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#PotW: Clinical Governance and Leadership – 27 November 2014



Clinical governance and leadership. Invented in the UK, exported to NZ.  Developments that can contribute to NHS England

This lecture by Professor Robin Gauld will report the late-1990s in response to various failures in medical professionalism but also to promote equal emphasis in NHS organizations on accountability for both clinical performance and financial performance, and ensure that health professionals were responsible for driving quality improvement.

On 2012, the national assessment project in which the spectrum of New Zealand health professionals were surveyed about clinical governance development and site visits to District Health Boards undertaken. A range of innovative models have been put in place, many influenced by developments in the NHS.

Speaker: Professor Robin Gauld, New Zealand-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor, 2014

Chair: Sir Malcolm Grant (Chairman, NHS England Management Committee)

Respondent: Dr Anna Dixon (Director of Strategy, Ministry of Health)


 Venue: The Chancellor’s Hall (Senate House, first floor), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Date and Time: 27 November 2014, 18:00 – 20:00

Attendance is free, but please register here


What should be seen in a Library?




Senate House recently hosted a multi-disciplinary conference exploring the role libraries have played in restricting access to published works and archival materials deemed ‘erotic’. In this post, research librarian Richard Espley reflects on the irreconcilable demands often placed on libraries.

During the recent Forbidden Access conference organised by the Institute of English Studies, libraries were portrayed as repressive organisations, concealing erotic works. In other words, exercising censorship.

Examples highlighted included the British Library’s Private Case, the enfer of France’s national collection where access is granted only after readers have negotiated a series of obstacles. At one time this was also true for Senate House Library’s Craig collection.

It is true that the absence of publicly accessible catalogues, the refusal of reprographic permission and close observation of behaviour while reading and the compulsory interviews to establish readers’ intentions, all carry a tacit and discouraging accusation of the unseemly.

However, while this is clearly a restriction on intellectual freedom, I want to suggest that it often represents a library’s pragmatic response to the irreconcilable demands placed upon it. And that the real confusion over how to define and handle the obscene, lies outside the shelves and the control of the librarian. Indeed, in such circumstances, attempting to collect these works at all, reflects a fundamental desire to preserve both the books and their discussion.

A harrowing tale of sexual abuse rather than an erotic work

As the University planned and completed its move to Bloomsbury, libraries had much to fear in their handling of obscene books. One notable case, from 1931, involved the librarian of a small public library in Manchester receiving a court summons for aiding and abetting an obscene libel, for holding a copy of James Hanley’s novel, Boy. A harrowing tale of sexual abuse rather than an erotic work, Hanley’s book had been on sale openly in the UK for more than four years without attracting the attention of the authorities.

Similarly, in 1997, the police raided the library of the University of Central England, and confiscated a copy of a collection of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, of which 6,000 copies had been sold unimpeded in the UK. This raid was triggered by the library giving permission to a student to photograph an image, which alarmed the developer. In both cases, existing legal restrictions were no valid guide for librarians, and the imposition of elaborate special access conditions on these works would almost certainly have avoided official attention.

However, while such attempts to control transgressive works are clearly unwelcome and restrictive, it is important to note that the librarians who impose them are the same professionals who boldly chose to acquire these books. This simultaneous collection and concealment is a paradox which is arguably best explained as a response to society’s confused attitude to the erotic.

Our wider culture has been, and still is, hesitant about the absolute definition and value of either obscenity or freedom of expression; some material remains legally and culturally beyond tolerance, as it always has. Libraries, including Senate House Library, navigated this dilemma by ostentatiously restricting some material, surrounding it with ritualistic controls. In doing so, they both served and perpetuated a cultural uncertainty, which shows no sign of receding.

Richard Espley is a research librarian in Senate House Library. This blog post reflects his ongoing research interest in censorship, with an article on Senate House Library’s handling of the Craig collection appearing in a forthcoming volume in Brill’s series, The Library of the Written Word ( Richard is also working on the effects and motivations of governmental censorship during World War One.

What’s Happening in Black British History? A Conversation









By Dr Miranda Kaufmann

There was a buzz at the Senate House headquarters of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) on 30 October, as at least one hundred people gathered in Chancellor’s Hall to spend the day discussing, What’s Happening in Black British History?’

The event has since been described as ‘exciting, informative, culturally enriching’, ‘impressively attended, very buoyant and well-informed’. It has also been praised for its ‘sense of warmth and informality within academic discourses’ and ‘clear rigour without elitism’.

Attendees included pioneers of the subject who have been writing about Black British History for more than 30 years, young academics forging new paths, teachers, students, artist Ebun Culwin, CulwinJohnBlankeand representatives of public bodies such as English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The workshop was the first in a series designed to develop the conversation about Black British History. It was organised by Michael Ohajuru and myself at the invitation of Professor Philip Murphy, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Deputy Dean of SAS. Future events are planned for 2015 in venues outside London during February and May half terms, and we aim to establish a national network of Black British History researchers and communicators.

The day showcased new directions in research, exciting developments in the archives, and innovative approaches to spreading the word. You can see the programme for the day here. The fact that we had over 30 paper proposals for the nine slots available to present at the workshop, shows the strength and depth of research in this field.

Why do we need to have this conversation now? It is thirty years since Peter Fryer’s Staying fryer staying powerPower charted the history of Black People in Britain, taking the story back to Roman times with the paradigm-shifting opening line: There were Africans in Britain before the English came here’. Yet, despite his work, and that of the many scholars that have stood on his shoulders, the present immigration debate seems to be conducted by people entirely ignorant of this history.

We have just come to the end of another Black History Month – the twenty-eight since it was established here in 1987. But it’s increasingly hard to spot the History in Black History Month. And the history we do get is often limited to the last century, or dominated by American narratives of slavery and civil rights. We know about the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, but not the one in BristolSamuel King powerfully skewered the inadequacy of the Black History currently on offer in the classroom in his performance of What I Wasn’t Taught in School during the lunch break.

The conversation on 30 October took place in the context of growing popular interest in the subject, from Hollywood’s Belle (2014) to the large crowds that gathered to celebrate the launch of the Black Cultural Archives when it opened in Brixton in July. The initiatives presented on the day – from innovative research and digging in the archives, to efforts to place this history on our screens and in our classrooms – were inspiring. Even more so was the spirit of collaboration and co-production exemplified by projects such as Abdul Mohamud and Robin Whitburn’s Justice2History and Milton Brown and Paul Ward’s work in Huddersfield.

There was a wealth of interest and knowledge among those who attended, and many important questions and areas to explore further were identified. We hope to build on these as we continue the conversation in the future.

The whole day was filmed, and the video should appear here in due course. Anyone interested in joining our national network of Black British History researchers and communicators should sign up to the Database, and continue the Conversation on Twitter @BlackBritHist #WHBBH and Facebook Black British History.

Dr Miranda Kaufmann is a historian who has found evidence of over 360 Africans in Renaissance Britain. She has worked with the National Trust and English Heritage and contributed entries to the Oxford Companion to Black British History. As a freelance journalist, with experience at the BBC and The Sunday Times, she regularly contributes book reviews to the TLS and has written about a range of subjects from strange books in the Bodleian Library to the joys of women’s rugby. Her first book, Black Tudors, will be published by Oneworld in autumn 2016. 

#PotW: Annual George Eliot Conference: Middlemarch – 22 Nov



The Annual George Eliot Conference at the Institute of English Studies is organised and will be introduced by Barbara Hardy (Birkbeck & Swansea) and Louise Lee (Roehampton)

Papers will be presented by:

John Rignall (Warwick & Co-Editor, George Eliot Review): ‘Middlemarch and the Franco-Prussian War’

Barbara Hardy (Birkbeck): ‘Elizabeth Gaskell in Middlemarch’

Marianne Burton (RHUL); ‘How much did Dorothea and Celia Know? Sexual Ignorance and Knowledge Among Unmarried Girls in Middlemarch’

Isobael Armstrong (Birkbeck): ‘Middlemarch: The “Yoke”, Philosophy, George Eliot’s Reading’

Royce Mahawatte (Central Saint Martins): ‘”Beautiful Lips Kissing Holy Skulls And Other Emptinesses Ecclesiastically Enshrined”: Gothic Plots in Middlemarch’

Kate Osborne (King’s College London): ‘”The End of Mr Brooke’s Pen”: Scenes of Writing in Middlemarch’

Beryl Gray (Co-Editor, George Eliot Review): ‘Riding Horses in Middlemarch’

Louise Lee (Roehampton): ‘Middlemarch’s Jokes’

Margaret Harris (Sydney): ‘Twenty Years On: The 1994 BBC TV Middlemarch’

Venue: Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7H

Date and time: 22 November 2014

Find out more about the programme and registration here

Dubliners 100: a celebration of excellence, relevance and engagement


100 Dubliners

Republic of Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall speaking at 100 Dubliners conference

The Institute of English Studies recently hosted a two-day conference marking the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s collection of short stories, Dubliners. In this article, Dr Conor Wyer gives a snapshot of the event, which he says was a ‘conference of excellence, relevance and engagement’.

Organised by Dr Joseph Brooker of Birkbeck College, this celebration of Joyce’s first published prose work included scholars from Japan, Brazil, USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sheffield, Oxford and south London. But celebrating the publication of Dubliners in 2014 might never have been. A number of near starts in the publication history of the book, and an ongoing battle with his publisher, that Joyce so entertainingly recalls in his broadside Gas From A Burner, might have meant Dubliners was a horse of a very different colour.  Indeed these centenary celebrations might not have had as ‘Deadian’ a sense of hospitality as they did.

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