Encountering Corpses 4! 10th November 2018. ‘Encountering the post-human corpse: death and digital technology’

It’s with great excitement that we can announce that Manchester Metropolitan University’s Encountering Corpses will have its 4th outing at the ESRC Festival of Social Science*
on Saturday 10th November 2018 (timings tbc)
in Manchester Metropolitan University No.70 Building on Oxford Street (the old Cornerhouse Cinema beside Oxford Road railway station).
***Updates on timings will be posted here.***
Please forward this announcement on your own networks too.
This time the theme will be ‘Encountering the post-human corpse: death and digital technology‘.
Two exciting key speakers will frame the day and provoke thought about death and the digital and cyborgs:
The day will also feature presentations, exhibits and hands-on activities from practitioners using various digital technologies:
  • Kathryn Smith will talk about and exhibit facial reconstructions and related artworks from the exciting FaceLab project at Liverpool John Moore’s University.
  • Neil Withnell of Salford University’s School of Health and Society will bring and discuss synthetic humans used in nursing training.
  • Dr Gethin Evans of Healthcare Science at Man Met will talk about and demonstrate the use of digital autopsy tables and bring one along to the event.
Plus, build your own skeleton!
So the day promises a mix of intriguing talks and demonstrations and art work!
The event is free to attend as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science* and tickets are not required.
See you there!
Craig Young and Helen Darby.
*The 16th annual ESRC Festival of Social Science takes place from 3—10 November 2018 with over 300 free events nationwide. Run by the Economic and Social Research Council, the festival provides an opportunity for the public to meet some of the country’s leading social scientists to discover, discuss and debate how research affects their lives. With a range of creative and engaging events going on across the UK, there’s something for everyone including businesses, charities, schools and government agencies. The full programme is available at: www.esrc.ac.uk/festival.
Catch up and join in on Twitter using #esrcfestival.

 

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One Little Square

As Research Impact and Public Engagement Manager for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met, I have been working on Encountering Corpses with Craig Young for the last four years. It has been my privilege each time to curate amazing art, and to bring to each event a real ‘encounter’ with human remains. To make the symposia not just theoretical, but to practice what we preach, as we preach it.

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Photo credit: Ade Hunter

At the previous Encountering Corpses events in Manchester we have engaged with real dead bodies in a number of ways. In 2014 we joined Egyptologist Campbell Price at Manchester Museum to look at the Egyptian remains in their collection. In 2016 we held our symposium at Southern Cemetery crematorium. When it came to organising our third event in 2017, we needed to hold the now two day event within the University and so we wondered: where will we encounter the dead this time?

I had a good idea we could do this on the doorstep…

Grosvenor Square – more commonly known as All Saints Park –  sits right at the heart of the main Manchester Met campus. It is tiny and seemingly quite innocuous.

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Photo credit: Helen Darby

For leading Manchester tourist info site Visit Manchester it is somewhere to eat lunch.

Manchester Met is currently in the process of reimagining the site as ‘All Saints Art Park’. Just outside the library you can already view an augmented reality plinth which links you to artefacts from the University’s amazing ‘Special Collections’ holdings of books and art.

It is a space where arguably rather profane spectacles take place too: from outdoor drinking, to guerrilla marketing and even a naked bike ride every summer. Yet we know from four notices, one at each entrance to the park, that this was once the burial ground of All Saints Church. Moreover, that really was all I knew, before undertaking this work.

Michala Hulme of the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage at Manchester Met has prepared a short history of the church for this blog. Suffice to say, there was a church on the site and we knew with some certainty there would be some human remains still located here.

The burial ground had been a park for a number of decades before Manchester Met took the lease from Manchester City Council in 1995. At that time, the University undertook the current landscaping, following designs created by Ed Bennis and Barry Wonnacott of the Centre for Landscape Research at Manchester Met, reinstating some old features and installing new ones. It is in this instantiation of the park that I now wanted us to collectively encounter the dead for the third Encountering Corpses symposium. Starting to look around the site with this in mind, it became very apparent that this was a place where the sacred was continually re-emerging.

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Photo credit: Helen Darby

Within the park, we have a garden design which calls to mind the most ancient monuments we know, standing stones and circles. Contemporary memorials remember dear relatives, students and staff killed in dreadful accidents and horrific circumstances, and Africans abused and murdered by slavery: particularly relevant here in Manchester, where the wealth that paid for the city came in large part from colonial enterprises. This, then, is a space that is prosaic and profane, sacred and mystical, all at once.

For every instance of Encountering Corpses it has been my intention that participants are brought as close as possible to the real dead, to their materiality. This desire came about for me back in 2014, and inspired our encounter with the Egyptian remains at Manchester Museum. I have lived in Manchester my whole life and like anyone brought up here had been taken to see the ‘Manchester Mummies’ multiple times as a child. But I had never really thought of them as dead bodies, as bones that once had flesh around them, that had walked and breathed. As I read Craig’s research and the work of other death studies academics and specialists, I became intrigued by that disconnect – between the real dead around us and how we are conditioned to think about them – and found myself motivated to challenge it, in myself and others.

For the encounters in this series I have wanted the participants, to feel, viscerally, that the human remains are present, and what this means.

I want you to feel their bones, in your bones.

For the encounter in All Saints Park we are asking you to consider the dead below the ground, to send your consciousness under the earth to meet them. Artist Debbie Sharp, who has worked extensively on death and memory, has been commissioned to help with this by creating a sound piece that you can listen to while in the park. It is available on Soundcloud.

I have myself made a piece of work that addresses a tiny part of the biography of the people in All Saints – the only thing we know in most cases so far –  their names.

All Saints 07 - Copy

Image courtesy of Manchester Libraries and Archives

And what of the dead of All Saints Church?

Despite popular rumours that abound that this site was a mass grave or a plague pit, Michala’s research finds these dead to be the well-heeled middle classes of burgeoning Victorian Manchester. They are our unremarkable dead – dead from disease or old age in the most part.

We found burial records for over 16,000 of these ordinary people. Not wiped out by plague or disaster, but by time.

As unremarkable, then, as you or I.

This is the equality of death, and the covering over of the space and its reimagining demonstrates also the impossibility of permanent or perfect remembrance.

So why even remember these unremarkable dead? Dead who are not marked by fame, or high circumstances, or even the negative celebrity of extreme calamity?

I believe that remembering everyone, including the unremarkable, connects us back to the ubiquity of death, the vagaries of fortune, and the shared fellowship of all human beings. In attempting to remember everyone we accept the intrinsic value of all people, without agenda or placing of value.

So I am asking you to encounter these corpses exactly because they were not special, are not especially interesting, were just a fragment of history that we have laid a new world over and begun again – and remember all the multitudes of dead as a way, too, of loving everyone alive, without judgement of their worth or otherwise.

I am also concerned here with the disappearance of reverance from contemporary, Western, neo-liberal, late capitalist society. (And I say this as both an atheist and a materialist). It comes back to the disconnect I spoke of around the ‘Manchester Mummies’. My suspicion is that the capacity that allows us to turn a grave site into a picnic spot might be the same capacity that allows us to close the door of the abattoir and deny the grim realities of industrial meat and dairy production, or observe a dinghy bobbing in the Mediterranean sea but not feel the families inside.

I believe death studies and encountering the dead is uniquely placed to turn from this sense of disconnection towards an ethics of care, because of the universal equity of the fact of death. Engaging with memory and history entail nuance, layering and complexity, helping us to avoid a banal enthrallment to what is new or, more often, expedient. Remembrance of the dead in particular evinces care towards others because death connects, in its ubiquity, all living things.

The physical installation will hopefully resonate with you if you get the chance to see it, and speak for itself as art should. But to give a few notes of reference:

The installation has been inspired by acts of informal, collective commemoration and ceremony – the locks at Liverpool docks, pagan Clootie trees and the ribbon memorials at Crossbones graveyard in London.

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Photo credit: Helen Darby

The shapes were inspired by the falling leaves of the park, which filled the place when we were exploring and researching, and of course speak to death, decay and temporality. The white colour of the leaves is both reverent and ghostly – and the names are deliberately faint and obscure, in acknowledgement that attempts to remember individuals are ephemeral and doomed to failure.

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Photo credit: Helen Darby

There is no stone carved for eternity, for any of us – only hauntings that can be brought to mind as shadows of our own passing.

It is in these shadows, rather than in marble and granite, that we can find an inscription that remembers everyone.

Helen Darby


I would like to thank Eleanor Donaldson from Estates Projects at Manchester Met for her invaluable assistance in researching the history of the park since the University took up the lease.

I highly recommend Derek Brumhead and Terry Wyke’s book ‘A Walk Around All Saints’ (Manchester Polytechnic, 1987 ISBN 10: 1870355008 / ISBN 13: 9781870355001) for more fascinating insights into this pocket-handkerchief sized space that’s packed with multitudinous histories.

A few public historians / psychogeographers have fruitfully engaged with the park previously, and I am indebted to their inspirational writing:

http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/churches/allsaints.html

https://theurbanprehistorian.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/beneath-the-motorway/

http://www.toms-travels.net/?p=11550

Encountering Corpses III overview

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Here is a simplified overview of everything that is happening over the two days (more detail about speakers can be found on the conference 2017 link in the main menu).

Encountering Corpses III

Manchester Metropolitan University

8th and 9th December 2017

We are pleased to welcome you to the third ‘Encountering Corpses’ event. This year we will incorporate several activities over two days.

On Friday 8th December (day one) we will start two days of conference activity, with talks on theory of the dead body, biomedicine, the digital dead body and celebrity corpses.

You can buy a ticket for £15 (£5 concessions) for just this day at our online shop. Catering throughout the day and buffet lunch is included.

Alternatively, you can purchase a two day ticket for £25 or £15 concession (Catering and lunch included).

Tickets: http://buyonline.mmu.ac.uk/product-catalogue/arts-and-humanities/events/encountering-corpses-iii

Programme for Friday 8th December:

10.00am – Refreshments and Registration – North Atrium, Manchester Met Business School

10.30 – 10.45am – Welcome – Prof. Craig Young (Manchester Met)

Introduction from Professor Richard Greene, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research Knowledge Exchange at Manchester Met.

10.45am – 11.30am Theorising the corpse I

11.30 – 11.45 Break and refreshments

11.45 – 12.45 Plenary One – Prof. Catherine Nash, Geography, Queen Mary University of London:

Making kinship with human remains: repatriation, biomedicine and the many relations of Charles Byrne

12.45 – 13.30 – Lunch – North Atrium, MMU Business School

13.30 – 14.30 Sandra Burslem Building) Theorising the corpse II

14.30 – 15.45 Current research in death and the dead body I

15.45 – 16.00 Break and refreshments

16.00 – 17.00 Theorising the corpse III

17.00 – 18.00 Plenary Two – Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce, Sociology, University of York:

‘I see dead people’: Encountering Corpses in Popular Culture

18.00 – 18.10 – Closing remarks day one

TYPE 4 - ENCOUNTERING CORPSES

Friday 8th Dec evening event:

Michael Symmons Roberts reads ‘Food for Risen Bodies’

Poetry and discussion event

On Friday 8th Dec in a separate FREE event, join world-renowned poet Michael Symmons Roberts for a special close reading of the series ‘Food for Risen Bodies’ from his 2004 collection ‘Corpus’.

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After reading, Michael will invite questions from the audience, which will be discussed as a group over complimentary wine and bread.

You do not need to attend any of the conference events in order to attend this poetry night.

Please book here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-for-risen-bodies-with-michael-symmons-roberts-tickets-3847362063

TYPE 4 - ENCOUNTERING CORPSESOn Saturday 9th December we will reconvene for a second, very special day at the conference.

You can buy a ticket for £15 (£5 concessions) for just this day at our online shop. Catering throughout the day and buffet lunch is included.

Alternatively, you can purchase a two day ticket for £25 or £15 concession (Catering and lunch included).

Tickets: http://buyonline.mmu.ac.uk/product-catalogue/arts-and-humanities/events/encountering-corpses-iii

Programme for Saturday 9th December

10.00am – Refreshments and Registration – North Atrium, MMU Business School

10.30am – Welcome – Professor Craig Young – MMU Business School

10.45am – 11.30am Theorising the corpse IV

11.30 – 11.45 – Break and refreshments

11.45 – 13.00 Current research in death and the dead body II

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch – North Atrium

14.00 – 17.00 An afternoon of Encountering the Dead in Grosvenor Square:

Grosvenor Square (commonly known as All Saints Park) is located on Manchester Met All Saints campus immediately next to the conference venue and is a former church graveyard which still contains over 16,000 bodies.

As part of the Encountering Corpses III events, a moving and fascinating installation will be taking place in the park, marking the presence of these past Mancunians with visual and sound art and a pop up exhibition of historical images and new writing.

First, the various academics and artists involved in the project will talk about their experiences of interacting with the dead and developing the texts and artworks:

  • Helen Darby, Research Impact Manager for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and curator of the project.
  • Michala Hulme, Lecturer in History at Manchester Met and part of the Manchester Centre for Public History (MCPH) who has investigated the site and studied the burial records of those interred.
  • Dr Sam Edwards, Lecturer in History at MMU and Director of MCPH
  • Debbie Sharp, Artist: http://debbie-sharp.com/withinmemoriam (providing the sound installation).
  • Dr Ian Drew, School of Science and Environment at Manchester Met (performing radar scanning of the park).

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Conference attendees will move into the park itself, to interact with texts and the art and sound installations. We will also be provided with details of the radar scanning that is taking place as part of the project, with a chance to view the equipment used and ask further questions of the project team.

After some time to view and listen, we will return to the conference venue to discuss the encounter as a group.

17.00 – 18.00 Plenary Three – Ass. Prof. Margaret M. Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, USA.:

Encountering Corpses Onscreen: From Banality To Dignity

18.00 – 18.15 – Concluding remarks

18.15 – The Archaeology of Beer – talk by Dr Ben Edwards of Manchester Met

Learn about the brewing of ancient beers – not just in theory but in 21st Century practice! Our Dr Ben Edwards has joined forces with Chester’s Pied Bull Brewery to serve up batches of new beer based on recipes sourced from archaeological investigations. Attendees of the talk will receive two beer tokens, good for one half each of both beers available on the night – a Romano-British ale named Mithras and the Medieval 1534 (named after the founding date of Pied Bull).

19.30 – Concluding social event – please join us at The Salutation pub in the upstairs room to celebrate the end of the Encountering Corpses Research Seminar Series with a buffet, music and ancient beer.

Saturday 9th December 7.30pm

Closing party:

Please join us at The Salutation pub in the upstairs room to celebrate the end of the Encountering Corpse III with a buffet, suitably themed music and ancient beer!

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Encountering Corpses III art and sound installation update

A bit more detail on the Saturday afternoon of the event is now on the programme:

13.30ish – 18.00ish

An afternoon of Encountering the Dead in All Saints/Grosvenor Park:

All Saints Park or Grosvenor Park/Square, located on MMU All Saints campus next to the conference venue, is a former church graveyard which still contains many bodies. This afternoon event will include an art installation in the park with a marquee and an online sound installation which will immerse the listener in the presence of the dead bodies under the park. The marquee will also contain texts about ‘encountering’ the dead bodies  here.

Themes will include memorialisation (who gets remembered, who gets forgotten, why?); grievability; civic commemoration; removal of monuments; class considerations in death and remembrance; Manchester history; death acceptance; cleansing of urban space; historical layering  and psychogeography.

The sound installation will be a new sound recording by artist Debbie Sharp, who has worked extensively on death: http://debbie-sharp.com/withinmemoriam

First, the various academics and artists involved in the project will talk about their experiences of interacting with the dead and developing the texts and artworks:

Michala Hulme, Lecturer in History at MMU and part of the Manchester Centre for Public History (MCPH) who has investigated the site and has the death records of those interred;

Dr Sam Edwards, History at MMU and Director of MCPH will talk about memory at the site;

Debbie Sharp will talk about her sound installation;

Dr Ian Drew, School of Science and Environment at MMU, will discuss radar scanning of the park.

Then, the conference will move into the park itself, to interact with texts and the art and sound installations – more details to follow!

Finally, we will return to the conference venue to discuss the afternoon and conclude events.

Encountering Corpses III tickets available!

It’s with great excitement that we invite you to the 3rd Encountering Corpses symposium, 8-9th December 2017, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Business School, Manchester, UK. The event is also the final event in the ESRC sponsored Research Seminar Series on Encountering Corpses.

Tickets can be booked here:

http://buyonline.mmu.ac.uk/product-catalogue/arts-and-humanities/events/encountering-corpses-iii

A Provisional programme can be viewed on this blog – click on Encountering Corpses III Conference 2017 above.

“Food for Risen Bodies” close poetry reading with Michael Symmons Roberts – TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE

Join world-renowned poet Michael Symmons Roberts for a special close reading of the series ‘Food for Risen Bodies’ from his 2004 collection ‘Corpus’.

Tickets are free but limited so please book here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-for-risen-bodies-with-michael-symmons-roberts-tickets-38473620635

After reading, Michael will invite questions from the audience, which will be discussed as a group over (free) wine and bread.

Chaired by Martin Kratz.

DATE AND TIME

Fri, December 8, 2017

7:00 PM – 10:00 PM GMT

LOCATION

International Anthony Burgess Foundation

3 Cambridge Street

Manchester

M1 5BY

 

This poetry event is free to attend and open to all, it is a companion event to:

Encountering Corpses III, 8th-9th December 2017 – details on this blog-site.

Skeletons, Stories & Social Bodies Conference

Skeletons, Stories & Social Bodies Conference

20th – 22nd March 2018

University of Southampton

www.sssbconference.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook: @sssbconf

———————————————————

Dear All,

We are now inviting submissions for abstracts, workshop proposals, and artwork submissions for the second Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies conference, which will be held at University of Southampton from 20th  – 22nd March 2018.

SSSB is an interdisciplinary conference, and we invite abstracts that cover a range of aspects of death and anatomy. We encourage individuals from all areas and stages of study to consider submitting, as well as those from a commercial/industrial background.

It would also be much appreciated if you could share this with relevant colleagues and students. We wish to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and share research to create an exciting opportunity to share ideas.

We are pleased to able to offer a limited number of student bursaries to those who wish to attend the conference. Students at all stages of their studies are welcome to apply (including part time students), and you are not required to present in order to qualify.

Please note the deadline for abstract submissions and student bursary applications is Thursday 30th November 2017, and the deadline for artwork submissions is Friday 15th December.

You can find more information on our website, and please get in touch you have any questions.

With kind regards,

——
Conference Organising Committee


Skeletons, Stories & Social Bodies Conference

20th – 22nd March 2018

University of Southampton

www.sssbconference.co.uk

 

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook: @sssbconf

ENCOUNTERING CORPSES III CONFERENCE 2017 – confirmed keynote speakers

The 3rd Encountering Corpses symposia is coming on the 8-9th December 2017 in Manchester, UK – save the date!

Full details and booking link to follow.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Catherine Nash, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London:
Catherine is a feminist cultural geographer with research interests in geographies of identity, relatedness and belonging. I am particularly interested in bringing together a cultural geographical perspective and a focus on kinship which includes attention to genealogical knowledges and imaginations and practices of making relations.  I am currently extending this work by addressing interspecies kinship, entangled family histories of animals and people, and the symbolic, practiced, affective, embodied and spatial dimensions of human-non-human relatedness. Catherine will talk about her current project on the ‘Irish Giant’ Charles Byrne, whose skeleton is displayed in the Hunterian Museum in London.
Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce, Sociology, University of York:
Ruth is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the Sociology Department at the University of York. Her background in Sociology is united with an interest in crime and deviance, death and corpses and popular culture and celebrity. Ruth has established the Death and Culture Network at York which runs a biannual international conference as well as being the lead editor of the Emerald Book Series in Death and Culture. She is also on the editorial board for Mortality and Celebrity Studies as well as the advisory board for Cultivate a postgraduate-led journal based in the Centre for Women’s Studies.
Ass. Prof. Margaret M. Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, USA.

https://www.fordham.edu/info/20771/cms_faculty_and_staff/4880/margaret_m_schwartz

Dr. Schwartz is a feminist materialist media theorist with particular interest in the role of embodiment in communicative praxis. She understands communication to be, at its base, a radical encounter between self and other. Her work seeks to move past a politics of representation into what poet Francesca Lisette has called “revolutionary tenderness”: a theoretical attentiveness to practices of care as sites of resistance and reinvention. Her first book, Dead Matter, looked at the corpse as the center of cultural assemblages of mourning, martyrdom, and celebrity. Her current project is an essay on feminist ontology in the digital age, and her next book project will be about translation as a model for communication ethics.

Booking link now available for evening event after Hull ESRC seminar: ‘Re-encountering Those we have Lost’

‘Re-encountering Those we have Lost’ – is an evening of poetry and performance on loss, memory and memorialisation.

This event takes place in Hull following the ESRC seminar on the 9th Nov. 2017 at 19.30.

Please book and see details via this link:
https://culturenet.co.uk/events/re-encountering-those-we-have-lost

Christopher Reid, multiple award winning poet and previously Professor of Creative Writing at University of Hull will be reading from published and new poems written as an elegiac series for his late wife, Lucinda Gane. One poem, ‘Afterlife’, charts his thoughts on passing the hospital where she left her body to medical research. This verse resonates with current research at the Hull York Medical School on liaison with family members of body donors.

This is followed by “A Salt Circle” a performance by Zoë Uí Fhaoláin .After extensive research into Ireland’s cillíníi (the burial grounds of unbaptised children) via reading, listening, and visiting many archaeological sites, this artist uses sound, movement and powerful visual imagery to conjure these liminal spaces into being, drawing on folk tradition and ritual. Her focus is on those parents who lost their babies and were denied the opportunity of a proper burial ceremony and their rights to openly mourn and grieve, as well as the continuing taboos around women’s pregnancy and birth experiences.

The performances will be followed by a Q & A with the artists.

Free admission – booking is essential.