Examine Clean Break’s impact on contemporary British theatre and the lives of the women it works with.
Examine Clean Break as an organisation, run by women for women, with distinctive organisational practices characterised by learning through listening to the voices of those involved in its work. It considers the implications of these practices for management and leadership more widely.
Create opportunities for artists, academics, women with experience of the criminal justice system and those who work with them, to share their expertise through seminars, training, podcasts and teaching resources.
Women/Theatre/Justice is the umbrella title for research and public engagement activities that are part of Clean Break: Women, Theatre, Organisation and the Criminal Justice System (2019-2021). This interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project is led by academics in theatre and performance studies and work and employment relations, in partnership with Clean Break theatre company.
Clean Break was initiated by women in HMP Askham Grange (UK) in 1977 and has since become an internationally recognised theatre, education and advocacy organisation that places stories of women, crime and punishment centre stage.
Through seminars, conferences, training, exhibitions, podcasts and publications, the project examines wider issues including: the criminalisation of women; theatre practices with incarcerated women in different cultural contexts; gender, organisation and leadership; worker voice; the role of higher education in partnerships within the criminal justice system; implications of COVID-19 for incarcerated women and the response of arts organisations.
In honour of Trans Day of Remembrance on 20 November James Queay exposes the history of the term ‘trans’ and the importance of protecting trans rights.
In the mass consciousness one may be forgiven for seeing the battle for trans rights being a modern one, or even one that only goes back as Stonewall in 1969. However, the term ‘trans’ was first coined in Berlin in 1910 (though the fight of course can be traced back even further if one looks).
Magnus Hirschfeld was a Physician and Academic who championed queer rights seeking to assert the views of it being a natural occurrence through case studies from every culture he could reach. It should be noted that the ethics of this were in no way up to modern standard, but for the period in time we will let that rest. While his vocabulary was limited compared to today’s vast lexicon of queer terms, his work to identify that trans people were separate from gay people was key in further works.
Hirschfeld led the Scientific-humanitarian committee to gather 5000 prominent signatures to overturn paragraph 175 of the section of the German penal code that, since 1871, had criminalized homosexuality. Despite his works being rejected a number of times he championed this cause making headway until the takeover of the Nazi party. Hirschfeld in his efforts to bring about change and promote queer rights additionally opened the Institute for sexual research under the Weimar Republic (A governing force far more tolerant and liberal than previously experienced). This institution not only educated in queer and heterosexual matters but also offered medical consultations to the People of Germany. Hirschfeld himself lived with his partner Karl Giese in the institute, offering himself up as an openly gay man in a world he wished to better, even when that world was not necessarily ready to hear what he had to say.
When Von Papen launched a Coup in 1932 which instated him as the Reich Commissioner the institute stayed open. Papen actively enforced paragraph 175; and in the face of this nigh on further criminalisation of Homosexuality Hirschfeld kept his doors open. However, in 1933 Hindenburg instated Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor. On the 6th May the same year a group of university students belonging to the national socialist student league stormed the institute. They began to smash what they could before the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers) arrived to systematically burn the books. Book burnings had got into full swing months earlier with April featuring the Wartburg festival one of the most prolific book burnings that would occur. Thus, the importance of Nazi suppression of Queer media cannot be overstated. Some reports suggest that the first book burned specifically was Magnus Hirschfeld’s research on Transgender Individuals, and this signifies their importance in the fight against Fascism.
Transgender rights in many ways typify everything that is wrong with Fascism. They promote self-expression, of individuality and the freedom to change and evolve into the best version of one’s self. For fascist ideologies these ideas are dangerous because they draw on how weak Fascism is, it is rigid and restraining, it cares not for its people and incites hatred.
Thus, championing trans rights and queer rights as an extension of that is inexplicably linked with fighting against right extremism. There was no strategic benefit to the Nazi’s for burning Hirschfeld’s work, and he himself was abroad public speaking at the time so he was not silenced. Rather it is that the Nazis and by extension fascists fear acceptance and tolerance as it is only through suppression and manipulation that they are able to maintain control. This evidenced by the extreme lengths in all cases fascists go to, to manipulate their members; whether that is through misinformation, propaganda, or violence.
The furtherment of trans rights is key to queer people without question, but through this link I believe that simply to be on any ethical standing everyone must also believe in its messages.
Therefore, when we remember the long standing fight for queer rights so too must we remember the responsibility we have to those who have upheld that fight before us; the opposition they faced; and most importantly that we carry those opponents with us.
A memorial bench for Catherine Silverstone was installed this morning in the First Floor garden/atrium in ArtsOne. It was organised and paid for by undergraduate students in Drama through a Crowdfunder.
Billy Bray (Drama), Leda Maiello (English) and Gwyn Lawrence (Drama graduate) organised the crowdfunder and carried out the practical work.
The following helped Billy, Leda and Gwyn spread the word and advertise for fundraising:
I’m so moved by – and proud of – the students who organised it, and those who crowdfunded it.
Dominic Johnson, Head of Drama
The quote on the plaque is from Catherine’s beautiful article on Derek Jarman. Leda (one of the students) chose it.
Do please visit the bench and think of Catherine when you’re next on campus.
Early career researchers seeking support for their application to the Leverhulme Trust’s Early Career Fellowship scheme are invited to get in contact with us from now [deadline 12 noon, 6 January 2021].
The School of English and Drama invites early career researchers seeking support for their application to the Leverhulme Trust’s Early Career Fellowship Scheme to submit to us:
An outline research proposal including title, abstract (100 words), details of past and current research (250 words), a 2-page (A4) project outline, and a statement detailing relevant research being carried out in the School of English and Drama and your reasons for choosing Queen Mary (200 words).
An academic CV of not more than 2 pages to demonstrate your research stature.
Please send the above to Dr Huw Marsh, Research Manager, at: firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 12 pm on 6 January 2021.
All outline proposals will be considered by a School committee and applicants will be notified of the shortlisting outcome in the week of Monday 25 January 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be put forward for approval by the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Executive, who will report their decisions by 28 January. Decisions will then be communicated to candidates, and the School will work with successful applicants to finalise their applications. The final deadline for submission of approved applications is 4pm on 25 February 2021.
The School recommends that applicants make clear the following in applications (CVs and proposals):
the strength of your academic record (e.g. classifications, awards, time taken to complete your PhD, etc.)
the strength of your research record (e.g. publications (including their length; and if forthcoming, where they are at in the process); presentations; research leadership; if you make practice as research, indicate how it is research; etc.)
what research you will publish/disseminate through the fellowship
the importance of doing your fellowship in the School of English and Drama at QMUL (e.g. synergies with staff and research centres)
your proposal’s importance, originality, methods, critical contexts, resources, structure and outputs.
Join a festival of free online events including coming of age poetry by local young people, a cook-a-long, community panels and eye-opening plays that explore the British-Bengali perspective. QMUL is a key partner and sponsor.
DR CATHERINE SILVERSTONE: Head of the School of English and Drama and a longstanding colleague in the Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London, tragically passed away on Sunday 4th October 2020 at King’s College Hospital. Our thoughts are with her partner Julia, her family in New Zealand and her friends. We all loved and will miss Catherine more than we can ever say. Read more and leave a message of remembrance
LOCKDOWN SUPPORT: We would like to remind students and staff that there is emotional support for you at the college from Mental Health First Aiders to counselling services.
English Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) 11 Nov, Online, 3pm BST – Free The next virtual English PASS drop-in session for First Year students takes place on Wednesday at 3pm (Week 8) via Blackboard Collaborate. Follow this link to access the module page and join the webinars: https://qmplus.qmul.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=13405. Week 8’s webinar is an open session – feel free to drop-in at any point to ask for any advice relating to your assignments or modules.
Artists had been referred to by corporations as the ‘perfect worker’, finding enjoyment and drive in their work despite the often-long hours and low pay. Now we are moving to a world where we are being encouraged to retrain, up-skill and evolve. TAF have invited independent performance maker and curator Xavier de Sousa and Professor Gerard Hanlon from the Centre for Labour and Global Production at Queen Mary University of London to discuss, from their own viewpoints, the idea of WORK & UTOPIA. They will be working through ‘what matters’. To them, to you, and what we should be thinking about in building strategies for change in a post-COVID world.
Five Bodies 12 Nov, Online, 6.30-8.30pm BST – Free Inspired by moments of unknowingness, invention and imagination, Five Bodies brings together some of the most outstanding British and international poets including our very own Nisha Ramayya to share experiences of contemporary poetry. Poetry vs Colonialism Series – Being Human Festival 14-22 Nov, Online – Free
Explore the histories of gold, sugar, cotton and tobacco with poets, artists, academics & museums. Join the online workshops to discover how poets can help decolonise the world.
Last Gasp WFH, looks for ways we might catch our breath in these times of global uncertainty, considering our ‘last acts’, whether personal, political or environmental.
Written and performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches, it is a series of verbal and physical essays that playfully dances through the dangerous intersections of permanence and impermanence, interdependence and care, knowledge and experience, narcissism and echoes.
Genna Gardini (Drama PhD)has received the 2020 CASA award to finish my play, Many Scars.
She says: ‘I’ve been working on this thing for the past two years &it’s one of the biggest endeavours of my life – to write a play about MS that is just as strange as this disease is. Thank you, CASA! ‘
This is an online event. In this online interactive workshop, working with poets and historians, weavers and dancers, unravel the histories of weavers in Bengal and their treatment under British rule. Learn about the complex interwoven Bengali and UK histories of craft and manufacture from Dr Lipi Begum from the London College of Fashion
All That Glisters
November 15, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
This is an online event.
All that glisters may be beautiful and seductive but what surprising histories lurk beneath the shiny surface of gold? In this interactive online event, learn about the complex histories of gold mining and artistry in Ghana and the UKs role in importing gold, its use in currency and art, the role of the Goldsmiths Company in the past and future. Hear from academic Dr Pen Woods, meet the Ghanian British artist Efema Cole and try your hand (remotely) at some art work. Work with the poet Nick Makoha to put your response to the beauty and treachery of colonialism and gold into words. Discover how creating poems can help to process and articulate emotions, politics and identity.
This event is part of the series ‘Poetry Versus Colonialism’ which is part of the Queen Mary, University of London Being Human series ‘‘Navigating New Worlds’.
What is the aroma of colonialism? In this event you will be introduced to the pungent history of tobacco cultivation and trade, slavery and colonialism, by academic Professor Nick Ridout from Queen Mary University of London. Learn about the Atlantic Slave Trade and the interlinked histories of tobacco cultivation and export in the USA and the UK. Guyanese and Scottish poets Sandra Agard and Miriam Nash will guide you in an at home smelling workshop. Experience the aromas involved in the brutal tobacco trade and discover how creating poems helps process and articulate complex emotions about identity and our relationship to this aromatic and addictive product with a problematic past and future.
This event is part of the series ‘Poetry Versus Colonialism’ which is part of the Queen Mary, University of London Being Human series ‘Navigating New Worlds’.
It may taste delicious and sweet but how sweet is the history of sugar? Learn about the interlinked histories of slavery, sugar plantations, processing, export and consumption from academic Dr Malcolm Cocks, Dulwich College and the University of the West Indies. We’ll consider the taste of sugar in its’ different states in an at home tasting workshop and see what raw sugar cane plants and sugar beet looks like. Appreciate the art of spun sugar and sugar sculptures as created by Bahamian artist Lynn Parrotti. Meet Jamaican British poet Keith Jarrett and work with him to produce responses to the sickly taste of colonialism and dark futures of sugar.
This event is part of the series ‘Poetry Versus Colonialism’ which is part of the Queen Mary University of London Being Human series ‘Navigating New Worlds’.
We are dedicated to supporting students with services like counselling, writing support, Mental Health First Aid and more.
12. Our diversity – and how you can make friends with people from around the world and from different socio-economic backgrounds.
e) Why choose to study in 2021?
13. Learn in lockdown and its aftermath.
Make the most of lockdown and beyond and learn something interesting with us. You can always choose to add a year abroad in your third year when hopefully travel will be less restricted.
14. Time to reflect.
University gives you time to reflect on the wider world, develop your values and try to change the world.
15. The experience of blended learning is benefiting students.
We work with students to improve our online and in-person teaching as much as we can. Lots of students have told us that some experiences work better online. Activities like meeting an advisor or participating in a text-based English class work really well online, so we will act on this feedback for 2021.
f) Why choose to go to university rather than other options?
16. Transferable skills.
You’ll have time to perfect your transferable skills, including writing, teamwork and creating your own projects.
17. Time for self-development.
You will have time outside of paid-work and time for internships and other opportunities that may be difficult to fit in around full time work or apprenticeships.
18. Meet curious people and make friends for life.
Lots of our students make friends for life on our courses. We are a friendly department and encourage students to talk and socialise outside of the workshop room.
g) Why do a humanities degree at all?
19. Humanities make us human – we need stories, critique and communication to challenge and celebrate the world we live in.
20. Humanities are relevant to so many careers and make you adaptable for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
21. You’ll find it easier to commit to, read and study about something you are passionate about.
On Friday 19 June 2020, the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health organised the Second Edition of the Mad Hearts Conference, with the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’.
This one-day webinar included a conversation with Professor Femi Oyebode, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham, about the inner self and the function of imagination, drawing insights from Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’. This was followed by Laura E. Fischer, an artist, mental health activist, and survivor-researcher who specialises in trauma. She spoke of reclaiming authorship of the trauma narrative through creative expression and she discussed how healing through art depends on three components: survivor leadership, embodiment and creativity.
The final speaker was John Richardson, a filmmaker (see Simon Says: Psychosis) and podcast presenter (Coffee and Psychosis), who sheds light on the mental health system through his documentary work. He spoke of his encounters with the mental health system, what was helpful and unhelpful to his recovery, and how he strives to be true to his values and remain authentic despite the pressure to conform to corporate views both in mental health and in film-making.
After the talks, three artists were nominated to discuss their creative work, which were submitted to the Creative Enquiry stream of the conference, together with a reflection on the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’. The painting ‘Shades of Solitude’ by Grace Catchpole, uses colour to capture the nuances of the experience of loneliness, from a peaceful place to rest to a darker experience of grief. The short film ‘Sound’ by Lorna V. represents the funny side of a missed online encounter, that between a client and her therapist, when the client can’t be heard because of a technological glitch and ends up talking to herself. Finally, the short animation ‘Plastic Bag’ by Harris Nageswaran reveals the power of a plastic bag to carry goods but especially love and care to those isolated in hospitals during the lockdown. The artwork ‘Isolation, a familiar issue disguised differently’, by Muhammad Umer, was chosen as the image for Mad Hearts 2020 for its portrayal of a person seen and not seen by the viewers, through the partly deceptive reflection of a mirror. You can view all submissions on the following website: https://sites.google.com/view/mad-hearts-2020/home.
The Mad Hearts Conference ended with a group discussion that included both participants and speakers. During these conversations, we heard from people from all different backgrounds, such as specialists in mental health, users of mental health services, medical students and students of the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health. Together we delved into contemporary encounters concerning the arts and mental health, uniting clinical, artistic and research perspectives.
During said discussions, we reflected on the contribution of the arts to mental health practice, the agency in one’s own healing, equality in mental health services and the power of isolation. These conversations are important to encourage re-interpretations of contemporary mental health science and practice. It is thus crucial that we continue these discussions!
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: We are hosting an exclusive event with Helen Thomas and Professor Susheila Nasta. Follow us on Twitter to get alerts when booking is live. See below for an exclusive event by Peach x Diaspora Speaks student-led media.
Watch the first Postgraduate Research Series Dr Yann Ryan talk below and follow on Twitter for details of the next events with Dr Jason Allen Paisant (Leeds) on 29 October.
Quorum is back! Autumn Virtual Quorum is excited to invite you to Dr @Kirsty Sedgman’s talk ‘How to Make the World Give a Sh*t About Theatre (Studies)’ See you on 22 October at 7:30pm, on Zoom. All welcome, request the link to our email.
In this session, Nisha Ramayya will introduce and read from her poetic sequence ‘Now Let’s Take a Listening Walk’, part of the ongoing project Crossing the Rackety Bridge Between Tantric Poetics and Black Study. These poems began during a residency at John Hansard Gallery, at the exhibition Many voices, all of them loved, curated by poet and academic Sarah Hayden.
Also check out Deep Deep Dream: Transmissions by Ignota Books is an experiment in the techniques of awakening and an invitation to touch the dreamworld, which features Nisha’s work from 14 Oct.
Peach × Diaspora Speaks Presents: On Black Voices 22 Oct, Online, 6-8pm BST – Free
Peach Magazine and Diaspora Speaks Magazine have collaborated on designing this the event: “On Black Voices”. It will be an open-mic night dedicated to Black History Month and showcasing the voices of Black artists!
We’re currently looking for speakers for the event. If you want to join Diaspora Speaks and Peach Magazine on this night to share something powerful then sign up using the link: https://forms.gle/yjhMSqxy4VpRU8ju9.
Our Head of Drama Dominic Johnson is in conversation with James Campbell at Intellect Books for its extended “Intellect Live Art” virtual conference.
News & Links
Brian Dillon (Creative Writing)’s Suppose a Sentence is out now from Fitzcarraldo Editions (and NYRB in the US). He’ll be doing some online events in the coming weeks: with Olivia Laing at the LRB Bookshop on 6 October; with Vinson Cunningham of The New Yorker for Community Bookstore in Brooklyn on 8 October; and with Stuart Kelly at Blackwells, Edinburgh on 15 October.
Jen Harvie (Drama) Catch TWO new episodes of Professor Jen Harvie’s podcast Stage Left, where she interviews performance makers on what they make and how they make it. New episodes are with FK Alexander who works with noise, pop culture, and delicate care in performances including VIOLENCE and (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow, and with Krishna Istha, discussing their stand-up comedy on trans identity, Beast.
The Stage Left back catalogue includes interviews with Split Britches (including SED’s own Professor Lois Weaver), Breach Theatre (including SED MA alumnus, director Billy Barrett), and SED alumni Sh!t Theatre (Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit).
Places of Solitude The ‘Pathologies of Solitude’ project launches its first podcast series on 19 October, looking at places and experiences of solitude and how these have changed over the centuries. Topics range from gardens, cities and sanctums, to potentially perilous places like prison cells and even the human mind. The series also includes extended pop-out interviews with Shokoufeh Sakhi, a former political prisoner held in solitary confinement in Iran, and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Matt Rubery (English) has been given a small British Academy grant for a project titled ‘Projected Books for Veterans with Disabilities’. This will be the first history of Projected Books, Inc., a manufacturer of vertical projectors and microfilmed books for the use of disabled veterans in hospital beds. By displaying a book’s pages on the ceiling, projected books made it possible for thousands of people with disabilities in the United States and other parts of the world to read during the 1940s-1970s.
Liza Vallance (Drama graduate) CEO/Artistic Director at Studio 3 Arts Barking has raised £1.2 million for a makeover of the community centre which includes glitter ball, flagpole and theatre made of straw.
Live chat is available between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
3) Book a drop in session with our Student Support Officer
You can book a drop in session via QMplus with our Student Support Officer Suzi Lewis. These sessions will be held via MS Teams.
5) Pre-booked appointment
Because of current social distancing restrictions in the Arts One Building, it is not possible at present to receive visitors to our Reception without a pre-booked appointment. If you arrive in person and you have not booked an appointment, we may not be able to see you.
We will have a small team available at the School Reception on the third floor of the Arts One building (room 3.40: follow the signs at the top of the stairs) to take brief queries from students who are unable to find the answer to their query elsewhere or via the online options available.
The team will :
Answer your queries, where possible, or direct you to the most appropriate source of advice (including the online options listed above)
Recommend other University support services that can help
In order to ensure you are seen quickly and safely please book a timed slot to see a member of the team by emailing email@example.com. The reception will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, closed Wednesdays.
QUEEN MARY VACATIONS AND THE SCHOOL OFFICE
The School Office (where all the Administrative Staff are based) is open and staffed throughout the year, including student vacations but not including Bank Holidays and QM Closure Days.
If you need to see someone in the School urgently and your Advisor is unavailable, you should ask one of the administrative staff to see whether it is possible for you to see the appropriate Director of Student Support.
To launch and celebrate the publication of On Seamus Heaney (Princeton University Press, 2020), leading historian and biographer, Roy Foster, will appear, via Zoom, in conversation with award-winning British poet, Ruth Padel. With opening words from Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History, and Susan Rudy, Director, Centre for Poetry.
A Season of Bangla Drama (Drama) secured a £15k emergency Arts Council England funding for A Season of Bangla Drama – an online version to be called Home Seasoning. Our technical team in Drama will be applying the pedagogical strategies developed over lockdown to this exciting new challenge: migrating all 15 companies online in blended programming, configuring prerecorded shorts (based on what would have been live pieces) with online interaction and debate.
Hari Marini (Drama) is participating in Tear in the Fence Festival in September. She will be reading some of my texts from 28 Paths of her in the session Migration, Exile and Place on Saturday 12 September.