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John Berger Conference

John Berger conference

The Centre for Life-Writing Research and the Department of English & Drama at the British Library present:

Ways of Seeing John Berger

6-8 September 2012, London.

Image: G. Manuscript, British Library, courtesy John Berger

2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of two of John Berger’s major works: the novel G, winner of the Booker and James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, and the collaborative, SFTA/BAFTA-winning BBC TV series and book Ways of Seeing. In celebration, the Centre for Life-writing Research at King's College London, and the Department of English and Drama at the British Library - home, since 2009, to the major collection of Berger’s papers - are holding a series of events.

Registration for the conference is available on our e-store.

The conference will be based at King's College London. The programme will also include an evening screening at the Whitechapel Gallery with on Thursday 6 September and an evening of discussion and celebration at the British Library on Friday 7 September 2012

Other related event:

Exhibition: John Berger: Art and Property Now  (6 September to 10 November)

Draft Programme

Thursday 6th September

9.00 - 9.40 – Coffee & registration

9.45 - 10.00 – Opening address: Mike Dibb (Award-winning Arts Documentary Film-maker and Producer/Director of Berger collaborations, including Ways of Seeing , Pig Earth, Parting Shots from Animals and About Time )

10.00 -11.30 – Berger in the 1950s
Chaired by Sarah Wilson, Curator and Professor at the Courtauld Institute, and chair d'excellence at the Université de Versailles-Saint Quentin 2012-2013

Jeff Wallace (Cardiff), ‘John Berger and abstraction – again’

Judith Walsh (Southampton), ‘John Berger’s art reviews 1951-1959’

Richard Turney (York), 'Naturally, I have changed most of the names’: autobiography and A Painter of Our Time

11.30-12.00 – Coffee

12.00 - 13.30 – CHH Panel on A Fortunate Man
Chaired by Iona Heath, north London General Practitioner for over 30 years, writer and President of the Royal General College of Practitioners

Brian Hurwitz (KCL), “There is a bend in the river which often reminds the doctor of his failure”

Michael Flexer (KCL), ‘‘Condemned to being part of a part’: Lansley’s NHS reforms and the death of the universal man’

Jamie Whitehead (KCL)

13.30 - 14.30 – Lunch 

14.30 - 15.30 – Two Keynotes around G.
Chaired by Max Saunders, Director, Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Professor of English and Head of Graduate Studies and Co-Director, Centre for Life-Writing Research, King’s College London

John Bowen (York), G.

Rochelle Simmons (Otago), John Berger’s G. as a Marxist-Modernist Novel

15.30 - 16.00 – Coffee

16.00 -18.00 – Two Keynotes around Ways of Seeing
Chaired by John Bowen, Professor of English and related Literature at the University of York

Jonathan Conlin (Southampton), “An Irresponsible Flow of Images”: Berger, Clark and the Art of Television, 1958-1988

Nikos Papastergiadis (Melbourne), ‘Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet’

19.00John Berger and Timothy Neat: Play Me Something  at the Whitechapel Gallery, Zilkha Auditorium
(must be booked separately via the Whitechapel Gallery website)

Friday 7th September

9.30 -11.00  – Aesthetics & Philosophy
Chaired by Jerry WhiteCanada Research Chair in European Studies at Dalhousie University

Timothy Quigley (The New School, New York), ‘Berger’s Appearances’

A. V. Ashok (Hyderabad), ‘The Darkness of John Berger:  A Way Seeing or A Way of Being?’        

Charlotte Latham (City University of New York), ‘Ways of Being’

11.00 – 11.30 – Coffee 

11.30 – 13.00 – Materialism
Chaired by David Malcolm, Professor of English literature at the University of Gdańsk. His The British and Irish Short Story Handbook was published by Blackwell in early 2012.

Ralf Hertel (Hamburg), ‘Touching the Reader: The Corporeality of John Berger’s Fiction’

Myrna Alexandra Nader (Independent), ‘John Berger and Edward Said: Negotiating between high modernist aesthetics and political activism’ 

Declan Wiffen (Kent), ‘The physicality of hope: John Berger and the solidarity of writing’ 

13.00 - 14.00 Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 - Storytelling I
Chaired by Maria Nadotti, writer, and editor of the book John Berger: a cura di Maria Nadotti (Riga 32 - Marcos y Marcos, 2011). 

Miłosz Wojtyna (Gdansk), ‘The Intimate and the Stranger – John Berger’s Story-Telling Exchange of Experience’

Peter Leese (Copenhagen), ‘A new aesthetic for migrant recollection: A Seventh Man’

Marta Aleksandrowicz (Gdansk), ‘Spatiotemporal Gymnastics in John Berger’s Into Their Labours’

15.30 - 16.00 – Coffee

16.00 – 17.30 – Storytelling II
Chaired by Ralf Hertel, Professor of English Studies at the University of Hamburg 

David Malcolm (Gdansk), ‘“dialogues between parts gone adrift”: John Berger’s Short Fiction’

Jerry White (Dalhousie), ‘John Berger, George Elliot Clarke, and Peasant Conservatism’

Bartosz Lutostanski (Gdansk), ‘The transparent peasant. On the narrative voice in John Berger’s Into Their Labours Trilogy’

18.30 - 20.00 –Ways of Listening, at the the British Library.
Colin McCabe and Tilda Swinton present a new film of conversations with John Berger. Presented in association with London Consortium Television 
(Must be booked separately via the British Library website)

Saturday 8th September

10.00 - 11.30 - Across Forms I
Chaired by Gareth Evans, Writer, Editor, Adjunct Film Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Curator of the 2005 season Here is Where We Meet 

Joshua Sperling (Yale), ‘John Berger and the Cinema’

Dan Stacey (Independent), 'John Berger:“The Fervour of a Desire for Change”'   

Wolfgang Görtschacher (Salzburg), ‘The Poet John Berger in German Translation’

11.30 - 12.00  – Coffee

12.00 - 13.30 – Across forms II
Chaired by Richard Turney, PhD researcher on The Kinds of John Berger’s Fiction at the University of York and associate lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University

Monika Szuba (Gdansk), ‘Death’s Secretary, or When John Berger Grinds the Lens of Stories’

Tom Overton (BL/KCL), Art and Property Now: John Berger, Gifts and Self-Portraiture

Rachel Bower (Cambridge), John Berger: Epistolarity and a life in letters

13.30 - 14.30 – Lunch 

14.30 - 16.00 – Summing-up and Berger Journal: Discussion session Chaired by Richard Turney & Tom Overton

16.00 - 17.00 – Drinks: launch of the Journal for Visual Culture’s Ways of Seeing Edition


Booking is available via our e-store until 4 September, after this date contact us on


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