The Serpentine Gallery devised a two-day conference exploring key works by poet W.H. Auden and political theorist Hannah Arendt. Led by internationally-renowned Harvard academic Homi Bhabha, participants investigated Auden’s The Age of Anxiety and Arendt’s prolific oeuvre, in particular the links between the authors, the relevance of poetry and the wider issue of security.
Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL
Tube: Russell Square
This multi-disciplinary event includes lectures, discussions, screenings, poetry readings and performances to examine essential questions about the relationship between poetry, politics and art. This conference is organised in collaboration with Birkbeck and takes place at its Malet Street campus in central London, room B33.
Friday 27 April, 6-9:30pm
Julia Peyton-Jones & Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Galleries); Oscar Guardiola-Rivera & Costas Douzinas (Birkbeck), Introduction
Eleanor Bron, reading: selections from Auden’s The Age of Anxiety and other poems
Homi K. Bhabha, Poetics of Anxiety and Security: The Problem of Speech and Action in Our Time
Open Classroom: W. H. Auden chaired by Susannah Gottlieb
Andrea Geyer, Screening: Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb
Saturday 28 April, 10am-5:30pm
Open Classroom: Hannah Arendt
Susannah Gottlieb, Poetry in Times of Need
William Kentridge, in conversation with Bhabha and Obrist
Jill Johnson and David Michalek, from Slow Dancing
Costas Douzinas, Memory, History, Law
Gustav Metzger, Headline: The Anxiety Machine, read by Clive Phillpot
Panel: Reading Trauma and Anxiety in Auden and Arendt with Patricia Tuitt (chair), Maria Aristodemou, Andrea Geyer and Hugh Haughton
Notes on participants:
Maria Aristodemou is Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of Law & Literature: Journeys from Here to Eternity (OUP, 2000).
Homi Bhabha is Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. He is the author of The Right to Narrate (Columbia UP, forthcoming).
Eleanor Bron is an actress and writer living in London. Films include Bedazzled (1967) and The House of Mirth (2000). Her writing includes several books, comedy scripts and song cycles.
Costas Douzinas is Professor of Law, School of Law, Birkbeck, and Director, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. He is the author of Human Rights and Empire: The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism (Routledge-Cavendish, 2007).
Andrea Geyer is a New York-based artist using fiction and documentary to investigate concepts such as national identity, gender and class. She is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Parsons, The New School for Design.
Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb is Associate Chair, English Department and Associate Professor of English & Comparative Literature, Northwestern University. She is the author of Regions of Sorrow: Anxiety and Messianism in Hannah Arendt and W.H. Auden (Stanford UP, 2003).
Oscar Guardiola Rivera is Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of What if Latin America Ruled the World? (Bloomsbury, 2010).
Hugh Haughton is Professor, Department of English and Related Literature, University of York. He is the editor of Second World War Poems (Faber & Faber, 2004) and author of Derek Mahon and Modern Irish Poetry (OUP, 2007).
Jill Johnson is a dancer, choreographer, educator and producer. She is Dance Director, Office for the Arts at Harvard, Dance Program and Senior Lecturer, Department of Music, Harvard University.
William Kentridge is a Johannesburg-based artist whose work includes animation, charcoal drawing, collages, stop-motion film and theatre. His work explores social injustice, memory and the history of apartheid in South Africa.
Gustav Metzger is a London-based artist and activist. Using everyday materials such as cardboard, newspapers and polythene bags, Metzger reflects through his work on political and economic systems and environmental issues.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Galleries, London.
Julia Peyton-Jones is Director, Serpentine Galleries and Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes.
Patricia Tuitt is Professor of Law and Executive Dean, School of Law, Birkbeck. She is the author of Race, Law, Resistance (Glasshouse, 2004).