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Writing and Insecurity: Writing the Twenty-first Century


Writing and Insecurity: Writing the Twenty-first Century
31 Mar-1 Apr 2016 | University of Brighton
Organised by C21: Centre for Research in Twenty-first Century Writings in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing

In the impasse induced by crisis, being treads water; mainly, it does
not drown. Even those whom you would think of as defeated are living
beings figuring out how to stay attached to life from within it, and to
protect what optimism they have for that, at least.
Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism

Following Lauren Berlant we can see the contemporary period as an era of affective precariousness. Long-standing cultural and political anxieties have accelerated beyond control to form what she describes as ‘crisis ordinariness’. Ranging from the state’s ability to protect itself, or its willingness to protect its citizens, to environmental threats of species extinction, many of the crises of the twenty-first century have been crises in security. As the certainties of modernity retreat, the experience of insecurity has come to define the age as one of anxiety and doubt. Writing in the twenty-first century continues to respond to these events in a wide variety of ways. Drama, poetry and the novel have all attempted to appraise ecological threat, the risk of violence, and the fragility of the state and its institutions. Experiments with form, narrative and genre have been successful in giving expression to the ontology of insecurity as it is felt. Writing has been able to interrogate, mimic and critique the textual manifestations of security itself. Where the formal institutions of power express themselves as texts, such as banknotes, or signage, or as documents, writing has been able to respond with different kinds of critical repetition. Criticism and critical theory have also responded to contemporary insecurity by asking questions about the role of criticism and about its conventional methods of analysis.

We would welcome proposals (c300 words) for papers, or panels, that consider how contemporary writing, in all of its forms, engages with the idea of insecurity. Among other things, these might consider:
• Anxiety and disquiet
• Ethics
• Community and family
• Pessimism
• Debt
• Neoliberalism and crisis
• Ecological disaster
• Failed States
• Precarity
• Risk
• Surveillance and securitization
• The aesthetics of encryption
• The threats of terror
DEADLINE: email your proposal and short bio to by 5 December 2015

Further information and registration:

Enquiries and submissions:

May 21st, 2015 - 10:23am

‘Great British’ Landscapes: Nostalgia & Identity

Book Tickets Here: Eventbrite



April 29th, 2015 - 12:18pm

Nawal el Saadawi: “Solidarity between the masses – perspectives on the Arab Spring”

Nawal el Saadawi is an internationally renowned writer, novelist, medical doctor and fighter for women’s rights. Her writing has influenced five generations of women and men in Egypt, in other Arab speaking countries as well as in many other societies, paving the way for dissidence, rebellion and revolution. For more than four decades she has suffered under political and religious authorities, leading to court trials, imprisonment, exile, and death threats. Nawal el Saadawi trained as a doctor, graduating in 1955 from Cairo University and later becoming Cairo’s Director of Public Health, as well as teaching at many universities worldwide. She became politically active while practising medicine, attributing women’s problems to various forms of oppression, a subject covered in many of her novels, plays, short stories and non-fiction, which are all characterised by the same passion and directness she has brought to every aspect of her multi-faceted life.

Nawal has founded or co-founded various associations, including the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA) and the Egyptian Women Writer’s Association. Named by The Guardian in 2011 as ‘the leading spokeswoman on the status of women in the Arab world’, in the same year she also received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Women of the Year Awards in London, and was presented with La Federación de Mujeres Progresistas [Progressive Women’s Federation] in Madrid and The University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award.

Nawal el Saadawi writes in Arabic and lives in Egypt. Her books and novels have been translated into at least forty languages throughout the world. The evening was hosted by writer and critic Jacqueline Roy, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Department of English and Manchester Writing School at MMU.

April 10th, 2015 - 14:18pm

Special Guest Nigel Pivaro talks on War Journalism

Nigel Pivaro, a freelance journalist who has worked for the Manchester Evening News, Daily Star, Daily Express and Daily Mirror, will be giving a talk on war journalism and his experience reporting on Syria and Ukraine.

Nigel, formerly well known for his role as Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street, is now an NCTJ-qualified reporter who has presented documentaries for BBC’s Inside Out series and retrained in journalism as well as gaining an MA in Contemporary Military and International History.

His talk will be held on Wednesday 15th April from 10am until 12 noon in Geoffrey Manton 111. Students and staff are welcome to attend. The session will start at 10am prompt.

Queries: Rachel Broady (

April 9th, 2015 - 16:10pm

North West Poetry and Poetics Network Launch

MMU: Geoffrey Manton Building, Room 222
Tuesday June 16th 2015

Guest Lecture

Professor Rainer Emig (University of Leibniz, Hannover), ‘W.H. Auden and the Problems of Public Poetry’

Dr Nikolai Duffy (Manchester Metropolitan University), ‘“Nohow”: Poetry, Privacy, and Local Communities’

Poetry reading: Judy Kendall (University of Salford)

The North West hosts a wealth of poets, and critics writing on poetry, including Carol Ann Duffy, Robert Sheppard, Deryn Rees-Jones, Scott Thurston, Paul Farley, John Redmond and Tony Sharpe. This network will invite scholars from the region to discuss their recent work. The focus will be on critical work with integrated creative readings, and we are particularly interested in postgraduate critics and young poets being involved in the future.

For queries, please contact: Professor Antony Rowland (

March 26th, 2015 - 17:45pm

Spaces of Deindustrialisation: Thirty Years On



Dr Geoff Bright (MMU)



Dr Katy Shaw (Leeds Beckett)



Professor Tim Strangleman (University of Kent)



Precisely thirty years from the end of the miners’ strike, three leading researchers will come together to explore the affective legacy of deindustrialisation and the representation of the miners’ strike and post-industrial spaces in the UK and abroad.


Creative Geographies Research Cluster Event

Thursday, 5 March, 17.15 – 18.45

Geoffrey Manton, Lecture Theatre 6

For more information e-mail


Book via Eventbrite Here


Dr Geoff Bright (Research Fellow, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University) Thirty Years On from the 1984-85 miners’ strike: Two Funerals, a Party, and a Kind of Haunting Going On On the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984-85 miners strike, this paper reflects on an ongoing ethnographic examination of intergenerational experiences of school ‘disaffection’ in four former Derbyshire coal-mining communities. A key focus is the investigation of school disaffection as an affective aspect of local historical geographies of resistance and conflict relating to the 1984-85 strike and the class memory narratives in which it has become entwined.

Professor Tim Strangleman, FAcSS (Professor in Sociology, University of Kent) Industrial Hauntings: Smokestack Nostalgia or Working Class Obituary? This paper will explore some of the images that have emerged from the process of deindustrialisation over the last three decades or more. It seeks to understand the similarities and differences between post-industrial photography collected in book format and other publishing trends in both North America and Europe, examining what this tells us about the wider meanings and values attached to industrial work in the past and present.

Dr Katy Shaw (Principal Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, Leeds Beckett University). Geoff and Tim will be joined in conversation with Katy Shaw: Head of English at Leeds Beckett and a leading authority on the literature of the 1984-85 miners’ strike. Katy’s publications include Mining the Meaning: Cultural Representations of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (2012).

February 13th, 2015 - 15:32pm

Video: Twenty-First-Century Poetry

Antony Rowland is Chair of Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. After studying for a PhD at the University of Leeds, he taught at the University of Salford and the University of Lincoln, where he was, respectively, a Chair in Modern Literature and Chair in Contemporary Literature. This event was a mixture of readings from the author’s poetry collections, and other poets’ work, and a lively (and contentious) debate about twenty-first-century poetry.

Go to Humanity Hallows for Freddie Bruhin-Price’s summary of the evening.

Video filmed and edited by Neil Harrison, Humanities in Public Media Assistant.

January 27th, 2015 - 15:50pm

Carol Ann Duffy and Friends – series ten

Start time:19:00
Venue:The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH


Carol Ann Duffy presents this tenth series of poetry nights at the city’s iconic Royal Exchange Theatre. Each evening features Carol Ann reading from her own work and introducing some of the country’s best new emerging talent: student poets from the Manchester Writing School, led by house poet Liz Venn. There’s also a special guest appearance from a poet of national stature and live music from the house jazz band.

12th January 2015: Kit Wright with Martin Kratz, Paul McGhee and Kim Moore

19th January 2015: Ann Gray with Justine Chamberlain, Michael Conley, Robert Harper

9th March 2015: Lachlan Mackinnon with Scott Fellows, Ian Humphreys and Carolyn Zukowski

Start time: 7.00pm (music), 7.30pm (readings)

Venue: The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH

Tickets: £12 – book via the Royal Exchange Theatre: or contact the box office on 0161 833 9833

Manchester Writing School events are sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR) and presented in partnership with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts and Blackwell’s. Join the Manchester Writing School mailing list, contact, or follow on Twitter @mcrwritingschl.

December 5th, 2014 - 16:05pm

Call for Papers, Presentations and Works for Exhibition

After the success of the last two MIX DIGITAL conferences, Bath Spa University is hosting Writing Digital: MIX DIGITAL 3 in the newly completed Commons building at the Newton Park Campus, just outside of Bath. Bath Spa University’s School of Humanities and Creative Industries, with its stellar Creative Writing Department, is at the forefront of both research into and teaching of creative practice across many forms. MIX DIGITAL has established itself as an innovative forum for the discussion and exploration of writing and technology, attracting an international cohort of contributors from the UK, Australia, and Europe as well as North and South America. From 2015 the conference will be biennial and will become one of the flagship conferences for the university.

Writing Digital will take full advantage of our brand-new Commons building and its interactive spaces through hosting a vibrant mix of academic papers, practitioner presentations, seminars, keynotes, discussions and workshops, as well as an exhibition of work by conference participants.

Our partners, The Writing Platform, will showcase the two winning projects from the competitive bursaries they will have awarded earlier in 2015 for new creative writing and technology projects. There will also be a separate call to digital artists for entries to an international competition to create work for our Media Wall.

Confirmed keynotes include Naomi Alderman talking about how and why a literary novelist came to be the imaginative power behind the hugely successful apps, Zombies! Run, and The Walk; also confirmed is Blast Theory, internationally renowned as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups using interactive media, creating new forms of performance and interactive art – they’ll be discussing their current kickstarter-funded project, Karen.

Papers/presentations and workshops are invited in relation to the on-going themes of creative writing and digital technology, the future of the book, new forms of publishing, and new forms of digital curation, and in any of the following areas:

• Digital fiction and digital poetry
• Digital art and text
• Non-fiction and multi-platform publication (digital and print)
• Digital and interactive scriptwriting (including theatre-making and film -making)
• Transmedia practice
• Collaborations between writers and technologists
• Participatory media
• Transnational creativity

In partnership with the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE there will be co-curated strand for which presentations on the following are sought around either the practice of interactive documentary and or the emergent field of ‘ambient literature’, including mobile, locative, and other site-specific storytelling forms.

In partnership with Bath Spa’s Media Futures Research Centre there will be co-curated strand on ‘Analogue Futures’ for which invitations on the following are sought: the digitalisation of writing practices and techniques; remediation associated with emerging digital technologies; slow media; concepts and cultures of vintage, heritage and authenticity; sustainability and materiality within the realm of digital media.

Workshops on creative practice and pedagogical papers in relation to any aspect of the above are welcome. Please note that works submitted for exhibition will not be considered unless the artist is attending the conference.

A selection of conference papers will be developed for publication in a special issue of Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.

There will also be a separate competitive international call to create a new artwork for our eight-metre high digital gallery space, MediaWall; this work will be launched during Writing Digital.

Abstracts of up to 300 words for a 20-minute paper/presentation or a 90-minute workshop should be sent to by 31 January 2015. Conference booking will open in November. A limited number of rooms on campus will be available for delegates. Keep an eye on the website for updates.

Bath Spa University Conference Committee: Katharine Reeve, Lucy English, Kate Pullinger, Maggie Gee, Mike Johnston, Kristin Doern, Dan Ashton and Anthony Head.

November 28th, 2014 - 13:36pm

Multi-award winning Sally Wainwright to visit MMU

One of our most prominent and celebrated television writers, the multi-award winning Sally Wainwright, fresh from choosing her eight ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Radio 4, will be ‘in conversation’ with playwright and lecturer Julie Wilkinson on Friday 28th November 2014 at 1pm in Lecture Theatre 4, Geoffrey Manton Building.

Sally is writer, producer and sometime director of some of the most characterful and inventive television drama of the last decade. The author of Scott and Bailey, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Unforgiven, The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Sparkhouse, Jane Hall, At Home with the Braithwaites, and many other shows, Sally’s work has fundamentally changed the way women are represented in British television drama. Her command of story, her inventive range and productivity make her an inspiration to new writers. How does she do it? On her third visit to support and encourage writing students in the Department of English at MMU, Sally will be talking about her experience of writing for television and answering questions from you, the audience. Do not miss this event, which is free to students and staff. To reserve your seat please contact Julie Wilkinson on

Here you can read more about Sally’s work at The Agency’s website.


November 13th, 2014 - 16:06pm