu (Lovecraft), Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Priest.

Ghosts and Spirits that Haunt the Present:

-Popular series such as Medium, The Ghost Whisperer, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
-Discontented figures that want justice or revenge, Woman in Black, Death Watch, Ringu, Nightmare on Elm Street
- traumatic events that cannot be escaped, Silent Hill, Triangle, Inception

Whether Proustian flashbacks or actual embodiments , metaphorical, psychological, or phantasical the monsters of the past will not relinquish their hold on our times, lives and imaginations.

Submissions for this Issue are required by 31st March 2012 at the latest.

Contributions to the journal should be original and not under consideration for other publications at the same time as they are under consideration for this publication. Submissions are to be made electronically wherever possible using either Microsoft® Word or .rtf format.

Length Requirements:

Articles - 5,000 – 7,000 words.
Reflections, reports and responses - 1,000 – 3,000 words.
Book reviews - 500 – 4,000 words.

Other forms of contributions are welcome.

Submission Information:

Send submissions via e-mail using the following Subject Line:

‘Journal: Contribution Type (article/review/...): Author Surname’ and marked "Monstrous Memory".

Submissions E-Mail Address

Submissions will be acknowledged within 48 hours of receipt.

Contributions are also invited for future issues of the journal which will include: "Twilight and Teaching the Monstrous", "Monstrous Spaces".

We also invite submission to our special features on Non-English Language Book Reviews, and Monstrous Pedagogy. Please mark entries for these topics with their title.


For more information about the journal, please click here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

GUEST POST: Bryan Sitch



The Heronbridge Skeletons at The Manchester Museum

The human skeletons from Heronbridge near Chester have attracted a lot of interest recently. Some of this is thanks to Hannah with whom I discussed the remains last year. Within a matter of hours it seemed Hannah had arranged for me to speak about the discovery at a conference she was organising about Gender and the Middle Ages. In just over five weeks’ time on 29th March there will be another opportunity to explore what the bones mean when the Manchester Museum holds a day school on the Heronbridge skeletons. This is to coincide with a Manchester Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium which is being held on 28th March. Hopefully people will find it worthwhile to stay over. What is it that makes the skeletons so interesting?

The skeletons were found during excavations at Heronbridge during the early 1930s. Many of the finds were of Roman date and it was assumed that the skeletons were also of Roman date. In the excavation publication it was stated that the remains would be deposited at the Manchester Museum and that a detailed report had been presented to the university librarian. On the basis of this statement a number of enquirers had contacted the Museum to ask about the skeletons but no-one was able to find them. It was just over a year ago that the penny dropped.

As Curator of Archaeology I had gone through the human remains in the collection to find out what was known about them. I noticed that many of the bones had no associated information. Some, however, had distinctive labels on which Greek characters were written such as alpha, beta, gamma, delta and so on. At the time this meant nothing to me but it quickly became clear when I re-read the brief report about the Heronbridge skeletons published in 1933. In a table at the back of the report the skeletons were listed but half way across the table the numbering changed and the skeletons had dual numbering using Greek characters. On its own this might not be sufficient to tie down the provenance but the bone report also referred to wounds on the skulls. When I checked the skulls I saw large impact trauma, injuries made by long edged weapons. Dr Elwyn Davies who wrote the bone report speculated the injuries were caused by Roman cavalry swords. This conclusion was based on the presence of Roman finds on the Heronbridge site. However, in 2005 further archaeological work was carried out at Heronbridge and two of the skeletons were recovered and radiocarbon dated. The range of dates suggested a time somewhere around the early 7th century AD.

This was extremely interesting because in his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People' Bede gave an account of the Battle of Chester. A Northumbrian army led by King Aethelfrith fought a smaller force of northern Welsh Britons and defeated it. Bede's account said that Aethelfrith, seeing British Christian monks praying for the defeat of the Northumbrians, ordered his men to cut them down. Many of the monks were killed. The Northumbrians retreated having suffered heavy casualties in their turn and with British reinforcements on their way.

Could the skeletons in the Manchester Museum be casualties of the Battle of Chester in or about 616 AD? None have been radiocarbon dated but they come from very similar contexts to the skeletons lifted in 2005. As the latter have been radiocarbon dated it seems reasonable to infer that the skeletons from the 1930s excavations are of the same date. As the dead were buried in significant numbers in pits (laid out respectfully like sardines in a tin), it must have been a significant battle. The wounds on some of the bones are very similar to those seen on skeletons from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. And they are all men. I conclude that the skeletons in the Museum must be from the Battle of Chester. To have a sizeable group of human remains showing trauma from a 'Dark Age' battlefield together with an historical account is really exciting.

But who are the skeletons? Which side were they on? Could they be the remains of the monks? Perhaps tidied away respectfully by the Welsh reinforcements that arrived too late to take part in the battle? Prof. Nick Higham of the University of Manchester has argued that we must take what Bede has to say with a large pinch of salt. Bede isn't a reliable guide to events on the battlefield. He was writing providential history and trying to justify the slaughter of Christians by the pagan Anglo-Saxons who would later become Christian. Bede was serving a religious agenda. For instance no early medieval monastery in this country can have had the numbers of monks ascribed to it by Bede. Bu'Lock argued the monks were former warriors who had retired to the cloister to pass their twilight years only to be pressed back into military service in an emergency when the Northumbrians attacked Chester. Again this seems unlikely. Whether we can find out from isotopic studies which part of the world these men came from remains to be seen.

We will explore aspects of the story in the day school at the Manchester Museum on 29th March. Six speakers have confirmed their titles and it looks like a fascinating date.

Bryan Sitch
Deputy Head of Collections and Curator of Archaeology
The Manchester Museum

For more information about the Heronbridge skeletons, see the Ancient Worlds blog from The Manchester Museum.

CFP: 4th Global Conference: Bullying and the Abuse of Power

Sunday 4th November – Tuesday 6th November 2012
Salzburg, Austria

Call For Papers

Bullying is a global problem. Whether it takes place in the schoolyard; the board room; the corridors of academe; a detention centre for alleged terrorists; a government office, or cyber space; and whether it involves insult, physical assault or manipulation of the environment with the intention of making another person’s life intolerable, bullying involves the abuse of power. Everyone is affected by it, whether directly or indirectly.

All of us know people who are bullied, and all of us know bullies, though we may be unaware that we do. After all, bullies may seem, on the surface, to be kind, caring and supportive human beings, interested in nurturing others. And if they have been kind to us, we may fail to perceive their unkindness to others.

Bullying goes on at every level, often goes on behind closed doors; inside private emails, and in actions that might appear innocuous. It grows out of the ability that many (and perhaps most) people have, to find enjoyment and fulfilment in exerting power over others. It depends for its existence either on a lack of empathy and human feeling, or on the developed ability to suspend empathy. It can ruin lives, and it can end lives. We should not allow ourselves to believe that because it is not open to view, bullying is not present.

In the first three years of Bullying and the Abuse of Power, a number of themes have emerged. Two of these – bullying in schools and bullying in the workplace (including universities) are unsurprising and have featured strongly in both earlier conferences. Alongside these, and other themes with a practical focus, such as cyberbullying, participants have wrestled with the problem of saying exactly what is to count as bullying, and how far its boundaries extend.

Abstracts are now invited for Bullying and the Abuse of Power 4, for individual contributions or for symposia of three papers. Abstracts that illuminate and comment on more than one sphere in which bullying manifests itself, are especially welcomed, as are abstracts that draw together insights from more than one academic, professional or vocational area, or that draw from more than one cultural or theoretical perspective. Abstracts are also especially welcomed that focus on bullying in areas where the abuse of power is less commonly thought of in this way, including the ill treatment of elders; genocide; human trafficking, and bullying in international relations and international trade.

1. Bullying in School/in the Workplace
~ Bullying of older people/disabled people
~ Sexual bullying
~ Racial bullying
~ Religious intolerance

2. From Playground Bullying to Genocide/Bullying: How Far Can it Go?
~ Human Rights abuses
~ Genocide
~ The Holocaust
~ Human trafficking

3. International Relations
~ Cultural intolerance
~ Terrorism as a means of persuasion
~ Imposition of the wishes of the developed world on developing countries
~ Bullying of Indigenous people

4. Multinationals, Impoverished Nations and Corner Shops
~ The effects of globalisation on business
~ Changing patterns of shopping: corner shops vs superstores
~ Advertising and vulnerable consumers
~ Cut price goods and low pay for workers

Papers will be considered on any related theme. Abstracts should be written in simple language and for individual contributions should beno longer than 300 words, while for symposia they should include a 150 word overview for each contribution and a 200 word overview for the whole session (please take these word limits seriously). Abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012. Abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract,e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: BULLY4 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Gavin J Fairbairn
Professor of Ethics and Language
Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds
United Kingdom

Rob Fisher
Inter-Disciplinary.Net
Priory House,
Wroslyn Road,
Freeland,
Oxfordshire OX29 8HR

The conference is part of the Ethos Hub series of ongoing research and publications projects conferences, run within the Critical Issues domain which aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore innovative and challenging routes of intellectual and academic exploration. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network andwe are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

CFP: 9th Global Conference: Making Sense Of: Dying and Death

Saturday 10th November – Monday 12th November 2012
Salzburg, Austria

Call For Papers:

This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference explores dying and death and the ways culture impacts care for the dying, the overall experience of dying, and ways the dead are remembered. Over the past three decades, scholarship in thanatology has increased dramatically.This particular conference seeks a broad array of perspectives that explore, analyze, and/or interpret the myriad interrelations and interactions that exist between death and culture. Culture not only presents and portrays ideas about “a good death” and norms that seek to achieve it, culture also operates as both a vehicle and medium through which meaning about death is communicated and understood. Sadly, too, culture sometimes facilitates death through violence.

Submissions might be imagined in any (or none) of the following ways:“death” as an expression of doctrinal beliefs and/or core values,death and dying as an on-going movement between an individual or community and a larger socio-cultural matrix, or death as essentiallya cultural construction. Investigations that engage cultural studies from a variety of perspective are certainly encouraged. We also welcome perspectives that interrogate the stability of meaning(s)assigned to such terms (“culture,” “death,” “dignity,”“care,” etc.) and their complex inter-relations.

Specifically, submissions should be framed with at least one of the following four rubrics in mind: death/dying within culture, culture within death/dying, death/dying as popular culture (and vice versa), or death/dying in tension with culture.

We welcome submissions that produce conversations engaging historical, ethnographic, normative, literary, anthropological, philosophical, artistic, political or other terms that elaborate a relationship between death and culture. For example, submissions might investigate death and dying in relation to any of the following realms of culture:

* music
* literature
* film
* broadcast media
* religious broadcasting
* journalism
* athletics
* comic books
* novels / poetry / short story
* television
* radio
* print media
* internet / technology
* popular art / architecture
* sacred vs. profane space
* advertising
* consumerism
* new religious movements/religious subcultures

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th May 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd August 2012. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this
order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract,e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords

E-mails should be entitled: DD9 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics orunderline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. All accepted abstracts will be included in this publication. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Nate Hinerman
Nursing/Theology and Religious Studies
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, USA

Rob Fisher
Network Leader
Inter-Disciplinary.Net,
Freeland,
Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

The conference is part of the Making Sense Of: series of research projects, which in turn belong to the Probing the Boundaries programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the project, please click here.

For further details of the conference, please click here.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

GUEST POST: Bryan Sitch (The Manchester Museum)

Monsters, the Museum and Sacrificial Theory

When Hannah contacted me about contributing a paper to a conference she is organising on the subject of Monsters, I immediately thought of the presentation I gave - or rather a colleague gave on my behalf - at a conference a year or so ago. In the paper I made a brief survey of objects in the Manchester Museum archaeology collection depicting monsters, including Odysseus in the Cyclops’ cave on an ancient Greek vase and figurines of the chimera or chimaera, the sirens and the sphinx.



At that time I was very interested in sacrificial theory, but I was only able to touch upon the topic in passing because most of the paper was devoted to monstrous objects in the Museum collection. One of the questions I posed was if, as has been argued by Adrienne Mayor in her fascinating book The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (2001), some of the monsters in ancient Greek myths were inspired by discoveries of fossilised bones from long-extinct Mediterranean megafauna, then how do we explain weird composites or hybrids like the chimaera or the sphinx in which the bodies of completely different creatures are mixed together? The former animal had the body of a lioness with a snake for a tail and a goat’s head sticking out of its back. It's like one of those books for children in which you turn a page and the head of one person is superimposed upon the body of someone else who is in turn superimposed over the lower body of another person. Reading Rene Girard's books about sacrificial theory seemed to offer a solution. Girard is a French academic who has worked for many years in the USA

His argument goes something like this: in the distant past members of a community that facing a flood or a famine or pestilence might experience into a state of collective anxiety such that the members of that community become progressively more agitated to the point where a total break-down of order and respect for social distinction is threatened. Girard compares the situation to a pan of milk about to boil over. What prevents the pan boiling over and a collective descent into anarchy – what Girard calls the ‘sacrifical crisis’- is the selection of a victim or scapegoat who acts as a lightning rod, exorcising the communal frenzy and bringing about a return to normality. Typically the victim is accused of having committed horrendous crimes and suffers a violent death in which all the members of the community take part. The victim is selected on the basis of disabilities or blemishes (and sometimes being unblemished is the excuse). Think of the myth of Oedipus with his club foot for example. Once order has been restored the community rationalises its violent treatment of the victim, who undergoes a change of status. Girard calls this the ‘mythic crystallisation’. Instead of being held responsible for the break-down of social order the victim is seen as having brought about its resolution and becomes a sanctified figure.

There are a number of things here that are relevant. Firstly, people who suffer from a disability or a blemish can be perceived as monstrous as well as being accused of monstrous crimes by other members of the community. Think of Oedipus who murdered his father and married his mother. Secondly Girard characterises the descent into chaos as a lack of respect for order and degree and social hierarchies. The people involved become so agitated that they can no longer make sense of what they are seeing. In the collective madness their perceptions are confused, resulting in the mixing of different categories, such as animal and human, and the creation of monstrous compilations and hybrids.



Monstrosity, therefore, is an important part of Rene Girard’s work on scape-goating. This offers potentially a way of understanding monsters, of which hybrids like the chimaera and the sphinx in Greek mythology are such memorable examples.

Bryan Sitch
Deputy Head of Collections and Curator of Archaeology
The Manchester Museum

Images:

1. Bronze Figurine of a Sphinx
2. Terracota Depicting Medusa


Bryan Sitch will be speaking on 'Monsters, the Museum and Sacrificial Theory' at the Hic Dragones Monsters: Subject, Object, Abject Conference, to be held at the Manchester Museum on 12-13 April 2012. For more information about the conference, please visit the Hic Dragones website.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Heronbridge - an Early Battlefield Assemblage Rediscovered

Thursday 29 March 2012 10.00am – 4.30pm
Kanaris Theatre, The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road Manchester M13 9PL

10.30 - 11.15am Bryan Sitch ‘The Manchester Museum and a long lost collection’

11.20 – 12.05pm Nick Higham 'Bede and the Battle of Chester'

12.05 – 12.50pm Mark Zumbuhl ‘The Battle of Chester in Welsh and Irish Texts’

Lunch, Tea and Coffee provided

2.00 – 2.45pm Ian Uzzell of Vikingasaga ‘Re-enactment of early Medieval weapons and armour’

2.50 – 3.35pm David Mason 'Heronbridge Excavations 2002-05: The Battle of Chester Located (?)’

3.45 – 4.15 Bob Stoddart ‘Life, Violence, Death and Decay. The Identification of pathological information in battlefield remains’

The registration fee for this event is £20. For more information, or to book a place on the day school, please email Phyllis Stoddart.

The Monster Mash

Friday 13th April 2012
Sachas Hotel
Manchester, United Kingdom
8pm-late

A deliciously decadent and moreishly monstrous costume ball.

Dress code: formalwear, smart Goth, steampunk, cyberpunk, Victorian, fancy-dress

Ticket price: £25 - follow this link for TICKET INFORMATION.










For more information, see the Hic Dragones website. This event is part of a weekend of monster and horror-themed events in Manchester, see the Hic Dragones website for more info.

Monsters: Subject, Object, Abject

Kanaris Lecture Theatre and Conference Room
Manchester Museum, Oxford Road,
Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom

Thursday 12th April – Friday 13th April 2012

Conference Programme

Thursday 12th April

9.00-9.30am: Registration

9.30-11.00am: Opening Remarks (Dr. Hannah Priest, University of Manchester) and Session 1: Monsters in Popular Culture (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Matthew Freeman (University of Nottingham): Who’s Monster?: Monsters, Subjectivity, and the Figure of the Child in Doctor Who
(ii) James Campbell (University of Stirling): ‘Welcome to the Madhouse’: The Conflation of Monstrosity, Madness and Mental Illness in DC Comics’ Batman Franchise
(iii) Christina Wilkins (University of Southampton): Transatlantic Differences and the Importance of Religion in Post-9/11 Monsters

11.00-11.30am: Coffee

11.30-1.00pm: Parallel Sessions

Session 2a: Literary Monsters (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Lisa Tagliaferri (The Graduate Center, CUNY): S’el fu sì bel com’elli è ora brutto: Dante’s Vision of Lucifer
(ii) Imke Heuer (University of Southampton): ‘A brood of monsters like myself’: Joshua Pickersgill’s The Three Brothers, Byron’s The Deformed Transformed and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
(iii) Giulia I. Sandelewski (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham): Vengeful or Revenger? Renaissance Drama as a Lens for Vallgren’s Hercules Barefoot

Session 2b: Making Monsters (Conference Room)
Chair: TBC
(i) Lisa Temple-Cox (Independant Researcher): Making Myself a Monster: Self-Portraiture as Teratological Specimen
(ii) Rosie Garland (Independent Researcher): ‘The Girl You Never Loved But Always Looked For’: Occupational Therapy and the Development of the Performance Persona Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen
(iii) Susanne Hamscha (FU Berlin): “Gaga, Ooh La La”: Lady Gaga and the Pleasures of Being a Freak

1.00-2.00pm: Lunch

2.00-3.30pm: Parallel Sessions

Session 3a: Embodying Monstrosity (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Tracy Fahey (Limerick School of Art and Design, LIT): Invisible Monsters: Gothic and the Diabetic Body
(ii) Michel Delville (University of Liège) and Andrew Norris (Institut Supérieur des Traducteurs et Interprètes): Monstrosity, Hunger and Resistance
(iii) Lorie Hamalian (California State University): Swans and Prawns: Monster Metamorphoses and Hybrid Identities in Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Blomkamp’s District 9

Session 3b: Monsters of Literature (Conference Room)
Chair: TBC
(i) Jessica George (Cardiff University): Celtic Subject and Racial Other in Arthur Machen’s ‘The White People’
(ii) Kay Lint (University of Hertfordshire): ‘Mangy fur and red, smouldering eyes’, The Monstrous Dog in Graham Masterton’s Charnel House
(iii) Rick Hudson (Bath Spa University): ‘Their Hand Is At Your Throat, But Ye See Them Not’: Monstrous Absence in the Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

3.30-4.00pm: Coffee

4.00-5.00pm: Parallel Sessions

Session 4a: Folk Monsters (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Carla Bascombe (University of the West Indies): Monsters of the Caribbean: A Portrait of the Traditional Torturer in the Untraditional Tale
(ii) Alexandra McGlynn (Independent Researcher): Kappa: Buttocks-Ball Eating Monsters of Shintõ Suijin

Session 4b: Monsters of Cinema (Conference Room)
Chair: TBC
(i) Michael C. Bongiorno (CUNY, College of Staten Island): Another One for the Fire: Spectatorship, Apparatus and Recognition in Night of the Living Dead (1968)
(ii) Joshua Peery (Independent Researcher): Fear the Ma(SHE)ne: Monstrous Female Machines in Sci-Fi Cinema

5.00pm: Close

7.30pm: Conference Dinner at Felicini

*****

Friday 13th April

9.30-11.00am: Parallel Sessions

Session 5a: Old Monsters, New Faces (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Rachel Mizsei Ward (University of East Anglia): Munchkin Cthulhu, My Little Cthulhu and Chibithulu: The Transformation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu from Horrific Body to Cute Body
(ii) Carys Crossen (University of Manchester): ‘The loup-garou has a duty: justice’: The Law, Justice and Vigilantism in Contemporary Lycanthropic Fiction
(iii) Kim Wilkins (University of Queensland): Writing the Medieval Monstrous

Session 5b: Spaces of Monstrosity
Chair: TBC
(i) Ersi Ioannidou (University of Brighton): Dismembered Domesticity: the House as Monster
(ii) David Allen (Midland Actors Theatre): Expedition Everest
(iii) Garfield Benjamin (University of Wolverhampton): Virtual Monsters: Becoming Death and the Quantum Immortal

11.00-11.30am: Coffee

11.30-1.00pm: Parallel Sessions

Session 6a: Of Monstrosity and Humanity (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Maria Chatzidimou (Aristotle University of Thessaloni): I am not an elephant! I am not a man! I am a colonized abject! : Re-viewing David Lynch’s The Elephant Man
(ii) Ian Pettigrew (University of Miami): The Monster’s Choice to Be Human: Guillermo del Toro’s Incarnations of a Hitchcockian Theme

Session 6b: More Literary Monstrosity (Conference Room)
Chair: TBC
(i) Martyn Colebrook (University of Hull): ‘The Last Banned Book in Britain’: David Britton, Michael Butterworth, Lord Horror and Monstrosity
(ii) Eva Bru (Independent Researcher) The Spectacle of the Monstrous: Enforcing Normalcy in Mercè Rodoreda’s Death in Spring
(iii) Kristy Butler (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick): Breaking the Frame: Alternative Histories, Monstrous Ideologies and the Political Gothic

1.00-2.00pm: Lunch

2.00-3.00pm: Monsters, the Museum and Sacrificial Theory: Workshop with Bryan Sitch (Manchester Museum) (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)

3.00-3.30pm: Coffee

3.30-4.30pm: Session 7: The Monstrous Human (Kanaris Lecture Theatre)
Chair: TBC
(i) Abby Bentham (University of Salford): The Monster in Me: On Cultural Fascination with the Fictional Psychopath
(ii) David McWilliam (Lancaster University): Demystifying the Folk Devil: The Humanization of Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’s Monster (2003)





4.30-5.00pm: Closing Remarks

5.00pm: Conference Close








This conference is being run by Hic Dragones, and information on registration can be found on the Hic Dragones website. The registration fee is £75 (including refreshments) or £97 (including a 3-course conference dinner on Thursday 12th), and the deadline for registration in 30th March 2012. Following the conference, there will be a series of public events with a horror/monstrous theme. For more information about the public events, please click here.