Wednesday, 2 December 2009
'A phenomenally detailed picture of the lives of barbers and surgeons, based not on the prescriptive regulations of guilds or colleges, but on the careers, work and family relationships of the individuals involved . . . . Cavallo's work provides a splendid model for further research.'
Katharine Park, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University
To read the full review please follow http://shm.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/hkp076
More reviews for this title can be found here....
Histoire sociale/Social history review (Volume 42, Number 84, November, on p. 490) by E. Cohen http://www.utpjournals.com/hssh/hssh.html
For Jacobson Schutte's review in Renaissance Quarterly (63:1, Spring 2010, pp. 239-40) http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/rq/2010/63/1
For the Medical History review by Patrick Wallis, London School of Economics & Political Science follow http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706060/
Fellow MUP author, Evelyn Welch, reviews Artisans of the body in History Workshop journal http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_workshop_journal/v068/68.welch.html
Rebecca Messbarger writes for The American Historical Review http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/ahr.114.4.1184?journalC
Friday, 6 November 2009
Ewan MacColl’s position in the pantheon of folk legends alongside such leading figures as Albert Lloyd, is never likely to be disputed. For many of the leading figures in the folk revival during the early 1960’s and beyond, MacColl firmly held the reigns as they charged through the political and social tempests of the ensuing decades. MacColl’s career spans a period during which most other musical genres were relapsing into the commercial celebrity cultures we now take for granted: his enduring achievement was his struggle to retain the idiom of the people – their essential passions, dilemnas and language – at the generative nucleus of the British folk song.
And yet, whilst we might talk endlessly about MacColl’ s importance in the folk scene, we should not forget that the flowering of his later career was grounded in the humble origins of an everyday working-class Salford up-brining.
It is apt, therefore, that to mark the 20th anniversary of his death, Manchester University Press have admirably braved the current economic tempest and published a new edited MacColl’s autobiography ‘Journeyman’ with a new introduction by Peggy Seeger, his partner, collaborator, and first-rate artist in her own right. Moreover, to celebrate the launch of ‘Journeyman’, a memorial concert was held in Salford’s Peel Hall, just yards from the Irwell river immortalised by MacColl in Trafford Road Ballad, and attended by some of the finest artists on the circuit, including John Faulkner, Bob Blair, Brian Pearson, John Faulkner, Jez Lowe, David Ferrard, Bob Fox, and the evergreen Seeger herself.
With a packed-out auditorium, and the presence of local brewery Boggart Hole, there was no doubt that this was going to be a memorable evening.
It was fitting that Jez Lowe featured in the concert. He might quite rightly be described as one of the most prolific folk singers around, and has a special connection to Ewan MacColl in his recent work for the 2006 Radio Ballads, which were written in the same style which MacColl himself invented. A powerful rendition of ‘Taking on Men’ based on accounts he heard from ship builders in Glasgow and Newcastle, was greeted with rapturous applause.
David Ferrard, a gifted young American singer who now lives in Edinburgh, reminded everyone that there is more to folk music than mere old tunes. His songs, like MacColl’s, ring with political significance. His protest against the activities of bankers over the last year, was well received by all! But his fine (almost eerily reminicient of MacColl himself) rendition of the Trafford Road Ballad, demonstrated the broad versatility of this young singer.
Finally, to the delight of all, Peggy Seeger took to the stage charming the audience with quips and jokes which nevertheless quickly dissolved into the beautifully haunting First Time Ever I Saw your Face, which MacColl wrote for Seeger.
Seeger displayed her musical talents by accompanying herself on four different instruments, rounding off with the old Scottish ballad Henry Martin, on the Banjo. Both MacColl and Seeger were instrumental in keeping alive many of the Scottish ballads for future generations, and it was fitting that Seeger should pay tribute to their exploits on this night.
No Ewan MacColl concert would be complete without the famous Manchester Rambler, and the audience were treated to a spectacular and nostalgaic chorus from all the performers.
Ewan MacColl was a stalwart of British folk music, a titanesque figure whose memory will inspire many future generations of folk musicians as they struggle on to keep the heart of British folk music beating.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Amnesty International UK and Manchester University Press invite you to a panel discussion and drinks reception to mark the launch of
Through dynamic and highly informed discussion, this Amnesty-hosted book launch will address key issues arising in today’s ‘War on Terror’. The book itself is drawn from the world-famous Oxford Amnesty Lectures and contains essays of substantial and abiding importance.
Conor Gearty, Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Professor of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, will speak on ‘The War on Terror in the Age of Obama’. Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at Birkbeck College, will focus on the use of sexual violence in the ‘War on Terror’. Author, commentator and former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg will respond drawing on his experience as a campaigner and advocate for human rights.
Time: 6.30pm for 7pm start
This event is free but booking is essential at
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
My book argues that debates about alcohol policy and culture not only evade simple resolution but persist in exposing gaps in otherwise coherent ideological claims about individual freedom, social responsibility and the regulation of markets. Although it was a brief discussion, I think we managed to get a sense of that idea across.
Listen to the interview on BBC iplayer (choose the programme dated 14/10/09)
Friday, 25 September 2009
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Jeffrey Reznick will present a talk entitled, John Galsworthy and Disabled Soldiers of the Great War, based on his forthcoming book for MUP.
Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD is Director of the Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Modern History of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, a member of Birmingham’s Center for First World War Studies, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Check out the Jeffrey S. Reznick website.
Find out more about John Galsworthy and Disabled Soldiers of the Great War
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
The Terry Gilliam season, which kicks off today and lasts for the next five days, will include showings of the spectacular fairy tale The Brothers Grimm, and the celebrated Twelve Monkeys, amongst other famous films.
With great timing, MUP launched a new book examining the work of Terry Gilliam last week. The title provides a detailed analysis of all his major work from television’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus to the controversial film Tideland. Perfect for anyone studying Film, Cultural Studies, Media Studies and Literary Studies - and anyone who thinks of themselves as a Gilliam enthusiast too!
Find out more about Terry Gilliam
Monday, 17 August 2009
The concert, which will be held at Peel Hall in Salford on 27th October, also celebrates the re-issue by Manchester University Press of Journeyman, Ewan MacColl's vivid and entertaining autobiography. This new version has been re-edited from his original manuscript, and includes a new introduction by Peggy Seeger, his partner for the last thirty years of his life. Copies of the book will be on sale for £10 during the concert (see below for more details).
Peggy Seeger is joined at the concert by folk singers old and new. Among those taught by Peggy and Ewan in their 'Critics Group' were Sandra Kerr, John Faulkner, Bob Blair and Brian Pearson, all variously singing, writing, acting and teaching. Sandra teaches on the influential Folk and Traditional Music degree course at Newcastle University, the best training ground for folk musicians today. John Faulkner, now artist in residence at the Galway City Museum, took part in Travelling People, last of the famous MacColl/Seeger Radio Ballad series, a form revisited by the BBC in 2006. Writing for and singing in this award-winning recent series were two of the most well-known folk singers today, Jez Lowe - perhaps the best modern songwriter in the folk idiom - and Bob Fox. The line-up is completed by David Ferrard, a young Scottish/American writer of songs of peace and protest.
Tickets cost £10, and go on sale on 14th September. Call the MUP office on 0161 275 2310 for all ticket enquiries. Copies of Journeyman, the new edition of Ewan MacColl's best-selling autobiography, will be on sale at the concert for just £10.
Read more about Journeyman.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Open access content can be accessed here.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Today we have a guest post from James M. Smith, Associate Professor in the English Department and Irish Studies Program at Boston College, and author of Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and the nation's architecture of containment.
An Irish Times article and a long spot on the popular radio show Today with Pat Kenny have ensured widespread interest in this excellent book on the highly controversial subject matter of Ireland’s Magdalen laundries, which continues to resonate today with the recent Ryan commission report.
Link to Today with Pat Kenny interview: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/player_av.html?0,null,200,http://dynamic.rte.ie/quickaxs/209-rte-playback.smil
It is also the winner of the 2007 Donald Murphy Prize for a Distinguished First Book.
Click here to read more about this wonderful book.
In the meantime, James Smith writes:-
"Are you the man who wrote the Magdalen book?" A voice, hesitant and frail, asked from the other end of my office phone. "I just finished it. I read about ten pages a day." She called to share her story. She wanted someone to listen. She needed someone to understand.
Her mother died when she was seven. Initially, she and a younger sister were cared for within the extended family. The farm required her father's attention. At fourteen, he deposited her with the Good Shepherd nuns in New Ross. Her sister was sent to the congregation's Limerick convent.
The Good Shepherd Sisters managed industrial schools at both these locations. They also operated a reformatory school for girls in Limerick. But the two teenage sisters would live and work with the adult women in the Magdalen laundry. They remained enslaved, unpaid for their labor, for almost five years.
The Ryan Report evades this woman's experience of childhood abuse. She was disappeared directly into the Magdalen laundry. There was no judge. No "cruelty man." No committal order. She never was a ward of state. She was just dumped. Consequently, she exists in a legal limbo.
The Residential Institutions Redress Board ignores her experience of childhood abuse. The Dublin-based lawyers responded to her queries. She insisted she was a Magdalen and was never in the industrial school. They told her there was little they could do. The advocacy group "Justice_for_Magdalenes" helped petition the Redress Board on her behalf. Again, her case was not taken up. Her childhood abuse didn't fit the legal parameters.
The recently published Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse tells a horrendous story. Irish society responds with anger, a sense of betrayal, and oft-stated disbelief. It seems intent on holding the religious congregations accountable. The government now accepts the report's major recommendations. The Dáil passed an all-party motion pledging to cherish all the children of the state equally.
But what about those victims and survivors of institutional abuse not addressed by the report? What about Ireland's Magdalen women and their families? Now is precisely the juncture that Irish society—state, Church, religious congregations, families, and local communities—should confront head-on the abuse of thousands of women in Ireland's Magdalen laundries.
The Magdalen laundries were excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress legislation. They were deemed private, charitable institutions. Women, the state asserted, voluntarily committed themselves seeking asylum. The four religious congregations involved in operating Ireland's laundries—the Good Shepherds, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, Mercy Sisters—all gave testimony before the Commission's confidential committee. But, they only addressed their management of industrial and reformatory schools.
Magdalen survivors were not invited to appear before the confidential committee. The Commission, of course, was charged with inquiring into child abuse. Magdalens were, in the main, women not children. And, age continues to inform the state's rationale for disqualifying survivors' claims for redress. So too, however, does the question of liability. Unlike the industrial and reformatory schools system, the government disclaims any function in licensing or inspecting the laundries. It purports never to have funded them directly.
But the state always relied on the availability of the Magdalen laundries to conceal “problem women.” It continually facilitated the transfer of women into the nuns’ care. It helped make possible a labor force through court referrals. It apportioned lucrative contracts for state institutional laundry (e.g., hospitals, military, etc.). After 1960, it provided the nuns with capitation grants for women on remand from the courts.
The state always ignored the flagrant disregard for the women’s civil and constitutional rights: false imprisonment; the absence of due process; exploitative and dangerous work practices; the denial of educational and human developmental resources; as well as emotional, physical and, in some cases, sexual abuse. The department of justice never regulated institutions routinely used by members of the judiciary to incarcerate Irish citizens.
Ireland’s Magdalen survivors are denied a distinct redress and reparations scheme despite the state’s culpability, complicity, and collusion in these abusive institutions. And no one in Ireland—not the religious congregations, not the Hierarchy, not the state—has apologized to the Magdalen communities.
The Residential Institutions Redress Act (2002) did include, but only as an afterthought, young girls illegally transferred from industrial and reformatory schools to Magdalen laundries. Many of these "preventative" cases, as they were called, rejoined society in their early twenties. Some have sought the redress they were entitled to. Others decided to remain in the sheltered environs of the convent all their lives. What about these women's lost childhoods? What about the abuse they suffered?
And what about the young children disappeared directly into Magdalen institutions, like the woman who picked up the phone to call me? What about her sister? What about the others? The Kennedy Report (1970) documents some "617 children … resident in 'Voluntary Homes which have not applied for approval.'" We are left to guess how many of this number lost their childhoods in Magdalen Laundries?
And what of the larger Magdalen community of adult women? Is their experience of physical and emotional abuse somehow less worthy of acknowledgment, redress, and reparation than that of children? Is contemporary Irish society comfortable with this compartmentalization of abuse?
In places like Drumcondra, Cork, and New Ross, laundries and industrial schools stood side by side. In Limerick, a system of underground tunnels ensured both populations could attend church and then return to their separate buildings without ever seeing each other. Indeed survivor testimony speaks to mothers and children separated by walls within the one convent complex without ever knowing of the other's whereabouts.
Is the abuse experienced by these woman and children somehow fundamentally different? Is it conceivable that nuns abused children and didn't abuse adult women in a different part of the same institution? Or, is contemporary Irish society suggesting that the Magdalen women somehow deserved the treatment they received?
The woman who called me is a survivor of institutional child abuse. She remains scarred by her childhood experience. Elderly and alone, she is angry about the past, afraid for the future. Irish society now demands accountability for child abuse at the state's industrial and reformatory schools. When will it do likewise for the abuse of girls and women in the nation's Magdalen laundries?
Monday, 8 June 2009
I am delighted that the Manchester University Press Friends and Family series is contributing to Carers week 2009 by launching the first book in the series Caring for someone with a long term illness by John Costello.
As we begin National Carers week, it is interesting to note the results of two recent surveys announced recently. The survey conducted by YouGov, questioned over 2,000 members of the public about their beliefs and attitudes towards carers. The results revealed that the public rank carers alongside the emergency services in terms of their contribution to society. Six out of seven people (86%) believe that carers make a valuable contribution, behind only nurses (91%) and firefighters (90%). The overwhelming majority also agree that carers’ benefits are far too low, with over three-quarters (76%) stating that the current level of Carers’ Allowance is unreasonable. But when asked to estimate the number of carers in the UK, 8 out of 10 were unable to pick the correct figure of 6 million, with almost three-quarters (71%) underestimating by over 4.5 million.
These results indicate that the work and the important role of carers often goes unnoticed. Caring for Someone with a long term illness (Costello 2009), sets out to explain what carers do for people often relatives, and the importance of knowing what services are available and what sources of support they can expect. The book is based on a practical approach and designed to help those carers who often experience frustration at not knowing the best way to do things. I am delighted to contribute towards helping those who do so much for others. I sincerely hope that carers week 2009, is successful in highlighting the needs of carers as well as acknowledging the importance of being a carer.
Find out more about Caring for Someone with a long term illness
Monday, 1 June 2009
has won the Community Relations Commission Award at the 2009 NSW Premiers Literary Awards.
The awards were presented on Monday May 18 at the 2009 NSW Premiers Literary Awards.
The judges commended the book as a fascinating, detailed account of the many waves of nationalities whose arrival into Australia was central to a grand plan of immigration that has led us to our multicultural present.'
More information about the Community Relations Commission can be found here.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Here's what they said about it:-
'This compelling, poignant biography paints a sensitive portrait of a modest "new woman" of the 1890s, who eagerly embraced the expanding opportunities for a generation that would see momentous changes in the decades up to the mid-20th century. Well researched and clearly expressed, John's book deserves a wide readership.'
June Purvis, THES
Click here to read the full article...
Click here for more info on the book...
Buy the book from Amazon, Blackwell or NBN International.
Or Google search the ISBN (9780719080159) to bring up a huge number of places to buy from.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Click here to go to our web page and learn a little more about it. It also has a sample chapter there which is completely free for you to read.
Reviews in History has this to say about the book:-
'The book is a meticulous study… and has the merit of interweaving several lines of inquiry into one coherent picture.'
Guido Giglioni, Warburg Institute
Gender in History says:-
'The wealth of the archival evidence, together with Cavallo's continuous attempts to make sense of a wide range of issues from the artisans' own point of view makes this an exceptionally valuable source, and a highly important contribution to the scholarship on the social, cultural and medical history of early modern Italy.'
Paula Hohti, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Judge for yourself - order the book online from Blackwell, Amazon or direct from our distributors, NBN International.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Jukebox Britain, which has just been published with us, has the introduction up for you now. Simply click here to be taken to the webpage where you can read it for free.
We'll be showcasing titles with sample chapters available online on the blog from time to time. Meanwhile, keep checking titles that you're interested in at our website for free chapters.
Monday, 6 April 2009
The launch of A History of the Northern Ireland Labour Party: Democratic Socialism and Sectarianism took place at Queen’s Bookshop in Belfast on Thursday 26th March to a packed audience of 80-100 people from across the divide in Northern Ireland. Apart from five prominent members of the NILP – Brian Garrett, Douglas McIldoon, Erskine Holmes, George Chambers and Sidney McDowell – several politicians from three present-day parties were also in attendance. The leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, Dawn Purvis MLA, was there, as was Brian Wilson, a former NILP member now Green Party MLA, and Conor Maskey, Sinn Fein Councillor for Belfast Oldpark. All three expressed their interest in the book’s attempt to rehabilitate and re-examine the historical record of the NILP and to challenge the orthodox narrative of the party’s political fortunes throughout the Twentieth Century.
Attendees from the unionist, loyalist, nationalist and republican communities, as well as many more from the leftist and socialist centre-ground, made it a special occasion indeed. Academics, journalists, and even the family of the towering NILP (and later SDLP) politician Paddy Devlin made an appearance, including his daughter, the critically-acclaimed Irish writer Anne Devlin, who turned up to show her support for the book.
Acknowledging the support of a host of people who helped out at critical junctures with the book, I moved on to say something about my study of the NILP. Researching a political party that, in the words of one former member, “died almost without a gasp” was a huge undertaking. Some of those I interviewed turned up on the night: sadly, others had since passed on. But the story of the NILP – their story - has universal relevance. It is a book about toil and struggle, political success and defeat, which, above all, records the contribution of those socialists and labourists who stood tall in working class areas as chaos and anarchy threatened the very fabric of their communities. As I made clear to those gathered on a blustery Belfast evening it was my personal and professional view that, had it not been for the NILP’s restraining influence, the conflict would have been much worse.
Last September I had cause to ponder the case of the NILP when I found myself in another, albeit very different, conflict zone. Gazing out at the city of Basra with the dry heat of the arid desert wafting off my face and the warm glow of controlled oil well flames reflecting off the night’s sky I pondered how ordinary people in this part of the world have themselves sought to restrain the excesses of ethnic conflict and political violence. The struggle of socially conscious and peace-loving people amidst the turmoil and upheaval of armed conflict is what continues to fascinate me in my own academic work.
Concluding my remarks I echoed a point pressed home by my guest speaker on the night, Professor Graham Walker, author of A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism, Pessimism (MUP, 2004), who said that the NILP was a truly working class party made up of men and women who struggled to mobilise political support across the ethnic divide. For the first time, in one volume, it is explained how and why the NILP ultimately failed in its bid to transform the political culture of Northern Ireland along left-right lines vis-à-vis the more familiar party system that took hold since the outbreak of ‘the troubles’.
Pertinently, the unanimous mood of all of those former members in attendance for the launch seemed to be that this book would make a valid contribution to moving the trials and tribulations of the NILP from the margins to the mainstream of the historical record where they rightfully belong.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Friday and Saturday of this week, we'll also be here at the University of Warwick. Our book stand will be located in Warwick Arts Centre, at the heart of the campus. We'll have numerous discounted books on display and available to buy.
Then on Saturday evening starting at 6:30pm, we'll be launching The secret battle by Michael Roper in the Scarman building bar. Come and join us - the book will be available half price!
We'll be at many more conferences over the Summer - keep checking back here for updated news.
Meanwhile, here are some of the titles we've published recently, grouped by subject. Click on the title links to find out more about each book, including how to order.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Five hundred international scholars of art history and related disciplines will attend the conference, which runs from April 2 – April 4 2009.
Since 1974, the Association of Art Historians (AAH) has been the national organisation for professional art and design historians, researchers and students involved in education, galleries, museums and art-related publishing, or any other activity linked with art and design history. It supports, fosters and promotes the study of art.
I’m honoured to be the convener of the 2009 AAH conference – one of the most important annual arts events worldwide. It is hosted by MIRIAD, the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design (http://www.miriad.mmu.ac.uk/), at MMU. We have chosen ‘Intersections’ as a thematic focus, as it characterises the AAH09 conference as constituting a wide range of collaborations, and reflects Manchester itself, a place of cultural diversity and intersections.
This annual conference is one of the rare chances for scholars to experience a thorough overview of new, cutting-edge research, and to be able to update on current publications by talking to representatives from twenty Anglophone leading publishers at the bookfair.
It is an opportunity to spend a couple of days fully focused on art – immersing oneself in three days of talks and events is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying sides of the AAH conference. It is also the one moment of the year where we can catch up on and spend some time with colleagues and friends, and also meet new people.
The AAH09 will be accompanied by a variety of exciting and stimulating events which will involve talks by leading scholars in dramatic Manchester settings. The opening keynote will be given by Professor Marsha Meskimmon (Loughborough University) and the closing keynote will be given by Professor Ernst van Alphen (Leiden University).
I’m particularly thrilled about the extent to which Manchester institutions and organisations are supporting the AAH09. The conference is a huge, communal effort between these institutions.
Manchester University Press are the sponsors of the opening keynote which will be held at Manchester’s breathtaking Town Hall. This will be followed by a Reception at Manchester Art Gallery where delegates will be free to roam the current exhibitions.
Delegates will be able to attend exclusive viewings of a number of exhibitions. The opening of the State Legacy exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, at MMU’s Holden Gallery and Cornerhouse, has been timed to coincide with the AAH09. A Reception will be held at Whitworth Art Gallery, which will include a viewing of the Subversive Spaces: Surrealism and Contemporary Art exhibition. Both events will be accompanied by curatorial talks.
The AAH09 is a particularly significant event for students in all art-related fields. It is an opportunity for students to join the dynamic AAH Student Members Committee (SMC), which organises a number of activities to help members get a head-start in the job market. The AAH conferences and the SMC are also the first stepping-stones for students for meeting future colleagues and friends in the fields of art.
We have therefore particularly focused aspects of the conference on students and employability and have organised, together with MMU’s Careers Services, an informal Careers Fair. This will allow students an opportunity to chat to and meet representatives from leading local institutions and arts-related institutions and organisations including MUP, the BBC, Arts about Manchester, Manchester City Council.
Under- and postgraduate students will be able to explore a wide range of different, arts-related jobs, ranging from publishing, print journalism, gallery work, volunteering and special collections to business start-up, community arts and public sector arts. The Careers Fair will enable students to experience a wide range of career opportunities in the arts.
I’m keenly awaiting the opening of the conference, the culmination of months of hard work. My co-organiser Cheryl Platt and I are looking forward to meeting all the delegates and hearing the fruits of their research.
If you’d like to attend AAH09, please visit:
Booking deadline is 13 March 2009.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Never did the slums look so pretty, as if already perceived through the eyes of the protagonist after winning millions (of rupees) at the fictional TV quiz programme. Not only are all the children and teenagers gorgeous looking but the constantly imaginative camera work never allows us to think about the real living conditions of the Mumbai underworld, purportedly what the story is about. This is the quintessential feel-good movie: in one of the best touches, a couple of larger-than-life U.S. tourists give the protagonist a 100$ tip after their car has been wrecked by the boy’s friends. It is also a gorgeous-looking one: almost every shot is “spectacular”, employing expressive cinematography, from extreme close-ups of pretty faces to constant high- and low-angle shots, including frequent overhead shots, more canted shots than The Third Man, rhythmic editing, stop motion, graphic matches, wide angles, shallow focus close-ups with artistically fuzzy backgrounds and all the tricks of the visual trade, not to mention the lively “authentic” soundtrack. Even Jamal and Salim’s mother looks stunning in her green sari when she is clubbed to death by wild demonstrators at the beginning of the story, and nobody is very bothered when Jamal approaches the Bollywood star for an autograph covered in shit. It’s all fun, fun, fun. We get frequent glimpses of the dire living conditions of the children and those around them but we are never allowed to feel queasy about them, nor do we bother much about Jamal being tortured at the police station for no very clear reason. Having said this, Danny Boyle’s breathless storytelling, dazzling cinematography and careful narrative construction, based as it is on a very gimmicky flashback structure – each successive question Jamal gets at the quiz show takes him and us back to an important episode in his life (such luck at a quiz program was never seen before) –, make for a very uplifting movie with a very timely message in times of crisis: resilience, love and spiritual strength will eventually win the day. However, the most important message of Slumdog Millionaire is in the medium. On the surface comparable to the visual virtuosity of contemporary filmmakers like Wong Kar-wai, Alejandro González Iñárritu or Pedro Almodóvar, Boyle’s film mesmerizes us with its spectacular images but hides nothing underneath them, no secret meanings, no interpretation, please. For this reason the absolute best and most representative scene of the movie is the final credit sequence with the Bollywood-like dance at the railway station, where everybody joins in the celebration of the never-doubted and not particularly exciting final reunion of the young lovers. Here the film is probably being totally honest for the first time, assuaging our fears that there might have been some degree of social concern behind its stylistic pyrotechnics, and showing itself for what it is: a celebration of the affirmative potential of popular art and of the visual sophistication of contemporary cinema.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
The new show, Sin and Salvation: Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision, is currently showing at the newly reopened Art Gallery of Ontario until until May 10th. And it's already creating quite a buzz in art circles across the pond, as an article published this morning in the leading newspaper in Canada suggests.
A detailed account of William Holman Hunt's work can be found in Carol Jacboi's William Holman Hunt, Painter, Painting, Paint.
"A fascinating appraisal of Hunt's work which superbly describes the artist's work in its historical and biographical context. Jacobi's analysis casts a great deal of light on the prejudices of earlier critics, she also usefully, assesses the artist's originality in the light of recent scholarship on the cultural pillars of the nineteenth century The paintings reproduced here, in all their vivid frightfulness, suddenly seem all the more fascinating as a result of this captivating book."
Timothy Brittain-Catlin, The Tablet
Thursday, 22 January 2009
As befits a volume in the Revels Plays Companions Library series, the edition is academically advanced to cater for specialised scholars. However, the introduction, editing and annotation remain accessible for undergraduates and theatregoers.