Next Event: 17th Nov 2017
Ahead of the first of two UEL organised conferences in Tendring next spring (part of the Heritage Lottery funded Resorting to the Coast project), we are meeting to discuss notions of seaside culture.
Club Critical Theory present: Seaside Cultures
Fri 17th Nov 2017
8pm start upstairs at the Railway Hotel, Clifftown Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1AJ. Free entry.
In light of comedian Paul O’Grady’s widely publicised remarks about Southend, CCT invites you to discuss seaside cultures. Is the seaside an irrelevant Victorian concept in decline or does it still hold value? Are swanky galleries, expensive coffee bars and property development part of its appeal or can we actively shape an alternative culture in Southend?
Dr Daniel Burdsey (University of Brighton) investigates race, whiteness and the English seaside. In 2016 he published his second book, Race, Place and the Seaside: Postcards from the Edge (Palgrave Macmillan). Dan is interested in social and cultural aspects of the contemporary English seaside including migration and ‘new’ spaces of multiculture.
Dr Tim Gale (Bournemouth University) has published work that explores the decline and restructuring of British seaside resorts, new tourism spaces, places and experiences. These interests are underpinned by ideas associated with the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ and critical realism as a philosophy of/ for the social sciences.
Joanne O’Connor (Journalist and Travel Writer) is a former Observer travel editor and now freelances for the Guardian, Observer and FT. She has an interest in the arts, travel and regeneration. Born in Essex, and a regular visitor to Southend as a child, Joanne has recently returned to live in Essex.
Tim Burrows (Journalist and Author) writes about culture and place for publications including the Guardian, Vice and the Quietus. Recurring subjects in his work are Essex, the Thames Estuary and Essex myths, from Towie, Dr Feelgood and the “armpit of the world”. Tim lives in Essex.
CCT are Giles Tofield (Cultural Engine), Andrew Branch (UEL) and Tony D Sampson (UEL)
Next Event: 10th June 2017
Our next event will be a two day free conference at The Civic Centre in Southend on 15th and 16th Sept 2016.
Club Critical Theory: Essex Futures Conference
Venue: Civic Centre Southend-on-Sea, Committee Room 4a (close to Southend Victoria and Southend Central railway stations)
Dates: 15th-16th September, 2016
Club Critical Theory (CCT) host a free two day conference exploring ideas relevant to three public policy areas that have an impact on local communities within a national context
Robert Hewison (cultural historian and author of Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain)
Jack Monroe (writer, journalist and activist)
Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the RSA)
Day One: Thurs 15th Sept
Doors open 9.30am
Morning session 10am – 1pm
Introduction to CCT: Tony Sampson
Creative Industries and Entrepreneurialism: Exploring the drive by local authorities and other agencies to encourage growth in ‘creative sectors’. What impact is this really having on regional economies, and is it any more than simply ‘branding’?
Robert Hewison (Cultural Historian and author of The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain)
Joe Hill (Director of Focal Point Gallery)
Duncan Smith (Artistic Director of Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art)
Chair: Andrew Branch
Afternoon session 2-5pm
Food Cultures: Who is really setting the agenda in terms of policies on health and wellbeing in respect of what food we buy and consume? What can be done at a local level to improve ‘food cultures’ in the context of national policies which endorse a free market vision of society?
Vic Borrill (Director of Brighton and Hove Food Partnership)
Jack Monroe (Writer, Journalist and Activist)
Chair: Giles Tofield
Evening drinks at the Railway Hotel
Day Two: Fri 16th Sept
Doors open 9.30am
Morning session 10-1pm
Cultural Policy, Heritage and Place-Making: What do we mean by ‘place-making’ at a local level? Who creates the stories and narratives that define how our towns and cities are to be ‘branded’? Does local cultural policy (where it still exists) have a role to play in creating really distinctive identities and differences in a globalised world economy? How is local ‘heritage’ being used to promote new narratives of towns, cities and regions?
Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the RSA)
Scott Dolling (Head of Economy, Regeneration & Tourism, Southend Borough Council)
Robert Bean (Founder of Robert Bean Branding Co)
Chair: Giles Tofield
Closing remarks by Andrew Branch
Conference Funded by the University of East London
About the Organisers
Club Critical Theory (CCT) is a partnership between the University of East London (UEL) and Southend based social enterprise, The Cultural Engine. Established in 2014, CCT is a public engagement programme that seeks to encourage academics to get out into community spaces to explore how radical theory can inform the imaginative life of society.
CCT co-founders: Giles Tofield (The Cultural Engine), Dr Andrew Branch (UEL) and Dr Tony Sampson (UEL)
When Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 9:30 AM – Friday, September 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM (BST) – Add to Calendar Where The Civic Centre – Southend-on-Sea Essex
Details and registration are here:
Club Critical Theory will be back in Southend late spring/early summer 2016
In the meantime
SPACE AND PROPAGATION: A CLUB CRITICAL THEORY SPECIAL AT CONWAY HALL
Book a place at the free event here
CCT open up a critical space for Conway Actants — an artistic and curatorial collaboration between Deborah Gardner and Jane Millar that directly responds to Conway Hall’s spaces, ethos, activities and archive.
Programme starts at 6.30pm with an introduction to Conway Actants by the artists:
INTRODUCTION TO CCT
Giles Tofield (The Cultural Engine)
Tony D Sampson
Arts and Digital Industries (UEL)
ART FOR ALL
Arts and Digital Industries (UEL)
Deborah Gardner and Jane Millar
Our next event is on Friday 4th Dec upstairs at the railway as usual.
Following on from our successful election special back in May (the club night, not the result), Club Critical Theory returns on Fri 4th Dec with a discussion that will no doubt mention Corbynmania.
More to follow
Next Club Critical Theory Event – Friday Dec 4th 8pm start upstairs at the Railway
media power and politics
Date: Friday, 04 December, 8.00pm start
Venue: Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea
Following the success of our election special, this CCT event explores how people make sense of the media they consume and how raising questions about the ownership and regulation of commercial and publicly-funded media can provide an insight into the agenda-setting processes they enact.
We ask whether the arrival of new forms of digital social media is a cause for optimism – because such forms appear to provide a genuine challenge to the vested interests of established media conglomerates – or merely provides an echo chamber for the already converted. Further, we consider these developments in relation to the history of alternative media forms and their deployment by marginalised social groups.
In summary, we address a fundamental question: do people believe everything they view and read?
Tracey Jensen (speaker)
A graduate of Cambridge University and the LSE, Tracey’s current teaching and research at the University of East London looks at how policy, media and cultural texts work together to produce and circulate stigmatising ideas of families ‘in crisis’, as ‘welfare dependent’ or ‘undisciplined’. She connects these ideas to a broader analysis of the ‘post-welfare’ shift, in which citizen entitlements are becoming contractual, precarious and sanctioned. At this CCT event Tracey will discuss the recent explosion of a new genre of reality television – known as ‘poverty porn’ – which forms part of a populist authoritarianism around welfare.
Michael Bailey (speaker)
Michael teaches at the University of Essex and is currently writing a book about public sociology. His interests in this field have led him to present lectures on ‘Globalisation, Anticapitalism and Associative Democracy’ at various international universities, particularly in China. Michael connects these interests to his broader commitment to critical theory; historical sociology; working-class heritage and sociology of the media and modern culture. AT CCT he will examine the history of alternative media forms and their legacies.
Andrew Calcutt (discussant)
‘Hackademic’ Andrew Calcutt was a journalist for 25 years before he became an academic at the University of East London. As a journalist, he worked in print (Arena, Esquire, Living Marxism/LM, the Modern Review), in broadcasting (Clarke TV for Channel4), and online (commissioning editor, Channel Cyberia for MSN). As a lecturer in journalism, his priorities are good copy and clear thinking. Andrew will draw on these experiences when identifying comparative and contrasting themes in both presentations in order to open the discussion.
Where is the Common Ground? Making Local Activism Work in Southend
3rd May, 2015 at 8pm
Upstairs at the Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea
The General Election on May 7th is occurring against a backdrop of relentless austerity, food poverty, tax evasion and scapegoating of groups without access to the mainstream media that marginalizes them.
Is there an alternative to this politics of despair, and if so, is collective activism the answer? Is Essex man Russell Brand right when he tells us that the system is broken and what we accept as ‘common sense’ has been imposed on us? On one hand, events in Greece and Spain show that collective responses to inequality are working. On the other hand, there is the anti-European, anti-immigration stance of populists like UKIP and Le Front National in France, whose appeal seems to resonate with the mythologized ‘man in the street’.
This pre-election CCT special event explores alternative ways of thinking critically about our everyday political lives and considers the effectiveness of collective activism. We’ll discuss what can be done at the local level to make a difference and what kind of differences ‘we’ want by first thinking about who ‘we’ are – a collective political force or fragmented individual consumers?
We ask you to contemplate the idea of the common ground and critically explore related concepts like neoliberalism, individuality, crowds, publics, multiplicities, collectivity, and of course, democracy.
Introduction by Andrew Branch
Tony D. Sampson (author of Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks): Crowds, Publics and Desire.
Giles Tofield (Director of The Cultural Engine): Finding Common Ground – Southend.
Q&A Chaired by Andrew Branch followed by break for drinks
Special guest speaker Professor Jeremy Gilbert (author of Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in the Age of Individualism): The Common Ground
Discussion chaired by Andrew Branch
Venue: Upstairs at the Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend On Sea (near to Southend Central Rail Station
Special Guest DJ: Stuart Bowditch
Stuart is mostly inspired by his love of open air, spaces and places. His interest in sound and the natural rhythms and routines of everyday life have shaped the methodology of his work, which revolves around noises and sounds which he finds, records and processes. He loves to travel, near and far, and the recordings he makes become a document, a sound memory, of his time spent in each place. He often works with individuals or groups to record new sets of sounds and over the years has built up a large archive of recordings which he draws upon to make songs, soundtracks to films and art installations. In this way of working he tries to make sense of the world he lives in and his place within it. Simultaneously, the creations and experiences of others end up intrinsically embedded in his work, creating a rich texture of layers, representing his life and those he as encountered along the way.
9-9.20pm: Sounds by Stuart Bowditch
9.20-9.30pm: Introduction to CCT by Giles Tofield (Chair)
Deleuze, Contagion & the New Brighton
Tony D Sampson (UEL)
This talk will engage with the ideas of Gilles Deleuze in order to grasp how urban space, place and time might emerge. Firstly, we need to rethink the idea of Southend as a holistic entity (e.g. Southend as a whole community) and instead encounter the urban space as a multiplicity. The focus therefore needs to shift away from wholes and essential properties to consider local interactions and singularities that have the capacity and tendency to spill over into urban space (for good and bad). The talk will include a collaborative venture with the photographer Iry Hor whose work captures the assemblages of real Southend.
10-10.15pm: short break
Bourdieu, Habit and Social Space
Andrew Branch (UEL)
Morrissey once asked ‘When you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go? Who do you need to know? This talk will answer these political questions by illustrating how Pierre Bourdieu’s work can illuminate our understanding of how habitual behaviour forms, structures our sense of entitlement and frames our occupation of space and place. Using examples familiar to people living in Southend and its adjacent areas, the talk will conclude by exploring how transformation occurs, both at the individual and collective level.
10.45-11.00: short break
11.00-11.30: Discussion We welcome your contributions
11.30-til late: Sounds by Stuart Bowditch
CCT Banner photograph by Simon Fowler