Festival highlights for #BloomsburyFest 2013

We are pleased to announce the School of Advanced Study’s programme for the Bloomsbury Festival 2013 which runs from October 15 – 20. This vibrant set of events features contributions from across the University of London and celebrates the people, places, and histories of Bloomsbury. Introducing our festival theme – Ministry of Communication Our festival theme plays upon the history of Senate House itself. Formerly the Ministry of Information during World War II, and the inspiration for George Orwell’s terrifying ‘Ministry of Truth’ in 1984, we look to both subvert the building’s history and celebrate its current use. Inverting Senate House’s ‘Orwellian’ associations, we want to create not a ministry of ‘truth’, or even of information, but a ‘Ministry of Communication’. The Ministry will reflect the core aspects of the School of Advanced Study’s mission: openness and accessibility of knowledge to all; a neutral research support space; a national humanities research hub. The ministry will be staffed by volunteers with a passion for sharing knowledge. Reflecting the breath of research within the University, we have curated  a diverse selection of events. Alongside well known poets and writers including Sir Andrew Motion, Ruth Padel, Will Self, Iain Sinclair, Sigrid Rausing and D.J. Taylor, we have initiated collaborations between University of London staff and researchers, and artists from Bloomsbury and beyond. Programme Highlights: From the Orwellian Garden to an exploration of shale-gas fracking In the shadows of Senate House’s car parks, an ‘Orwellian Garden’ will emerge, reclaiming these forbidding spaces with creeping ivy, succulents, and vegetation. An army of planted boots and shoes will lead the way into the building, where...

Get your adrenaline rush this weekend: Parkour training at the #Bloomsbury Festival

Looking for something a bit unusual for the weekend? Why not learn some Parkour at the Bloomsbury Festival!  Parkour is an athletic discipline based around free and efficient movement through urban space.  Here’s your chance to learn the basics and see Parkour athletes in training.  Join the School of Advanced Study, University of London for a series of interactive workshops taking place between 12pm and 4pm this Sunday in the Senate House car-park.   Remember to head into Senate House to see a photography exhibition by leading parkour photographer Andy Day and athletes from Parkour Generations. Commissioned to re-imagine the institutional architecture of the School of Advanced Study, they have created a series of stunning photos. From the ‘Orwellian’ structure of Charles Holden’s Senate House, to the Brutalist concrete of Denys Lasdun’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, this exhibition explores new ways of seeing the school and its place at the heart of Bloomsbury. For a full list of School of Advanced Study events at the Bloomsbury Festival please visit their website:...

From the archives: The end of the war and the return of academics to Senate House

The continuous day-and-night occupation with no break at week-ends or holiday times, made routine maintenance difficult. This year’s Bloomsbury Festival takes as a theme the idea of subverting the Ministry of Information as a Ministry of Communication.  We talked in detail about this theme in an earlier post (The Ministry of Communication at #BloomsburyFest 2013). This post, the last in a line where we dip into the archives held at the Senate House Library, focuses on the end of the war, and on the process of the Ministry of Information leaving the university buildings, and the academics returning. Congratulations to the King When the Second World War ended the University of London sent the following message to George VI (recorded in the Senate Minutes for 20 June and 18 July 1945): “We, the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Court, Senate, Graduates, and Students of the University of London, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal Subjects, desire respectfully to convey to Your Majesty our whole-hearted congratulations on the victorious conclusion of the War in the Far East thus bringing to completion the defeat of the armed forces of the aggressor nations and heralding the re-establishment of peace throughout the world. In tendering our congratulations we venture to re-affirm to Your Majesty our most loyal devotion to the Thorne.” Thanks and relief continued, but so also begun the torturous road to re-establishing the University in its own buildings as the Ministry of Information prepared the way for its exit. Moving out of Senate House With peace officially reinstated the Ministry of Information prepared itself to move out of its premises in Senate House.  The...
From the archives: First Aid at the Ministry of Information – J. Hunter Dunn’s First Aid Book

From the archives: First Aid at the Ministry of Information – J. Hunter Dunn’s First Aid Book

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun – John Betjeman, A Subaltern’s Love Song In preparation for this year’s Bloomsbury Festival we are exploring various documents in the Senate House Library archives that look at Senate House during its occupation as the Ministry of Information. In our previous post we looked at how University workers were used by the Ministry during the Second World War. This post continues that theme in an abstract way by examining an artefact once belonging to Joan Hunter Dunn, the catering manageress for Senate House. Joan Hunter Dunn and her First Aid book After the war, Joan Hunter Dunn became something of a minor celebrity figure becoming the muse for Sir John Betjeman.  She is best known as being the subject of Betjeman’s poem “A Subaltern’s Love-song” (to read this poem have a look at it on the Poetry Archive website). Amongst items that once belonged to Dunn the Senate House Library has a copy of a small pocket-sized first aid book stamped with the Ministry of Information on the front cover.  The advice given within it hasn’t changed too much over the decades, but there are variations of emphasis and some changes to practice.  Most noticeable in this edition (the 39th edition of the authorized textbook of the St John Ambulance Association) is the consistent emphasis on the male gender.  Women are barely mentioned.  Both patient and carer are assumed to be male.  The language, also, is antiquated, attempting to appeal to the office worker of modern day 1930s/40s. What is First Aid? The book begins...
From the archives: University workers conscripted by Ministry of Information

From the archives: University workers conscripted by Ministry of Information

It will be seen that the requirements of the Ministry over the last seven years, including six most difficult years under war conditions, have been very exacting, and far beyond those of the University in normal times In preparation for this year’s Bloomsbury Festival (15-20 October 2013) the School of Advanced Study have been searching through the University archives to find out a little more about Senate House during its occupation as the Ministry of Information during the Second World War.  In this post we continue to look at the minutes of the Senate (as in Senate House), this time looking at how various University workers continued to operate for the University but under the demands of the Ministry.  This includes workers such as the Steward, catering managers, messengers, and engineers. The Steward The Steward took care of supervisory matters in Senate House, organizing events, meetings and much more.  During the war that task became more difficult as the Steward no longer just had to cater for the needs of the University itself, but also for the Ministry of Information.  As of 18 July 1940 the Ministry agreed to increase their contribution to the Steward’s salary from 50% to 75% and to refund to the University 75% of the special payment of £10 per annum that had been granted to the Steward quarterly for overtime (above the normal hours of 48 per week).  It was hoped that these sums would better enable the Steward to carry out their often complex tasks.   The Catering Manageress Miss J. Hunter Dunn was responsible for managing catering in Senate House and thus...
The Senses at #BloomsburyFest 2013

The Senses at #BloomsburyFest 2013

Our senses make the world that we experience come alive.  Artists realised this long ago, so have those who wish to convey a message whether it be personal, political, or religious.  At this year’s Bloomsbury Festival there are various events that attempt to challenge your senses or to convey important issues through sound, movement, or vision.  Let’s take a look at some of these. Puppets in Surgery On Friday is The Art of Surgery.  Put on by the Institute of Philosophy this lecture by Roger Kneebone frames surgery as a profession that is also a craft.  What does this mean?  Roger explains that there are parallels between the movements of a surgeon during operations and those that might be found in theatre.  Theatre Director Rachel Warr with puppeteers will demonstrate and discuss elements of Bunraku puppetry techniques to demonstrate. Sensory perception What do you see?  What do you smell?  What do you hear? On Saturday come to Bloomsbury to explore your senses with the Exploratorium: Exploring your Senses event. Science meets philosophy in a series of hands-on experiments which explore sensory perception.  There are two sessions (both on Saturday 19th) in which you will get the chance to encounter a number of visual, auditory and touch illusions.  Uncover the workings of your taste and smell!  Expert guides will be on hand to help out from the Centre for the Study of the Senses. Bloomsbury inspires! Alternatively spend a delightful hour rediscovering Bloomsbury’s streets as you have never experienced them before.  Local artist Robert Shepherd has offered a chance to learn about his Bloomsbury – how he has drawn and...

A #BloomsburyFest exclusive

A #BloomsburyFest exclusive: Win a pass to see Will Self in conversation As part of the Bloomsbury Festival hosted by SAS, acclaimed author Will Self explores the link between modern urban life and mental health, and reads from his Booker prize shortlisted novel Umbrella.   Title: The Madness of the Modern City: Will Self in Conversation When: 18:30-20:00 / Wednesday October 16 Where: The Chancellors Hall, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU How to win a pass: Watch out of for an official announcement on of the Will Self talk on Twitter on October 9 at 11AM and give it a RT. We will be giving 5 passes away to people. Terms and conditions: The passes are not transferable and guarantee entry only to the Will Self in Conversation event at Senate House. The passes cannot be redeemed for money and we are not responsible for your travel arrangements to and from Senate House. The Bloomsbury Festival runs from October 15-20, 2013. The full schedule of our FREE events at the School of Advanced Study is available here. Follow us on @SASNews for festival news and updates. Click here for festival...
From the archives: What to do with the libraries?

From the archives: What to do with the libraries?

In our previous post about the Ministry of Information (see here) we noted that the ‘exigencies of war’ alongside the occupation of Senate House by the Ministry caused various problems for the University of London.  One of these was a question over what to do with the libraries.  In the lead up to this year’s Bloomsbury Festival (15-20 October 2013) which takes as one of its themes the idea of the Ministry of Information transformed into a Ministry of Communication, we decided to have a look into the University archives to find out a little more about what happened during the Second World War. What to do with the Libraries? The question over what to do with the University’s extensive, comprehensive and in many cases rare and unique collections of books, manuscripts and ephemera became all the more urgent in 1940 after an incendiary bomb gutted several university buildings housing parts of its library.  In the Senate Meeting the Court reported that: “on receiving the Report by the Librarian of 4 December 1940 on the damage suffered by the University Library through enemy action decided that steps should be taken to remove some of the sections from London to places of greater security.” The report suggests that the Bodleian Library and Cambridge University Library should be approached to see if they could “render any help”.  Success was found at Oxford.  The Bodleian offered shelving space underground which was “well protected against damp” which by “close packing” could take the greater part of the Goldsmith’s Library, the rarer books of the Harry Price Library, and several important sets and works...
The #BloomsburyFest 2013 interviews: Alex Beeching, the Orwellian Garden

The #BloomsburyFest 2013 interviews: Alex Beeching, the Orwellian Garden

In the run-up to #BloomsburyFest 2013, we are sharing a series of blog posts offering a sneak peak at this year’s line-up of performances, events, talks and workshops hosted by the School of Advanced Study. In this post we introduce Alex Beeching and his team who will be transforming the Russell Square car park of Senate House into an Orwellian Garden. Get in touch with us on @SASNews and on our Facebook page. You can also follow our progress via the project blog. If you would like to volunteer to staff the Ministry of Communication (as tour guides, greeters, etc (please contact michael.eades@sas.ac.uk). [View the story “The #BloomsburyFest 2013 interviews: Alex Beeching, the Orwellian Garden” on Storify] Finding the Ministry of Communication:  Senate House, Malet Street,...
Literature at #BloomsburyFest 2013 – Talks and Book Launches

Literature at #BloomsburyFest 2013 – Talks and Book Launches

“they discuss Bloomsbury’s history as a meeting place and point of intersection for poets, radicals, and visionaries of all kinds” ————————————————————————————————————————- Bloomsbury is famous for its literary heritage, and still evokes a powerful hold on the literary imagination today. For this year’s Bloomsbury Festival the Institute of English Studies, drawing on contributions from across the SAS Institute’s and the Senate House Library will be offering a series of literary events that celebrate the power of the written word. Earlier this week we looked at the literature events focused on the library, museum and archives (click here for that post), today we explore the many other events looking at the lesser-known aspects of Bloomsbury’s literary heritage. Madness, Modernity, and ghost hunting! On Wednesday 16th October, at 6.30pm acclaimed author, journalist and public intellectual, Will Self comes to Senate House. In conversation with Dr Nick Shepley  (UCL), he will explore the topic of the Madness of the Modern City, and the links  between modernity, urban life and pathologies of the mind.  This discussion explores themes of modernism and urban life central to Bloomsbury’s history, and to Will Self’s Booker-shortlisted novel Umbrella. On Thursday 17th we will be hunting ghosts with new writer Neil Spring.  Neil works for the John Lewis Partnership as a Senior Communications Manager, but he is also a writer with a lifelong interest in the paranormal and the unexplained.  At this event he launches his debut novel The Ghost Hunters which is inspired by his researches in the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature at Senate House.  Paranormal investigator Harry Price left his personal collection to the University...
Literature at #BloomsburyFest 2013: Libraries, Museums, and Archives

Literature at #BloomsburyFest 2013: Libraries, Museums, and Archives

“to evoke a wind that blows through Senate House library, opening books and prompting unexpected stories” ————————————————————————————————————————- This year’s Bloomsbury festival contains a whole raft of events focused on what are, perhaps, the archetypal Bloomsbury institutions: libraries, museums, and archives.  Indeed there is something every day from the Tuesday (15th October) right through to the Sunday (20th October).  This post takes a brief tour of what to expect this year. The library as enchantment and wonder For an interesting and unexpected take on the act of reading check out Reading as Art: Turning the Pages of Psychology.  The event is all about Victorian psychology and promises to evoke a wind that blows through Senate House library, opening books and prompting unexpected stories.  Led by artist and writer Sharon Kivland and psychology librarian Mura Ghosh this evening of readings, performances, and art engages with the library’s collections in a whole new way. On Friday 18th October,  poets Sir Andrew Motion and Professor Mark Ford will settle down in the wonderful Goldsmith’s Reading Room to discuss libraries as places of inspiration and enchantment in their work.  The evening will include readings from  Sir Andrew’s  collection, The Customs House, which  focuses on war poems from 1914 to the present day.   Reading and writing through the ages With the weekend (19th-20th October) arrives a whole host of literary events reflecting modern, ancient and recent reading and writing practices.  For example at 10am you could join the Bloomsbury Group Wiki-Edit-a-Thon and help to amend Wikipedia’s entries on the ‘Bloomsbury Group’ .  Alternatively you might wish to get up a bit later and join...