Spring 2015 events at CNR

Below are listed a range of talks, symposia, conference panels and conferences being organised by the Centre for Narrative Research for the coming few months. All are welcome to attend!

CNR Research Seminar Series

Talks are held at Docklands campus of University of East London

Monday 9 February

12-1, EB 1.62

Fellowship of Controversy: Narratives of Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park

Laura Mitchison and Rosa Vibr

Speakers’ Corner is a geographical place, a traditional practice and a symbol of free speech. Our project, Sounds from the Park, revealed that it is also an eccentric community of interest, sustained through memory. Of the 100 open-air oratory sites established in London between 1855 and 1939, Hyde Park is the only survivor. It is often depicted as a vanishing relic of authentic communication, whose importance has been superseded by new technologies. We will interrogate the opposition between the real and the recorded, and the narrative of decline.

First, we will explore the different types of memory operating in situ. Orators and hecklers learn their craft from observing veterans in the flesh; regulars conjure up colourful characters from the past through gesture and storytelling. But these “incorporating practices (Connerton, 1989)” have always been refracted through “inscribing practices (Connerton, 1989):” records of hanged men’s last speeches, books, photographs and, more recently, YouTube and Wikipedia.

Second, we will explore Speakers’ Corner’s significance within the variegated life histories of orators, hecklers, discussants and observers. It is “an open air lunatic asylum”, “an intensely political forum,” “a bare knuckle fight”, “an old time variety show” and much more besides. Somehow, these disparate meanings and individuals coexist in what pacifist stalwart Donald Soper called “the fellowship of controversy.” Third, we will reflect on our project’s impact on the living community at Speakers’ Corner. We convened a rambunctious steering group of Hyde Parkers throughout, creating a new dialogical space to debate the past and the future.

On the Record is an oral history and cultural memory cooperative run by Laura Mitchison and Rosa Vilbr. We run participatory projects, often tied into contemporary social justice campaigns, and train people in oral history and digital story telling. We also make exhibitions, radio, publications, websites and sound walks.

Tues March 10

12-1, EB 1.45

Genealogy, counter-history, and liberal/neoliberal social policy.

Couze Venn

The presentation will draw from Francesca Ashurst and my study of the relationship between school exclusion and inequality and poverty from the present to the emergence of liberal governmentality in England in early 19th century. The study – Inequality, Poverty, and Education. A Political Economy of School Exclusion (2014) – uses a genealogical approach based on archival research to construct a different narrative of the tensions within liberalism and the discourse of political economy to foreground the political struggles and values at stake in the story of the shifts in educational policy over that period. One pay-off of the research has been a clearer view of what neoliberalism breaks with in abandoning the principles underlying the welfare or providential state, and the calculations which have motivated this break.

Prof Couze Venn is at Goldsmiths University of London, at the Centre for Cultural Studies. His publications include Changing the Subject (co-authored, 1984, 1998), Occidentalism: Modernity and Subjectivity (2000), The Postcolonial Challenge (2006), and numerous journal articles, including in Theory, Culture & Society and Body & Society, for which he in Managing Editor (TCS) and Reviews Editor. His current research is Protocols for a Postcapitalist World.

CNR-NOVELLA postgraduate research seminars,  Spring 2015

All seminars take place at the Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, 27-8 Woburn Square, London WC1HOAA, 5-.6.30pm, except where marked.

February 3- Desiree Saddik, University of Essex and UEL, Narratives of expert witnesses.

March 3  – Anna-Lisa Fransson, Orebro University, The power of storytelling. Silence, frame-contraction and happy ending in Swedish Baltic Sea gas pipeline narration.

Marach 31- Irene Madina, Deusto University, Bilbao, Emotional education through narratives about the Basque conflict: a critical understanding of political violence. (rescheduled: tbc)

May 5 – Sue Chowdhry, Robert Gordon University, ‘They know best’: exploring larger women’s embodied experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.

June 2  – Anna Hulusjo, Malmo University, Narrating prostitution experience.

 For further details, please email Corinne Squire: c.squire@uel.ac.uk

CNR-NOVELLA Special Event at the BSA Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University,

April 15-17

Narrative technologies of intimacy in transition

Corinne Squire, CNR, UEL, and Mark Davis, Monash University:

15/04/2015 at 11:00 – 12:30

 This panel addresses transition and related questions of progression and regression in connection with narrative technologies of intimacy – interpersonal stories about previously ‘private’ issues, and various forms of online, ‘personal’ narratives – that are now being deployed to negotiate the fields of gender, sexuality, and parenting.  We thus focus on how technologies of personal lives, in reinventing themselves, both reproduce and depart from earlier modes of governing subjects. These processes have regressive as well as progressive aspects; they position personal lives and the technologies that perform them as socially transitional, often precarious.   In this panel, we turn to narratives, technologies that perform intimacy at a number of levels, to understand better the technologies of intimacy in transition. Papers address stories about the previously privatised field of sexuality among Turkish women, and the stories’ relation to ‘modernity’; Moroccan women’s groups’ use of the internet as a technology of modernity, and how such online presence supports narrative identities; women’s deployment of the ‘anecdote’, both personal and highly worked, within blogs on mothering and feeding families, to explore problematic aspects of family lives; and mothers’ negotiation of parenting through the contested, co-constructed narratives of the Mumsnet web forum. The panel examines how these new narrative intimacy technologies produce, in the contemporary socioeconomic context, ‘transitional’ spaces, less of regression or progress, more of uncertainty and collectivity.

This panel is linked with another, ‘Sexual health technologies in transition’,coordinated by Mark Davis and Corinne Squire, which addresses new diagnostic, pharmaceutical and digital technologies now being deployed to control the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, on 17 April, 15.15-16.45.

Presenters for the first panel are: Cigdem Esin, CNR, UEL: Looking into the moments of resistance in sexual narratives.

Aura Lounasmaa, CNR, UEL:  Whose narrative is it anyway? Online activism and sexual politics in Morocco.

Heather Elliott, NOVELLA, Institute of Education, Rebecca O’Connell, NOVELLA, Institute of Education, and Corinne Squire, CNR/NOVELLA, UEL: Recipes for mothering? intimacy, anecdotes and publics in mothers’ blogs about feeding families. Joe Winter, NOVELLA, Institute of Education: Negotiating parenting identities through the practice of using a popular online parenting forum.

To think is to Experiment

29 April: Details tba

30 April: Joint CNR and Tavistock Centre for Systemic Research event: Anneke Sools, University of Twente: Building resilience by imagining the future.

Details tbc

Symposium: Politicising Sexual Stories

1st May 2015

time: 2-5

venue: Stratford Campus USS 1.01

Confirmed speakers:

Mark Davis

Cigdem Esin

Suzanna Walters


Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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