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Video: Twenty-First-Century Poetry

19th January: Antony Rowland's Inaugural Lecture

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

Seeing Queerly: A Season of LGBT Cinema

February 2015

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Moor (Reader in Cinema History and Theory at MMU), who has recently won funding from the British Film Institute to support the ‘Seeing Queerly’ film season that is running as part of the LGBT History month in February. Details of the season are below.

This project is organised to coincide with LGBT History Month and is financially supported by Film Hub NWC, a member of the BFI Film Audience Network. We are grateful for the support of Queer Contact and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

Supported by:


Vito (Jeffrey Schwarz, US, 2012):
Wednesday 11th February 2015, MMU New Business School, Manchester Lecture Theatre 5 – 6.30pm. Free but please reserve a place via Eventbrite.

A documentary about the man who brought us all out of the ‘Celluloid Closet’. Director Jeffrey Schwarz looks back at Russo’s life as a film fan, a film critic and latterly as an AIDS activist. In the aftermath of Stonewall (1969), Russo found his voice as an angry critic of LGBT representation in the media. Always defiant and eloquent, this moving and inspiring film tells the story of one of our movement’s most important figures. The screening will be introduced by Dr Andrew Moor of Manchester Metropolitan University, and there will be a post-screening discussion.

‘An emotionally powerful documentary portrait’, Hollywood Reporter

This event is in partnership with LGBT History Month

View the Manchester Campus map to find a building


Taxi Zum Klo (Frank Ripploh, 1980, W Germany, 90 minutes, 18 cert).

Thursday 12th February, MMU New Business School, Manchester Lecture Theatre 5 - 6.30pm. Free but please reserve a place via Eventbrite.

Written and directed by Ripploh, who also stars in the film, this very personal – and graphic – sex comedy follows the constantly cruising lifestyle of Frank, a gay schoolteacher, and charts his relationship with sweet-natured, domesticated Berndt. The screening will be introduced by Dr Andrew Moor of Manchester Metropolitan University, and there will be a post-screening discussion.

This event is in partnership with LGBT History Month

Read a Guardian review of the film here.

View the Manchester Campus map to find a building


Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006, US, 18 cert) plus Q&A with the legendary queer cabaret icon (and star of the film) Justin V. Bond.

Sunday 15th February, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester. Purchase tickets here.

A humane, sexy and uplifting queer comedy for the 21st Century set in and around the Shortbus sex club (‘for the challenged and the gifted’) in New York City. A celebration of love, sex and community, and as innocent as a film with this much sex in it can possibly be.

MMU is delighted to bring this event to Manchester in partnership with Queer Contact.

Supported by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.


Special Charity Screening of Will You Dance With Me? (Derek Jarman, 1984, UK, 78 mins, uncertified):

Friday 20th February, 2015, 8:00pm, Sackville Lounge, Sackville Street, Manchester. Tickets: FREE via Eventbrite.

In 1984, the British film director Derek Jarman (Sebastiane, Last of England, Edward II) spent an evening in Benjy’s – a gay nightclub in London – capturing intimate footage of a night out in the mid-eighties. Derek’s roaming camera dances with the music, cruises the building, flirts, and catches handsome faces in the crowd. It is a rhapsodic snapshot of the gay scene in 1984 – a trip down memory lane for some, a fascinating time capsule for all. This experimental vérité-style film was screened for the first time in 2014 and it now gets its regional premiere in the UK.

• Music afterwards from DJ Greg Thorpe.
• All profits from tonight’s event will be donated to George House Trust and Albert Kennedy Trust. Donation buckets will be circulating at the venue.


Supporting Talks:

We are scheduling public lectures / illustrated talks to support the film screenings:

• Being a Gay Film Critic in the 1970s (Andrew Moor, MMU): 16th February, 6:00pm. LT4, MMU (Geoffrey Manton Bldg): Free but please reserve a place via Eventbrite.
• LGBT film festivals and Activism (Jon Binnie & Christian Klesse, MMU): 23rd February, 6:00pm, Lecture Theatre 4, MMU, (Geoffrey Manton Building): Free but please reserve a place via Eventbrite.


January 8th, 2015 - 11:57am

Carol Ann Duffy and Friends – series ten

12 January 2015

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

World Premiere of Newly Discovered Song by Anthony Burgess

The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Cambridge Street

On Wednesday 26th November the International Anthony Burgess Foundation presented the world premiere of a newly discovered song by Anthony Burgess, along with three other settings of Shakespeare songs. Andrew Biswell, Professor of Modern Literature at MMU and Director of the Burgess Foundation, introduced the concert.

The “new” song is a setting of Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare. The Burgess Foundation acquired the manuscript earlier this year from Mr John Beck, to whose wife it was dedicated by Burgess in 1951.

Here you can read The Guardian’s story on the discovery of the song.

The performance was also reported on the Midnight News on BBC Radio 4 in the early hours of Saturday 27th November. The four Burgess songs were performed to great acclaim alongside other settings of Shakespeare by Gerald Finzi, Dominick Argento and Roger Quilter.

Musicians: Zoe Milton-Brown (soprano) & Ben Powell (piano).

December 5th, 2014 - 15:42pm

Multi-award winning Sally Wainwright to visit MMU

Friday 28th November 2014

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

Gothic Manchester Festival 2014

Humanities in Public Video

We talk to Director of Gothic Manchester Festival, Dr Linnie Blake and Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes from MMU’s Centre for Gothic Studies as they let us in on their highlights from the Gothic Manchester Festival 2014.

This year’s Gothic Manchester Festival was back with a new programme of events and activities designed to showcase MMU’s academic expertise in the gothic and foreground Manchester’s rich vein of gothic talent. In this festival of the macabre and fantastical we invited readings from authors working on the gothic dimensions of austerity politics, tours of the John Rylands Library and of the gothic splendours of the city and author Rosie Garland reading from both of her novels and discussing her alternative life as Goth icon Rosie Lugosi. As if this were not already a surfeit of transgressive pleasure, we also had a Vampire-themed pub quiz, a phantasmagoric lantern display and film screening, and the local Steampunk community joined us for a day of retro-tech delights, including a costumed tour of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Steam Hall.

November 11th, 2014 - 16:26pm

Literary lives: Muriel Spark

Thursday, November 27th, 2014, 6:30 pm

Free, advance booking required

Muriel Spark’s shrewd, unsentimental and hilarious novels are some of the finest of the twentieth century. Spark’s distinctive mix of realism, satire and allegory was hugely influential for a generation of writers. Join Martin Stannard — author of the acclaimed biography Muriel Spark — and literary critic Ellie Byrne for a lively discussion of Muriel Spark’s fascinating life and work. Chaired by Andrew Biswell.

Venue: International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY.

Advance booking is advised, so reserve your place via or 0161 235 0776.

You can access the website link here

November 11th, 2014 - 11:45am

Dr Rachel Dickinson becomes Director of The Guild of St George

Almost a year ago, Dr Rachel Dickinson was approached to become a Director of The Guild of St George. This is a charity that was set up by John Ruskin in the 1870s, and still exists today as a charity for the arts, craft and the rural economy. Its best-known recent endeavour was launching The Big Draw in 2000, but it also funds charitable activities within its remit, owns properties in Worcestershire and Hertfordshire, runs events such as symposia (the most recent, held last month, was on education) and sponsors an annual art prize: The John Ruskin Prize.

Rachel in 2012 during a MMU Cheshire Centenary talk on Ruskin

Rachel’s research primarily centres on John Ruskin, and she is delighted that this international charity – with a membership of Companions from across the UK as well as further afield in places like the USA and Japan – has asked her to serve as the Director with the academic portfolio.

Having been vetted and attended a Director’s meeting in July, Rachel was formally made a Director at the AGM, held in Sheffield on Saturday the 15th November.

Dr Rachel Dickinson, Principal Lecturer (Research & Knowledge Exchange) and Programme Leader (English), Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University


November 11th, 2014 - 11:13am

Animal Worlds Round-Up

October 2014

Here is a video round-up of the Animal Worlds strand of events that took place throughout October. The aim of the ‘Animal Worlds’ strand was to present a range of perspectives, from current research in the interdisciplinary field of Critical Animal Studies to recent and ongoing campaigns, amongst academics and activists alike, concerning our uses and abuses of billions of animals each year, for food, scientific research, warfare, labour, and sport. Along with guest speakers such as Kim Stallwood and Hilda Kean we had a special ‘MMU Animals Panel’ and a fun-packed Vegan/Vegetarian and animal rights fair which attracted over 200 visitors throughout the day. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the events, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Video by Neil Harrison

See here for more photos from Animal Worlds

November 4th, 2014 - 17:19pm

Austerity Horror

Twisted Tales of Austerity: Friday 24th October 2014 @ Waterstones Deansgate

In Coalition Britain an extreme neoliberal consensus is forming around permanent austerity, worsening living standards, and privatization of the few public assets that have thus far evaded liberalization. With the three largest UK political parties all backing further cuts in 2015, a bleak future stretches before us. The late Joel Lane and Tom Johnstone’s Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease (Gray Friar Press) is an anthology that explores the dark depths into which twenty-first century disaster capitalism is dragging us. Twisted Tales, Manchester Metropolitan University and Waterstones Deansgate are teaming up to run Twisted Tales of Austerity as part of the Gothic Manchester Festival later this month, an event featuring readings from authors who contributed to Horror Uncut, followed by a panel discussion about austerity horror and a chance for the audience to participate in the debate. Here is Twisted Tales’s David McWilliam in conversation with Johnstone about the politics of Horror Uncut.

DM: In 2014, we find the financial crisis still being used as the pretext for massive welfare cuts in order to pay for lowering the taxes of oligarchs and multinational corporations. How important do you consider stories to be when selling the austerity narrative?
TJ: First of all, it’s interesting, isn’t it, that in recent years the word ‘narrative’ has taken on a specifically ideological meaning, as in your use there: the ‘austerity narrative’, suggesting that the proponents of a particular world-view want to tell a story, and make that fiction into reality. However, it would be foolish to suggest that fiction can change things by itself. On the other hand, popular resistance often draws on popular narratives, as a source of both inspiration and imagery. As an example, take the use of the mask from the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta by the Occupy and Anonymous movements, though the Situationist-inclined among us might be tempted to see a cynical marketing ploy in this, the Spectacle recuperating and commodifying dissent. Sometimes, though, those facing particularly repressive regimes use it as a kind of code to communicate ideas that people can’t express openly. Recently, there were reports of protestors against Burmese military rule using the three-fingered salute of the rebels in The Hunger Games. As we don’t live under military rule and can express things a little more openly, I like to think of Horror Uncut as more of a two-fingered salute to the powers that be! In general, there is a history of fiction and drama acting as a means of challenging authority and discussing suppressed or subversive ideas. Those in power also know the potency of popular narrative and get rattled when it’s used against them: take the Tory outrage at Hilary Mantel’s story ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’. George Osborne’s paraphrasing of Trainspotting’s ‘Choose Life’ sequence at the Tory Party conference shows what can happen when they fail to subvert fiction for their own ends…


DM: Horror has been labelled by some as a conservative genre that punishes transgression. How do you see Horror Uncut as challenging that perception?
TJ: As a committed socialist, my late co-editor and author of the story ‘A Cry for Help’, Joel Lane, could hardly be accused of conservatism. Indeed, his work on the anti-fascist anthology Never Again (also Gray Friar Press) was his way of challenging the very perception of horror fiction that you describe. However, he wouldn’t have felt the need to do this, if there weren’t a strong current in horror suggesting that those who step out of line suffer hideous fates. I don’t know if it’s that simple though. Take Frankenstein, usually seen as putting across the moral that ‘there are some things that Man was not supposed to know or meddle with’, but written by the daughter of a radical and a feminist, married to the poet who called on the workers to ‘Rise like Lions after slumber, … Ye are many ― they are few’. You could see Victor Frankenstein’s creation as a metaphor for the newly emergent industrial proletariat, ‘created’ by the expropriation of the landed peasantry. Certainly, the narrative punishes Frankenstein for his transgression, but if this seems conservative, the narrative is radical in showing us the world through the eyes of the dispossessed monster. Frankenstein the character also represented the Enlightenment ideals that Mary Shelley and the Romantic poets she mixed with rejected, ideals that informed the birth of European capitalism.


Stephen King has noted that a key, though not always acknowledged, theme of horror is ‘economic unease’, and this is certainly true of many of the stories in Horror Uncut, such as ‘The Ballad of Boomtown’ by Priya Sharma. The narrator of this story suffers for her transgression, while her ill-starred affair with a property developer mirrors the collapse of the Irish property market. Other stories suggest the opposite of the ‘punishment of transgression’ paradigm, as playing by the rules won’t save the protagonists from the cruelty of austerity measures, and their narratives also challenge the demonization of migrants and benefit claimants in much of the media. David Turnbull’s ‘The Privilege Card’ shows what happens once we start going along with the Coalition’s austerity ‘narrative’ and blindly following orders. Rosanne Rabinowitz’s tale, on the other hand, shows someone transgressing by fighting back against the cops when he gets caught up in a riot, suggesting that (Shock! Horror!) he might even get away with it…


DM: Do you see the publication of Horror Uncut as a form of political activism, an intervention in the debate about what sort of a society we want to live in, or a meditation on the current trajectory of UK politics?
TJ: Well, hopefully all three, with reservations. I’m suspicious of the term ‘activism’, which implies to me a false separation between politics and everyday life. I’d certainly love it if people started reading out some of these horror stories at rallies and picket-lines though! I doubt that’s going to happen, but it would be kind of fun. These stories aren’t sermons. What drew me to Joel’s stories was that he was able to put politics in them in a very clear way, without being preachy, as you’ll see from his story in the book. Some of the other writers in the book don’t see themselves as political, and I hope that it will be read by people who don’t either, but will recognize something of their daily reality in the stories.


DM: With references to radical politics in the collection, does Horror Uncut suggest that the anger generated by austerity measures is leading to a politicization of the dispossessed and a growing appetite to challenge the neoliberal consensus?
TJ: It varies according to the story. Some, such as Rosanne’s story, ‘Pieces of Ourselves’, which was inspired by the student unrest in 2010, seem to be suggesting this. In others, such as Alison Littlewood’s ‘The Ghost at the Feast’, the supernatural acts as a metaphor for the way in which politicians seem to ignore popular protest. This has been the story of the past few years, when mass struggles by students, public sector workers and others have gradually faded into the background, wilfully marginalized by the media (although there is a small resurgence in public sector strikes at the moment over the miserable pay offer, despite the union soft cops’ efforts to dampen the flames of discontent). In general, I’d say Horror Uncut suggests a more negative picture, I’m afraid (but then it is after all a horror anthology!). Many of the acts of resistance shown are desperate, isolated, individual ones. There’s definitely more emphasis on the suffering of the vulnerable than in the politicization of the dispossessed. If there’s an appetite to challenge the ruling consensus, it’s that of the editors, possibly the writers and, hopefully, the readers, who may wish to translate their horror at what they read into some kind of collective action.


Twisted Tales of Austerity will run from 12-2pm on Friday 24th October 2014 at Waterstones Deansgate. Tickets are on sale in store and via the dedicated Eventbrite page.


October 22nd, 2014 - 13:34pm