GLITS 2015-2016

Article

Location

When: Thursdays at 6.30pm
Where: Seminar Room A, Ground Floor, Warmington Tower

Spring Term 2016

Organisers: Megha Agarwal, Dominic Jaeckle, Jackie Rattray

DateDetails
14 Jan Screening of Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s film, Innocence (2004)
21 Jan Discussion, led by Prof Josh Cohen and PhD candidate Beth Guilding, on Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s film, Innocence.
28 Jan Josh McLoughlin, 'Flat Affect and/as Deconstruction: Berlant, Derrida & the Cinematic Life of the Body’
4 Feb Dr Rod Rosenquist (University of Northampton), 'Mapping Cultural Value: Modernist Memoir, Place and the Public’
11 Feb

Annie Fatet, 'All clay has memory, notes towards a catalogue';

Shrine Shah, 'Queer spaces, transgressive identities: Gothic Queerness in Jekyll and Hyde and Buffalo Bill’

18 Feb No seminar
25 Feb

Jaya Madhvani (SOAS), 'The Inherent Complexities in Reading Multiculturalism in the Work of Hanif Kureishi: Context, Reception and Post-Ethnicity';

Lucia Llano Puertas, 'No comparison? The Holocaust and African slavery in the Caribbean'

3 Mar Dr. Benjamin Pickford (University of Nottingham), 'Ralph Waldo Emerson's Political Economy of Plagiarism'
10 Mar Lizzie Thynne (Reader in Film, University of Sussex), 'Portrait of the Artists: Filming the Life of Claude Cahun and her partner, Marcel Moore’
17 Mar Sean Seeger, ‘The Cultural Logic of Postcapitalism: A Few Preliminary Observations’

Autumn Term 2015

Organisers: Angela Carlton, Megha Agarwal, Isobel Hurst

DateDetails
8 Oct Welcome party, featuring readings by creative writers from Goldsmiths: Amanda Can Liling, Jeremy Worman, Maria Farell, Janice Warman and Maria Thomas.
15 Oct No seminar – you are invited to attend the launch of the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies and Professor Joan Anim-Addo’s inaugural lecture, ‘Groundings: Visionaries, Books, Bridges and Feeling the Rain’ (Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm).
22 Oct GLITS seminar on undergraduate dissertations.
29 Oct
Two twenty-minute papers by Sophie Corser and Megha Agarwal, PhD students in the English and Comparative Literature Department at Goldsmiths, pertaining to the theme of 'Rewriting(s)'. Sophie's paper is entitled 'Ovid's English Voice: Rewriting "Narcissus and Echo"', and Megha's is called 'Dissent and Descent: Literary Guidance and Transgression in Dante's Inferno and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness'.
5 Nov No Seminar
12 Nov Launch party for Dr Sarah Barnsley's poetry pamphlet, The Fire Station.
19 Nov Two twenty-minute papers on different aspects of translation:
Nadia Georgiou, PhD student at the Centre for Translation Studies, the University of Surrey, whose paper is entitled 'Translators and Poet/Translators: The people (re)writing the poetry'
Laura Tenschert, PhD student in the ECL department at Goldsmiths, whose research focuses on translation, Walter Benjamin, and the paradoxical difficulty in translating 'The Task of the Translator'.
26 Nov Beth Guilding, PhD student in the ECL department at Goldsmiths, 'In View of a Truth: Silence, Secrecy and the Child in Blanchot's Primal Scene'.
3 Dec Carmen Wright, MA, Goldsmiths, 'Transgressing the "Subject": The Reflexive Concept of Transgression and the Interrogation of Subjection in Jean Genet and Kathy Acker'. 
10 Dec Guest speaker: Dr Richard Godden (University of California, Irvine), a renowned scholar of twentieth-century American Literature. His specialisations include the relation between economic and literary form.

Olivia Griffiths

Escaping the male gaze: Self-exposure as Revolutionary Act in Maggie Nelson and Chris Krauss

Laura Mulvey’s canonical 1975 essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ explicates the way in which cinema contributes to the devaluation of women through its inherent pleasure in voyeurism on the part of its cast and audience. This voyeurism necessitates the split of representation of men as active instigators of narrative and women as passive recipients of the male gaze. The language of cinema, Mulvey argues, is thusly coded to ensure the valuation of the female exclusively in terms of her, to use Mulvey’s term, ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’. This representation of men as autonomous participants in the public sphere and women as passive observers extends beyond the realm of film. The increasing inclusion of autobiography in contemporary female literature – from the novels of Eileen Myles and Chris Kraus to the personal writing of Melissa Broder and Maggie Nelson and the internet poetry of Mira Gonzalez and Megan Boyle - represents an attempt to realise the ‘personal as political’ as well as the personal as literary. My paper will address the ways in which Maggie Nelson and Chris Kraus in particular transcend generic convention and incorporate elements of autobiography alongside those of criticism, non-fiction and – in the case of Kraus – fiction. I will argue that where in the past women’s inclusion of their personal lives in their art has been confined to a confessional narrative, Kraus and Nelson turn Mulvey’s ‘act of looking’ inside out as they channel their subjectivity through experimental forms and thusly look to more accurately represent the experience of being a woman in the world. This generic subversion represents an attempt to kick back against a culture in which as Jane Tompkins posits, ‘public language – the language of objectivity/authority/academia is privileged over private language of journals/emotion/arts.’ Despite emerging from a rich history of feminist thought and theory, these authors have thus far been neglected by mainstream academic discourse, an oversight that my paper intends to correct through an explication and celebration of their vital role in the ongoing project of female empowerment through art.

Olivia Griffiths is a recent MA graduate from Goldsmiths, University of London where she studied English and Modern Literature, completing my final dissertation on contemporary female confession in the work of Jenny Offill, Maggie Nelson and Chris Kraus titled ‘The Dumb Cunt’s Tale’.

Leo Robson - Revising the Visual: Mulvey's Evolving Spectator

In "Repetition and Return," her essay on Sirk criticism in the twenty-first century, presented at the Style and Meaning Conference at Reading in 2000 and later collected in the Gibbs and Pye volume, Style and Meaning: Studies in the Detailed Analysis of Film (Manchester, 2005), Laura Mulvey recalls that when she replaced V F Perkins as a lecturer in film and drama at Bulmershe College in the late 1970s, she had use of a 35mm Prevost and 16mm Steenbeck. Prior to this, she had been watching films under ordinary viewing conditions–a period that included the writing of "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema". In this paper I will trace the development of Mulvey's theory of film spectatorship from the original "Visual Pleasure" essay via the 1989 introduction to Visual and Other Pleasures to the thinking on display in the Sirk paper and culminating in Death 24 x a Second and the 2009 return to Visual and Other Pleasures. I shall do so with reference to viewing conditions (cinema projection, editing bed, digital technology) and by brief analogy with V F Perkins's own developing portrait of the passivity or otherwise of the film spectator. I aim to situate theories that exist on the borders of politics and psychology against the backdrop of British film studies and within the broader context of post-auteurist debate on Hollywood cinema.

Leo Robson is a freelance critic writing regularly on literature, film, and art. He is a contributor to the New Statesman, and has served as lead fiction critic since 2009; a film critic for the TLS; and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, along with other publications. Robson was a runner up in the 2015 National Book Critics' Circle Awards' Nona Balakian prize for excellence in reviewing.

Azmina Abdulla - No Woman’s Land: Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988)

In her seminal text ‘Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema’ (1975), Laura Mulvey argues that film language is dictated by a male-controlled system and only serves to perpetuate a type of patriarchal language that facilitates male visual pleasure. As a result, female spectators have no access to it other than through the male gaze that consistently objectifies the female spectator's onscreen counterpart. Mulvey further argues that women will be able to find true pleasure from films only by inventing a new type of film language that is not driven by narrative structures. 
In Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), Agnès Varda presents an imaginary bio-pic of famed actress, singer and fashion icon Jane Birkin. As mentioned in the film, Birkin’s identity has been largely constructed by the male figures in her life and each of their appropriations of her identity. As a response, Varda abandons the traditional bio-pic format in favour of a freewheeling mix of seductive and unexpected fantasy sequences instead. Set against present-day Birkin, the film taps from Renaissance paintings, 1920s comedy classics, the nineteenth century icons, and ancient Greece to photographs from Birkin’s starlet days in the 1960s, a part of her personal past. As a result, Birkin plays an intriguingly double role, in that these photographs are almost as universally recognisable as the aforementioned ‘mythical’ figures she plays as well. Through those juxtapositions, Jane B. par Agnès V. subverts the traditional narrative film model and stands out as being much closer to the essay format, a hybrid set of vignettes, spread on a known face, ultimately challenging the traditional understanding and representation of the subject which in this case is Birkin. Through a careful analysis of the film’s language and drawing on Laura Mulvey’s theory, this paper will test the extent to which Jane B. par Agnès V. has been successful in reframing Birkin’s collective identity and reclaiming her personal identity from a pre-established male construction.

Azmina Abdulla is currently studying the MA Film Programming and Curating at Birkbeck University. In 2015, she obtained her BA in History of Art with Material Studies from UCL, as well as a Certificate in Film Preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, NY.

GLITS presents… Visual Pleasure(s): Acts of Looking in Critical Cultures

Article

16th December, 10:30 – 18:30 (full schedule and venue to be confirmed shortly)

Tickets are free; please register through Eventbrite or see regular updates on Facebook

Plenary: Professor Laura Mulvey (Birkbeck, University of London)

Following the screening of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s groundbreaking avant-garde classic film ‘Riddles of the Sphinx’ [1977], introduced by Mulvey, and held at Curzon Goldsmiths in September, this year's annual GLITS symposium, 'Visual Pleasure(s): Acts of Looking in Critical Cultures,’ will employ Mulvey’s filmwork and criticism as a springboard for further inquiry. ‘Visual Pleasure(s),’ which will take place on December 16th, 2016, represents a continued interest in the cinematic and critical works of Laura Mulvey and their application: this symposium seeks interdisciplinary responses to her work, its legacy, and expansive reflection on the character of cultural criticism.

Papers will explore the ways in which the political “act of looking” in Laura Mulvey’s writing and its legacies can be extended to a broader discussion of narrative and critical cultures in contemporary society. Whether we are exploring the nature of academic discourse and authorial identity, the function of autobiography and confession in contemporary literary culture, or the determinacy of canon and the anxiety of influence, the conflict between active and passive renditions of criticism relative to the force of narrative can be everywhere encountered. Mulvey’s work amplifies such collisions and, given her interest in the power of entertainment technologies, she offers an insight that is as relevant today as it was to the development of film criticism from the 1970s onwards. When we consider the role of culture in contemporary society, similar concerns plague the author and the academic—apprehensions about gazing backwards rather than broaching new territory, or the anxiety of influence as inveighing on original perspective proves to problematize conceptions of originality, authenticity and creativity in contemporary critical and creative practices. Often, the attempt to wring originality from existing traditions results in the inescapable realisation that critical work is contingent on second hand material. Conversely, criticism resumes to be perceived as a creative action that is unique to the personality engaging with the object of their attention. In this conference, we aim to encourage reflections upon the significance (and definition) of ‘originality’ and authorship in film, literature, and criticism. This approach ought to cast the role of the critic in renewed light, resulting in a reassessment of the standing that film and literary criticism dons in present-day narrative cultures.

This conflict is crucial to our self-definition in the academy—we let our interests define us, to then be defined by our interests, readily identify personality with product, and professionalize an engagement with culture. Scholarly response is either a product of its source or a procreant and provocative exercise that reclaims, reframes, and unsettles tradition. These polarised views of the critic are central to the work of Laura Mulvey in her exploration of active and passive manifestations of critical observation in cinema. In her canonical essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1975), Mulvey explores the segregation of the director and their audience – the cinema and its spectator – to underscore the manner in which representation on and off the screen is determined by an intermingling of social and personal pressures that, in turn, mould our reading of the text.

The symposium will be comprised of 7 x 20 minute presentations on subjects including: Academic culture, authorship and authorial or critical identity • Film, and the evolution of film criticism in the twenty-first century • Creative responses to film and literature (for example, adaptation, commentary, or novelization) • Realism, authenticity and originality in literature, cinema and popular culture • Documentary as intervention versus creativity as intervention.

Olivia Griffiths

Escaping the male gaze: Self-exposure as Revolutionary Act in Maggie Nelson and Chris Krauss

Laura Mulvey’s canonical 1975 essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ explicates the way in which cinema contributes to the devaluation of women through its inherent pleasure in voyeurism on the part of its cast and audience. This voyeurism necessitates the split of representation of men as active instigators of narrative and women as passive recipients of the male gaze. The language of cinema, Mulvey argues, is thusly coded to ensure the valuation of the female exclusively in terms of her, to use Mulvey’s term, ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’. This representation of men as autonomous participants in the public sphere and women as passive observers extends beyond the realm of film. The increasing inclusion of autobiography in contemporary female literature – from the novels of Eileen Myles and Chris Kraus to the personal writing of Melissa Broder and Maggie Nelson and the internet poetry of Mira Gonzalez and Megan Boyle - represents an attempt to realise the ‘personal as political’ as well as the personal as literary. My paper will address the ways in which Maggie Nelson and Chris Kraus in particular transcend generic convention and incorporate elements of autobiography alongside those of criticism, non-fiction and – in the case of Kraus – fiction. I will argue that where in the past women’s inclusion of their personal lives in their art has been confined to a confessional narrative, Kraus and Nelson turn Mulvey’s ‘act of looking’ inside out as they channel their subjectivity through experimental forms and thusly look to more accurately represent the experience of being a woman in the world. This generic subversion represents an attempt to kick back against a culture in which as Jane Tompkins posits, ‘public language – the language of objectivity/authority/academia is privileged over private language of journals/emotion/arts.’ Despite emerging from a rich history of feminist thought and theory, these authors have thus far been neglected by mainstream academic discourse, an oversight that my paper intends to correct through an explication and celebration of their vital role in the ongoing project of female empowerment through art.

Olivia Griffiths is a recent MA graduate from Goldsmiths, University of London where she studied English and Modern Literature, completing my final dissertation on contemporary female confession in the work of Jenny Offill, Maggie Nelson and Chris Kraus titled ‘The Dumb Cunt’s Tale’.

Leo Robson - Revising the Visual: Mulvey's Evolving Spectator

In "Repetition and Return," her essay on Sirk criticism in the twenty-first century, presented at the Style and Meaning Conference at Reading in 2000 and later collected in the Gibbs and Pye volume, Style and Meaning: Studies in the Detailed Analysis of Film (Manchester, 2005), Laura Mulvey recalls that when she replaced V F Perkins as a lecturer in film and drama at Bulmershe College in the late 1970s, she had use of a 35mm Prevost and 16mm Steenbeck. Prior to this, she had been watching films under ordinary viewing conditions–a period that included the writing of "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema". In this paper I will trace the development of Mulvey's theory of film spectatorship from the original "Visual Pleasure" essay via the 1989 introduction to Visual and Other Pleasures to the thinking on display in the Sirk paper and culminating in Death 24 x a Second and the 2009 return to Visual and Other Pleasures. I shall do so with reference to viewing conditions (cinema projection, editing bed, digital technology) and by brief analogy with V F Perkins's own developing portrait of the passivity or otherwise of the film spectator. I aim to situate theories that exist on the borders of politics and psychology against the backdrop of British film studies and within the broader context of post-auteurist debate on Hollywood cinema.

Leo Robson is a freelance critic writing regularly on literature, film, and art. He is a contributor to the New Statesman, and has served as lead fiction critic since 2009; a film critic for the TLS; and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, along with other publications. Robson was a runner up in the 2015 National Book Critics' Circle Awards' Nona Balakian prize for excellence in reviewing.

Azmina Abdulla - No Woman’s Land: Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988)

In her seminal text ‘Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema’ (1975), Laura Mulvey argues that film language is dictated by a male-controlled system and only serves to perpetuate a type of patriarchal language that facilitates male visual pleasure. As a result, female spectators have no access to it other than through the male gaze that consistently objectifies the female spectator's onscreen counterpart. Mulvey further argues that women will be able to find true pleasure from films only by inventing a new type of film language that is not driven by narrative structures. 
In Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), Agnès Varda presents an imaginary bio-pic of famed actress, singer and fashion icon Jane Birkin. As mentioned in the film, Birkin’s identity has been largely constructed by the male figures in her life and each of their appropriations of her identity. As a response, Varda abandons the traditional bio-pic format in favour of a freewheeling mix of seductive and unexpected fantasy sequences instead. Set against present-day Birkin, the film taps from Renaissance paintings, 1920s comedy classics, the nineteenth century icons, and ancient Greece to photographs from Birkin’s starlet days in the 1960s, a part of her personal past. As a result, Birkin plays an intriguingly double role, in that these photographs are almost as universally recognisable as the aforementioned ‘mythical’ figures she plays as well. Through those juxtapositions, Jane B. par Agnès V. subverts the traditional narrative film model and stands out as being much closer to the essay format, a hybrid set of vignettes, spread on a known face, ultimately challenging the traditional understanding and representation of the subject which in this case is Birkin. Through a careful analysis of the film’s language and drawing on Laura Mulvey’s theory, this paper will test the extent to which Jane B. par Agnès V. has been successful in reframing Birkin’s collective identity and reclaiming her personal identity from a pre-established male construction.

Azmina Abdulla is currently studying the MA Film Programming and Curating at Birkbeck University. In 2015, she obtained her BA in History of Art with Material Studies from UCL, as well as a Certificate in Film Preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, NY.