BBC Radio and Television between the Wars

The next Media History seminar features Amanda Wrigley & John Wyver talking about BBC radio and television between the wars. The meeting will take place at 6pm on Tuesday November 8 in Senate House Room 243.

Dr Amanda Wrigley, ‘BBC Radio as “a new and exciting means of education” in the interwar years’

Amanda Wrigley is Mid-Career Research Fellow in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University; she is also Research Fellow in the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster, where she has worked with John Wyver since 2011 on the AHRC-funded Screen Plays project and its impact. She is a cultural historian working on the interconnecting histories of theatre, television, radio and the printed word in twentieth-century Britain, focusing on radio and television programmes which adapt and create dramatic and literary forms, especially those which engage with the literature and history of ancient Greece, with a special interest in the experience of the listener, viewer and reader and the educational dimensions of mass media. Her latest book, published by OUP in 2015, is Greece on Air: Engagements with Ancient Greece on BBC Radio, 1920s-1960s. She is writing a companion volume on the production history of Greek plays on British television from 1958. Website: https://amandawrigley.wordpress.com.

John Wyver, ‘The arts on early television and the BBC’s cultural mission in the interwar years’

Regular BBC Television transmissions began on 2 November 1936, and until the war forced the closure of the Alexandra Palace studios at the start of September 1939 there was a daily service of music, drama, dance and talks. Almost nothing of this extensive output was recorded but much of it is documented in Radio TimesThe Listener and the BBC Written Archives at Caversham. These sources allow us to explore the programme content in detail, including television’s extensive engagement with the arts in these years.

This paper offers an overview of the extensive and eclectic cultural output, which included several hundred dramas, numerous concerts of classical music and dance performances, and on-screen appearances by prominent visual artists, architects, writers and film makers. The programming extended the BBC’s mainstream understanding of its public service mission under Lord Reith but at the same time, perhaps because television was a marginal service with a very small metropolitan audience, it included a number of experimental broadcasts exploring themes and ideas often associated with interwar modernism in Britain.

John Wyver is Principal Research Fellow in the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster. He was Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded research project Screen Plays: Stage Plays on British Television, 2011-15. He is Director of Screen Productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, advising on its strategy for broadcast and screen versions of its productions, and he produces their Live from Stratford-upon-Avon cinema broadcasts. For the past thirty years he has also run the independent media producer and publisher Illuminations which creates and distributes innovative television. He has published widely on the arts, especially theatre plays, on television and his current book project is RSC Shakespeare on Screen for Bloomsbury’s Arden Shakespeare series, to appear in 2018. Website: https://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/directory/wyver-john.

All are welcome. Further information about the seminar is available through the Institute of Historical Research (http://www.history.ac.uk/) and the Institute of English Studies (http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/).

Steve Connor on Psychotechnographies

Please join us at this year’s first Media History seminar for Steve Connor’s talk titled ‘Psychotechnographies: Why All Machines Are Writing Machines’. We’ll be meeting at 6pm on Tuesday October 18 in Senate House Room 104.

Steve Connor is Grace 2 Professor of English in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. His most recent books are Beyond Words: Sobs, Hums, Stutters and Other Vocalizations (Reaktion 2014); Beckett, Modernism and the Material Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2014); and Living By Numbers: In Defence of Quantity (Reaktion/Chicago University Press, 2016). He is at work on a book called Dream Machines about the history of imaginary machines and mechanisms. Further info is available at his website: http://stevenconnor.com/

All are welcome. Further information is available through the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of English Studies.

Media History Seminar Programme 2016-17

Here’s the provisional schedule for this year’s Media History Seminar jointly run by the Institute of English Studies and Institute of Historical Research. The seminars will take place at Senate House on designated Tuesdays starting at 6pm. Everyone is welcome.

“Media History” Programme 2016-17:

Session 1 (18 October 2016):

Prof. Steve Connor (Cambridge)

“Psychotechnographies: Why All Machines Are Writing Machines”

Senate House Room 104

Session 2 (8 November 2016):

Dr Amanda Wrigley (Westminster)

Dr John Wyver (Westminster)

Senate House Room 243

Session 3 (24 January 2017):

Prof. Jane Chapman (Lincoln)

“Double the Work, but Double the Scope? Comparative International Research into 19th-Century Periodicals and the First World War”

Senate House Room 243

Session 4 (28 February 2017):

Prof. Marianne van Remoortel (Ghent)

Respondent: Dr Birgit Van Puymbroeck (Ghent)

Senate House Room 243

Session 5 (16 May 2017):

Dr Simon Rowberry (Stirling)

Dr Verity Hunt (Southampton)

Senate House Room G34 (Gordon Room)

The schedule will be updated and additional information provided about the talks in due course. In the meantime, please save the dates.

This seminar is generously supported by the Media History journal, Queen Mary University of London’s English Department, the Institute of English Studies, and the Institute of Historical Research.

Video of “Alice in Cableland” Seminar

A video of the “Alice in Cableland” seminar is now available for anyone who was unable to attend. The team running the AHRC-funded project “Scrambled Messages: The Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900” discusses the issues involved in coding, cabling and communications technologies through the medium of John Tenniel’s illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

The panel features Anne Chapman (PhD Candidate, KCL), Caroline Arscott (Professor of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art), Clare Pettitt (Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, KCL), Natalie Hume (PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art), and Cassie Newland (Postdoctoral Researcher, KCL).

You can find the video here or on YouTube.

Alice in Cableland

The Media History seminar & Nineteenth Century Studies seminar are pleased to be holding a special joint session titled “Alice in Cableland.” 2016 sees the 150th anniversaries of the successful laying of the Atlantic Cable and the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The team on the AHRC-funded project “Scrambled Messages: The Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900” will be thinking about the issues involved in coding, cabling and communications technologies through the medium of John Tenniel’s  illustrations of Carroll’s classic.

The panel will include Anne Chapman (PhD Candidate, KCL), Caroline Arscott (Professor of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art), Clare Pettitt (Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, KCL), Natalie Hume (PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art), and Cassie Newland (Postdoctoral Researcher, KCL).

More info about the project can be found here: http://www.scrambledmessages.ac.uk/

The seminar will take place on Thursday May 12 at 6pm in the Senate House Court Room. All are welcome!

Further details about the seminar are available through the Institute of Historical Research (http://www.history.ac.uk/) and the Institute of English Studies (http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/).

Media History Seminar with Sean Cubitt

Please join us at the next Media History seminar for Sean Cubitt’s talk ‘Implications of Colour: Commodity, Biopolitics and Environment’. The meeting will take place at 6pm on Thursday March 3 in Senate House Room G37.

Here’s a brief overview of the talk:

In the late mediaeval and early modern period, colour was anchored to minerals, animals and plants and semantically organised. Its status was contested between the Enlightenment and Romanticism in an argument over its physical or psychological nature that would meet an almost accidental resolution in 1931. That resolution was itself spurred by the commodification enabled by synthetic dyes derived from coal and later from oil. The history of practices associated with and affordances of inks, dyes and pigments, the substance of the visual, allows us access to histories of standardisation and commodification that reveal contemporary relations between human, technological and natural worlds.

And a bio:

Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies (forthcoming 2016); The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels (2014); Digital Aesthetics (2009); The Cinema Effect (2005); Simulation and Social Theory (2001); Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture (1993); and Timeshift: On Video Culture (1991). He has also edited or co-edited Ecomedia: Key Issues (2015); Digital Light (2015); Relive: Media Art Histories (2013); Rewind: Artists’ Video in Britain 1970s and 1980s (2012); The Ecocinema Reader: Theory and Practice (2012); Studying the Event Film: Lord of the Rings (2008); The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory (2002); and Aliens R Us: The Other in Science Fiction Cinema (2002). You can read more about his research interests here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/media-communications/staff/cubitt/

All are welcome. Further information about the seminar is available through the Institute of Historical Research (http://www.history.ac.uk/) and the Institute of English Studies (http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/).

Media History Seminar with Laura Marcus

Please join us at the next Media History seminar for Laura Marcus’ presentation on ‘The Mediated Rhythms of the Modern’. We’ll be meeting at 6pm on Thursday February 18 in Senate House Room 104.

Laura Marcus is Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature and Fellow of New College at Oxford. Her book publications include Auto/biographical Discourses: Theory, Criticism, Practice (1994), Virginia Woolf: Writers and their Work (1997/2004), The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period (2007; awarded the 2008 James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association), Dreams of Modernity: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Cinema (2014), and, as co-editor, The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature (2004). You can read more about her research interests here: http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/about-faculty/faculty-members/permanent-post-holders/marcus-laura

All are welcome. Further information about the seminar is available through the Media History blog (https://mediahistoryseminar.wordpress.com/), the Institute of Historical Research (http://www.history.ac.uk/), and the Institute of English Studies (http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/).