At the very core of civilisations throughout history, there is a grim paradox that might generally be observed: namely, that within civilisation resides the morbid yearning for its antithesis. Nowhere is this more apparent than through cultural preoccupations with violent spectacle and in particular the phenomenon of public executions. Historically, such public forms of capital punishment not only provided the state with an opportunity to potently assert its authority over dissenting persons but also, by virtue of the general public being able to voluntarily attend these executions, it delivered a strikingly grotesque form of entertainment. On 31st January 1606, one such spectacle was partly frustrated. Having witnessed the seven remaining fellow conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot being hanged, drawn and quartered before his own ascent to the scaffold, Guy Fawkes was able to avoid the same fate through a final act of defiance, by jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck. Undeterred by this slight setback to the proceedings, the executioner quartered his body and his remains were disseminated throughout the kingdom to serve as a powerful deterrent for other potential traitors. Continue reading →
For the month of November, our next theme at the Still Point blog will be focused on ‘Revolution’. We are seeking blog posts from doctoral and early career researchers – although submissions from Masters students are also welcomed – that directly engage with and examine the subject of ‘Revolution’ in a variety of ways. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to: historical and political revolutions (whether successful or otherwise), revolution as a positive/negative event, revolutionary figures in the arts and humanities, innovation and revolution in the literary arts, visual arts, and literary criticism etc.
Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis until the next theme is announced. Entries often take the form of non-fiction prose, but we also accept fiction, poetry, photography, and other visual art.
Ideally submissions will be:
– Between 500-750 words that can include high quality images; however, longer feature submissions may also be accepted.
– For visual and multimedia artists, send us high quality images of your artwork of embed links to sound, video work, or gifs, accompanied by up to 300 words.
At the Still Point blog we encourage creative and innovative responses both to our themes and the presentation of blog posts. As such this is a unique opportunity to promote your research on an academic platform and creatively respond to your research experiences.
Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the more enjoyable aspects of my PhD research, which focuses on Irish poetry, is the time I spend catching up on contemporary literature and culture which takes Ireland as its subject matter. A particularly striking recent example has been Jez Butterworth’s critically acclaimed new play The Ferryman, which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre before transferring to the West End. The play, which revolves around a Catholic farming family in rural Armagh, takes the Northern Irish Troubles as its theme. Loosely based on the experience of one of its original lead actresses, Laura Donnelly, whose uncle was Continue reading →
Unlike many people working in the humanities, I have never suffered from physics envy. I don’t yearn for concreteness, for the apparently undeniable power of proof by numbers. Deniability and argument are, the way I see it, part of the fun and part of what makes the humanities useful – we relentlessly interrogate, rethink, criticise.
My PhD is an attempt to do at least some of those things. It focuses on the everyday experience of state power in early modern England, which in practical terms means reading lots of legal documents – especially witness statements – to find out what happened when, say, a constable turned up at the door with a search warrant. These are sources full of stories – all unreliable, some patently false.
But PhDs lead down unexpected paths. This summer, in an attempt to figure out what kind of people usually wielded state power (who was the constable?), I spent a lot of time counting. First names: who held what office, when, and for how long? Then dates: when were they born, when did they marry, did they have children? And then money: how much tax did they pay – were they rich or poor?Continue reading →
The Still Point journal is seeking a designer for its third issue. We are a London-based literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers, and this new issue will feature creative and critical writing on the theme of ‘Borders’.
The work will cover around 50 pages in a B5 format, and will be recompensed by a fixed fee of £250, £150 of which will be paid upfront. You will be required to work with the Still Point team, liaising with the Editor in Chief, and will be responsible for text and image layout, cover design, and creating images to be used in the journal.
Applicants should send a covering letter, a portfolio of previous design and/or illustration work, and a CV, to email@example.com by 2 October. Personal access to InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator is desirable, and you should be readily available throughout February 2018 for the final few weeks before the journal’s launch. Previous issues of the journal are available to browse here and here.
With new term starting shortly, Still Point is excited to begin posting regular content on the blog as of Friday, September 22. For the next few weeks, our series: Research Diaries, offers some short reflections on the individual research members of the team have been doing over the summer. We are also hard at work editing the selected materials for Issue III of the journal and have some other projects we look forward to sharing with you.
We’ll be in touch!
Nicholas Rheubottom, Editor of The Still Point Blog
Athens is a city where, according to Eugene Trivizas, ‘Myth precedes, reality follows, and imagination is not only infinite, it is also cheap’. Crisis has devastated the capital on multiple levels and two types of spaces that spread throughout its centre have the qualities and potential for a radical change: the Polykatoikia, which is the multi-storey apartment building and the Akalyptoi, which are the uncovered spaces in between the polykatoikias, which, in most cases, are left unused. Dr Trivizas, has been responsible for the teaching of criminology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Reading since 1978, as well as a visiting Professor of Social and Political Sciences at the Panteion University of Athens since 1992. Having created more than 150 worlds of the imagination, he is the father figure of the Greek children’s book. Tales such as ‘The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig’, ‘The Last Black Cat’, and the first Greek comic-strip and televised puppet show ‘Fruitopia’, (first published in 1983, illustrated by Nikos Maroulakis), each tackle ideas of social and political injustice. In his tales, through the use of allegory and tropes, imagination is always the antidote to a crisis.
I have started my design research by writing and illustrating a magical realist fairy tale, implying that our supposedly normal and normative world is itself a fantastical, magical realist dream. The tale is weaving subtle references to ancient and contemporary myths and the characters are at times becoming part of the spaces that surround them, alluding to an architecture that unfolds and is at the same time both figurative as well as immaterial. The tale is written in Greek and I am in the process of translating it to English.
Pride has many stories to tell: some celebratory, some tragic, some past, some present, and some that remain incomplete as their narrative continues to unfold. As is typical to any professional task that is part of my Monday work schedule, I began my morning routine reliving the weekend through photos on my mobile. As I aimlessly swiped my thumb across the screen, I justified my idleness as, in fact, being ‘research’ for writing my own submission on the topic of London Pride, something that incidentally turned out to be true.
As a Canadian from a small city, Pride in London seemed overwhelming in comparison. In the weeks leading up to the parade, however, I encountered disillusionment from my queer colleagues towards the event. Where I am from, the parade is confined to fifty floats and another fifty LGBTQ groups; it is the coming together of a queer and queer-allied community that, in truth, already knows one another. For that reason, Pride has always felt like home to me. Sharing these sentiments with friends, and hearing their own in return, reminded me that not all aspects of Pride come from the most altruistic of motivations – for example, Tom Daley in a tight-fitting tee and angel wings on top of the Barclays float – and that perhaps even my own perspectives at home were a bit naive. Fear not: the remainder of this article is not to exemplify why London Pride has become irrelevant; instead, I made it my mission to uncover those moments that continued to demonstrate Pride as spirit over spectacle. Continue reading →
One of the most notorious yet historically significant scandals of Victorian England was the curious case of two young men in their early twenties: Frederick Park, a law student and Ernest Boulton, or Fanny and Stella (their female names). On the night of 28 April 1870, Park and Boulton were arrested outside the Strand Theatre for outraging public decency. Both were dressed in extravagant women’s clothing: Fanny wore a ‘dark-green satin crinoline trimmed’ gown; Stella, by contrast was dressed in a ‘scarlet silk evening dress’ trimmed in ‘white lace and draped with a white muslin shawl’. Boulton and Park were frequent visitors at theatres and several public events including the Oxford and Cambridge boat race and Burlington Arcade. The police had been closely monitoring the pair’s activities since 1869. They had been known to repeatedly wear make-up while dressed in men’s clothing, and were seen flirting and winking at gentlemen on the streets and at public gatherings.
Several newspapers printed their own version of what they referred to as the ‘he-she’ ladies. The Illustrated Police News recorded that upon searching the pair’s apartments, the police had found an elaborate wardrobe of female attire: ‘thirty to forty silk and other dresses, lace trimmings, half a dozen bodices, bonnets and hats, stockings, gloves, violet powder,’ along with letters and photographs from Bolton’s apartment. Continue reading →
Have you ever read something for a specific research purpose, in the routine of study, which suddenly carved you up and reordered your entire being? That happened to me around December 2007. I remember the evening vividly, because my reading was interrupted a few times by my walk to and from the laundry room, as though it were calculated to give me ten minutes of gloomy quiet to absorb it all. I disagreed profoundly, but the way it teased my core beliefs was compelling. And, over time, I came under the spell of the American philosopher Richard Rorty.
I found out much later that he had died from pancreatic cancer, aged 75, only a few months before my first encounter, just over ten years ago today – a trivial coincidence that I’ve dressed in significance. I was unaccountably sad at the thought of that particular brain turning cold. Shortly before his death he wrote an essay about his diagnosis and disease (‘The Fire of Life’), in which he admitted that ‘neither the philosophy I had written nor that which I had read seemed to have any particular bearing on my situation’. These words gave me pause, as I had been deeply affected by his philosophical writings on life and death. This last characteristic shrug of indifference toward his own thought left me unsettled – he had given me some comfort, at least. Continue reading →