HARI operates as both an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary Institute. Established over a decade ago, its explicit aim is to foster intellectual exchange between scholars of different disciplines.
It now hosts a wide range of collaborative projects, promoting events in central London locations and on Royal Holloway’s campus at Egham.
This section offers an introduction to this year’s research topics, with links to individual project pages.
5th Denis Cosgrove Lecture - Visionary Geography: William Blake and the English Landscape
The Centre for the GeoHumanities is delighted to announce that the fifth Denis Cosgrove Lecture will be given by Professor Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham).
Geography and Vision are key words in the works of Denis Cosgrove, together the title of his Inaugural Lecture at Royal Holloway in 1996 and that of a career framing collection of essays published in 2008. This lecture explores meetings of material and imaginative worlds in the works of painter and poet William Blake (1757-1827), and their implications for landscape as a field of vision. It addresses Blake’s representation of London and its environs in the early nineteenth century as it was transformed into a major imperial city, as well as images of cottages, cornfields and cathedrals. Visionary Geography locates Blake’s work in relation to wider currents of book and image making in his own time, including topography and cartography, and in terms of its long standing influence, for envisioning English landscape and its possible worlds.
The lecture, and the drinks reception after it are free to attend, but please book a place at the Event Brite site.
Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth-Century (Centre for Victorian Studies)
This project draws together colleagues across disciplines within the Centre for Victorian Studies (CVS) to examine how we research radicalism and reform in the long nineteenth century (1776-1914). Activities will focus particularly on how digital technologies can help researchers excavate and analyse radical and reformist texts, networks and activities, and present their findings to academic and non-academic audiences. Central to these activities is a project to digitize the correspondence of Elizabeth Jesser Reid, a founder of Bedford College. Reid is a central but neglected figure in Victorian reform networks in Britain and transnationally. The College holds between 500 and 1000 letters, mostly to Reid from correspondents in Britain, Europe and the US that illuminate the complex connections within Victorian reform culture. To support the digital project and the research and impact activities listed above, we will host two workshops, inviting leading scholars of nineteenth-century reform and radicalism, including scholars who have successfully won funding for digital research and impact projects. The workshops will identify opportunities and set agendas for future research in radicalism and reform, and examine the practical and theoretical issues involved in setting up digital projects.
The Waiting Room (Victoria Mapplebeck)
The Waiting Room is a VR Journey which tells the story of a breast cancer diagnosis (from the perspective of patient and film-maker) from treatment to recovery.
In 2017, Victoria Mapplebeck was diagnosed with breast cancer. As part of her research project, she gained access to her tumour samples. Looking though the microscope at her own cancer cells inspired her to create a film and VR project which would challenge the language of illness and the cultural myths that surround this disease.
Using 360 video, real time audio and CGI, our audience will experience the emotions of a cancer diagnosis from the outside in. 360 sequences will capture waiting rooms, operating theatres and chemo bays. The Waiting Room explores illness and mortality from a patient’s POV, putting under the microscope what we can and what we can’t control when our bodies fail us.
Victoria Mapplebeck is a Reader in Digital Arts. Her research explores how multi-platform documentary has evolved since the late 1990s, from online interactive narratives to the immersive experiences offered by non fiction VR. Over the last four years, Victoria has begun to specialise in smartphone production and making short form online video with impact. Victoria is currently in production on a new smartphone short and VR project which explores illness and mortality from a patient’s POV, putting under the microscope what we can and what we can’t control when our bodies fail us.
In the Absence of Visible Walls (Agnieszka Studzinska & Edward Brookes)
In an exploration of urban politics and city spaces, ‘In the Absence of Visible Walls’ is a project that discusses urban regeneration through the lens of ‘the wall’. The wall is visceral and fundamental element of architecture, a 3D representation of the line. It demarcates, it is a boundary, it is architecture making a mark, a point of transition, a division. The wall creates space, it creates community, it is a device of control and power. We therefore position the wall as an architectural device that can be used to explore how we engage in notions of memory, loss, homes, demolition and boundaries. The project aims to bring together the historical narratives of erasure, destruction and gentrification of ‘Robin Hood Gardens’, a housing estate in East London and the space of ‘Manufaktura’ and the boundaries of Litzmannstadt Ghetto in the city of Lodz in Poland (a ghetto that was created by the Germans during the Second World War in the Old Town and Baluty districts of Lodz) through the notion of ‘the wall’. The project fuses a dialogue between cultural geography and creative writing, text, film and image in an attempt to highlight the stories of sites, areas/spaces that have undergone and/or are currently undergoing change. In as much as this project explores the effects of gentrification (Robin Hood Gardens and Manufaktura), it also opens up new narratives and perspectives on how spaces and buildings are haunted by the past and the interplay between presence and absence, memory and forgetting. Furthermore, ‘In the Absence of Visible Walls’ looks at the boundaries of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and explores the visibility and invisibility of history. We ask how urban spaces speak and remember the trauma of a historical past? How the absence of past homes is still present? how buildings and architecture can haunt another? We will record our personal experiences of these spaces with the hope to create an engaging response, highlighting the hauntological sensibilities of building, demolition, memory and the (in)visible boundaries that still exist in our geographical landscape.