Issue 2 Launch Party: Saturday 25th February

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The Still Point Journal is celebrating the launch of Issue 2: The Researcher’s Notebook.

Join us for an evening of live readings and music at The Gallery Café, Bethnal Green, and pick up your free copy of the print edition.

Saturday 25th February

7:30-10:30pm

The Gallery Cafe, 21 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ

Join our Facebook event here for updates about the evening.

For Issue 2 of The Still Point Journal, we asked contributors to imagine that their submissions are part of a collective Researcher’s Notebook in both a literal, and a broader, metaphorical sense. The issue explores the idea of the journal as a space for spontaneous discovery or self-creation.

To whet your aesthetic appetite:

The Researchers Notebook includes contributions from Bihter Almac, Isobel Atacus, Liz Bahs, Leonid Bilmes, Tianmei Chen, Chiara Raffaella Ciampa, George Clayton, Oline Eaton, Daniyal Farhani, Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, Annegret Marten, Penny Newell, Charlotte Northall, Romy Nuttall, Jon Paterson, Stuart Ruel, Matthew Shaw, Lavinia Singer, and Ruth Tullis, and is designed by Becky Healey.

We have a limited number of copies to gift to our launch party attendees, so come along to adopt your own.

The Still Point is a literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers from institutions across London: featuring poetry, prose and visual artwork, it is a space for storytelling about the research process. Generously supported by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)/ Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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Editors’ note: snap reflections

On April 21 2016, The Still Point Journal, that is, we, published a new blog post:

We invite creative responses to the experiences of working across analogue and digital, and between real and virtual worlds…

Two little words in our call for submissions for Digital Selves in Research – “across” and “between” – held more meaning than we realised at the time. So much of what our contributors have expressed, and so much of our own experience in organising this symposium, hides within those words. We seem to be recognising, in so many nuanced ways, that exploring the digital and the real isn’t about choosing one position or the other. We’re the hybrid generation, the researchers learning how to use the internet for scholarship. Is this what a period of transition feels like?

Digital Selves Ed post 1

Our invitation provoked myriad responses, but they all avoided this digital/IRL binary we could not help but set up. Our own vocabulary during this symposium has felt increasingly useless, out of time and place. We are still grappling with how to talk about the experience of being human, being researchers and practitioners in 2016 – but we hope this symposium has pushed our language further. Continue reading

Fieldwork a la limeña

rock light
El Espejo de Piedra by Lika Mutal

On my knees, in an art gallery in a bohemian district of Lima, with my head inside a large rock, I thought: “How did I get here?”

I was being shown around an exhibition by an artist whom I wanted to interview. I had the impression at the time, and still do, that this preliminary meeting was a sort of test. I was being judged on how open I was to the artist’s ideas, how I would talk about their work and what the benefits to them would be.

Placing my head in the rock was an extension of this test; it was about my willingness to embrace certain elements of spirituality and of the artist’s vision (which I had quite possibly shown some scepticism towards). However, it was also a demonstration to me that the methods for introducing myself, gaining a person’s trust and setting up an interview in the UK, simply did not apply in Lima. Continue reading

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

Rethinking Digital Editions: A Movable Archive of Readings

Title page of 1596 Quarto
Title page from The Raigne of King Edward III (1596) Copyright: The British Library Board, C.21.c.50, A2r

Books – in the form of tangible, material objects that collect in vertical and horizontal arrangements on my shelves and desks – are my most conspicuous possessions. In the context of my research, which looks at the publication of sixteenth and seventeenth-century history plays, and draws on bibliographic studies and the (affectionately dubbed) ‘New Boredom,’ my attachment to the printed text is perhaps understandable.

I relish the feel, texture, dimensions and physical presence of a printed book, and the ways in which my books contain little histories of my reading experiences. Pages are downturned in the corners and covered in markings and marginalia, recording my thoughts, ideas and tangential observations, many of which I have silently ‘updated’ to improve upon the inarticulate musings of my undergraduate days. Rather than replacing my worn editions, I am still drawn by these old, faded texts bearing layers of comments and providing a context for nostalgic reminiscences, as well as the occasional insight or grimace. Continue reading

In Paris, 1913

Micro film

I’m sitting at my desk, time-travelling.

Outside, 21st century Paris is heavy with the first infestation of springtime tourists, snapping up the Opéra on selfie-sticks as they emerge, blinking, from the Métro.

Inside, in a stuffy room in the Bibliothèque national de France, unbeknown to those around me, I’m not there. I’m in 1913. Continue reading

#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.

A Critique in Cake #BakeMyThesis

“This is your PhD,” my friends said, proudly presenting a cake decorated with plastic animals. “It’s a farm! And you do farming, yeah?”

farm phd cake

Sort of. I research agricultural labour in eighteenth-century England (with an emphasis on the “labour” bit). But there was no labour in this cake-world: no farmers, no dairymaids or ploughboys, no gangs of harvest labourers, no carters or threshers. Human labour was entirely absent. I thought this was quite funny and ate the percy pigs happily.

farm cake 2

And yet, the unearthly green icing hinted at something deeper and darker than its inner chocolate layer. Staring into the glowing blue eyes of the monstrous cat-like creature in the centre I realised my birthday cake was not the simple-yet-adorable attempt at representation it first seemed, but in fact a sophisticated and devastating critique of the ideology of the eighteenth-century landed gentry. My friends had (inadvertently) produced a brilliant pastiche of the idealised pastoral scenes found in some landscape paintings, depicting a mythic countryside of ease and abundance populated by fluffy sheep and golden wheat. Continue reading

Call for Submissions: Digital Selves in Research

Digital Selves in Research // Online Symposium // July 2016
Open for submissions now – 31st May 2016

Do you feel like a machine?
Do you feel like you can’t ‘see’ anymore, but instead ‘scan’?
Has too much scrolling on jstor sent your eyes permanently rolling?
Do you feel like your hands have fused with your keyboard?
When was the last time you went to the library without your laptop?
Can you touch your notes? [1]

Our research combines papers and screens, inks and apps, books and blogs. Our explorations go behind doors and hyperlinks. Our heads are in the clouds and the Cloud. We inhabit spaces digitally and IRL, but sometimes the line between these spaces seems blurred. This has got us thinking: what effect does environment, these processes, have on us as researchers? Are we living in a researcher’s utopia or dystopia?

We invite creative responses to the experience of researching across analogue and digital, between real and virtual worlds. In parallel to our forthcoming print Issue #2: The Researcher’s Notebook, we want to explore how digital spaces and tools shape our thoughts in surprising ways. Continue reading