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Events and conferences 2011

The Eccles Centre for American Studies regularly organises and supports conferences, seminars, lectures and other events on North American and transatlantic themes, often in partnership with other institutions and organisations. Below here is a list of recent events.


The Obama Presidency: The Context for the Next Elections
APG/BAAS Annual US Politics Colloquium

Friday 11 November 2011 10.15 - 16.30
Conference Centre, British Library

Speakers included Professor Alan Brinkley, Columbia University; Professor Inderjeet Palmer, University of Manchester; Dr Alex Waddan, University of Leicester; and former members of the US Congress Scott Klug (R-WI) and Martin Frost (D-TX)

This event was supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Andrea Wulf: Founding Gardeners

Monday 19 September 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

This beautifully illustrated talk by Andrea Wulf, author of The Founding Gardeners: How the Revolutionary Generation Created an American Eden looked at the lives of the American founding fathers and how their attitude to plants, gardens, nature and agriculture shaped the American nation.

This event was co-sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies and the Benjamin Franklin House


British Library Summer Scholars Seminar Series: Digital Storytelling: Inventing a New Cinematic Language for Documentary

Friday 16 September 2011 12.30 - 14.00
Foyle Room, Centre for Conservation, British Library

HIGHRISE is the National Film Board of Canada’s Emmy Award-winning documentary experiment exploring vertical living in the global suburbs. Katerina Cizek, the director of the project, visited the British Library to showcase and screen some of the collection of digital documentaries that make up the project.

This was the fourth and final talk in the Library’s Summer Scholars programme. These informal lunchtime talks, organised by the English & Drama Department and supported by the Eccles Centre, provided a forum for visitors to the Library to present recent work or work-in-progress to an audience.


Adapt or Die: The Future of News and Newspapers in the Digital Revolution

Wednesday 14 September 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, examined the on-going impact of the digital revolution upon journalists, newspapers and media organisations.

This event was co-sponsored by the Fulbright Commission and the Eccles Centre for American Studies.

Podcast


Amanda Palmer in person

Monday 5 September 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Amanda Palmer has met her audiences as a solo performer, the driving voice of The Dresden Dolls, the Emcee in Cabaret, and as half of  the conjoined-twin folk duo Evelyn Evelyn.  Her songs are in turns irreverent, touching, hilarious, and unapologetically emotional. This award-winning performer presented a rare ukulele-centric set of music, including material from her latest covers record Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits of Radiohead on her Magical Ukulele.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Building A New World with a Better Jukebox: Amanda Palmer Invades the BL

Monday 5th September 2011 14.30 - 16.30
Conference Centre, British Library

In association with the evening performance by Amanda Palmer, the Eccles Centre for American Studies invited four speakers to lead a discussion on edgy, non-conformist, contemporary music, setting a context for Amanda's own 'Brechtian punk cabaret'.

Panellists included Peter Dale, on the politics of punk; John Richards (De Montfort University) on electronic noise and DIY; David Sanjek (Salford University & consultant to the US Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) on the industrial dimension of American independent music; and writer, critic and Amanda Palmer aficionada Roz Kaveney. US literature specialist Gert Buelens (University of Gent) was in the chair.


Worlds of Wonder?

Sunday 4 September 2011 14.30 - 16.00
Conference Centre, British Library

What is the future of the Future? Is the golden age of science fiction speculation now over or can the future still create a sense of wonder? Has the speed of change outstripped anything the story tellers, film makers, special effects artists and game designers can imagine? Or does the increasing knowledge we possess of the human condition and of scientific progress give us ever more fabulous ways to speculate? Speakers included TED fellow Rachel Armstrong, who joined one of the worlds masters of amazing storytelling, Neil Gaiman, his fellow author Peter F. Hamilton and critic Kari Sperring. Chair, Farah Mendlesohn.


British Library Summer Scholars Seminar Series
Seminar 3: "Through the old order gleams the new": the Rossettis in America

Wednesday 17 August 2011 12.30 - 14.00
Foyle Room, Centre for Conservation, British Library

Dr Dinah Roe talked about her latest research into this aspect of the lives of the Rossettis. Dinah Roe is the author of Christina Rossetti's Faithful Imagination and, most recently, the editor of The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin (Penguin Classics). Her forthcoming publication is The Rossettis in Wonderland: a Victorian Family History.

This was the third event in the Summer Scholars programme (#BLscholars). This series of informal lunchtime seminars is designed to give scholars working at the Library the opportunity to discuss recent work or work-in-progress, including forthcoming publications.

This event was supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


British Library Summer Scholars Seminar Series
Seminar 2: Professor Patrick James on Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan

Wednesday 27 July 2011 12.30 - 14.00
Foyle Room, Conservation Centre

Professor James is Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, and Director of the USC Center for International Studies. He is currently an Eccles Fellow.

This event was supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Out of this World Classics: Selected and Dissected

Tuesday 12 July 2011, 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

The organisers of the Arthur C Clarke Award, the leading British Science Fiction honour, invited you to join their crack team of panellists as they chose and discussed personal favourites from the British Library's Out of this World exhibition - which takes in everyone from Voltaire to Vonnegut, Thomas More to Alan Moore, and Borges to Burgess.

Clarke Award winning participants included Paul McAuley, Pat Cadigan and Kim Newman with contributions by Margaret Atwood filmed especially for the event.

Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


British Library Summer Scholars Seminar Series
Seminar 1: Dr Katy Masuga on Henry Miller

Wednesday 29 June 2011 12.30 - 14.00
Foyle Room, Conservation Centre

This series of informal lunchtime seminars was designed to give scholars working at the Library the opportunity to discuss recent Library-based work, talk about forthcoming publications and, more generally, share research experiences with one another.

Dr Katy Masuga, Adjunct Professor of British and American literature, cinema, and the arts at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle. She shared details of her work on the life and times of Henry Miller, which has led to the publication of two books this year: Henry Miller and How He Got That Way (Edinburgh University Press), and The Secret Violence of Henry Miller (Camden House).

This event was supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Out of this World: Brian Aldiss, John Clute, Michael Moorcock and Norman Spinrad

Tuesday 21 June 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

A rare chance to spend an evening with four of the most extraordinary writers of modern times. Each has had a long, diverse career encompassing novels, short stories, essays and non fiction; championing originality and freely blending the literary mainstream with fantasy, science fiction and absurdism.

Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Space Children: From Dr. Funkenstein to the ArchAndroid

Saturday 18 June 15.30 – 17.00 (plus film screening at 14.00)
Conference Centre, British Library

George Clinton, whose P-funk mythology turned his whole band into characters from a wild space opera came to the British Library to talk about all things galactic in his career. He shared the event with Nona Hendryx from Labelle, whose concerts and extraordinary styling in the mid 1970s had to be seen to be believed. The event was be preceded by a rare screening of John Akomfrah’s documentary The Last Angel of History introduced by writer and artist Kodwo Eshun. Presented in association with Union Black.

Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library


Legacies of Emancipation in the Americas

Tuesday 14 June 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Robin Blackburn (Essex University), Richard Drayton (King's College London), Denise Ferreira da Silva (Queen Mary, University of London), and playwright and critic Bonnie Greer explored the long-term legacies of the processes of emancipation of enslaved African populations that began in the late eighteenth century in different parts of the Americas.

This event was co-sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.


When London was Capital of America

Monday 13 June 2011 18.45 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Drawing on her highly acclaimed work, When London Was Capital of America, Julie Flavell recreated the city's heyday as the centre of the North American colonies. Illuminating the momentous years just before American independence, she interweaved the stories of colonial American visitors to the city with the forgotten American features of Georgian London.


The Art and Science of Time Travel

Friday 10 June 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

The concept, appeal and paradoxes of time travel were discussed by Stephen Baxter, whose The Time Ships is a sequel to H.G. Wells, Audrey Niffenegger, the author of the bestselling The Time Traveler’s Wife, and acclaimed science writer John Gribbin.


The Age of Entanglement: Are We Too Intertwined with Technology?

Friday 3 June 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Are we too dependent on our technologies, or are they a key to a bright future? Speakers included technology writer and broadcaster Aleks Krotoski and Sherry Turkle (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Alone Together).

Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.


Who owns the story of the Future?

Tuesday 24 May 2011 18.30 – 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Will the future be better or worse? – and does the story we are telling ourselves help or hinder us? Can we make the right choices, and deal with the grand challenges ahead or will our ambitions and lack of political will get in the way. Jon Turney (The Rough Guide to the Future) chaired a panel including economist Diane Coyle (The Economics Of Enough), technology and SF writers Cory Doctorow, William Gibson and Mark Stevenson (An Optimists Tour of the Future)


The Lessons of History

Monday 16 May 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador to the United States, drew on his background as a diplomat, public servant, and author, in delivering the inaugural Benjamin Franklin House Robert H. Smith Lecture in American Democracy . Robert H. Smith an American business leader and philanthropist, for whom the Benjamin Franklin House Scholarship Centre is named, exemplified Franklin's belief in the importance of civic and personal responsibility.

This lecture was co-sponsored by Benjamin Franklin House and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.


Obama and American Power Today

Monday 9 May 2011 10.00 - 17:30
Conference Centre, British Library
Programme details

This one-day symposium considered the condition of American power and influence as President Obama's tenure at the White House enters its third year. Co-organised by LSE IDEAS, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.


American Intelligence and the Iraq War in Perspective

Monday 9 May 2011 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

The U.S. government spends enormous amounts every year gathering and analysing intelligence, yet the history of American foreign policy is littered with missteps and misunderstandings. Drawing on his long experience as a consultant to the CIA, Robert Jervis (Columbia University) argued that the inferences that intelligence drew were actually quite plausible given the information available, but that errors arose from insufficient self-awareness about how information should be gathered and interpreted, and an organizational culture that failed to probe for weaknesses and explore alternatives. This was the Plenary Lecture for the daytime conference "Obama and American Power Today" and was co-organised by LSE IDEAS, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.


The American Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Conference

Monday 11 April 2011, 10.00 - 17.30
Programme

This conference was co-sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.


Tales of Heroism, Tales of Terror: The British in the American Civil War

Monday 11 April 2011, 18.30 - 20.00

Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished letters and journals, Amanda Foreman, author of the highly acclaimed A World on Fire, and the award winning Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, gave a fresh account of the American Civil War through the extraordinary stories of many of the thousands of Britons who went to America as soldiers, observers, nurses, adventurers, guerrillas and spies.

Podcast


Reading: Garrison Keillor: American English, American Places

Tuesday 15 March 2011, 19.00 - 20.15
Conference Centre, British Library

Garrison Keillor read poems by American writers caught up in American landscape. Keillor is an American writer, storyteller, humourist, and radio personality. He is especially well known as author of the Lake Wobegon stories and, since 1974, as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show "A Prairie Home Companion".

Supported by the United States Embassy in London and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at The British Library


Talk: Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation

Monday 7 March 2011, 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

'I have a dream'. The electrifying speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on a hot August day in 1963, brought the pressing question of civil rights to wide public consciousness and firmly established Martin Luther King, Jr as one of the greatest orators of all. The speech that is commonly regarded as one of the finest in history was co-written by Clarence B Jones, a close confidant to King himself. Jones discussed the build-up to the great speech with Gary Younge, and reflected on how it has inspired people ever since.

Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at The British Library


Talk: How the Minds of English Speakers Shaped the English Language

Monday 10 Jan 2011, 18.30 - 20.00
Conference Centre, British Library

Author Steven Pinker, whose works have assessed the interplay of language and the mind, discussed how psychological processes including memory, mental computation and social networking have shaped the grammar and lexicon of the English language over the last few centuries.

Steven Pinker is Professor of Psychology at Harvard, and Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.

Suppported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at The British Library


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