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Dr Ruth Adams’ whirlwind conference attendances

Dr Ruth Adams has been on something of a conference whirlwind in recent weeks.

First she went to Newcastle in early June for ‘The Country House in Britain: 1914-2014’. This was a ‘three-day interdisciplinary conference [… which] trace[d] the representation of the country house in British literature and film between 1914 and 2014. The conference […] explore[d] how space, class and gender operate in the wealth of filmic and literary texts which have been concerned with the country house throughout the last century, as well as considering how it functions in documentaries, historical monographs and reality television.’

Ruth’s paper was called ‘Country House Rescue: Private Enterprise and Public Responsibility’, and critically examined the co-existing, and sometimes competing discourses of public and private that shape country houses, both in their operation and in the public imagination. She compared the ‘National Trust’ position which presents stately homes almost as a type of public property, which belong to the nation as a whole, with an increasing emphasis on entrepreneurialism, illustrated by Channel 4 television’s ‘make over’ show, Country House Rescue, which encourages aristocratic owners to exploit the commercial potential of their historic properties.chr

More details of the conference can be found here: 

On 19 June Ruth flew to Belfast, in Northern Ireland, for ‘A Riot of Our Own: A Symposium on The Clash’. This event examined the impact and lasting influence of one of the greatest and most successful British bands, and the punk subculture more generally. Punk rock created an important cultural space for many young people in Northern Ireland, particularly given the country’s fraught and often violent history in the late 20th century, and the visits by the Clash at the height of ‘The Troubles’ were widely regarded to be a significant social and political statement.

Ruth’s presentation, entitled ‘”Are you going backwards. Or are you going forwards?” – England Past and England Future in 1970s Punk’, compared and contrasted the images of England and Englishness represented by the Clash and the other most high profile UK punk band, the Sex Pistols.
Ruth argued that the Pistols were more inward looking, focussing on England’s cultural heritage and political past, while the more cosmopolitan outlook of the Clash gestured towards a postcolonial, multicultural future.


Keynote speakers included former CMCI External Examiner David Hesmondhalgh, photographer Adrian Boot, Joe Strummer biographer Chris Salewicz, and music journalist and former manager of the Clash Caroline Coon. Also in attendance was MA CCI student, Alex Morvaridi.
Delegates at the conference enjoyed a night out at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre, which hosted a benefit gig for Strummerville, the foundation for new music set up in memory of the band’s singer following his untimely death in 2002.

You can find out more about the event here:

Dashing back from Belfast to participate in the King’s Cultural Institute and CMCI hosted conference ‘Higher Education and the Creative Economy’, Ruth then got on a train to Birmingham to attend an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, and the launch of a dedicated archive. Ruth was thrilled to hear speak, and in some cases meet, such luminaries of Cultural Studies as Angela McRobbie, Paul Gilroy, Larry Grossberg and – especially exciting – some of the pioneers of studies of Youth Subcultures in the UK, Tony Jefferson, John Clark and Dick Hebdige (who admired Ruth’s shoes, and she can now die happy.)
Delegates at the conference also enjoyed a reception and an exhibition of art inspired by the work of the centre at the mac (Midlands Art Centre), and an exclusive screening of an interview with Stuart Hall, filmed shortly before his death earlier this year.
The picture shows Dick Hebdige reflecting on some of the most famous topics of his research. More details of the conference and related events can be found here:


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