Monthly Archives: August 2016

Oxford Brookes academic to co-curate crowdfunded rural arts project.

Wadhurst News

Simon Kövesi, Professor of English Literature in the Department of English and Modern Languages, is part of the team curating a major cultural event in the village of Wadhurst, East Sussex across summer 2017. It will explore the nature of the countryside and the sometimes dark secrets hidden within it using film, visual arts and storytelling. Professor Kövesi will be working alongside Julian Rowe and Terry Park, and the project’s lead artist, film maker Professor Andrew Kötting.

The event ‘Through a Dark Glass’ is an intriguing arts project that will take place in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It will feature early career artists who have been chosen for their existing interest in rurality, myth, magic and the public realm. Their practices all explore the relationship between a pastoral ideal of landscape and a more unsettling notion of the countryside as a site of the hidden, the uncanny, the archaeological, and the mythic.

It will see Professor Kövesi working with film maker Andrew Kötting again, after their collaboration on the feature film By Our Selves (2015), some of which was filmed at Brookes.

‘Working with Andrew on that film was magical,’ says Simon. ‘Everything Andrew makes is unique and it is a privilege to work with him. Then again he is also annoying, challenging, and rude (which I like). But it is his commitment to unexplored and unacknowledged corners, cultures and stories of England that really drives him on, in his own seriously absurd way. Add the fact that I grew up in Sidcup in Kent – not that far from Wadhurst really – together with the riches all the other glorious artists will bring to the project – and the prospect of all of us responding to the kooky and historically-rich beauty of Wadhurst itself – well, I had to get involved. There’s also a possibility that Oxford Brookes student writers will get involved, which is really exciting.’

To create ‘Through a Dark Glass’, the curators need help – both in terms of funding, and from people who want to join in with creating the work. The smallest contributions will be enormously appreciated, as well as being crucial in making sure arts projects like this actually happen. Click here to see how you can get involved.

The ‘Through a Dark Glass’ event will take place on Midsummer’s day in 2017, and will exhibit in Wadhurst across the summer.

Find out more about news and events in the Department of English and Modern Languages here.

The Centre for Medical Humanities welcome their first research fellow

Dr Emmanuel Betta

Dr Emmanuel Betta

The Department of History, Philosophy and Religion are pleased to welcome Dr Emmanuel Betta to the research community at Brookes. He will be a Visiting Research Fellow for both the Centre for Medical Humanities and the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History.

Dr Emmanuel Betta is a researcher of contemporary history and an associate professor at the University of Rome, Sapienza. His current area of research, Catholic biopolitics, spans the research interests of both centres.

Expanding upon his research interests Dr Emmanuel said:

“From the mid nineteenth century to 1930, the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, which had a decisive role in the definition of orthodoxy of Catholic discourse, started to create rules on topics concerning the control of life and body. From the forties onwards it focused on magnetism and hypnosis, birth control methods, surgical-obstetrical therapies for high-risk pregnancies, cremation of the bodies of dead people, human artificial procreation, whereas from the first years of the twentieth century it started to deal with sterilization and eugenics. These topics all had in common the body, and above all the fact that they were the product of a secularized view of the body itself, of life and death. These elements were no longer conceived and governed starting from a religious and Catholic semantics, but they were increasingly interpreted as starting from biomedical knowledge and perspectives.”

“The aim of my research is to develop the history of Catholic biopolitics, meaning the creation of a doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the ways in which the different aspects of life are governed.”

Dr Emmanuel Betta

“I’m particularly interested in this change and in the way in which the Catholic Church reacted to the loss of control over the production of the semantics for the government of the body and the health. This interest has pushed me in the last ten years to examine specific aspects of this articulated disciplinary process, from the therapeutic interruption of pregnancy and the artificial insemination, to which I dedicated my first two books, to my last article focused on the discourse concerning birth control, in which emerged a relevant role of the English case for the inquisitorial disciplinary decisions. During my Visiting Fellowship I will work on the interplay between national case, in particular the English one, and this disciplinary process, with particular attention to the reception of the Inquisitorial documents in the medical and religious journals and to the analysis of the role of English Catholics in the eugenics discussions.”

For more information about the Centre for Medical Humanities please see here .

For more information about the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History please see here.

Law students volunteer with Oxfam’s Junior Lawyers Against Poverty

Law student Rachel Kimberley

Two Law students at Oxford Brookes have been chosen to serve on the steering committee of the recently launched Oxfam’s Junior Lawyers Against Poverty.

The new Junior Lawyers Against Poverty project is a derivative of Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty initiative and is overseen by a total of 14 Law students from eight universities across the UK.

Iulia Mirzac, who graduated in July, and Rachel Kimberley, a second-year undergraduate Law student at Brookes, were nominated to join the committee by one of their lecturers.

On why she chose to get involved in the project, Rachel said: “Sometimes lawyers can get a bad name for being very money orientated and I wanted to help show another side. On my gap year I worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and I loved it – I was able to make a real difference to the people whose lives I got to guide and stand up for.

“With Junior Lawyers Against Poverty it’s the same; we’re trying to relieve poverty, give people access to justice and let people know they’ve got legal rights.”

The Lawyers Against Poverty project is based on the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the activities of the Junior Lawyers Against Poverty steering committee will focus on issues in developing countries that are currently affiliated by Oxfam. The main issues the project will work with are relieving poverty, achieving justice, improving recruitment and retention of women in law, and improving access to resources for Law students.

Rachel continued: “My role is sponsorship chair, so it’s up to me to raise the money we need to carry out our various ventures. We’re planning a twinning project with law students from other countries, so we’d like to raise enough money to travel out to Tanzania and visit the students we’re planning to twin with. We’re also planning to send them out some textbooks which they can then donate to libraries that under under-resourced.”

Several Oxford Brookes Law students have been working with Lawyers Against Poverty since late 2015 to conduct research. The School of Law at Oxford Brookes also hosted a breakfast seminar for lawyers involved with the project during Lawyers Against Poverty Week in June. The students, with the backing of the School of Law, are launching a pro bono scheme in September in order to open this to all Law students who wish to be involved.  Students will be able to undertake small research projects and will work towards hosting a pioneering Ted-style conference early in 2017 in conjunction with the School of Law and Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty.

Dr Shirley Shipman, Principal Lecturer in Law, commented: “It is a privilege to be involved from the outset with this exciting Oxfam initiative.  This provides an excellent opportunity for law students to work alongside legal professionals in order to make a difference to people in need due to poverty.”

To find out more about Junior Lawyers Against Poverty visit the Oxfam Lawyer’s Against Poverty website


First Year Students receive Ede and Ravenscroft Prize


Five students from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have received prizes for outstanding academic achievement in their first year of studies. The prizes of £500 are donated by Ede and Ravenscroft and are awarded to one student in each department who has achieved the highest grade point average over their first year.

The winners are:

Miriam Manco, Applied Languages, Department of English and Modern Languages

Charlotte Reece, Primary Teacher Education, School of Education

Tatiana Sollis, History of Art, Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Max Jones, Geography, Department of Social Sciences

Tiffany Heppell, LLB Law, School of Law

Winner Tatiana Sollis commented ‘‘I feel very honoured to have received this prize. I will use this prize to motivate me for the rest of my studies and I will put my winnings towards a trip to New York to visit the Museum of Modern Art next summer, which we studied this year and fired my artistic imagination.”

The English and Modern Languages winner Miriam Manco said “It was such an honour to win the Ede and Ravenscroft prize 2016. The department is a community I feel very close to and has been incredibly engaging. Winning this prize was great and has given me impetus to do even better in the years to come.”

Social Sciences winner Max Jones added ‘’I feel extremely happy to be recognised for all of the hard work I have put in to my Geography course this year. I would also like to thank the lecturers for all of their help and support in guiding me through the first year of university.”

 ‘Congratulations to all of the Ede and Ravenscroft prize winners!’

Dave Ellis, Dean of Student Experience, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

New first year offering for Brookes’ Philosophy course

Philo news

The Philosophy Course at Oxford Brookes has introduced two new modules into the first year syllabus. The modules: Global Philosophy in Religions and Human Nature will pose questions such as ‘How can philosophy help us to lead a flourishing life?’ and will complement the already diverse yet cohesive module list available to students.

Philosophy at Brookes investigates the history of philosophy in great detail. It examines prominent issues in areas such as science and religion, and takes the view that the work of great philosophers of the past is relevant to contemporary concerns. The course also explores how the work of historical philosophers impacts upon debates that are central to modern philosophy.

Traditionally, the course has been grounded in the Western approach to teaching philosophy; however the new modules will add a more distinctive element to the course through examining philosophy from a non-western approach.

‘For the new academic year we have added two exciting new first year modules to the Philosophy programme. They will add both breadth and depth to the programme and will enable students to explore issues that have interested philosophers for centuries and are of great contemporary relevance’.

Dr Mark Cain, Programme Lead for Philosophy.

More information on the BA Philosophy course can be found here.

Academics awarded prize for paper on history of Docklands regeneration

Docklands-planning-imageTwo Oxford Brookes academics have been awarded a prize for a research paper which explores the history of the regeneration of the East London docklands and the setting up of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

Dr Sue Brownill from the School of the Built Environment and Professor Glen O’Hara from the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University, have been awarded the 2016 Biennial Planning Perspectives Paper Prize for their paper From Planning to Opportunism; Re-examining the Creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

The Biennial Planning Perspectives Prize is funded by Taylor & Francis and awarded to the best planning history article published in the previous two volumes of the journal.

In awarding the prize the judges commented: “This paper represents both methodologically and conceptually a very important work, challenging ideological and political clichés and investigating with historical tools (archival research) very recent developments, something quite uncommon.[it offers] a new and deep insight into a key moment in the history of planning that goes beyond simple discourses and analyses the complex articulation between actors, pushing on the frontline the issue of contingence in planning history.

“The authors have used careful historical skills and newly accessible archive resources to re-interrogate narratives of important and iconic events that constituted an urban change of truly world significance but which have grown bardic with years of telling by different ideological camps.

“Brownill brings an unrivalled knowledge of the community, political, professional and developer networks that came together in London Docklands built up over many decades of research including innumerable interviews with key actors going back to the earliest days of the initiative. O’Hara brings an extensive understanding of the economic and social policies of the post-war British state and a deep understanding of Britain’s changing long term relationship to the sea.

“This is an article that will, whatever we decide, be very widely read and cited, showcasing the journal for those many who are outside the planning history community.”

The article came out of joint research funded by the University’s Central Research Fund.

The prize was awarded at the 17th Biennial International Planning History Society conference held in Delft on 26 July 2016. The paper can be downloaded and read on Taylor & Francis Online.