RIMAP Postgraduate Research Student Conference

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University of Bedfordshire Postgraduate Centre

1 Vicarage Street



United Kingdom

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The Research Institute is pleased to welcome you to the upcoming RIMAP postgraduate research students conference.

About this event

This blended conference provides an ideal opportunity to see presentations in person on campus and also online presentations by more distant students.

Please do join us to  meet and talk to our researchers and enjoy the wide range of projects, topics and methods on display.

Please register on Eventbrite to help us with catering numbers.

Provisional programme (subject to change)

8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-9:20 Welcome by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Church, and Professor Alexis Weedon, Director of RIMAP

9:25-9:55 Presentation 1: ‘‘Sense into Nonesense’: Provocation in the Poetry of Dada Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’

Celeste van der Linde

10.00-10:30 Presentation 2: ‘Interactive Art Vs Pandemic’

Emma Barrow

10:30-10:45 Tea/Coffee Break

10:50-11:20 Presentation 3: ‘Re-Examining Arabic History Beyond Divergence: A New Trajectory of Contemporary Arabic Performances’

Tasneem Ramadan

11:20-11:50 Presentation 4: ‘How Absurd is Absurdity?’

Derek Willmer

11:50-12:20 Presentation 5: ‘The Ki-energy way of body and self’

Laura Brera

12:20-12:50 Presentation 6: ‘Setting out: young women embarking in the fiction of Elizabeth Bowen’

Sarah Ryan

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-14:15 Introduction to Second Half by Executive Dean of CATS Faculty Professor Jan Domin

14:20-14:50 Presentation 7: ‘The Politics of Belonging in Kenya and the ‘Othering’ of Somali Communities – A Media Study’

Alex Mureithi Mwangi

14:50-15:20 Presentation 8: ‘A comparison of experimentation in contemporary women’s poetry through Alice Fulton’s “Fuzzy Feelings” and Denise Riley’s “A Part Song”

Becca Thomas

15:20-15:50 Presentation 9: ‘‘Bitumen and Balmy Smells’: An Exploration of Fetishized Miasma in Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars’

Jen Denman

15:50-16:05 Tea/Coffee Break

16:10-16:40 Presentation 10: ‘The encounter between Dance and Autism: a qualitative inquiry presented through the use of vignettes’

Sara Accettura

16:40-17:10 Presentation 11: ‘Braided Roles: An Approach to Researching Narrative Game Mechanics’

Kirsty McGill

17:10-17:40 Presentation 12: ‘Dressing and Transgressing the game of thrones in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.’

Viviana Perez-Castellano

17:40-18:00 Plenary Discussion

Please note that this programme is subject to change and might differ from this timeline on the date of the conference.


Celeste van der Linde

Celeste van der Linde is a part-time PhD student at the University of Bedfordshire. Her research explores gender and flânerie in Dadaism. She participated recently in the textile art project Domestic Academics (2021).

‘Sense into Nonesense’: Provocation in the Poetry of Dada Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927) was a central figure in the Dada movement, but has often been overlooked in histories of Dadaism, that tend to focus on the male members of the group. Scholarly research on women Dadaist writers is altogether scant and any work that has been carried out on Freytag-Loringhoven in particular, has taken place after the 1980s. While previous research has sought to engage with the Baroness’s subversion of gender roles and accepted forms of female sexuality in her performance art, her utilisation of provocative feminism in her writing has been less explored. This unfairly results in a depthless view of Freytag-Loringhoven’s multi-facetted writing and is the motivation behind my attempt to uncover the complexities of her poems, which may appear, at first glance, chaotic.

In this presentation, I will argue that the Baroness’s poetry invites a consideration of the ways in which her use of provocation might be manifested in her poetry, and how her embodiment of the flâneuse in the urban landscape may have facilitated her feminist writing. My research draws upon Charles Baudelaire’s literary figure of the flâneur, Walter Benjamin’s examination of the flâneur as emblematic of the shared modern experience in the city, and the recent work of feminists and gender and cultural theorists (such as Deborah Parsons) that identify the existence of a female counterpart for this traditionally masculine figure: the flâneuse. I will argue that the value of the Baroness’s texts, like those of other women Dadaists of the inter war years, serve not only as subversive cultural commentary, but as insightful and valuable texts in their own regard.

Emma Barrow

Emma Barrow is a practice-based PhD student at the University of Bedfordshire. Her project intends to interrogate, to what degree touch effects the participants’ perception and imagination of an art experience.

Interactive Art Vs Pandemic

The debate surrounding the priority of the senses is as old as philosophy itself; over two thousand years ago, Aristotle disagreed with his tutor Plato on the priority of sight over tactility, a debate which still continues today. Barrow’s practice - as an installation artist - developed as a result of her own ‘hands-on’ experience which initiated a curiosity into what effect our sense of touch has on our perception and imagination of an art experience.

For this ongoing project, an art experience, featuring Individual objects, has been developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic; which allows for each participant to have their own objects posted to them - and acknowledges the importance of the postal system since the advent of the pandemic. The individual packages have been adapted to allow for either a visual, or a visual and tactile-based experience.

Data is gathered through a recording of the experience by the participant at the time of the event allowing for an account of the initial response. The transcribed recordings are compared through key words and themes and intend to establish a set of results which can inform interactive design. Initial findings suggest the experience of receiving and unwrapping the parcel is more exciting than the intended object in both types of experiences. The participants also seem to attribute their own understanding of the objects through their own phenomenology by explaining their experience through something that appears to be familiar to them.

Tasneem Ramadan

Tasneem completed her MA [Commendation] in English Literature at the University of Bedfordshire in 2019. She has been teaching units of Literature and Performance, Philosophical Thinking, American Literature, and English for Academic Purposes.

Re-Examining Arabic History Beyond Divergence: A New Trajectory of Contemporary Arabic Performances

The purpose of this study is to find out more about how contemporary Arabic women make performance, the reasons why they make the work they do, and what they are trying to achieve. I aim to explore the potential of contemporary Arabic performances in activating intersectional feminism, Hybrid feminism in particular, and the ways in which artists may work to change, if only partially, the low status of women in the private/public sectors of Muslim and non-Muslim communities. I suggest Hybrid feminism as a lens that may help in understanding the lived experiences of women in the Arab world, as well as a resolution to the dichotomy of the feminist debates in the Arab communities. I aim to explore how an intersectional frame that accommodates aspects of both Islamic and secular feminisms may be utilised in understanding works made by Arab women. In addition, I seek to discuss the incorporation of Hybrid feminism as an approach to the performance field. I consider my research aims can be situated within Performance studies in order to gain a better understanding of the cultural and religious values that shape societies. By using a mixed-methods qualitative approach to explore case studies, I will be able to examine the ways in which artists make work as well as their artistic and social goals. By means of ethnographic methods, I will move closer to my aim of understanding the values that inform contemporary Arabic performances through recognising and appreciating the ways artists produce and understand their own work.

Derek Willmer

Derek Willmer reached the age of 73 without attending university. A UoB student, he graduated with a degree in Fine Art, went on to gain a Masters in Art and Design and is now in his third year of a MPhil/PhD.

How Absurd is Absurdity?

The end of World War II brought about a re-examination of European views on how we were to live our lives and whether, in a largely godless age, they were worth living at all. A number of playwrights living in Paris in the 1950s and 1960s tried to tackle this in new ways and became known as the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. They sought to reproduce the incoherent feelings of insecurity and futility of life by onstage incoherence. Sometimes their plays had no plot, no change of scenery, and the objective of the playwright was merely to establish character and to depict a mood. These plays showed mankind at the mercy of his surroundings, and subject to the whims of the rest of society, which were generally unhelpful. Playwrights also sought to show the randomness of life; how little we were in charge of our destiny. Other themes to emerge were the search for our real identity and how we were able to live (or not) with our memories. These plays are still performed today and, after we have learned to live with the covid-19 pandemic, there may be renewed interest in this sort of material. However, the expression of absurdity by means of video made wholly by a sole practitioner is under-researched and is the subject of this paper. Possible means of searching for abstraction whilst remaining (almost) intelligible will be explored.

Laura Brera

Laura is an artist-researcher, bodywork therapist and Reiki Master interested in the perception of what is “invisible” to the eyes but relevant to the somatic process of self-cultivation and healing.

The Ki-energy way of body and Self

How someone perceives their body is dependent on what concept of the body they hold. How someone perceives themselves is dependent on what concept of Self they hold. What happens when these culturally dependent concepts/perceptions of Body and Self are challenged by a practice whose theoretical foundations are a product of a different culture?

This research sits at the intersection between many worlds, some deeply rooted in western philosophy and practices and some anchored to traditions and customs of Japan. From their meeting, these worlds generate a new way of looking at the body: the Ki-energy way.

With the occasion of this conference, I want to present my encounter with the Japanese perspective on Ki-energy and my blending it with the phenomenological experience of Reiki from a first-person embodied experiential perspective in the context of creative healing.

Ki-energy is physical and spiritual; it is a force in nature, akin to electricity, and a life-giving strength associated with breath. Reiki, a 19th-century Japanese healing practice, finds its philosophical and theoretical underpinnings in the Shintō-Buddhist syncretism. The Ki in Reiki is this “psychophysical type of energy”. Ki-energy is integral to the process of shugyō, self-cultivation, its experiential foundation, and the Japanese concept of Self. It emanates from both the personal body and any entity in the living world. The coming together of these energies is the attunement that facilitates a new understanding of the body, the Self, and the environment.

Sarah Ryan

Sarah Ryan is in her second year as a part-time student studying for a PhD at the University of Bedfordshire, researching the concept of pilgrimage in relation to the writing of Elizabeth Bowen.

Setting out: young women embarking in the fiction of Elizabeth Bowen

The relationship between figurative and actual journey-making is well established in both anthropological study and cultural criticism. Taking the paradigm of the rite of passage, as expounded by Augustus van Gennep and later developed by Victor Turner, the first stage of journey as a rite of passage is separation. To move the traveller into a state of new understanding or meaning, the journey must have a focused process of embarkation that both removes and separates. This paper will look at ways in which Elizabeth Bowen uses this process of separation to explore the parallel transition of a young women into adult life. In Bowen’s fiction, journeys and movement recur as a central processes of narrative: they are not merely functional, but operate as elements of psychological and emotional experience. The process of movement away allows a freedom of experience and expression, a form of liberation not previously attainable in girlhood; an unmooring. I will be considering how physical and emotional processes of ‘separation’, and both the motivation for and experience of journey, relate to the transitional points that have been reached by young women, as they evolve an understanding of their independence, freedom and autonomy. Additionally I will explore the way in which the simultaneous experience of the figurative and the physical in such journeys underlines the tension between the ostensible realism of Bowen’s prose and its underlying and implicitly shifting and dissolving nature.

Alex Mureithi Mwangi

The researcher, Alex Mureithi Mwangi, is interested in this project, since he grew up in a Muslim community in Mombasa and realised the marginalization of ethnic Somali communities in Kenya.

The Politics of Belonging in Kenya and the ‘Othering’ of Somali Communities – A Media Study

This research examines the position of Somali communities in Kenya and whether they are being denied an active role in the political, social and cultural context. This research endeavours to find out whether there are major differences in power relations between the Kenyan Somali communities and the other ethnic groups in the Tor in social media. It briefly looks at Kenya's pre-colonial communities, and the post-colonial period, and on effects of imposing local administrative boundaries. There is a possibility that the post-colonial Kenyan state adopted colonial rule as a major authoritarian system, especially regarding political, economic and social policies.

Data has mainly been produced from two focus groups, one specially focusing on the phenomenological experiences from Kenyan Somalis living in Nairobi. Data has also been acquired from print media, mainly from two major newspapers in Kenya, The Daily Nation, and The Standard.

The research has found out that while younger generations of ethnic Somalis understand changes have taken place and life is better than in the past, they still feel they are being marginalized by the major ethnic groups in Kenya.

Keywords: Ethnicity, Kenyan Somalis, Nationality, Identity

Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas is a PhD student at the University of Bedfordshire under the remit of RIMAP. She received both her BA and MA degrees in Literature from the University of Bedfordshire. Her research interests include Modernist literature, women’s writing, science in poetry, contemporary poetry and poetics, and ways of knowing in late modernity.

A comparison of experimentation in contemporary women’s poetry through Alice Fulton’s “Fuzzy Feelings” and Denise Riley’s “A Part Song”

The aim of this paper is to discuss the differences in experimentation in contemporary women’s poetry. Focusing on two poems concerned with the ‘lyrical I’ and the formal aspects of the poem written by Denise Riley and Alice Fulton. There are many poets of the twentieth and twenty-first century who experiment with literary traditions such as the lyrical I, and with the many technical devices specific to poetry. However, in the inclusion of scientific concepts, and scientific language systems into this experimentation certain poets such as Fulton do not fit comfortably into the wider group of experimental women poets, and instead need close analysis as a separate sub-group of experimental women poetics. A short study of Denise Riley and Alice Fulton’s work will hopefully clarify these differences, and demonstrate the unique nature of the poets falling into this subset of scientific experimental poetry.

Jennifer Denman

Having completed an Undergraduate and Masters Degree with the University of Bedfordshire, Jennifer Denman is currently working towards a PhD in the area of fin de siècle Orientalism and exoticism

‘Bitumen and Balmy Smells’: An Exploration of Fetishized Miasma in Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars

Upon its original publication in 1903, Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars received little critical attention, and being one among many Egypt-themed fin de siècle novellas referred to as ‘mummy horrors’, was largely overlooked by the early Edwardian audience. These, now rare turn of the century Egypt-themed novellas could be considered relics themselves, providing the twenty-first century reader a valuable social commentary on late Victorian and early Edwardian exoticism and fetishization of women. Upon the discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun by the English archaeologist Howard Carter in 1921, the interest of the West in all things Egyptian was reawakened, and Stoker’s novella resurfaced to be adapted by film makers, going on to be the overarching influence of the contemporary mummy horror movie. The Jewel of Seven Stars is now most commonly thought of as the forefather of the modern mummy horror, inextricably linked with the tropes that are common to this genre, such as the historian-turned-hero, the reincarnated relic, and the house of museum horrors.

In this talk, I will propose that there is another, perhaps more poignant trope common to the fin de siècle mummy horror, which is arguably most prominent in Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars- that of the ‘miasma’. Through an exploration of the exotic and intoxicating scents associated with Ancient Egypt in turn of the century Western culture, this talk allows the audience a glimpse into an extinct realm of fin de siècle Orientalist and exoticist voyeurism and fetishization.

Sara Accettura

Sara is Assistant Lecturer for the Dance Studies Department and the Disability Studies Department at the University of Malta, while pursuing her PhD in dance and autism at the University of Bedfordshire.

The encounter between Dance and Autism: a qualitative inquiry presented through the use of vignettes

This paper will present some of the findings arising from my research, which at the moment has the provisional title Dance and Autism: explorations of unexpected benefits through inclusive practice. This is a qualitative research, which falls under the participant observation method, therefore I have been collecting data on naturally occurring behaviours within inclusive dance workshops.

The structure of this research follows the Freirian practice, in which praxis is a combination of theory and practice, and the theory clarifies the action and reflection of human activity. The approach to this study is of a practice as research that incorporates participatory inquiry, where different methods have been used to collect data and the research has gone through a cycle: Planning, Action, Reflection, Evaluation, which has been repeated two times.

The purpose of this study is to define the reciprocal benefits deriving from the encounter between autism and dance. The final contribution to knowledge of this research will aim to develop new methods of working, which could empower other dance artists as well.

This paper will discuss one of the questions which have informed and guided me into the development of my initial observation framework: How can Autism inform a Dance practitioner about his/her teaching skills? The main themes that have arisen from the data collection will be presented and argued. In addition, applying portraiture as a method of enquiry will facilitate me to shape the diverse and varied lived experience of the participants.

Kirsty McGill

Kirsty McGill is a part-time PhD student. She presented at ICIDS 2018 and UoB PGR 2018 conferences and has contributed to the book Games and Narrative: Theory and Practice.

Braided Roles: An Approach to Researching Narrative Game Mechanics

Narrative game mechanics (NGMs) is a developing concept within the field of game studies. My own research into NGMs has involved taking a braided approach and employing the roles of scholar, player/spectator, and designer. This talk aims to provide an overview of the thesis focus, elaborate on the three roles used and how each role contributed to the thesis.

The player/spectator role comprised of playing three interactive fiction (IF) games and two video games in addition to watching counterpart YouTube Let’s Play’s to observe player driven commentary and interactions with the games.

The scholar role included carrying out textual analyses of the chosen games using the first-hand gameplay experience achieved by the player role and supported by the observations made during the spectator role. An analytical framework was also created to assist in identifying and examining any NGMs that became apparent during the textual analyses.

Lastly, the designer role involved the creation of an IF game using the platform Twine. This served as an exploratory tool and allowed for a deeper understanding of IF structure to be achieved.

Utilising these different roles has allowed a multi-faceted view of NGMs to be achieved and insights to be gained that could not have been attained by undertaking an entirely scholarly role. This approach contributed to the identification of two specific NGMs, the information mechanic and purposeful ambiguity, as well as an expansion on the current definition of NGMs.

Viviana Perez-Castellano

Viviana Perez-Castellano is a PhD candidate at the University of Bedfordshire. Her PhD thesis examines boundaries, subversions and marginalisations in the neomedieval fantasy world of Game of Thrones.

Dressing and Transgressing the game of thrones in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

This paper combines the concepts of gender performativity by Judith Butler and the ‘phallic woman’ by Angela McRobbie, as a theoretical framework for analysing the topic of womanhood and autonomy in George R.R. Martin’s neomedieval fantasy text A Song of Ice and Fire. The paper looks specifically at the way female empowerment is made manifest through clothing, and the way sartorial choices can be construed as ‘acts of defiance’ against the hegemonic social order.

Butler argues that gender is a social construction imposed on individuals in order to control behaviour through a series of repetitive acts. Where women are expected to ‘perform masculinity’ without surrendering the advantages of femininity is, according to McRobbie, an example of the ‘phallic woman’. Sartorial choices in the seven kingdoms often act as an indicator for the rejection or acceptance of established gender roles, and an analysis of this can contribute towards a better understanding and knowledge of women in the world of Ice and Fire.

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University of Bedfordshire Postgraduate Centre

1 Vicarage Street



United Kingdom

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Organiser Celeste Van Der Linde

Organiser of RIMAP Postgraduate Research Student Conference

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