A different sort of hell

Derek Gregory on Joe Sacco’s stunning new title, a 24ft illustration entitled ‘The Great War: July 1, 1916’.

The comparisons to Hergé are apt in this context, seeing as Hergé himself didn’t travel in the first instance to most of the places he depicted in his graphic novels. Only later did he see reason to, and thus only later did he realize the errors of his career to that point. The National Geographic providing the inspiration for most of Tintin’s (mis)adventures. On this occasion Sacco hasn’t either – that might’ve require some difficult time-travelling in order to capture first-hand the brutal reality of war. Nonetheless, with the aid of the Imperial War Museum’s archives, Sacco has rendered the first day of the Battle of the Somme as barbaric, messy and as shocking as it truly was. 

geographical imaginations

I’ve been in Grant Writing Hell for most of last week and right through this long week-end. Everything has to be in by tomorrow morning, and I’ll post the final version of what has become Medical-military machines and casualties of war 1914-2014 once it’s done and I am in recovery (for an early preview see here).  If only I could track down whoever persuaded the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (and the rest of the world for that matter) that drop-down menus achieve consistency and save time… They don’t; apart from the time taken to scroll through endless lists the pre-selected categories never seem to quite fit so you have to click “Other” AND THEN TYPE IT IN ANYWAY.

SACCO The Great War

But I must stick my head above the parapet to notice Joe Sacco‘s forthcoming book The Great War, July 1, 1916, due out at the end of this…

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What is GEM?

GEM will regularly assemble at Utrecht University to discuss topics on the intersection of media studies and critical geography, with a special focus on screens as navigational interfaces in urban mobile settings. Tied to the Charting the Digital European Research Council project and in cooperation with the University of Warwick and Manchester University, we aim to provide an inclusive platform to discuss interdisciplinary topics pertaining to this focus.

Academic Focus

Whether or not we wish to speak of a spatial – or spatiotemporal – turn, spatiality has both become a central theoretical concept in media studies as well as in critical geography. New urban interfaces, and in particular digital mapping, have prompted challenging questions about how spatialities can be epistemologically and ontologically understood and which theories, tools and methodologies are needed to understand our contemporary mediatized and mobile daily lives to their full extent. GEM aims to shed light on such questions by exploring the intersections of the different notions of space in different disciplines and traditions of thought, combined with the analysis of and reflection on cultural and technological practices. It wants to offer a platform for discussion, analysis and reflection on how we can approach and ‘do’ geo-media and urban interfaces and explore the essentials we need as researchers to engage with these research topics.

Who is it for?

Open to Ph.D. candidates and as well as other junior and senior researchers, we will occasionally incorporate guest lectures, workshops and master classes. Those who join are more than welcome to suggest their own workshops, reading material, research questions and/or methodologies.


First Meeting: Non-Representational Theory
Friday, November 15, Utrecht University 13:00-15:00, Muntstraat 2A, 1.11


Perhaps one of the most persistent notions in media theory is representation. Geographer Nigel Thrift suggests moving away from representation, towards the domain of practices and performativity. Combining the works of classic phenomenologists with Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, as well as science and technology studies (STS) and the political sciences, Thrift suggests a new approach to studying the everyday and the role of technology in it.

For this session we will read Thrift’s Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (2007) and discuss how his thoughts and concepts relate to our own work.

If you are interested in joining this session and/or wish to be on the mailing list, please send an email to Nanna Verhoeff (n.verhoeff@uu.nl)

Metro Modern – our new guide to Manchester’s Twentieth Century architecture

A new urban map is to be launched this weekend – of Manchester’s 20th century architecture.

manchester modernist society


Metro Modern, our new free map & guide to Manchester’s Twentieth Century Architecture will be launched on Saturday 26th of October 2013.

With the help of our handy guide you will be able to tour the city by foot or on a free Metro Shuttle Bus – all our buildings are within a short hop of Manchester’s three Metro Shuttle Bus routes.

Join us on a 1960s Manchester City Transport Bus from Victoria Station (1pm, Sat 26th october – free event) on our very own Metro Modern tour of the City, before being dropped off at the Museum of Transport for refreshments and a tour of the Museum. We are celebrating the launch in partnership with the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester.

Reserve your free place here but remember, seats are strictly limited so don’t book a place unless you are absolutely definitely coming along – wouldn’t want to deprive someone else…

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