Tuesday, 1 December 2015

New 2016/17 fees bursaries for DHeritage, the Professional Doctorate in Heritage

The University of Hertfordshire invites applications for two fees-only bursaries for the 2016/17 intake of the DHeritage, Professional Doctorate in Heritage, commencing in October 2016.

About the DHeritage:
Heritage flourishes at local, national and international levels where it takes many forms and its contribution to community building, economic prosperity, cultural adaptation and a sense of belonging is widely recognised. It is a dimension of all spheres of human activity and lends itself to study across disciplinary boundaries. Public history is emerging as a field concerned with the many ways the past is put to use in the present.

The Doctorate in Heritage (DHeritage) is a broad-based, flexible qualification aimed at professionals who work in, or desire to work in, the heritage field broadly defined, whether in the private or the public sector. It will interest those who are employed in tourism, planning, museums, archives, community history, archaeology, and social and cultural sustainability. It will appeal to practitioners who want to reflect on and contribute to the latest thinking in what is a dynamic and ever-changing sector crucial to many economies and to local and national identities.

Developed in association with experts from across the sector, the DHeritage programme aims to integrate scholarship on a whole range of interdisciplinary themes, including professional ethics, sustainability, cultural memory and heritage policy. Students will follow the programme as part of a cohort, supported by research training and supervision shaped to their needs from across the disciplines of History, Education, Digital Humanities, Creative Writing, Creative Arts, Law, Business, and Tourism. Students will be able to select their topic and training according to individual needs and interests, and current developments in the field.

Entry qualifications are assessed on an individual basis. Normally participants will have: an Honours degree or equivalent; a relevant Masters Degree and five years relevant professional experience. Candidates without a Masters degree will need to demonstrate an equivalent level of accomplishment through professional practice, based on appropriate professional training (e.g. Associate Membership of the Museums Association). Candidates for whom English is not their first language will require certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5, preferably higher). At admission, candidates will be allocated a Principal and one or two Second Supervisors based on the research area they have set out in their Research Proposal and in their interviews.

The DHeritage mode of study is part-time, over six years. Fees for 2016/17 are £2300 per annum for part-time home/EU students. Bursaries are guaranteed for three years and will be reviewed at the three year point. If candidates satisfy an assessment panel of their progress and funds are available the bursaries will be renewed for a further three years.

Application details:
For details of how to apply please contact the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Research Institute, ssahri.res@herts.ac.uk or research-degrees@herts.ac.uk for the attention of Kathy Lee, Senior Academic Services Officer (Research), k.j.lee@herts.ac.uk 

Closing Date for applications: Monday 16th May, 2016
Interviews will be held on Monday 13th June, 2016
Start date: Monday 26th September 2016.

For further information about the DHeritage, please contact Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, Director, DHeritage, g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Utopia: Experiments in Perfection

Fabian Hiscock (Department of History, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire) reports on Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Research Institute (SSAHRI) conference, Spirella Building, Letchworth Garden City, 12th November 2015

I attended the “Utopia” as a research student in the History Department looking at early nineteenth century Hertfordshire: not much relationship there with “experiments in perfection”. But it was good to be there. SSAHRI has a remarkable breadth in a single Institute, and part of the fun is exploring some of that breadth. The historians were well represented, certainly, and part of a pretty eclectic mix. And it was with anticipation that we gathered in the notable Spirella Building (an education in itself), took tea (and coffee), and sat back. 

Alan Powers' Keynote, Spirella Ballroom. Photo by Grace Lees-Maffei.
The keynote address was by Professor Alan Powers. He raised the age-old question, now of course of increasing relevance: “Where are the people to go?” New towns were (are) planned on the basis that the old ones have failed, and he offered Milton Keynes as an example: but then reminded us that one can’t really have a night out in Milton Keynes (I’ve never tried, but we got the point – you don’t build a “style” just by erecting buildings). He drew on the demolition of Manchester and London terraces, and of the tower blocks that followed them, the rise of smaller and more open developments. There is no agreement on which is better, but there is a constant striving towards improvment by the well-meaning.

Advertising Welwyn Garden City. Photo by Grace Lees-Maffei.
It was at this point that I realised that a refresher on the original Utopia by Thomas More (1512) would have been handy: where did the term come from that we were discussing, and what did it actually mean? But most of those present will have known well enough. With Alan Powers we were in the “pop” era of the 60s and 70s, and one of the themes that he offered was the (wholly imaginary) outline of 'Civilia', drawn by 'Ivor de Wolfe' on the remains of Judkins Quarry near Bedworth, Nuneaton. This 1960s and 70s resistance to the perceived refusal of architecture to consider the needs of the people reflected the view that 'the city had become too big, and without thought for the people who live in it.' De Wolfe also offered the 'Italian Townscape' as a desirable setting for urban life, and Powers took us through both that and the utterly contrasting 'Potteries Thinkbelt' concept of Cedric Price.

Cedric Price, Potteries Thinkbelt as a peripatetic educational model. Photo by Katrina Navickas.
And so we came to the Garden City. It was no coincidence that we were in Letchworth Garden City, a concept of Ebenezer Howard made real in 1903. Its layout consciously provided the workplaces vital to sustainable growth outside the inhabited centre and the city was walkable for all. The role of social visionaries, following John Ruskin and William Morris, in promoting the whole concept of the Garden City to the point of realising ‘Utopia’, (with greater or lesser success) was acknowledged. David Ames of Letchworth Heritage Foundation followed up on Garden City Utopias and Letchworth in particular. 

Planning the first Garden Cities. Photo by Grace Lees-Maffei.

We went on to look at the current work of architects, planners and designers on both micro and macro scales. Dr Daniel Marques Sampaio of the School of Creative Arts revealed the story of Canary Wharf and the impact of post-1980 capitalism on the original concept for redeveloping the declining docklands and Greenwich opposite. We heard an analysis by Dr Pual Cureton (Creative Arts) of the use of space in Welwyn using a GIS tool, which emphasised to me the sheer richness of the techniques now available. We were given a strong reminder by Dr Susan Parham of the Centre for Sustainable Communities of the importance of food production and supply in the success of any settlement, especially when trying to achieve ‘Utopia’, Finally, we had a highly personal account by Dr Ian Waites, of the University of Lincoln, of his early experiences when his family moved from a Gainsborough terrace to a new council estate just outside; ‘Utopia’ depends on the viewpoint of the observer, and if you’re living ‘the concept’ you don’t necessarily share the jaundiced view of the commentator.

Dr Susan Parham, Centre for Sustainable Communities, University of Hertfordshire. Photographs by Grace Lees-Maffei.

We then got to the concepts, in a session entitled ‘Health, place, work, gender and beyond’. I’d never heard of Peter Kropotkin, a contemporary of Lenin, but his influence on the development of Letchworth was presented by Dr Pat Simpson (Creative Arts). Dr Steve Shelley of Hertfordshire Business School took us to Eigg in the Inner Hebrides, via the zero-carbon working environment, giving us a reminder along the way that there is no consensus on a ‘perfect way of living’. This fact was reinforced by Dr Marta Rabikowska (Creative Arts) in her examination of the huge diversity in many communities and the potential of 'participatory arts' in building community relations in a context far removed from the ‘Garden City, a quite different model of Utopia. She was talking about (and showing a film from) Plumstead, and she brought a copy of the book Utopia, signed by members of the Utopia Society, which she invited us to sign also to signify commitment at least to the concept.

Title woodcut for Utopia written by Thomas More. Wikipedia: Public Domain.

Dr Chamu Kuppuswamy (Law School) introduced the very challenging concept of “the Common Heritage of Mankind”, of which the ocean floor is the classic example as captured by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Now it happens that I spent a lot of my career on or in the ocean, but I hadn’t recognised UNCLOS in this context: but if we recognise the concept (which intuitively we probably do), how do we preserve the Common Heritage? And what, indeed, does it require us to include?

Rick Guidice's Utopian illustrations for NASA, in a presentation by Dr Neil Maycroft. Photo by Katrina Navickas.

The wholly-imaginary Utopia’ featured also, or, more exactly, the ‘dystopia’ of the Dune science fiction series by Frank Herbert, in a talk by Alex Anthony-Lewczuk of the University of Lincoln while his colleague from Lincoln, Dr Neil Maycroft, delivered the amusingly-titled ‘Never mind my jet-pack, where’s my four-legged chicken?’ which reviewed a number of visions of the future from the past, and examined the role of design and technology in envisioning and materialising Utopia. The discussion that followed was as wide ranging in scope as the day had been, and tended to confirm the inevitable conclusion: there is no consensus on what constitutes Utopia, only that it can remains a concept, one to be striven for, but not to be achieved.

Prof Carenza Lewis. Photo by Katrina Navickas.

In the closing keynote presentation, ‘Brave new world or toil and trouble? The long view of new towns’, Professor Carenza Lewis suggests that New Towns can be best understood by recognising that they are not, in fact, new.  She drew parallels between New Town developments and features common to earlier placemaking activities. Lewis pointed out that while New Towns care very carefully planned for specific purposes, spontaneous developments can often be successful too, although less secure. New Towns 'materialise the Zeitgeist', she suggested, in their preoccupation with issues such as defence, nation building, feudalism and capitalism.  

Delegates at Utopia: Experiments in Perfection. Photo by Katrina Navickas.
Was it worthwhile? For me, as a newcomer in the field, ‘Yes, absolutely’. The day provided me with an opportunity to gain insight into what goes on in our Institute and indeed our University, and the University of Lincoln. Some of the material presented was highly specialist, some highly technical, and some - to me, at least - impenetrable. But I’d be very surprised if anyone came away with nothing new. And as it happens, I learned a great deal more than that…

Fabian Hiscock, Department of History, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire.

Lighting, Spirella Ballroom. Photo by Grace Lees-Maffei.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dr DJ Huppatz, TVAD Visiting Researcher 2015-6: Programme Announced

Dr Daniel Huppatz will join the TVAD Research Group as TVAD Visiting Researcher for 2015-16, including a three-week study visit in February 2016. I am delighted to announce the programme for his visit here.


Dr Huppatz is a Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. His current research interests include mapping histories of modern Asian design, Australian design, and histories of interior design and architecture. As well as presenting papers at numerous academic conferences, Dr Huppatz has been widely published in journals including Design Issues, Journal of Design History and Design and Culture. His other interventions include editing Design: Critical and Primary Sources (Bloomsbury, 2016), a collection of 75 essential texts on design from the mid-19th century to the present day, covering key thinkers, movements and issues for design, and co-editing Unbounded: On the Interior and Interiority (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015). Huppatz is a co-founder of the Design History Australia Research Network, DHARN. He is currently working on a book titled Modern Asian Design.


·       TUESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY 2016

2 pm, Gallery Café. Welcome to the School of Creative Arts, and Tour, Dr Grace Lees-Maffei.

4 pm to 5.30 pm, LC108. Art Talk series. Dr Daniel Huppatz, ‘Contemporary Art and Urbanism in Melbourne’, convened by Prof Simeon Nelson.

As a case study of what’s happening in art elsewhere in Australia, Dr Huppatz’s talk will examine the scene in Melbourne as a case study. He will make links with illuminating examples of urbanism such as Fed Square, the range of independent artists spaces, the laneways and graffiti and stencil art. The talk will be richly illustrated throughout.

·       WEDNESDAY 3rd FEBRUARY 2016

12.45 for 1 pm, 1A157 Lindop. TVAD Talks series. Dr Daniel Huppatz discusses his work editing the monumental Design: Critical and Primary Sources.

3 pm to 5 pm, 1A157 Lindop, Reading Group. Session with TVAD and School research staff and PG students. Texts will be tabled for discussion from Dr Daniel Huppatz, Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, and colleagues. They are available on request from Dr Grace Lees-Maffei g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk
·       TUESDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2016

6 pm, University of Hertfordshire Gallery. Opening of the Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Exhibition, led by Ian Willcock. Refreshments served. http://www.herts.ac.uk/apply/schools-of-study/creative-arts/postgraduate-study
·       WEDNESDAY 10th FEBRUARY 2016

11 am to 12.45 pm, Design Studio, Lindop Building. MA Art and Design, Module: Discourse and Reflection, led by Kerry Andrews: Dr Daniel Huppatz, ‘The International State of Design History’.

12.45 pm for 1 pm, AA191 College Lane Campus. TVAD Talks series. You’re toast! What happened when modernist designers met subversive consumers in the 20th century kitchen’, Dr Susan Parham, Head of Urbanism, Centre for Sustainable Communities

Over the course of the 20th century kitchens became highly contested territory, caught between designers’ certainties and users’ unruly responses to their architectural and technological design interventions. Drawing on design research documented in my recent book, Food and Urbanism (2015), in this talk I explore how the foodspace of the kitchen became a critical design site for fascinating battles about spatial behaviour and cultural meaning.

Respondent: Dr Daniel Huppatz.

·       THURSDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2016

4 pm, AB146, Todd Building. Design Talks series. Dr Daniel Huppatz discusses his forthcoming book in progress, Modern Asian Design.

·       MONDAY 15th FEBRUARY 2016

11 am to 1 pm, BA (Hons) Interior Architecture & Design Studio. Research-informed teaching session with Level 6. Led by Dr Daniel Huppatz with Programme Leader, Dr Silvio Carta.

·       TUESDAY 16th FEBRUARY 2016

9.45 am to 4 pm, R010 de Havilland Campus. DHeritage, Professional Doctorate in Heritage Workshop: ‘Global/Local Places’, Convened by Dr Susan Parham, Head of Urbanism, Centre for Sustainable Communities.

For more information, contact the TVAD Research Group Leader, Dr Grace Lees-Maffei g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk and read our blog at http://tvad-uh.blogspot.co.uk/

Friday, 13 November 2015

TVAD Talks Series 2015-16

I'm delighted to announce the TVAD Talks series for 2015-16.  All are welcome to join us for TVAD Talks, held regularly on the second Wednesday of each month during term in AA191 (Art and Design Building). Note that the 9th December session is in 1A159, exceptionally. We start at 12.45 with a buffet lunch for a 1 pm research presentation and discussion after.

Our series kicked off with a symposium, on Weds 14th October 2015 entitled The Comic Electric: A Digital Comics Symposium’. It was convened by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Creative Arts. The symposium was a joint event for three of the School of Creative Art’s research groups; TVAD (Theorising Visual Arts and Design), G+VERL (Games and Visual Effects Research Lab) and The Media Research Group, in conjunction with the DARE (Digital Arts Research Education) research centre at the UCL Institute of Education. We published the full programme here: http://tvad-uh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-comic-electric-symposium-information.html Films of all of the presentations and a Storify charting the responses to the talks are available here: http://electricomics.net/2015/11/the-comic-electric-2/
This symposium picked up some themes address in Daniel Merlin Goodbrey's edited volume for TVAD's peer-reviewed open access journal, Writing Visual Culture - you can read the articles here: http://www.herts.ac.uk/research/ssahri/research-areas/art-design/tvad-theorising-visual-art-and-design/writing-visual-culture/volume-7

Next, we have Dr Anne L. Murphy, from the University of Hertfordshire's School of Humanities, talking about 'Britannia at the Bank of England'. Read the abstract for Anne's talk here http://tvad-uh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/next-tvad-talk-dr-anne-l-murphy.html

The rest of the 2015-16 series is detailed here - please join us!

Weds 9th December 2015 – N.B. In room 1A159 - ‘Inside Out: Dialogic Space in Contemporary Arts Education’, Dr Rebecca Thomas, Programme Leader, Photography
This paper considers the metaphor and practice of the picnic as well as other staff-led responses to the increasing marketisation of higher education. Drawing on Mihkail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogical exchange as outlined in his seminal work Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1984), the piece reports on how Creative Arts staff at the University of Hertfordshire are working alongside students on a cross-discipline, collaborative book. As with the picnic-related excursions, this project emphasises the potential of working outside the University as an antidote to the market’s corporate pressures, as well as the benefits gained when space is made for a genuinely creative approach. 

Weds 13th January 2016 – ‘Not Mere Messengers or Window Dressers: Understanding Social Contexts for Graphic Design’, Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, Programme Director for DHeritage, the Professional Doctorate in Heritage and TVAD Research Group Leader
Graphic designers are wrongly perceived as mere messengers, engaged in superficial ‘window dressing’, beautifying and delivering content for others, who are classed as originators. I aim to counter these unhelpful stereotypes by examining the work of graphic designers as a vital channel of discourse between individuals and society. My approach avoids aesthetic value judgments, and I do not set out to focus on the most beautiful, or iconic work in graphic design (although I have examined aesthetics and iconicity in design elsewhere). Rather, informed by cultural sociology and theories of semiotics and post-structuralism, and the work of designers and commentators on modernism, postmodernism and legibility, I ask: What kinds of messages are delivered through graphic design, how are they delivered, and why? I will analyse various graphic design media, from logo design to fashion magazines. This choice of examples will underline the ubiquity of graphic design in contemporary life and its social function. Historians of graphic design have dwelt, perhaps understandably, on the most arresting or innovative examples of work by celebrated designers. Yet, design is a complex social process involving design teams and input from clients and users. Following in the wake of recent work in design history and neighbouring fields which has countered a latently canonical approach by foregrounding everyday design, design failures and amateur design practices, I show how even the most demotic example of graphic design can be effective in performing social labour. A greetings card, which would be dismissed as schmaltzy in the art colleges and design studios populated by innovative and creative designers, can be just as effective in expressing the card giver’s care for its recipient as one which would garner their approval. By looking beyond the recognised aesthetic norms, and standard chronologies of graphic design, we can recognise graphic design as socially profound.

Weds 10th February 2016 – ‘You’re toast! What happened when modernist designers met subversive consumers in the 20th century kitchen’, Dr Susan Parham, Head of Urbanism, Centre for Sustainable Communities
Over the course of the 20th century kitchens became highly contested territory, caught between designers’ certainties and users’ unruly responses to their architectural and technological design interventions. Drawing on design research documented in my recent book, Food and Urbanism (2015), in this talk I explore how the foodspace of the kitchen became a critical design site for fascinating battles about spatial behaviour and cultural meaning.

Weds 9th March 2016 – The Architecture of Information: Data, People and Public Space, Dr Silvio Carta, Programme Leader Architecture, Interior Architecture and Design
 The advent of digital information in design and architecture in the last thirty years has resulted in radical shifts across all facets of design. Today for the first time in history people have the possibility to be actively involved in the design of the public space, with their voice being heard, and their opinion being compiled, processed, and translated into physical transformation of the built environment. The current design arena –increasingly dominated by the presence of data- will likely allow a new generation of space and public realm which represents the future challenge for both architects and citizens in the coming years.  
Albeit the current panorama is alluring, the architectural discipline is far from being utterly ready to the major shift that we are all facing, and that will be crucially important in the coming years. There still are large grey areas about methodologies to be employed, limits and potentials of the use of data to understand people and their use of space, legal, moral and ethical concerns in using and publishing data. The use of data needs to be cautiously considered in its objectivity, accuracy, context, accessibility, quantity and quality. How our buildings –traditionally characterised by robustness, solidity and long-spanning life are changing as consequence of the information era? How is the process of making in design -from jewellery and small objects to the scale of the territory- being dramatically modified by the use of data? How are designers changing their ways of working and thinking? How is the notion of “people” within the context of smart cities moving from a general and standardised group to a systematic ensemble of individuals? How do citizens perceive the public ream today through the multitude of social media and phone apps? How do they use it? What do they think of it?  How is their contribution expressed in form of data actually changing –perhaps like never before- the way we see, think of and design our cities? Ultimately, what will the augmented public space of tomorrow look like? 

Weds 13th April 2016 – ‘Secret Cinema and the spatialisation of the filmic experience’, Kim Walden, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Cultures in the School of Creative Arts
In the light of changes to the way we view films today with the advent of small screens and solitary viewings, this presentation will look at the phenomena of Secret Cinema that turns films into live events at ‘secret’ locations across London. Focussing on a recent Secret Cinema event in the suburb of West Croydon in which a vacant 13 storey office block was transformed into the story world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), this presentation will consider the consequences of the spatialisation of the film experience for the spectator.
To investigate the experience, three key strategies deployed by Secret Cinema will be explored: scaled up film props, in-event screenings and sound scapes. Then the presentation will go on to explore how the theories of Roland Barthes’ in The Pleasure in the Text (1973) and Espen Aarseth’s in Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) can both be deployed to understand the audience experience of these events. Aarseth suggests these new media forms are as much ideological as anything else, constructed through their difference (and presumed superiority) to prior media experiences, but this presentation will conclude that secret cinema’s film event creates a sense of tmesis and disorientation for their audiences which is a far cry from Barthes‘ promise of ‘textual bliss.

Weds 11th May 2016 – ‘Technology and Heritage - predictions from the Millennium - what really happened next?Helen Casey, DHeritage, Professional Doctorate in Heritage
At the turn of the millennium, when the internet was new, it seemed that, for heritage professionals, a shiny new dawn awaited. Technology would allow records to be digitised, artefacts to be experienced through virtual reality, and expertise to be shared worldwide at the touch of a button. Technology would democratise our heritage, allowing more people to access, experience and learn from it.
At the same time, there were warnings that the use of gaudy information screens in exhibitions would distract from the object, immersive technology allowing sensory perception would cheapen and simplify the visitor experience, and expensive technology used to digitise and share heritage would become obsolete within ten or even five years, wasting valuable resources and creating a ‘digital black hole’ where digitised artefacts would go to die.
So, what really happened next? And how can we plan ahead in a world of rapid and unpredictable technological change?
For more information, contact Dr Grace Lees-Maffei g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk Blog http://tvad-uh.blogspot.co.uk/