Creative-critical synergies: CTWR Research Event, 27th February 2009




This is the first of three seminars for which we have 'Research Centre Seminar Series' funding.  Our aim is to initiate cross-disciplinary exchanges by having members of the Centre (and other interested members of FASS) give presentations on different forms of research (theory-based, practice-based), methodological approaches and thematic focuses.  There will be ten speakers from six different departments, and we are hoping for wide-ranging discussion of possible avenues of collaborative research amongst Centre members.


Introductory Message from Graham Mort:

It’s with great regret that I’m missing this first research event organised by the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research. I’m currently working in Nigeria on a project of my own – perhaps the subject of some future presentation, if all goes according to plan!

In the past year we’ve built an extensive website featuring a number of research projects and a membership throughout FASS that shows overlapping research interests. Our concept of a research community has always included students working at PhD level, as well as members of staff. Our intention now is to bring together members of that community in regular events that will inform and stimulate, whilst at the same time acknowledging and extending who we are. This is the first such event and therefore of particular significance.

A Centre is defined by its members and their activities more accurately than by its rhetoric. It’s good to see an event take shape with such strong transcultural implications and potential. Cultural complexity – both in the actual focus of research, and in the sense that interdisciplinary itself equates to a form of polyculture within academia - is strongly reflected in today’s programme. A sense of exploration is inherent in a range of exciting and committed research that is truly interdisciplinary - particularly in its synthesis of practice-based and theoretical methodologies and outputs.

We hope that new alloys – stirred by the metallurgy of events like the one you are attending and contributing to – will continue to define and bear the hallmark of our new Centre.

Graham Mort, Director CTWR



Friday, 27th February 2009, IAS MR 3

The seminar will run from 3.00 to 6.00 pm (two sessions, with a break for tea / coffee midway through). There will be four talks per session, of approximately ten minutes each, followed by discussion of the ideas presented.  


3.00 - 4.20 session:

Christine Sylvester, Professor of International Relations and Development, Politics Dept., and Cami Rowe, PhD student working on the Collaging IR project: Christine is working on two overlapping projects at the moment, the war question for feminism and international relations and Collaging IR. The first explores feminist disinclination to study the institution of war with the same intensity and ownership of topic that it has assumed towards other transnational and transcultural institutions, such as motherhood, marriage, and gender itself. The second project is performative: Collaging IR is a series of theatrical juxtapositions of elements of international relations that the field of IR either neglects to study (e.g., art/museums) or, as in the war question for feminism and IR, considers only partially and with a significant degree of uneasiness.


Emma Rose, Professor of Contemporary Art, LICA: Emma is engaged in interdisciplinary research that combines creative and artistic intelligence with persuasive technologies seeking to bring about improvements in health and wellbeing, and quality of life.  The work addresses risk-taking behaviour in children (smoking, tanning, alcohol consumption) and diet, exercise and isolation with community groups.




Mercedes Camino, Professor, DELC: Mercedes will focus on two of her projects: 1. Twentieth-century cinema: she is currently working on a book about representation of Spanish guerrilla fighters of the 1940s, looking especially at the roles/symbolism of women characters; 2. Early modern exploration and history of cartography. Her last book is just out (late January 2009): it focuses on Spanish explorers in the Pacific (1519-1794), concentrating on the scenes of arrival and first contacts with the indigenous populations of the islands.


Charlotte Baker, Lecturer in French, DELC: There are two main strands to Charlotte’s work: i) the representation (mainly in literature, but also film, art & photography) of anomalous bodies, particularly the black African albino body, and ii) the fictional work of Francophone Guinean writer Williams Sassine. Her research engages with issues of identity, race, colour, physical difference, madness, representation and postcolonial theory.


4.40 – 6.00 pm session:

Ruth Wodak, Professor of Discourse Studies, Linguistics: Ruth will introduce her research on ‘the backstage of politics’, the topic of her new monograph, The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual (Palgrave, April 2009).  Her book addresses such questions as, How much do we actually know about the real world of politics? Is our eroding trust in politicians based on a lack of understanding about the activities they actually engage in?  Ruth's study analyses in detail the intricate complexity of ‘powerknowledge’ in the daily quest for hegemony, carefully documenting politicians’ movement across many ‘communities of practice’, employing a huge range of genres, conversational styles, argumentative moves, and (in)direct pragmatic devices, as part of their ‘professional habitus’.  She juxtaposes this critical discourse analysis with its fictionalised representation in the American TV soap The West Wing. In going behind the scenes of politics, she uncovers the reality of daily ‘politics as usual’, contrasting this with the glamorised, often sensationalised world of politics presented to us on television.



Lynne Pearce, Professor of Literary Theory and Women's Writing, Department of English & Creative Writing, and Corinne Fowler, Researcher, 'Moving Manchester' Project: Lynne and Corinne will offer a brief overview of the AHRC- funded 'Moving Manchester' project which has researched the way in which contemporary writing from Manchester has been informed by the experience of migration. This project has just moved into its fourth and final year and is now preparing for a major international conference, 'Glocal Imaginaries: Writing / Migration / Place' which will take place this September as well as consolidating its major outputs (namely: an electronic catalogue of Manchester writing, a  web-based Writers Gallery, and a co-authored academic study provisionally entitled 'Postcolonial Manchester: The Literary Response').  We will briefly outline the project's main 'research findings' which have in formed the form and content of the academic study. This volume centres on the ways in which particular modes and genres (autobiography, crime fiction, live literature and the mixed-genre anthology) have been adopted by the city's writers vis-a-vis issues of postcolonialism, transculturalism and migration.


Sondra Cuban, Lecturer, Educational Research: What are the lived experiences of economic migrants at work and on the move? Narrations of being overworked, in the form of diaries, can reveal complex concepts such as social suffering and commodified intimacy, which is similar to migrant fiction, and less like policy research on this population. Migrants writing about their work lives adds critical reflexivity to qualitative research, literature, and advocacy models.




Harry Whitehead,  Creative Writing PhD student, will talk about writing a novel centred on the life of George Hunt, whose late 19th/early 20thC life as a member of the indigenous Canadian people, the Kwakiutl (as a shaman, chieftain, hunter, trader) was co-existent with his life as an ethnographer, a photographer, a filmmaker with Edward Curtis, and a collector of material culture. Centring his fictional recreation on Hunt’s trial for cannibalism, the novel brings to the fore the conflicts that defined a man whose father was white, but whose mother was 'Indian', and who lived on the margins between categories: the ‘primitive’ forest on the one hand, the ‘Citadel of Reason’ that was Victorian science on the other.  



Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research, County College, Lancaster University, LA1 4YD, UK