British artist Tom Harman discusses how critical theory led him to return to painting
Tom Harman installs abstract paintings at Little Man Coffee Co., Cardiff. Photograph: Rhys Tranter.
Tom Harman installs abstract paintings at Little Man Coffee Co., Cardiff. Photograph: Rhys Tranter.

When did you start painting?

Drawing and painting, for me, was what I always did and was always good at. Throughout school I only ever wanted to paint and couldn’t wait to leave at 16 and begin a BTECH in Art and Design at my local FE college. This was a great experience, at last getting to create visual material all day, every day. I was particularly interested in painting that had some form of social commentary and was influenced by the New Glasgow Boys, painters from the Glasgow School of Art such as Steven Campbell, Peter Howson and Ken Currie, as well as the big names in British painting such as Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. (more…)

A new study explores the potential for agency and flight in post-war working-class writing
Roberto del Valle Alcalá, British Working-Class Fiction: Narratives of Refusal and the Struggle Against Work (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Roberto del Valle Alcalá, British Working-Class Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2016)

“I’m not working-class: I come from the criminal classes.” These words by the actor Peter O’Toole play on a broader prejudice that aligns working-class identity with marginality and transgression. Roberto del Valle Alcalá explores these thematic links in British Working-Class Fiction, which traces an alternative literary history of the British Isles, spanning from 1950 to the economic collapse of 2008. Alcalá documents life on the hard shoulder of modern capitalist progress, offering an analysis of working-class experience through detailed theoretical readings of Alan Sillitoe, Pat Barker, Irvine Welsh, Monica Ali and others. [Read More]

This extract is from my review of Roberto del Valle Alcalá’s British Working-Class Fiction: Narratives of Refusal and the Struggle Against Work, published in the Times Literary Supplement, 24 February 2017.

Christopher John Müller on his new book and his English translation of Günther Anders, a contemporary of Adorno, Benjamin, and Arendt
Günther Anders
Günther Anders

How did you come to discover the work of Günther Anders?

I was alerted to a translated essay from the 1930s called the ‘Pathology of Freedom’, whilst writing my PhD thesis in 2012. I had never heard of its author, Günther Stern, and was captivated by the work, a brilliant existential analysis of the experience of freedom.

When looking up the author, I was surprised to learn that he was connected to canonical authors and thinkers I liked to study – Stern (who assumed the pseudonym Anders) was the first husband of Hannah Arendt, a cousin of Walter Benjamin, a student of Husserl and Heidegger, friends with Ernst Bloch and Herbert Marcuse, and connected to Berthold Brecht, Georg Lukács, Literary Modernists, the Frankfurt School thinkers – the list goes on and on and on. (more…)

29-30 June 2015 · University of Western Sydney
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett

The Endlessness of Ending: Samuel Beckett and the Mind
29-30 June 2015 · University of Western Sydney

Samuel Beckett’s work across the genres has always shown a keen interest in both the topography and the function of the mind. The experience of interiority in Beckett is complex and it is often on the brink of its own collapse. Beckett undertook a comprehensive self-education of the mind, primarily from the disciplines of philosophy and psychoanalysis, to understand this interiority which he would render poetically. If Beckett is interested in a physics and even a geometry of the psychic space, the recurrent image of the skullscape—from The Trilogy and Endgame to Worstward Ho—is also replete with the minimal and yet necessary possibilities of thinking. (more…)