Studying Instagram Beyond Selfies: Instagram Conference 2018, 01 June 2018, Middlesex University

With as many “users as Twitter (310 million), Snapchat (100-million-plus) and Pinterest (100 million) combined” (Forbes 2016), Instagram has become one of the most important social networking sites globally and in the process has transformed the role of photographs and photography in visual culture. Designed to exploit the affordances of mobile media (Carah 2015) and the immediate and intuitive logic of visual communication, Instagram is notably popular among young people (18-29 years old) (WordStream 2017).

instaThe phenomenal success of Instagram has not gone unnoticed by brands and micro-celebrities that increased their investments and activities on the platform – (according to Forbes the current financial value of Instagram stays somewhere between $25 billion and $50 billion (Forbers 2016)).

Despite all these, there is a scarcity of empirical research conducted through Instagram, especially beyond the use of selfies.

Call for papers:

You are invited to submit proposals for a single paper or a pre-constituted panel around a particular theme. Individual abstracts should be 350 words or 500 for a full panel proposal. Please also include a short bio of no more than 100 words per participant. Please submit to Alessandro Caliandro, email A.Caliandro@mdx.ac.uk  by 30 April 2018.

Registration will open soon after the 30th of April. Registration fee: £30 (for undergraduate students), £50 (for academics/practitioners).

For more information, including possible questions to address, and keynote speakers, see: http://instagramconf.mdx.me.uk/

Keynote Speakers:

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Richard Rogers, Professor of New Media & Digital Culture, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.

Keynote Address: Otherwise engaged: Social Media from vanity metrics to critical analytics

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Dr Crystal Abidin, socio-cultural anthropologist of vernacular internet cultures

Keynote Address: Tap that, Hack that, Map that: Economies, Cultures, and Materialites of Instagram

Have you missed any of our Language and Communication Research Seminars?

This year’s hugely successful series of Language and Communication Research Seminars is coming to an end.

We have uploaded some of our seminars on youtube, so that you can catch up on the ones you’ve missed or re-watch your favourite ones!

You can find Dr Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) full talk on “Wandering Bodies – Ambient Literature and Thinking with Place”.

Check also Dr Federico Farini’s (University of Suffolk) talk about “SHARMED: promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in 3 European countries” given on 9th March 2017.

Finally, you can see the highlights from the “Images of Tradition“, a talk by Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway).

More coming soon at MDX BA English youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9yz85YMykcx5jFHhq313pw

Wandering Bodies – Ambient Literature and Thinking with Place

Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) discusses Wandering Bodies – Ambient Literature and Thinking with Place. 

Date: Thursday 23rd March 2017

Time: 15.00-16.00

Location: Room C127, College Building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

hayler-matt-squareIn this talk Matt will explore what an “ambient” literature might be, what it might deploy and be sensitive to, and how it might help us to ask new questions about readers, places of reading and interacting, embodied and extended cognition, and the effects of the materiality of text, particularly in a digital/post-digital age. Examples of literature (and other artworks) that we might want to describe as “ambient” have existed for a long time, but a few months into an AHRC project focussed on ambient literary works of the now and near future we are thinking again about the politics and practices of ambience and what might make ambient works of particular interest in our current moment.

Biography

Dr. Matt Hayler is a lecturer in post-1980 literature at the University of Birmingham specialising in bringing together insights from the digital and cognitive humanities with (post)phenomenology and object-oriented philosophy in order to better understand the entanglement of humans and their technological artefacts. His work tends to use e-reading, contemporary experimental literature, and transhuman body modification as case studies for exploring how cognition, knowledge, and materiality become intertwined across human and non-human actors.

Matt spent two years as Network Coordinator for the AHRC-funded Cognitive Futures in the Humanities research network and now acts as a UK Management Committee Member and Working Group Leader for the COST-funded European E-READ research network. He is also CO-I on the AHRC-funded Ambient Literature project and has worked with the Royal Shakespeare company on developing a digital “Theatre Book” with support from the AHRC’s REACT programme. His first book, Challenging the Phenomena of Technology, came out in 2015 and he has since co-edited two volumes on Research Methods for the Digital Humanities alongside Professor Gabriele Griffin, Research Methods for Reading Digital Data in the Digital Humanities and Research Methods for Creating and Curating Data in the Digital Humanities (EUP 2016). He tweets – @cryurchin

Futures for English Studies

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We’re  looking forward to meeting our new first year BA English students tomorrow. We’ll be posting thoughts here from our work together on the BA English programme, things we have discussed in class, and anything relevant to the programme.

Last week, I went to a very enjoyable and interesting event at the Open University. It was an event to celebrate the publication of the book Futures for English Studies edited by Ann Hewings, Lynda Prescott and Philip Seargeant, all of whom work at the Open University.

It’s an excellent collection, exploring a range of ideas about the past, present and future of English, and there was lots of interesting discussion at the event.

I spoke there about our view of English as a broad and inclusive subject, covering work on language, literature and writing (and other things, including a wide range of genres and types of texts).

Andrew Cowan, Head of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, spoke about the rise of creative writing in the US and the UK, about differing views of the connections between writing and other subjects (particularly literary studies), and about differing views of the relationships between creative and critical work.

Matt Hayler, from the University of Birmingham, spoke about ‘digital humanities’ and about ‘digital cultures’, exploring different ways of thinking about each and future research directions.

These were followed by a roundtable discussion with a large number of speakers.

I was asked some very good questions after my talk, including some useful thoughts about our BA English programme.

Lots of interesting and useful points were made in the discussion and they suggested lots to think about with regard to the nature of English, how subjects interact in general, how communicative (including reading and writing) practices are changing, and lots more.

Two things which I thought were particularly interesting were that it provided evidence for two things I have been thinking for a while now:

  • that there is lots of positivity about English at the moment, confirming my view that this is an exciting time for the subject and a great time to be studying English
  • that there is a growing interest in seeing English as a broad and inclusive subject (and less interest in establishing boundaries)

I’m delighted to see more evidence for both of these!