Lost and Found


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Interim Exhibition October 2013

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All images © Derek Trillo

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Interim words

These are the words we agreed at last week’s meeting, that reflect some of our shared research concerns. Thought I’d put them on here for posterity.

In no particular order…


Other words I noted from everyone’s description of their ideas to date included:

intimacy fact fiction place memory slippage nostalgia constructed graphic trace material immaterial represent home writing inscribe diaspora pigment grain stillness journey struggle experience curate miniature poetry process after through experience order name possession authorship haunting presence absence remain.

We also agreed that we would each write something about our individual ideas to date, however unresolved they may yet be, but also with a view to the collective interests that are beginning to emerge.  To be sent to Simon by 20 May. So there you go. Doing mine now. Have we agreed a next meeting date? Simon suggested 15/16 May…


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Interim exhibition catch-up

Interim, our practice-in-progress exhibition, is grinding its gears and beginning to move! We met last week at the Paper Gallery in Manchester’s Mirabel Street, to gain an impression of the echoing spaces we have to fill (not!). There is plenty of space to swing a kitten! It is going to be a challenge to the curators (Laura Guy and Simon Woolham) to squeeze everything in, but as long as none of us create works that are larger than a postcard all should be fine. Very exciting!

The previous Wednesday we met to make the final roll call, and the artists taking part will be Sarah Baker, Sara Davies, Jan Fyfe, Ralph Mills, Liz Mitchell, Lokesh Ghai, Sabbi Kaur, Ela Niznik, Howard Read, Mark Stark, Derek Trillo and Simon Woolham (I hope that I haven’t missed anyone).  Each of us introduced our ideas, and they added up to a great mix of approaches and media.

The following images invite clever captions!





“…but my last gallery was THIS big!”



Who says research by practice isn’t fun?


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Where we’ll be…

The writing group will meet in the following rooms over the next few months:

  • 1 May – NBS 3.10
  • 8 May – NBS 3.14
  • 15 May – NBS 3.10
  • 22 May – NBS 3.10
  • 27 May – NBS 3.05
  • 5 June – NBS 3.10
  • 12 June-  NBS 3.14
  • 19 June – NBS 3.05
  • 26 June- NBS 3.10
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MMU History, Politics and Philosophy PG-Research community: Call for papers

I saw this and thought it might be of interest to a few of you:

“Calling all History, Politics and Philosophy MA , MPhil and PhD students!

We’d like to offer you an informal opportunity to discuss your research with other students and members of staff in your department.

A day-long workshop will take place on July 3rd and we’d like you to present your MA or PhD research.

You can choose to present in either of two formats:
1. Formal academic papers of 20 minutes (suitable for PhDs in the later stages of their careers)
2. Informal reports about your research of 10 minutes (more suitable for MA and PhD student in their early stages)

We would like to develop a real sense of postgraduate community, allowing like-minded individuals to come together to discuss their work. Please do get involved and it will be a friendly and sociable event!

In order to put your name down please email Catherine Armstrong (Senior Lecturer in American History) C.M.Armstrong@mmu.ac.uk with your name, topic (one sentence will do) and whether you’d like to speak for 10 or 20 minutes. The deadline for this is 30 April.

NB this event is not to be confused with the IHSSR (faculty) postgraduate conference in May that is for research students only. Our event welcomes all postgraduates from the History, Politics and Philosophy department, whether at MA or PhD level.”

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A myriad of methodologies!

I forgot this link, to the QDA web site, that list and explains 26 different methodologies (actually it doesn’t define all 26, which makes me feel a little bit better)!

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Qualitative Research

The other day I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Gillian Yeowell‘s “Qualitative Research Methods” workshop. If it is repeated, I recommend it. The workshop would be especially valuable if you haven’t completed your RD1, but even afterwards, I found it a valuable addition to my toolkit.

Here are a couple of resources Gillian mentioned that you might find useful:

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme: Offers a pdf cheat-sheet to help interpret the material you are reading and also make sure your own research is up to scratch.

Guidelines for Designing, Analyzing and Reporting Qualitative Research: A US site that provides a good introduction to qualitative research and links to related resources.

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Semiotics for Beginners

Semiotics could be anywhere. The shortest definition is that it is the study of signs. ‘What do you mean by a sign?’ people usually ask next. The kinds of signs that are likely to spring immediately to mind are those which we routinely refer to as ‘signs’ in everyday life, such as road signs, pub signs and star signs. If you were to agree that semiotics can include the study of all these and more, people will probably assume that semiotics is about ‘visual signs’. You would confirm their hunch if you said that signs can also be drawings, paintings and photographs. But it also includes words, sounds and ‘body language’ and they may wonder what all these things have in common.

“It is… possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life. It would form part of social psychology, and hence of general psychology. We shall call it semiology (from the Greek semeîon, ‘sign’). It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them.”

This was written by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), a founder not only of linguistics but also of what is now more usually referred to as semiotics (in his Course in General Linguistics, 1916). Leading modern semiotic theorists include Roland Barthes (1915-1980) and Umberto Eco (b 1932)

It is difficult to disentangle European semiotics from structuralism in its origins. Structuralism is an analytical method which has been employed by many semioticians and which is based on Saussure’s linguistic model. Structuralists seek to describe the overall organization of sign systems as ‘languages’. They engage in a search for ‘deep structures’ underlying the ‘surface features’ of phenomena. However, contemporary social semiotics has moved beyond the structuralist concern seeking to explore the use of signs in specific social situations.

Semiotics began to become a major approach to cultural studies in the late 1960s, partly as a result of the work of Roland Barthes. Writing in 1964, Barthes declared that ‘semiology aims to take in any system of signs, whatever their substance and limits; images, gestures, musical sounds, objects, and the complex associations of all of these, which form the content of ritual, convention or public entertainment: these constitute, if not languages, at least systems of signification’ (Barthes 1967).

Semiotics is not widely institutionalized as an academic discipline. It is a field of study involving many different theoretical stances and methodological tools. One of the broadest definitions is that of Umberto Eco, who states that ‘semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign’ (Eco 1976). Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as ‘signs’ in everyday speech, but of anything which ‘stands for’ something else. In a semiotic sense, signs take the form of words, images, sounds, gestures and objects.

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Digital storytelling resources

There are lots and lots of applications that are supposed to help us share our narratives. Some are simply presentation tools, some add audio, others animate the story, others just make it look good. Here are a few to start your exploration. Most are free or have a free basic version, which will be all you need to start. They are all meant to be easy to use!

It would be great if anyone who already uses any of these could share their expertise. I also think it would be great for us as a group to browse through them and try some out, again sharing the results.

Google Sites:
Zoho Show:

Have fun!

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