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.


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

SHARMED: promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in three European countries

Federico Farini (University of Suffolk) talks about promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in three European countries.

Date: Thursday 9th March 2017

Time: 15.00-16.00

Location: Room C126, College Building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

Federico will introduce the Erasmus+ supported SHARMED project. SHARMED promotes migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in three European countries (Italy, Germany, UK) by encouraging children’s work on their personal and cultural memories, and children’s participation in dialogue in classroom, telling and negotiating stories of themselves and their sociocultural background.

The project implements children’s collection and production of visual materials on their own memories; involvement of children’s families in this action; facilitation of description, comparison and sharing of materials and memories in classroom; a web platform including an archive with these materials.

These actions can (1) give a voice to migrant-background children, (2) foster their motivation, (3) provide personalised support for their learning, (4) develop their participative approach to learning, (5) strengthen collaboration between children’s families and schools. In this way, the project promotes social inclusion of migrant-background children and combats their segregation and discrimination.


federico-farini_1Federico has a PhD in Sociology of Education from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, where he worked as a researcher and Lecturer in Sociology of Education, Childhood Studies, Youth Studies and Intercultural communication (2005-2013). Previously he worked as a research fellow at the University of Urbino (Sociology) and University of Bologna (Early Modern History, where he got his MA in History in 2002). From 2013 to 2015 Federico has worked as Research Fellow and Lecturer in Education at Middlesex University in London, where he was a founding member of the Centre for Educational Research and Leadership. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He is currently the UK principal investigator for the project Shared Memories for Dialogues (selected for funding under Erasmus+ Key Action 3, Support for policy reform,  Forward-Looking Cooperation Projects).

He has published  books, chapters, articles and edited books in Italian, English and Slovenian language and he has presented research papers at numerous international conference.



Behind Closed Doors: dramatizing hidden truths in real stories

In 1931 Gandhi came to London to press for the Independence of India. Instead of staying in a West End hotel he lived in an East London community centre. Charlie Chaplin was also in London at the same time for the British premiere of City Lights, and wanted to meet Gandhi.34101 chaplinghandi.indd

Writer James Kenworth’s critically acclaimed play, When Chaplin Met Gandhi, told the story of this remarkable meeting between two of the greatest figures of the Twentieth Century.

No one really knows what took place at the meeting between these two men as it was held behind closed doors, which meant that conjecture and supposition played a large part in the writing of the script.

James discusses questions of historical accuracy, biography, interpretation, and the delicate balance between fidelity to the truth and the need to tell a good story.

Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017

Time: 15.00-16.00

Location: Room C126, College Building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

“While holding with its presentation of character, this play also passes on a surprising amount of information and in an educational context could provide a valuable starting point for exploration of the topics it touches on and discussion of the issues it raises.” British Theatre Guide

This is a show that mixes history and fiction to craft a fine piece of theatre with a message for our times.” thepublicreviews


James Kenworth is a qualified teacher, playwright and creative writing/drama workshop leader/devisor. His plays include Johnny Song, Gob, Polar Bears, issue-led plays Everybody’s World (Elder Abuse), Dementia’s Journey (Dementia), and site-specific plays When Chaplin Met Gandhi (Kingsley Hall), Revolution Farm (Newham City Farm) and A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham (Newham Libraries/Community Links). His play, Dementia’s Journey, won the 2015 University of Stirling International Dementia Award in the category: Dementia & the Arts. When Chaplin Met Gandhi has recently been published by TSL Publications. He currently lectures in English, Creative Writing, and Media for Middlesex University.

Polysemous Words: Meaning and Pragmatics

Professor Robyn Carston from UCL discusses how multiple senses for a word arise in communication at an upcoming Language and Communication Research Seminar.

Date: Thursday 9th February 2017

Time: 15.00-16.00

Location: Room C127, College Building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BTRed_Mouth_PNG_Clipart_Image-321.png

Most words are ‘polysemous’, that is, they can be used to express a range of semantically-related senses. E.g., the word ‘mouth’ can refer to just the outside part (Wipe your mouth), just the inside (Her mouth was dry from nervousness), to the entrance of a cave, to the part of a river that enters into an ocean; to a whole person (I have four mouths to feed), to someone who talks too much (big mouth), among numerous others.

In this talk, Professor Robyn Carston will discuss how multiple senses for a word arise in communication (via pragmatic processes) and what, if any, the core meaning is from which the other senses are derived.


Robyn Carston is Professor of Linguistics at University College London and Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, Oslo.  Her work on language and communication is strongly interdisciplinary, integrating ideas from linguistics, philosophy of language and cognitive science.  Her research areas include the semantics/pragmatics distinction, explicit and implicit communication, relevance theory, non-literal uses of language, and the nature of word meaning.  Her publications include the widely cited monograph Thoughts and Utterances (2002, Blackwell); she is currently working on a collection of papers, Pragmatics and Semantic Content, to be published by Oxford University Press.

Other upcoming Language and Communication Research Seminars include (all Thursdays 3-4 pm):

**Please note that the talk by Federico Farini originally planned for 26 January 2017 has been postponed to Thursday 9 March 2017 .**

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For more information or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Emerging Research in English


Yesterday we had our first ever event jointly organised by the ‘Language & Communication’ and ‘Promotional Cultures’ research clusters.


Our PhD candidates talked about aspects of their ever evolving research projects. These are the titles of the presentations:

  • Salim Bouherar:  “Idiom teaching and understanding: A first language or imperial culture?”
  • Narmina Fataliyeva: “Linguistic and extra linguistic factors regulating the synonym choice in political discourse”
  • Benoît Leclercq (pictured above): “Understanding the concept of semantics in relevance theory”
  • Tatjana Milosavljevic: ”Neoliberal Britain in Black British cultural production of the 1980s”
  • Kyu Hyun Park: “Speech production in intercultural communication”
  • Ramona Pistol: “Metaphor and metarepresentation’

We could have kept discussing the projects for hours, but unfortunately had to leave the room at 5pm, as it was booked for another event. Undeterred, we continued the conversation at the beautifully decorated Atrium of the College Building.



Upcoming Language & Communication Research Seminars

The Language and Communication Research Cluster are delighted to announce the upcoming speakers in our seminar series:

  • Tuesday 6th December 15.00-17.00: PhD students’ presentations, at C133


Semester 2 Seminars: all Thursdays 15.00-16.00

  • 26 January 2017: Federico Farini (University of Suffolk) on promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in three European countries
  • 9 February 2017: Robyn Carston (University College London) on Polysemous Words: Meaning and Pragmatics
  • 23 February 2017: James Kenworth (Middlesex University) about Behind Closed Doors: dramatizing hidden truths in real stories
  • 23 March 2017: Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) on Ambient Literature: the move from print to screen


The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For more information, or to be added to our events mailing list, please email Anna (a.charalambidou@mdx.ac.uk).