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Kaleidoscope: New perspectives on the Humanities

This event seeked to intertwine different disciplines and artistic practices through the theme of colour and its relationship with:

  • Being
  • Perceiving
  • Responding
  • Communicating
  • Belonging

Programme (PDF Document) Poster (PDF Document)

Special guests included Professor Paul Smith (History of Art, University of Warwick), Professor Paul Hills (The Courtauld) and Shirin Ramzanali Fazel (Writer)

Mission Statement

The Humanities have added greatly to our understanding of the world and the societies in which we live. However there has been a tendency for the individual disciplines within the wider body to become isolated from each other and society at large. As HRC scholars we have begun to interact as an interdisciplinary group and to explore how collaboration can open up new ways of thinking in individual fields and Humanities as a whole.

We are seeking to expand our conversations and widen the dialogue between subjects and disciplines, between art study and artistic practice. As part of this process we want to explore new ways of communicating and new ways of moving our insight beyond the walls of the academy. Ultimately, our conference intends to inspire the formation of new communities of researchers, artists, writers and the public to explore the possibilities offered by new approaches and methods of communication.

About Us

Frances Smith is in her second year of her PhD in Film and Television Studies researching the representations of the gender and class in the Hollywood teen movie.

Gabriella Addivinola's research project aims to explore how Dante’s Comedy treats the issue of ineffability and presents itself as an exercise in liminal writing, that is, an attempt to speak about God using human language, while constructing an authoritative figure of the writer as a God’s scribe. The thesis examines the ways in which Dante expresses and unites through poetry heterogeneous epistemologies, such as the Neoplatonic desire for union and the Aristotelian concept of actualisation, while questioning them.

Simone Brioni is a Phd Student at the University of Warwick. His research The Somali Within: Questions of Identity, Language and Resistance in Post-colonial Italian Literature focuses on writings by Italian authors of Somali origins. Simone has also directed the documentaries La Quarta Via (Redigital, 2009) and Aulò (Redigital, 2010), which concern the relationship between Italy and its former colonies in the Horn of Africa.

Malachi McIntosh has recently completed a thesis on emigration and Caribbean literature. He writes fiction, reviews and criticism and has work published in The Guardian, Fugue, The Caribbean Review of Books, and the Journal of Romance Studies.

Christopher Vernon is in the second year of his PhD in History. His thesis will focus on the role of rumour between Cherokee Indians and the colonists of the British colonies in eighteenth century North America.

Karen Simcek is currently studying for a PhD in Philosophy and Literature. Karen's research focuses on the experience of reading poetry, our emotional engagement and how this might contribute to moral inquiry

Celia Nicholls is a doctoral research fellow in the Department of Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include the history of the film archive and the issues surrounding archival film preservation, Henri Langlois and the Cinémathèque française, cinephilia and the historiography of early cinema.

Brian Haman is a final-year doctoral candidate in the department of German Studies. A former Fulbright scholar to Austria, his doctoral research concerns representations of the journey in German Romantic culture, especially the intersection of the journey motif in the thought and prose of the Romantics.

Joseph Jackson is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature and Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick. His PhD thesis examines Scottish-Caribbean colonial history, race and ethno-nationalism in contemporary Scottish literature, with an emphasis on Caribbean literary and cultural theory.

Kate Beats is a PhD student in the department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. Her thesis focuses on the use and symbolism of the Athenian painted vase in Athenian domestic, public and ritual life, and draws upon contemporary theory, as well as archaeology and classical art history.

Special Guests

Paul Smith

Paul Smith has been a professor in the History of Art department at the University of Warwick since 2005, having previously been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a scholar at the Getty Research Institute. After completing his undergraduate degree at University College London, working with philosopher Richard Wollheim, Professor Smith studied for his PhD under the supervision of Paul Cézanne scholar Robert Ratcliffe at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Professor Smith’s research interests include art history and philosophy: later nineteenth-century French painting and its links with art theory, criticism and literature, Wittgenstein’s aesthetics and the writings of Adrian Stokes and Wollheim, and he has a special interest in novels and stories concerned with French art c.1820-1900.

He has published on Impressionism, Baudelaire, Manet, Seurat, and Cézanne, and has a book forthcoming on Cézanne’s way of seeing. This work tries to explain the distinctive appearance of Cézanne's paintings in terms of ideas about perception advanced by philosophers, such as Merleau-Ponty, and more recently, neuroscientists: how our potential to grasp objects and move towards them is bound up in what we see. It will also attempt to show particularly how Cézanne's colour, and its extraordinary cohesion and richness in particular, might be explained by related ideas.

This emphasis on the importance of colour is always close to the forefront of Professor Smith’s research, which was reflected in his role as a lead member of an IAS-funded interdisciplinary research project entitled 'Colour, Experience, and Meaning: Issues of Description, Explanation, and Interpretation in Art History, Philosophy, and Psychology’. The aim of the project was to explore connections between the ways in which philosophers and art historians have addressed an issue of fundamental importance to both disciplines: the nature of colour experience, and its relation to our understanding of colour.

Paul Hills

Paul Hills is well known for his publications on colour, on Italian Renaissance art, and on the poet and painter David Jones. After studying at Cambridge, he took an MA and a PhD at The Courtauld. During his time as lecturer at Warwick University, from 1976 to 1998, he directed the History of Art programme in Venice. In 1981 he curated the retrospective exhibition of David Jones at the Tate Gallery and he has continued to write catalogue essays on Jones and on such contemporary artists as Simon Lewty, Ana Maria Pacheco and Antoni Malinowski.He has been a visiting professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York; Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies; and the Royal College of Art. In 2003 Hills was appointed Andrew Mellon Visiting Professor at The Courtauld, and took up a permanent post in 2004. He has lectured on Renaissance art at international venues, including Harvard University, the Prado, the Louvre, and the National Gallery in London. His books include David Jones (Tate Gallery, 1981), The Light of Early Italian Painting (Yale, 1987), and Venetian Colour: Marble, Mosaic, Painting and Glass, 1250-1550 (Yale, 1999). His work on Italian art has been translated into Spanish, Italian and French.

Shirin Ramzanali Fazel

Italian writer of Somali and Pakistani origins, author of the novels Lontano da Mogadiscio (Roma, Datanews 1994) and Nuvole sull'Equatore (Cuneo, Nerosubianco, 2010).

Shirin Ramzanali Fazel comes from a mixed family. Her father was Pakistani and her mother was Somali. She was born in Mogadiscio (Somalia) where she attended Italian schools. At the age of 18, after the “coup d'état” of Siad Barre, she left her country and in 1971 she arrived in Novara (Italy) with her young husband, an Italian citizen, and her little baby girl. A year and a half later she gave birth to her second child. Since 1976, due to her husband’s job, they moved for several years across different continents: Zambia, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A., but she always kept her “home” in Italy, where she collaborated with different women’s group associations who dealt with social and immigration problems. She gave her contribution by speaking in schools and universities, acting as a bridge for the new growing multiethnic community. She also took part in several talks and conferences about Somalia, African women, infibulations and Islam. In 1995, her love for the African continent led her to live in Kenya. She came back to Italy only three years ago and this time permanently.

Her first autobiographical book, Lontano da Mogadiscio, was published in 1994 by Datanews, Rome. This novel has been the first literary work to be written by an immigrant writer without the help of an italian co-author. Her short story “Il segreto di Ommdurmann” appeared in Italian in Studies in Southern Africa, Johannesburg (1995). In 1994-95 and in 1995-96 she was a member of the panel of the first Eks&Tra writing contest for migrant writers. Her interview with Rebecca Hopkins, professor of the New York University in Florence, was published in the December 2007 online issue of El Ghibli. Her short-story “La Spiaggia” was published in the February 2008 issue of Scritture Migranti, a magazine of the Dipartimento di Italianistica dell'Università degli Studi di Bologna.

Shirin has just completed a novel, Nuvole sull’Equatore, to be published soon. It deals with the question of “meticciato,” a crude reality of the past Italian colonial government and life in Somalia