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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

Centre for English, Languages and Linguistics Research Seminar Series

We would like to invite you to come along to our summer research seminar series. Taking place on Wednesday afternoons between May and June, this is an opportunity to attend a range of events involving internal and external speakers, postgraduates and academics in the fields of English Studies, Film Studies, Modern Languages and Linguistics and Creative Writing. Everyone is welcome. For further information please contact Lucy Burke, (0161) 247 1765 or Paul Wake, (0161) 247 4667.


Wednesday May 6th 16:30-18:00 (GM104)

Francisca Sánchez Ortiz (MMU), ‘Adaptation and the problems of representation: Dead female bodies and human waste in The Bridge’
Matthew Carter (MMU), ‘The Pitfalls of Vengeance and the Impossibility of Justice: Uncle Ellis’ Sermonising in No Country for Old Men’. Chaired and Introduced by Ed Smyth

Wednesday May 13th: Department of English, MA Day 2pm – 6pm in GM201b and 201c

This event is an opportunity to listen to our Masters’ students present and discuss their current research. The MA day features work by students on MA English Studies, MA Contemporary Literature and Film, and MA Gothic. Please contact Dr Huw Jones for further information:

Wednesday May 20th 16:30-18:00 (GM104) ‘In Conversation with Jeff Wainwright’ Join Professor Antony Rowland (MMU) in discussion with poet, critic and translator, Jeffrey Wainwright.

Wednesday May 27th: New Research in the Department of English 14:00-17:30 (GM107) with coffee break and refreshments.

Xavier Aldana Reyes (MMU), ‘Spain’s Radical Readers? The Rise and Value of Anti-Clerical Gothic Translations during the Liberal Triennium’

Sorcha Ní Fhlainn (MMU), ‘: ‘You keep telling yourself what you know, but what do you believe?’: cultural spin, puzzle films and mind games in the cinema of Christopher Nolan’. Chaired and Introduced by Linnie Blake

Marius Hentea (MMU), ‘Bureaucratic Forms: State Centralisation and the British Modernist Novel’

Sonya Lawrenson (MMU), ‘Wollstonecraft’s conservative legacy: Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800)’. Chaired and introduced by Jess Edwards.

Wednesday June 3rd 16:30-18:00 (GM104)

Francisca Sanchez Ortiz (MMU), ‘Adaptation and the problems of representation: Dead female bodies and human waste in The Bridge’

Matthew Carter (MMU), “Crossing the Beast”: Cultural Identity, Transnational Migration and Frontier Mythology in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre. Chaired and Introduced by Ed Smyth

Wednesday June 10th 16:30-18:00 (GM104)

Rob Drummond (MMU), ‘Linguistic research in a challenging environment: youth language and identity in urban Britain’.

Erin Carrie (MMU), ‘Re-evaluating Language Attitudes towards Models of English Pronunciation’. Chaired and introduced by Derek Bousfield

Wednesday June 17th 16:30-18:00 (GM104)

David Alderson (University of Manchester) ‘Queer Romances with Fascism: The Brotherhood and Children of the Sun’. Chaired and introduced by Lucy Burke

April 27th, 2015 - 13:01pm

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

An Evening with Hilary Mantel

An Evening with Hilary Mantel

Tuesday 9th June 2015

Geoffrey Manton Lecture Theatre 1, Manchester Metropolitan University

Wine Reception at 5pm

Reading at 6pm

Tickets £10

Book Tickets Here

Manchester Metropolitan University are delighted to announce that Dame Hilary Mantel, one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed writers, will be visiting MMU on Tuesday 9th June 2015 to deliver an evening reading to academics, students and members of the general public.

Mantel is the author of fourteen books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black and the memoir Giving Up the Ghost. Both her non-fictional and fictional writing, on modern representations of royalty and the assassination of Margaret Thatcher, have generated extraordinary media storms and widespread popular debate of her work. Her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, have both been awarded the Man Booker Prize – an unprecedented literary achievement.

MMU greatly looks forward to welcoming one of the most high-profile authors writing in English today, and hopes that many staff and students, as well as avid readers from across Manchester and beyond, will be able to join us for this exciting event.

Ever considered writing historical fiction? Read more here about the ‘From Historical Fact to Contemporary Fiction’ course offered at MMU.

March 2nd, 2015 - 14:54pm

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

‘Is a Psychiatric Diagnosis Labelling or Enabling’

The Time to Change Society are hosting its first ever debate: ‘Is a Psychiatric Diagnosis Labelling or Enabling’ on Wednesday 25th February 2015 at 1-3pm in the Business School G.35 (Manchester Metropolitan University).

The society is based on challenging the stigma and discrimination towards mental health through learning and talking about it in a range of different ways and the debate is the society’s latest innovation in exploring the topic further.

Dr Tom Brock (Sociology) will be chairing the debate, joined by Dr Ken McLaughlin (Social Work), Dr Lucy Burke (English) and Ann-Marie McLoughlin (Psychology) who will form the panel of judges.

All are welcome to attend, however due to the ongoing interest surrounding the debate, registering via Eventbrite (free) is required.

February 13th, 2015 - 14:46pm

Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes Interviewed for Award-Winning Horror Documentary

Last year, Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, lecturer in English who specialises in Gothic and Horror fiction and film, was interviewed for the Why Horror? documentary, which has recently premiered at film festivals in Mexico, Spain, Canada and the US. This exclusive documentary brings together world-renowned directors such as Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), the Soska sisters (American Mary), Don Coscarelli (Phantasm), Karen Lam (Evangeline), Álex de la Iglesia (Day of the Beast) or Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes remake), magazine editors such as Chris Alexander (Fangoria) and Dave Alexander (Rue Morgue), academics such as Noël Carroll and even producers, writers, actors and video game developers in a cast of over sixty interviewees. Following the personal experiences of horror enthusiast and journalist Tal Zimmerman, Why Horror? explores the allure and pleasures of the genre for fans and even the ways in which it works neurologically.

Of the experience, Xavier said ‘it was great to be involved in such a vast and exciting project that included some of my favourite horror practitioners and academics. I really enjoyed the whole process’. When asked about what makes the documentary special he replied that:

‘Why Horror? is distinctive because it is both personal and universal. Although we follow Tal in his own experiences and adventures in the real world, this narrative device allows scope for a more general journey throughout the history of horror and its related fan cultures. The result is an engaging and thought-provoking piece that will raise awareness of the breadth of the genre and what it means to individuals and communities’.

Why Horror? has, thus far, won the Audience Choice award at the Toronto After Dark Festival and been named Documentary of the Year 2014 by Rue Morgue magazine. It has been reviewed in a number of on-line and print publications, which include Fangoria, SFGate, TwitchFilm, The Hollywood Reporter and The Toronto Star. Its makers are currently looking for a screening venue in the UK.

Xavier is the author of Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film (2014), the co-editor of Digital Horror: Haunted Technologies, Network Panic and the Found Footage Phenomenon (2015) and is currently working on a book entitled Horror Film and Affect: Towards a Corporeal Model of Viewership, which will be published by Routledge in 2016.

To read more on ‘Why Horror’, visit the website here or the documentary’s imdb page here.

February 5th, 2015 - 16:56pm