N.B. THIS PORTION OF MY WEBSITE IS NOT FOR CONFERENCES AT WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN; PLEASE SEE MY 'PUBLICATIONS AND TALKS' PAGE FOR THOSE.
Attending - CounterPlay (April 2016, Aarhaus, Denmark); this conference will help us complete an impact case study about 'The Dark Would' for publication.
Organiser - Sport, Philosophy, and Practice: A Gymnaisum (May 2016, University fo Warwick); this event will be used to trial ideas and ways of approaching material for the Autumn 2016 IATL module 'Sport, Philosophy, and Practice'
Children's Literature Reading Group (University of Warwick)
In creating my module Ethical Beings I found that there was interest in children's literature spread around the university. With Chantal Wright, and a number of others, I formed a children's literature reading group which now meets on a monthly basis. For more information on this reading group please don't hesitate to contact me: P.K.Gaydon@warwick.ac.uk.
'Ageing, Embodiment and the Self' (March, 2016, University of Warwick)
This conference brought together experts on aesthetic modernism in literary studies, philosophy, theatre, and more, and put them in dialogue with those from medical practices such as psychiatry and psychoanalysis. It was a fascinating day that opened up many lines of enquiry relevant to an ageing society constantly facing a media that bombards viewers with ways of fighting ageing and its supposed symptoms. Click here to read a brief report.
'Philosophy, Literature, and Education' (February, 2016, University of Warwick)
I attended the second session of a three-part seminar series organised by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. The series seeks to explore the intersection between philosophy, literature, and education and what that intersection can illuminate about how these three areas should interact in theory and practice. Click here to read my brief summary of the seminar.
Reflecting on Innovative Practice: Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Showcase (December, 2015, University of Warwick)
This event was organised in order to help highlight and bring together some of the innovative practice that was being uncovered and discussed as part of my Innovative Teaching and Learning Handbook project. After running this and attending other showcases the undergraduate researchers on the project (Dominic Nah and Laura Primiceri) wrote blog posts. Mine is on ownership and rules within the event space, Dominic's is on the 'quieter realities' of teaching, and Laura's our relationship with our emails.
‘Evolving Eco-creative Pedagogies in Living Laboratories’ (June, 2015, University of Warwick)
This project brought together distinguished speakers on ecopedagogy and sustainable education. It was centred upon an IATL-funded project ‘Meadow Meanders’ (a simple, maze-like out-door pathway installation). It was a fascinating day and I hope to work with many of the contributors in the future on innovative pedagogy. The key themes of the day that resonated with my own work were: the idea of adapting the learning space to match how facts might become experiences or how experience can contribute to a creative notion of knowledge formation; coming to understand and appreciate the role of risk within learning and the acceptance and utilisation of a state of not-knowing; making sure that questions come first rather than the transference of assumed knowledge; the issue of making theoretical considerations ‘live’ for students without resorting to mere shock tactics and a pedagogy of despair whilst also avoiding simplistic or didactic sentimentalism; making a space “strange” as well as immersive and allowing time to explore and consider it; asking how we make these pedagogical methods sustainable; and exploring the ideas behind but ultimately moving away from a dichotomy between paternalistic and maternally nurturing conceptions of pedagogy.
ORGANISER AND SPEAKER
'The Dark Would' (13-14 May, 2015, University of Warwick)
"Be unsettled, rejuvenated, aware, critical, wondrous, playful, reflective, creative…changed." This was the opening of our invitation to 'The Dark Would', a two-day event on innovative pedagogy. The event was hugely successful and provided a space for staff and students to explore who they are as educators and learners; ask what they need to develop their pedagogical skills, ideas, and philosophies; meet those who think similarly, be challenged by those who don’t, and collaborate with both; and experiment to the fullest extent possible. The website provides some information on the shape of the event and what kind of sessions were run and this website will be used to map the ongoing development of the concurent project. However, it truly was an experience that operated on a number of levels and we are currently collating all the photos, videos, recordings, and participant creations to try and capture some of that for publication. Just take a look at Twitter (#darkwould) to see the kinds of responses people were having to their experiences of 'The Dark Would', and here is but one example of the kind of feedback we received:
"Thank you so much for inviting me into The Dark Would. I was sceptical of what I would get out of it as I had already experienced The Making Space at Window on Teaching. I was unprepared for the path ahead. The Dark Would has renewed my passion for teaching - or rather, exploring with students. My year of teacher training gave me a toolkit and a map covered in warnings. “Do not enter.” “Here be dragons.“ “This way to level 7.“. Two days in The Dark Would gave me a backpack with survival essentials and a map covered in doodles. “Uncharted.” “Goblins (friendly?).” “Last sighting of unicorn.”."
The Dark Would continues to be used as a space of learning and transformation at other events such as Warwick's Festival of the Imagination, has recieved university recognition, featured in a THE article, and inspired further work such as Conor Heaney and Hollie MacKenzie's Deleuzian space.
Warwick Teaching and Learning Showcase: 'Warwick at 50: Teaching then and now' (May, 2015, University of Warwick)
The full programme for this event can be found by clicking here. What became clear from the sessions I attended (David Beck, 'Digital Literacy and Digital Humanities'; Florian Reiche, 'What, Why Democracy?'; and Cathy Hampton, 'From Widening Horizons to Widening Participation') was that one of the most prominent themes was not how teaching had changed or how to innovate in teaching and learning the current educational climate, but the difficulties of tying innovation and attempts to allow students multiple platforms by which to express their thinking to assessment. For example, Reiche provided us with Lego and challenged us, as he had done to his students, to build democracy in groups; a fantastic opening task. He also showed us a highly moving student video that had come from the module. The impact of the video on those in the room was palpable. However, neither the Lego task nor the video had contributed to the student's final assessment despite being exactly the kinds of things that had so brilliantly engaged the students during the module. Similarly, Hampton presented us with packs that students on their year abroad had made for UK secondary schools to use in language lessons. The students had clearly enjoyed making these and the fact that they were rooted in personal experience and contained a sense of journey made them highly enjoyable to work through and lent them authenticity. However, again, there was nothing being graded here, and, despite making these, Hampton spoke of a continued student perception of the year abroad as something outside of their academic experience; when reflecting on what to bring up at job interviews as relevant to their skills-base or educational improvement they rarely consider their year abroad or what they had created. Why are there disconnects here and do they need to be overcome? If so, how? The issue of assessment also raised its head in Beck's session which looked at the digital humanities and the role of the digital in current pedagogy. If students are being assessed in a variety of ways and across a multitude of platforms, are "we" (i.e. the module leader, one who perhaps only has a speciality in one or two of these mediums) capable of assessing such work? The feeling is that not only does assessment in these instances need to become a collaborative project between academics but also that assessment rubrics need to be much more precise in what they are asking for and aware of student limitations, without killing the creativity that naturally comes with such assessments.
Eating Well: Experience and Value in Meals (March, 2015, University of Warwick)
An overview of this one day workshop, its speakers, its attendees, and some useful readings can be found by clicking here. It was a fascinating day amongst a diverse and lively collection of students and academics. Particular highlights for me were Carol Bryce's talk on the family meal as an ideal and Kate Rawls' presentation on ethics, food, and farming. Bryce presented us with a number of ideas and conclusions taken from her PhD study. The family meal, it seemed, retains its power as an ideal for mothers from a wide spread of social and cultural backgrounds. It acts as a space in which the mother can shape child behaviour and health, create family cohesion, and develop her own self-worth. However, it is also a space in which self-worth can be challenged and power-struggles can occur. The talk prompted me to once again consider such children's books as The Tiger that Came to Tea, which I recently listened to Anne Fine speak on in relation to feminism in preparation for interviewing her. There is certainly something involved in the current ideal of the family meal that needs to be re-considered in order to locate its goods in a potentially more healthy and realistic space. Rawls, in talking about the need for radical governmental and ethical change and in calling for a community that was more courageous in acting upon its beliefs regarding food ethics, reminded me of teaching an Ethics II seminar on vegetarianism, where the entire class decided they should be vegetarian but few of them would follow through on it, and of my PhD and the nature of life-long belief. The choice to eat well and sustainably seems like the obvious one, but it is very difficult to follow through on, particularly as, for many people, it is not made a 'live' moral problem in any deep sense and so is easily forced out by other issues. In educating children and others on this matter we must consider how we can best animate this issue to give it life enough to cause change and inspire ethical courage.
Teaching Philosophy (March, 2015, San Francisco State University)
I used my winnings from the WATEPGR award in order to attend this one-day event. A reading list was sent out prior to the event which all of us were expected to read. This was a fantastic list and invaluable in itself. Of all the material on there, however, L. Dee Fink's Creating Significant Learning Experiences was the text that I believe will continue to affect my teaching in profound ways. On top of proposing a pedagogic philosophy I strongly agree with the book is full of useful, practical exercises for course design. As was the event itself, although its main aim was to have us re-evaluate our overarching strategies when approaching teaching and course design. The first part of the day looked at learning objectives, the second pedagogical approaches, and the third assessment. I hope to not only use what I learned at this workshop in my own teaching but to encourage others to at least trial the methods and approaches.
DESIGNER, LEADER AND ORGANISER
Series of Workshops: "A person's a person, no matter how small": Children's Literature and Ethics (February, 2015, University of Warwick)
This series of workshops, spread over the 4th and 5th of February, was designed to try out various topics for my 'Ethical Beings' module. It will included speakers from Philosophy, Warwick Medical School, Law, Film and Television Studies, and more. Click here to read a brief report of the talks.
Trust Workshop (May, 2014, Manchester University)
This one day workshop saw presentations from Bennett Helm on his theory of trust as an emotion of respect and how his model helped explain its various features, Katherine Hawley on her initial thoughts and questions surrounding the question 'what it is for a group to be trustworthy?', Paul Faulkner on the issue that if trust involves the risk of ending up worse off then what warrants exposing ourselves to this risk, and Jacopo Domenicucci and Richard Holton on why we should entertain the primacy of trust as a two place relation (I trust you) rather than three (I trust you to x).
Conference: 21st Century Theories of Literature: Essence, Fiction, and Value (March, 2014, University of Warwick)
I was a co-organiser of this large, actively interdisciplinary conference here at Warwick. Funded by the British Society of Aesthetics, American Society of Aesthetics, the Analysis Trust, and Warwick's HRC, Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts, Institute of Advanced Study, and Philosophy Department, we are proud to say this conference was a resounding success. We will be presenting about this experience at Durham's "Transformation and Transfusion" conference, and writing pieces for the Warwick Research Journal and Rowman & Littlefield International blog.
DESIGNER, LEADER AND ORGANISER
WORKSHOP: Darwin, Childhood, and Death (February, 2014, University of Warwick)
This was an Open-Spaced Learning workshop that I planned and ran with IATL Teaching-Fellow Jonathan Heron. The aim was to try out OSL techniques in relation to children's literature to gauge how feasible a future interdisciplinary module on children's literature and ethics might be. Jonny ran the first part of the session on Darwin's work on the emotions and flowed into the death of his 'favourite daughter' Annie and how this impacted on his work. From there, I took over and ran activities which involved thinking about how to deal with a child's questions about the death of someone close and about how to explain the effects of loss upon another to children. For the former, I wrote a fictional stimulus piece from the point of view of Darwin or his wife about being faced with their remaining daughter Etty's questions about Annie's death. For the latter, we explored Michael Rosen's Sad Book (which is a picture book about Michael Rosen's own emotions and stages of grief when he lost his son) by experiencing it in 'story-time' mode and then by trying to plot on a graph our emotional reactions to the story. This was a very successful workshop that received good feedback from all involved. Some kinks do need to be ironed out, but it has left no doubt in either mine or Jonny's mind that an interdisciplinary module on children's literature and ethics is not only a feasible idea but a fantastic one. Watch this space for a whole new module!
CONFERENCE: Allegory Studies? (November, 2013, University of Warwick)
I attended and helped chair this fascinating conference at Warwick. The idea behind the day was to bring together noted academics and postgraduates from different departments working in the field of allegorical studies to see if they could find a vibrant and exciting field of interdisciplinarity. The fact that professors and students from Art History, Classics, English Literature, Psychology, and others, engaged so fervently and continuously very much suggested that they did.
CONFERENCE: Understanding Value (July, 2013, University of Sheffield)
I returned to Sheffield's Understanding Value's second instalment and although the papers were perhaps further outside my scope than last year, the people were still enthusiastic and friendly and it was good to catch up with a number of other PhD students from around the world. Greg Currie's opening address, however, was particularly interesting for me as he spoke about the nature of testimony as aiding belief formation in literary works and I look forward to delving deeper into this topic and I develop my own ideas about the children's author/characters as testifiers.
CONFERENCE: Philosophy of and in the Short Story (June, 2013, University of Warwick)
This one day conference brought together several academics who presented their thoughts on what a short story is, how it differs from literature in general, and how such differences may mean it could make a unique contribution to philosophy and the philosophy of literature. This conference was also my first experience chairing a conference paper and I introduced one of my supervisors, Eileen John, who spoke on the short story and the tractability of ethics. Other highlights included Steven Earnshaw inventing (very convincingly) a call for submissions for a collection of short stories about rigid designators and Nick Lawrence's wonderful use of Chris Ware's Building Stories.
EVENT: NCRCL Open Day (May, 2013, Roehampton University)
This was a thoroughly enjoyable event laced with delicious cupcakes, good conversation, and two stimulating talks. Events like this really are like a shot of adrenaline to my research; they remind me exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing and of the wonderful community and people that are working at Roehampton and in the field in general.
Click here to read my summary of the talks.
CONFERENCE: The Nature of Fiction (May, 2013, University of London)
This one day workshop explored the work of four philosophers on the nature of fiction: Stacie Friend, David Davies, Kathleen Stock, and Greg Currie.
Click here to read my overview of the day.
EVENT: Philosophy and Literature Weekend (April, 2013, Stratford)
This year's annual Philosophy and Literature weekend saw Warwick's PhilLIt Society head just down the road to Stratford-upon-Avon. This year we workshopped Shakespeare's Hamlet before setting out to view the play in the evening and discussing it again the next day. Keep an eye on this space for a forthcoming video insight into the events of the weekend!
CONFERENCE: Literature, Actions and Agents (January, 2013, University of London)
This one day conference explored notions of how literature might represent or inform considerations about the philosophy of action and agency and how the latter might help us give new readings to some literary texts.
Click here to read my overview of the papers.
CONFERENCE: Contemporary Aesthetic Education in the UK (December, 2012, York University)
This one day conference sought to discuss what constitutes an aesthetic education, how it differs from a 'standard' education, and what its implications, positive and negative, might be.
Click here to read my conference overview.
EVENT: The Philosophy of Running (November, 2012, Sheffield University)
This event combined two of my greatest loves - long distance running and philosophy. Although initially sceptical that the two could be combined in successful fashion, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Click here to read my conference report.
CONFERENCE: Understanding Value (July, 2012, Sheffield Univeristy)
This three-day conference sought to analyse the nature of value from three different viewpoints: i) the ethical, ii) the epistemological, and iii) the aesthetic - three areas whose evaluations all play a prominent role in my thesis. It was a fascinating and stimulating event which included a final talk from a philosopher who may well be a key-figure at certian stages in my PhD - Peter Lamarque.
Click here to go to my conference summary.
EVENT: NCRCL PhD Research Day (June, 2012, Roehampton University)
The expansion of the network between the two behemoths of postgrad children's literature studies, Roehampton and Cambridge, to include other universities is an exciting thing to be a part of. This research day introduced me to many of the wonderful topics being researched at Roehmapton and gave me the opportunity to once again network with other PhD students and academics interested in children's literature.
Click here to go to my report of the event.
CONFERENCE: Dickens and Childhood (June, 2012, London)
This Conference held at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London, focused upon how Dickens' work not only portrayed and explored childhood in his own period, but how he affected the modern conception of childhood and how his work continues to be used in contemporary classrooms. The day also included talks from various children's authors, including Dame Jacqueline Wilson, on what Dickens means to them.
Click here to go to my conference report.
EVENT: Cambridge University Centre in Children's Literature PhD Day (June, 2012, Cambridge University)
Once again I was made to feel very welcome at Cambridge and I came away with plenty of ideas. The morning was dedicated to five of Cambridge’s senior members of staff who gave brief talks on their current research (a fantastic idea as it is all too easy as a PhD student to forget that supervisors have their own projects too). These included talks on Wall-E and the crisis of nature, the works of Jane Johnson, empirical research into the child as reader, and emotions and the depiction of crying in children’s literature. The afternoon session was an extended workshop on the issue of author intent and its role in literary criticism. I presented my thoughts first, and, as it turned out, it took only the one presentation to spark enough debate and analysis to last the two-hour slot! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it was good to catch-up with familiar faces from Cambridge and Roehampton, as well as meet new people from Newcastle University.
CONFERENCE: Children's Literature and the Inner World (May, 2012, Roehampton University)
This conference, held at Roehampton and hosted by the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature, focused upon exploring the imaginative mind and the difficulties inherent in attempting to know the other's mind via children's literature.
Click here to read my conference report.
WORKSHOP: Testimony; Aesthetic and Otherwise (May, 2012, Nottingham University)
This British Society of Aesthetics workshop at Nottingham University was set up to explore the value of testimony in the fields of aesthetics and morality.
Click here to view my account of the workshop.
CONFERENCE: Philosophy and Education - 'The Philosophical Dimension of Learning' (May, 2012, Rugby School)
This conference, held at Rugby School, focused upon the place of Philosophy in secondary education. Warwick's own Angie Hobbs spoke alongside popular philosopher A. C. Grayling and the founder of and writer for The Philosophers' Magazine Julian Baggini.
Click here to take a look at my conference report, which was latter sent to all participants by the organisers.
The only reason I was able to attend this conference is because of sponsorship from the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion. I am very grateful for their sponsorship and that the conference organisers chose me for the sponsored place.
CONFERENCE: The Child and the Book - 'Philosophical Approaches to Children's Literature' (March, 2012, Cambridge University)
I attended the eighth International Child and the Book conference at Cambridge University this March, and what an amazing conference it was.
Just click here to go to my conference report.
WORKSHOP: Imagination and the Human Form (Feb, 2012, Warwick University)
This was a day-long workshop which consisted of an analysis of, creative interaction with, and performance of selections from Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals and The Origin of Species, as well as Nietzsche's 'On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense'. Whilst we got to read and discuss the texts in a philosophical manner we also had to theatrically engage with them through a variety of physical and performative exercises. Such techniques are invaluable for extracting from texts something new and 'alive', as well as getting participants to think about the relationships between art, philosophy, science, and performance. The true ambiguity of the boundaries was highlighted and the texts gained a new sense of impact. I certainly want to incorporate some of these approaches and methods in any teaching I do in my time as a postgraduate here at Warwick.
Click here to go to the video of the workshop.