“critique will be the art of voluntary insubordination, that of reflected intractability. Critique would essentially insure the desubjugation of the subject in the context of what we could call, in a word, the politics of truth.”
Foucault, “What is Critique?”
In 1994 Laurel Brake published Subjugated Knowledges, a groundbreaking collection of essays on aspects of the Victorian periodical press that, as she combatively claimed in the introduction, highlighted the struggle between literature and a subjugated form of knowledge, journalism. Her enterprise is characterised by a concern to “desubjugate” knowledge, to critique what we think we know and how we know it, and how, in particular, assumptions about media form colour perceptions of what truth might be. With the coming of the digital age, print culture has taken on a new visibility as a field and Laurel’s interests in print have been informed by her work on the re-mediation of the historical press into digital forms, and on new tools for reading.
In parallel with Laurel’s work on the press has been a pre-occupation with 19C aestheticism, and its implication in print culture and the press. Her lifelong work on Walter Pater in this respect has probed his writing career (and that of other authors), re-positioning him as a ‘man’ of letters, and examining the close links between press work and books. An interest in gender and queer culture has also informed her teaching and research; her present biographical project, Ink Work, and Clara and Walter Pater, fuses these interests in aestheticism, media, and gender.
This study day, organised by Birkbeck and the University of Greenwich is dedicated to the effects of Laurel’s work on the desubjugation of knowledge, to the politics of truth, and to the art of critique as voluntary insubordination.
The day will open with a brief plenary by Professor Aled Jones assessing the impact of Laurel’s work, before the rest of the morning is devoted to a workshop on nineteenth-century periodicals for research students. The afternoon will comprise a series of short talks given by Laurel’s former PhD students and colleagues, concluding with a plenary by Laurel herself on the future of the desubjugation of knowledge.
Confirmed speakers include
Professor Marysa Demoor (Ghent)
Professor Andrew King (Greenwich)
Professor Jim Mussell (Leeds)
Dr Melissa Score
Professor Mark Turner (King’s)
Dr Minna Vuolhelainen (City University of London)
Registration is free but required. Please book your ticket here.