Past BCCW Events

An International Conference  jointly organized by the British Library, the BCCW, the Institute of English Studies, & the UK Network for Modern Fiction Studies.

B S Johnson, his Contemporaries, and the British Literary-Cultural Scene 1949 – 1979

Venue: British Library Conference Centre, London

Date: Monday 12 October 2009

Proposal deadline: Monday 6 July 2009

Keynote speakers:

  • Zulfikar Ghose  (novelist and close friend of B S J)
  • Prof Lynn Wells (Regina University)
  • Prof Philip Tew (Brunel University)

Literary London Prof Kristin Bluemel

Liminal London:

Country/City, Work/Leisure, Past/Future, and States Between.

The 7th Annual Literary London conference was hosted by the BCCW, 2 – 4 July 2008.

The conference attracted an international field of established scholars, early career scholars and postgraduate students; with speakers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Taiwan, the United States and across the UK delivering a total of 63 papers of a uniformly high standard. These were complemented by outstanding keynote presentations from Professor Kristin Bluemel of Monmouth University (pictured) , Professor Alan Robinson of the University of St Gallen , Professor Chris Jenks of Brunel University and the acclaimed writer, poet and editor, Iain Sinclair. In a further special plenary session, novelists Matt Thorne, Toby Litt and Mathew De Abaitua gave readings and discussed London as a setting for contemporary fiction in what became a lively and impassioned debate. The conference lived up to the organisers’ aims of radically (indeed, sometimes controversially) refocusing the cultural relativism that seems to dominate representations of London as the cumulative effect of speaker after speaker, responding to the carefully framed CFP, built up a multi-layered cultural map of London in which the fractal radial fissures identified by contemporary writers such as Sinclair were superimposed over the concentric zones which have emerged from a revived cultural and critical interest in the process of (sub)urban expansion. Indeed, a series of in depth approaches to the tube system opened up the further dimension of the underground, which can be seen to function, as Nora Plesske argued in her paper, as the spatial equivalent of London ’s unconsciousness. As a consequence, the usual essentialised identities did not come to dominate proceedings and liminality was not presented as the product of social and cultural fragmentation but revealed as a pre-existing attribute of the city; a consequence of London’s non-identity with itself which is necessarily prior to any construction of a ‘Real London’. The unique nature of London ’s constitutive intersubjectivity was seen to derive from its inhabitants’ simultaneous status as individuals and components of a greater mass: a truly liminal state which can only be resolved into fixed identities through cultural violence. The groundwork has been laid for new approaches to studying London.

The conference programme, abstracts and call for papers can be accessed below. Two collections of papers have been published so far: a special issue of Literary London, edited and introduced by Nick Hubble and a special issue of EnterText, edited and introduced by Nick Hubble and Michael O'Brien.

The British Academy logo

Date added Title Type File size
15 Jul 2008 Conference Programme 288.1 KB
15 Jul 2008 Call for Papers 124.8 KB
09 Jul 2008 Conference Abstracts 461.3 KB

New York Satire Conference

12 - 13 June 2008

In June, the BCCW celebrated its first transatlantic event, a two-day international conference, ‘Satire Today: Transhistorical, Trancultural Dialogues,’ hosted from 12 – 13 June by Marymount Manhattan College, a prestigious liberal arts institution a few blocks from Central Park, New York. Co-organizer Prof. Philip Tew travelled with two other celebrated experts in the field of contemporary literary studies, Dr. Nick Bentley (Keele) and Dr Joe Brooker (Birkbeck) to join thirty delegates, and offer three excellent papers as part of two panels entitled ‘New Dimensions: Contemporary Satirical Fictions.’ On behalf of the BCCW, Prof. Tew wishes wish to extend its thanks to the two local organizers, Dr. Magdalena Maczynska and Dr Cecilia Feilla, both faculty members at Marymount Manhattan College, who will co-edit the anticipated publication. The hospitality offered was excellent and delegates agreed it was a notable occasion.

Running Scared? Writing in an Age of Anxiety

Friday 18 April, 6-8.30pm: Brunel Gallery, SOAS, Russel Square, London, WC1H 0XG

Speakers: Fay Weldon, Matt Thorne, Nadeem Aslam, Carol Watts, Nina Joshi, Robert Eaglestone

Chair: David Goodhart, editor Prospect magazine

In March 2007, Prospect magazine asked 100 of its contributors what they thought would define politics in the 21st century. The responses were overwhelming pessimistic, spanning concerns about climate change, terrorism, economic sustainability, global inequalities, and increasing military conflict to name but a few. This suggests that the dominant cultural mood of our times is anxiety.

What impact does such a mood have on literary culture? How might writers be responding to it? Are they contributing to it? Is such pessimism warranted or are we in danger of misrepresenting our times thereby bringing about that which we fear?

Page last updated: Wednesday 07 September 2011