©Copyright first three photos ("Outdoor Furniture", "House", "Spring Trees"): Nourit Melcer-Padon; copyright last two photos ("Wall", "Door"): Zuzanna Bulat-Silva
"Situating Homelessness on the Contemporary British Stage"
In the context of the so-called “Great Recession” around the end of the twenty-first century’s first decade, discussions and anxieties about homelessness have gained a new momentum in European countries. My project charts the ways in which plays in Britain from the mid-1990s up to the present day have contributed to raising consciousness about the issue of homelessness by examining and subverting the divide between ‘homeless’ and ‘housed’. The medium of the play is especially well-suited for such reflections. Not only has drama as a genre been a prime medium for engaging with social and political issues, but the stage also offers the opportunity to both perform and question the spatial relations that are at the heart of the ‘homeless/housed’ dichotomy itself. Such relations are staged through the mise-en-scène as well as the characterization and interactions of the characters.
The project will furnish the first sustained and systematic discussion of the representation of the central trope of homelessness in British dramatic texts. It considers a corpus of plays from the 1990s to the present day, spanning a range of dramatic traditions, from in-yer-face to verbatim to variants that have been less frequently associated with political themes, such as metadrama. The close study of the plays’ formal strategies is grounded in a theoretical framework which brings together new concepts from the emerging transdisciplinary fields of studies of home and poverty studies.
"The Value of Home in Contemporary British and American Literature"
The perception that late modernity is characterized by convergent crises, ranging from global crises in finance, employment or immigration to energy, food and climate change, fuels contemporary debates on the value of home in its affective, ideological and monetary dimensions. This research project investigates how British and US-American literature since the 1990s engages with home as a site that is both conscripted by and resistant to neoliberal and biopolitical governmentality. The literary texts selected for this study, such as Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats (1998) or Richard Powers’ Gain (1998), combine an ecocritical perspective with a nuanced interrogation of the exclusionist mechanisms (e.g. race, ethnicity, able-ism, gender) underpinning hegemonic ideals of home. As the production of ‘proper’ citizens is key to biopolitical governance, this research project places special attention on studying the depicted interplay between domestic practices, models of the self and community in the literary texts. The focus on the value of home from a political, ethical and economic perspective is conjoined with a close look at how the literary text hails its reader through its formal strategies, hence fostering a distinct kind of subjectivity through aesthetic practices. By drawing together theories from biopolitics, post-Marxism, ecocriticism, gender studies, and reception aesthetics, this project demonstrates the key role depictions of home play in the literary exploration of late modern subjectivities.
My current research work explores the question of what constitutes a contemporary aesthetics of protection and survival in a time of climate change. The project I am working on in the context of this network focuses on ‘homing’ as a material practice that may start at a very modest level in terms of shelter and protection of the body through garments and other forms of corporeal shelter. As a Researcher in Visual Culture, I am looking at a variety of artists’ approaches to issues of home and shelter in times of emergency, but am also exploring them through my own studio practice, which manifests a concern with the troubling zone between protection and intrusion, the question of who and what is protected and in whose interests in a state of emergency. Following Mallett and *Perkins’ observation that there is a need for approaches to thinking about home that confound binaries such as real/ideal (pp.69-70) inside/outside (pp.71-2) and home/away (pp.77-9), I am interested in the dynamics surrounding homes that are temporary, often mobile and fluid constructions created in response to situations of threat or upheaval.
*H.C. Perkins et al., The Study of ‘Home’ from a Social Scientifik Perspective: An Annotated Bibliography, 2nd edition. (Click here to download text.)
©Photo of art project: Victoria Walters