Disasters #1: From Disorderly to Dead: The St Martin’s Roundhouse Massacre of 1742

View of the St. Martin’s Round-House after attack by a mob, enraged by the death of several persons in the dungeon. 1742 Etching. Attribution: The Trustees of the British Museum.

There is no such thing as a natural disaster. This is partly because humans have a huge influence on the global climate, but we also have another, more sinister, kind of agency: what actually happens when a building collapses, a hurricane hits, or the rain stops falling, is entirely up to us. To put it bluntly, the privileged tend to get out alive. Disasters confront us with brutal proof of structural inequality; problems that have been steaming under the surface bubble up and become impossible to ignore. In 2005, Rev. Jesse Jackson summed up what Katrina told us about the modern United States in a succinct and simple statement: ‘we have an amazing tolerance for black pain’.

A few hundred years ago in London, an even less natural disaster crystallised social attitudes to a different marginalised group. England in the eighteenth century was a difficult place to be for a single woman. Since patriarchal ideology dictated that women should always be under supervision by fathers or husbands, those who were not were automatically suspicious. A woman alone in the street after dark was usually assumed to be a prostitute. Drunken men would proposition her, or insist she go for a drink with them. If she refused to have sex, they might turn violent or call in a constable to accuse her of picking their pockets. Those same constables and their teams of watchmen systematically stopped and searched lone women, arrested them, and held them overnight to go before a magistrate the following day. Continue reading

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New Beginnings #2: A New Project and A New Experience: The East End Women’s Museum

sylvia-pankhurst-1909-by-unknown-photographer-public-domain-via-wikimedia-commons
Sylvia Pankhurst, 1909. Instrumental figure in the East End women’s suffrage movement. Attribution: Unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia commons, 1909

Have you heard about the East End Women’s Museum? Perhaps you remember instead the opening of the tacky Jack the Ripper Museum in 2015, in place of the promised first Women Museum in the UK. Not only does the new museum disregard women’s lives, but it also displays gratuitous details of Jack the Ripper’s murders, including one victim’s bedroom and pictures of the bodies. However, this dreadful opening led to some good things: a collective opposition to the museum (from neighbours, East End women, feminists, and historians), as well as Sara Huws and Sarah Jackson’s wish to create the promised museum. Their idea is to offer the East End and London the museum that was originally proposed, with historical and social information about women’s lives in the East End. The project not only aims to be historical, but also links historical jobs or situations to the present, with contemporary testimonies. The form of the museum is not yet defined; it may be a physical building in the East End, or a virtual museum, such as the Women’s Museum of Ireland – or even both. Continue reading

Join Our Editorial Team – Apply by 31 Oct

launch 4

As the current team begin the second and third years of their PhDs, The Still Point Journal is looking for new research students to take over, develop the project, and make it their own. Roles on offer include journal editors, blog editors, and event organisers. Although some experience is a wonderful asset, The Still Point Journal is all about creative experimentation and learning curves, so if you have a passion for literary journals, indie publishing, creative writing, or design, this could be a great opportunity for you.

The Still Point Journal is a literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers, established in 2014 and supported by the LAHP (London Arts & Humanities Partnership) and the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council). The Still Point aims to be a forum for dialogue, collaboration and experimentation, and offers a space for creatively writing through ideas in original forms. The Journal features short fiction, poetry and visual art, although its particular focus is on non-fiction writing, related – however tangentially – to our research and the kind of rich thinking and exploration we do during the course of this research. These informal articles and journalistic pieces, free of footnotes or bibliographies, should feel more like a collection of conversations had with fellow researchers over coffee than academic papers.

At The Still Point we believe in the untold stories of the PhD, the creative energy that fizzes at the peripheries, the mind-wanderings and tangential inspirations, and we wanted to create a space to celebrate this. In its current iteration, The Still Point publishes an annual literary journal with submissions from arts and humanities researchers from institutions across London, and runs a regular online blog that accepts submissions from researchers across the world. We are passionate about the medium of print and about exploring new possibilities for the intersection between print and digital media.

In addition to our print issue and blog content, since 2014 The Still Point has organised a range of events exploring the intersection between the creative and the critical, including poetry readings, a creative exchange and art exhibition, a launch party with readings and live music, creative non-fiction workshops, and co-ordinated and curated an innovative online symposium. If you think all of this sounds exciting, then you should think about joining The Still Point.

To Apply

If you would like to join The Still Point editorial team send an email to editor@thestillpointjournal.com telling us why you would like to be involved with the journal, what role you are interested in, and mentioning any experience you think you can bring to the role, by the 31st October.


Roles

Journal Editors

To oversee the development, editing and design of Issue #3 of The Still Point Journal (to be published in a digital and print format), including attendance at monthly editorial meetings.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Develop and write a Call for Submissions (CFS).
  • Circulate and promote the CFS to all relevant institutions, students and student groups.
  • Manage and read through submissions, and select material for Issue #3 after discussion with other editors.
  • Work with the selected writers to edit their pieces, as required.
  • Liaise with a designer to create the layouts for Issue #3
  • Work with the events team to organise a launch party and help to distribute the Issue, including depositing it in libraries such as the BL, and the Southbank Saison Poetry Library.

Blog Editors

To manage the blog for The Still Point Journal for a period of one year, including attendance at monthly Editorial meetings.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Commission new blog posts and liaise with guest writers
  • Edit and upload posts
  • Maintain a schedule, aiming for 1 blog post per week where possible
  • Write posts yourself, including any news regarding the journal
  • Promote new posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Use the blog to promote the Print Issue, both the Call for Submissions and the final product
  • Organise an online symposium in July 2017, making the most of the digital medium (optional)

Event Organisers

The Still Point Journal has never had a formal events team before, so this would be a new role that you could develop together.


To Apply

If you would like to join The Still Point editorial team send an email to stillpointjournal@gmail.com telling us why you would like to be involved with the journal, what role you are interested in, and mentioning any experience you think you can bring to the role, by the 31st October.

Sound Series #3: Sound and Architecture

I finally found it. A real architectural structure of sound. Muttering and uttering voices, music and speech along with an ever-present echo of static.

There is nothing quite like a moment of inspiration. It is childish glee: Christmas come early. That moment you realise there is someone else who has made that same connection. Rather than worry about the lack of original thought, it is affirmation and excitement that sparks my brain into action. It is moments like this when I remember why I study.

IMG_3509 Recently, I have been playing with the idea of ‘visualising the invisible’, considering the architecture in Chaucer’s The House of Fame dream vision to be structures built of sound. It was Cildo Meireles’s Babel (2001) which – when I visited before the June re-hanging – was positioned in the centre of its own room at the Tate Modern, and sparked so many ideas.

Meireles’s piece explores ideas about the unity of humanity despite language barriers, paralleling the story of the Tower of Babel. The work is an imposing structure made of hundreds of radios tuned to different stations in many different languages. I was most struck by my reaction to take a picture of this architectural structure of sound. Pressing the shutter-button, I realised that this was not an experience to be captured as a still image.

The hearer/viewer moves around the structure; the eye is looking for something that is not there. I took in the barely audible noise, the music I recognised and started to hum too, the languages I cannot speak and wondered at this at once static and constantly moving piece of architecture, like the House of Rumour in Chaucer’s dream vision. It was a moment of connection, with the music and speakers, with those in the room moving around me and the tower. It was a moment that will never happen again. And yet a memory of it lives on in the sonic space of the room.

The sound is heard and disappears and it is held in the sonic structure. While Meireles is concerned with exploring ideas of overcoming barriers and unity, I question how do we deal with the transitory nature of sound? Do the radios demonstrate a fixity? Or simply a way of transmission? The room was almost overwhelming with the various sounds and yet most of the people around me where silent when experiencing Babel (2001). I, however, was speaking rapidly to my very bemused friend. Sound can become tangible in these moments, for language, for communication, for the artwork; adding another layer human radios.

IMG_3510


Charlotte Rudman is a second year PhD student in the Department of English at King’s College London, researching sound and sound representations in medieval dream vision poetry, @charrud.

Footnotes on Digital Selves

In a special edition of Footnotes on KCL Radio broadcast live on the 27 July 9-10am, hosts Fran and Char invited PhD researchers to take on the theme of The Still Point‘s first blog symposium: Digital Selves in Research.

From online facsimiles of manuscripts to social media profiles, PhD students from across King’s College London explore how they work with, analyse and are shaped by the digital. Thank you to Colleen Curran, palaeographer and historian; Anna Khlusova from Cultural and Creative Industries; and Rachael Kent, whose PhD spans the Digital Humanities and CCI as a member of the Ego-Media project.

The Still Point Journal‘s blog editor, James Fisher, also joined the panel to discuss all things ‘real’ vs ‘virtual’.

Links:
Colleen Curran https://twitter.com/cmcurran21
Anna Khlusova https://twitter.com/annakhlus
Rachael Kent https://twitter.com/RachaelCKent
European Research Council Ego-Media project https://www.ego-media.org

Four Selves

These are all creations inspired by the hectic digital life doing my masters Cultural and Creative Industries in London. The name of each painting says it all. Every time I was doing an activity/ attending an event, if I have a strong image in my head, I feel that I have to bring it to life on canvas. So these four were inspired when I was feeling that the digital had constructed me in such a subtly important way. When I was DJing alone, posting online, studying alone, I felt too that I was somehow connected but also disconnected. I was so intrigued to search and explore for the inner self.

Lonely self
lonely self
social media self
social media self
searching self (DJ alone)
dj self
free soul self
free soul self

Tianmei Chen is an explorer, constantly looking for the passion of her life. She was born in a small village in Hubei, Central China. She has worked in fashion and advertising as a producer and blogger in Shanghai since 2008. She also co-founded a flower brand named Flowerbox and created Queen’s Art spot, a painting studio for beginners in 2013 because her self-taught experience of oil painting inspired many more Chinese young women who wanted to join her. She believes that art is for everyone and everyone can paint. Her experience encouraging young Chinese women’s development made her stand out in the Chevening Scholarship selection among over 36000 applicants in over 170 countries funded by FCO, UK, which sponsored her to study Cultural and Creative Industries at KCL. Now, she is in love with this amazing city, London.

Instagram @maychenyolo  //  Chinese Blog on Wechat: MAYCHENYOLO

 

#DigitalSelves Programme: 25-29 July

The Still Point Blog is hosting the online symposium Digital Selves in Research, July 25th-29th 2016, exploring the experience of researching across analogue and digital worlds.

the internet and research

We are excited to publish a range of creative responses to our Call for Submissions over five days, in text, video, and image. The provisional programme is below (subject to change, as usual).

We deliberately mimic the format of traditional conferences IRL to manufacture the experience of participating in a collective event, blurring the boundary with physical meet ups. With this spirit, we encourage visitors and readers to comment and respond on the blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere.

Follow @stillpointLDN   //   #DigitalSelves   //   Join Facebook event

Programme

Monday 25th July 

9am     Keynote: Max Saunders (Director, Arts & Humanities Research Institute) & Ego-Media

1pm     Yarli Allison L [VIDEO]

5pm     Kim Sherwood, He’s Not Dead Yet, Keep Scrolling 

Tuesday 26th July 

9am     Ellen Davies, In Paris, 1913 

1pm     Susan Francis, Stranger is Typing [VIDEO]

5pm     Amy Lidster, Rethinking Digital Editions: A Movable Archive of Readings 

Wednesday 27th July 

9am     Footnotes on KCL Radio [Listen LIVE 9-10am, podcast available later]

1pm     Tianmei Chen, Inspiration from London

5pm     James Fisher, [Command-Shift-4] McLuhan 

Thursday 28th July 

9am     Daniel Willis, Fieldwork a la limeña 

1pm     Twitter Hour #DigitalSelves @stillpointLDN

Friday 29th July 

9am     Keynote: Dr. Matthew Hayler, Lecturer in Post-1980 Literature (Digital Humanities, Cognitive Humanities, Technology and Human Enhancement) [VIDEO]

1pm     Editors’ Reflections

3pm     Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon: meet up for researchers to edit Wikipedia pages together @ The Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR 

6pm     Drinks Reception / After Party @ Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1AA

If you would like to attend our IRL events or have any questions, please email blog [at] stillpointjournal.com

Three Hundred Years of Birdsong: Sound and Nature

Jess hamstead heath

Last Monday it rained, and on Hampstead Heath a record of birdsong included greenfinch, goldfinch, coot, long tailed tit, song thrush, chaffinch, stock-dove, jay, green woodpecker, crows and rose-winged parakeets (not to forget a pond-life of tufted duck, shoveler, cormorant, gadwall, mute swans and a great crested grebe).

In 1728, after a spring shower, the poet James Thomson listed the sounds of the cuckoo, blackbird, wood-lark, song thrush, nightingale, linnet, bullfinch, stock-dove, rook, crow and jackdaw. He then used this to map human intrusion into a non-human world, to explain the intangibility of the spaces we inhabit, even in our desire to quantify them.

Thomson’s poem is peppered with an incompatibility of natural world and human understanding; a boy disturbing a trout and shattering the water surface, a plough breaking the earth and the toil of the ox pulling it, the corrupt lovers tainting the woods. Faced with this, Thomson tends to look back, desiring an inaccessible arcadia.

Our time is characterised by understanding the natural world through a language of loss and crisis, and, even three hundred years later, it is tempting to view nature through painful nostalgia. A golden age now closed to us.

Searching for nature in his own time, Thomson transposes the non-human into currents of sound, wind and water. His is a poem of noise and light, of elements, breezes, clouds and vapours, filled with mingling winds, ‘rustling deer’ and birdsong. He uses observation of noise to create verse, and places ideas over this, a transparency secondary to the world they exist within.

On Hampstead Heath today, the birdsong is joined by shouting, by flight-paths, sirens, traffic, music, dogs barking [1]. A post-pastoral understanding of the natural world creates space to understand the necessary journey away from Thomson’s golden age. The task now is to understand a natural world free from nostalgia, to accept the mixture of sounds, of nature and of intrusion, and to look at what is left, and what can be done.


Jessica Frith is a PhD candidate in the English Department at King’s College London. She is interested in taking the study of literature closer to the physicality of nature, in reconstructing the eighteenth century poet-naturalist in a modern age, and in the importance of words within the environment. Follow Jessica @lutra__

[1] Audio from the London Sound Survey, Highgate Cemetery, recorded by Chris/dashanna and available at ‘Hampstead Health, Highgate, Archway’ on the sound map.  Listen to and contribute sounds from all around the city via their website.

Snow

Ning told Jing not to expect snow in London.

It would just be cold and grey as usual, said Ning, staring at her phone screen.

But what’s the point of being cold without snow? Jing asked, her body slightly leaning
forward.

Well, I don’t see the causality between being cold and snow. You really need to improve your logical thinking and knowledge in geography. Ning frowned. Ning’s patience was always quite transient, but it disappeared faster than usual when she spoke with Jing. Probably because she knew Jing was extremely stubborn, and reasoning with her was just a waste of time.

It’s fine, thought Jing. She still expected to see snow in London, but she didn’t think she was being stubborn. She just believed in miracles.

SNOW1

Continue reading