Postgraduate Conference 2022

Arts and Humanities Postgraduate Conference - May 27-28, 2022

“The resolution of the combat is seldom equal to the vehemence of the charge."

Samuel Johnson

In an environment of continuous economic, political, ecological, and sociocultural flux, humanity’s desire for stability and control, for a or any resolution, is brought to the fore. Yet the notion of resolution – its etymological roots indicating a ‘loosening’ or ‘release’ – may also signal a static function, a release of contestation, a fossilisation of discourse and the consolidation of a new power structure.

As the wide-ranging instability of the past two years gradually gives way to social reintegration, this conference strives to foreground the feasibility, or indeed the desirability, of resolution – of conflict, of contestation, of sociopolitical change. As the global discrepancy in the handling of the pandemic brought its disproportionate effects on vulnerable communities to the fore and has, through compulsory lifestyle changes, perhaps more than at any other historical moment stressed not only the need but the viability of concerted environmental action, resolution appears an ambivalent phenomenon. This conference thus aims to facilitate discussion on the value and validity of resolution, on an interdisciplinary and transnational scale.

The concept’s semantic versatility invites a constellation of enquiries: addressing its sociological, legislative, optical, musical, and prosodic frameworks, this event seeks to chart a more global perspective on the possibilities of ‘resolution’ in today’s sociocultural climate.

If you would like to present a paper or creative practice contribution at this conference, please send an abstract of around 250 words to by May 1st, 2022. Presentations are expected to be around 15 minutes long.

Please register for the event via Eventbrite. Updates and a full programme will be sent via email to all those registered.

Keynote speakers

Dr Edward Allen (University of Cambridge)

Edward Allen is a Lecturer in post-1830 literature at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ's College. He has published on a number of writers – Hemingway, Hardy, Howe (not all of them beginning with H) – and has published several books in recent years, one called Modernist Invention: Media Technology and American Poetry, and another (an edited collection of essays) on Dylan Thomas. His most recent edited volume – Forms of Late Modernist Lyric – has just appeared with Liverpool University Press.

Keynote abstract: 'On Resolution and Resistance: What's in an Earworm?'

Getting something stuck in your ear or head – but which? – is by no means a new phenomenon; nor is the urge to expunge an infectious strain of music a modern occupation. Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI) has long perplexed lab technicians and clinical practitioners, not just because the syndrome resists formal diagnosis, but because our means of witnessing and treating the notorious ‘cognitive itch’ extend well beyond the parameters of physiological enquiry. The purpose of my current project, ‘Sticky Listening’, is to identify the changing forms and effects of this most notorious of acoustic phenomena. In doing so, it will take seriously the possibility that we might come to better understand the phenomenon if we find a way to combine the findings of neuroscience and the humanities. Rather than upholding the often crudely perceived distinction between fact and fiction, statistic and hunch, my aim will be to excavate the parallel histories of otology and the arts, to evaluate their intersections and points of resistance, and to gauge their present affinities, in public policy and the popular imagination. The process of description, I want to suggest, is crucial: earworms, earwigs, jingles, maggots, imps, crotchets, cognitive itchiness, sticky music, INMI. Whose vocabulary are we drawing on when we speak of neurotological tedium and trauma? What’s lost, and what’s gained, when we attempt to translate or naturalise the Ohrwurm– once an insect much feared by farmers, now a coil of pesky sound? These are some of the questions I’ll be looking to ask and answer in my talk.  

Professor Mhairi Mackenzie (University of Glasgow)

Mhairi is a Professor of Public Policy and has been based within Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow since 2007. Her research focuses on health inequalities, discourses of the political and social determinants of health and gender-based violence. She has sat on cross-research council funding panels for research into health inequalities and has evaluated numerous government-funded initiatives which aim to tackle health inequalities. She is currently involved in a Nuffield Foundation funded study of the links between health, work, and caring responsibilities for women in multiple low paid employment. She is the Chair of the Editorial Board for Social Policy and Society. Since 2016 she has been Deputy Director of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science where she is responsible for the student and supervisor led studentship competitions.

Keynote abstract: ‘Resolutions: to what, by whom and for whose end? The case of health inequalities’

This address will consider the concept of resolution with respect to the knotty social problem of health inequalities. This lens is pertinent because health inequalities come at the end of a chain of multiple, multiply reinforcing social inequalities all of which were foregrounded by COVID-19 (COVID-19 as a disease and as a driver of policy across domains). It is pertinent also because researchers and activists queried whether this foregrounding would lead to a new way of doing things, of understanding things – implicitly asking if previous political failures were down to a lack of understanding on the part of politicians or the general public.  The talk will draw on the research of many working within this domain and on policy action before and since the pandemic to ask what is the problem of health inequalities and what is the problem with its resolution?

"It takes resolution to go forth from the ease and beautiful simplicity of a well-formed hypothesis and struggle with amorphous facts."

John Maurice Clark

"When time and space and change converge, we find place. We arrive in Place when we resolve things. Place is peace of mind and understanding. Place is knowledge of self. Place is resolution."

Abdullah Ibrahim