Concept and Form: An Interview With Sophie Collins

by Charles Whalley

Sophie Collins, along with Rachael Allen, is co-founder and editor of tender, ‘an online quarterly promoting work by female-identified writers and artists,’ which, since its appearance last year, has published work by Emily Berry, Carina Finn, Lavinia Greenlaw and Emily Toder, among others. She is currently carrying out research on poetry and translation at Queen’s University Belfast, and her poems, translations and other writings have been published in Poetry, Poetry Review, Poetry London, The White Review and elsewhere. [read full interview]

‘All issues are political issues’

Sarah Lowndes, All Art is Political: Writings on Performative Art

reviewed by Chris Law

‘It’s been more difficult than pleasurable, actually, being so retrospective […] A complete retrospective would include everything from the beginning to the end. As I’m not dead, that can’t happen to me, and my Tate exhibition is really just a large survey of some selected works.’ Susan Hiller’s comments about her survey exhibition at Tate Britain in 2011 come at the very end of an interview conducted in the same year by Sarah Lowndes, which constitutes the fourth of five chapters... [read more]

The Hand, and the Virtual

Matt Ratto and Megan Boler (eds.), DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media

reviewed by Danielle Child

DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media is a collection of 28 short essays that address the multi-faceted ideas of making, design, the digital, media, citizenship and participation (both on and offline), through a critical lens. The volume was conceived after the editors convened a conference of the same name held in Toronto in November 2010. In order to help the reader navigate a diverse range of approaches and topics, the book is divided into four sections: DIY and Activism: New... [read more]

Disreputable Scraps

Lisa Appignanesi, Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness

reviewed by Polly Bull

In 1871, Christiana Edmunds laced chocolate creams with strychnine and distributed them throughout her hometown of Brighton, hoping to poison her lover’s wife without attracting suspicion. When a young boy died from eating the chocolates, they were traced back to Edmunds and she was charged with his murder. Edmunds pleaded not guilty, with a defence of insanity. Acquittal on this basis largely rested on proof of her inability, at the time of the crime, to distinguish right from wrong. In... [read more]

Dynamics of Intervention

Patrick Cockburn, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

reviewed by Daniel Whittall

‘The deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria may now have gone too far to re-create genuinely unitary states.’ So writes Patrick Cockburn towards the end of The Jihadis Return, a remarkably timely intervention that explores the recent history and present dynamics of what Cockburn terms ‘al’Qa’ida type movements’, foremost amongst which is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). It is a gloomy prognosis, one which represents the final nail in the already-rotten coffin of... [read more]

In Search of a Radical Formalism

Eugenie Brinkema, The Forms of the Affects

reviewed by Tom Hastings

Eugenie Brinkema’s The Forms of the Affects is overflowing with words that splice subjects together in numerous, thrilling combinations. At times a nightmare to read (when one wishes to sense something beyond their running form), Brinkema’s use of language otherwise brilliantly materialises the book’s central thesis. And as we shall see, it is important that the readerly movement from pleasuring discomfort, to Angst, to joyful understanding is captured; that it is there, in the form of... [read more]

Who Owns History?

Carolyn Steedman, An Everyday Life of the English Working Class: Work, Self and Sociability in the Early Nineteenth Century

reviewed by Jennifer Upton

Carolyn Steedman has dedicated her academic life to exploring how lives from the past can confound our expectations about history, the way it is written, and the meaning of its silences. Her first book, The Tidy House (Virago, 1982), was about a short story written by three working-class schoolgirls in a primary school where Steedman was a teacher before entering university employment. These girls, though writing a fictional story, were also in an important way writing about their lives, and... [read more]

Matthew Was Right

David Marquand, Mammon’s Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now

reviewed by Abigail Rhodes

The Bible tells us that ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.’ (Matthew 6:24) Mammon is personified in the New Testament as a demon and sometimes included as one of the seven Princes of Hell (Mammon is to greed what Lucifer is to pride). Over the centuries his name has gained currency as a pejorative term to describe unjust worldly gain and is... [read more]

'Racism Had Taken a Beating'

Robin Bunce and Paul Field, Darcus Howe: A Political Biography

reviewed by David Renton

If one were to write a total history of racism and anti-racism in Britain since 1945 — taking in the arrival of the Empire Windrush, the 1958 Notting Hill riots, the deaths of Blair Peach, Cynthia Jarrett and Stephen Lawrence, the stunts of Martin Webster and the brief electoral success of Nick Griffin, shifting popular ideas of solidarity or exclusion, and the changing approaches of the British state — Darcus Howe would deserve inclusion at three points. First, in 1970-71 as a defender... [read more]

On the Crest of a Wave

Alex Niven, Definitely Maybe

reviewed by David Stubbs

Oasis were central to the Nineties not just as one of its most popular groups, among the top two or three immediately cited when the word Britpop is invoked, but also to the decade as experienced in the UK. They feel like a group whose success was willed into being by a generation of mainstream music lovers who, post-rave, had fallen in love with communalism again. The diversity and fragmentation that punk and post-punk had engendered during the 1980s and beyond left people feeling confused,... [read more]

‘Television Delivers People’

Chris Meigh-Andrews, A History of Video Art

reviewed by Hazel Dowling

‘You pay the money to allow someone else to make the choice, you are consumed, you are the product of television. Television delivers people’ - Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Shoolman, ‘Television Delivers People’, 1973 Emerging from the very particular set of social and political circumstances of 1960s America, the trajectory of the medium of video, traced by Chris Meigh-Andrews in his second edition of A History of Video Art, draws upon a multiplicity of events in the history of... [read more]