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At the third meeting of the Out of Practice seminar, we hear from two creative critical scholars, whose work is at the intersection of creative critical editing of anti-slavery archives, performance and poetic subversion. 

Just Goes to Show: Rough Music in Frownlands Redell Olsen (RHUL)
This talk considers the contexts and motivations of two recent works: a poem and performance. Each explores relationships to music, visual art and the noise of cultural and critical dissent. E.P. Thompson’s survey of the long standing European traditions of ‘Rough Music’ reveals the uncomfortable tensions between community-based rituals and the local enforcement of law. This talk will demonstrate how Thompson’s archival survey of folk traditions is highly generative for the formation of a contemporary poetics alive to its own fragility, even complicity with its apparent objects of subversion. Olsen’s recent performance, Frownlands, 1969 both celebrates and resists aspects of the commonality and energy of 60’s counterculture. At Bury Art Gallery she presented a feminist inflected performance-text, a nominy delivered karaoke style in a non-site plywood replica of the original scene of production: the Californian Woodland Hills house where the infamous album, Trout Mask Replica was recorded. The talk will explore the overlaps and gaps between imagined and empirical audiences. What happens when the reality of performance and poetic language come up against wider conflicts of interest and power relations at large in the speculative imaginaries and curatorial fantasies of public engagement and participation?

Editing Anti-slavery Archives and Modeling Creative-Critical Case Studies: The Case of Mary Anne Rawson’s The Bow in the Cloud (1834). Christopher Ohge (IES)
How can digital scholarly editing recover under-examined anti-slavery literary archives and introduce new models for creative-critical methods? My recent project on a digital scholarly edition of The Bow in the Cloud, an 1834 anti-slavery anthology edited by Mary Anne Rawson, an activist from Sheffield, addresses these questions. The project ( uses editorial and text analysis tools to make accessible data on the historical significance of this anthology and its neglected manuscript archive of over 600 items. Using the semantic web authoring tool Scalar, the project combines several digital tools –– Transkribus, TEI-XML encoded texts, network analysis tools, linked open data standards, and a graph database –– to model relationships between archival documents as well as creative-critical practices. The edition lays the groundwork for a detailed, dynamic, and flexible engagement with the making of a significant anti-slavery publishing event. Nevertheless, these strategies of editing and publication require an additional component of creative-critical methodology, both in terms of editorial methodology and facilitating creative questions about the material. This seminar will provide a brief overview of the edition and then show a work-in-progress of creative-critical case studies that aim to expand this editorial enterprise with digital tools.


Redell Olsen makes work across poetry, film poems, visual and performance works. Recent works include: Weather, Whether Plume of the Volants (2021), Woolf / Apelles (2019), Smock (2017) and Mox Nox (2017). Her film, Now Circa (1918) was a finalist for the AHRC Research in Film Award. In 2020-1 she was the recipient of the Dare Art Prize for a collaboration with Opera North, BioDar scientists, Tetley Museum and the National Science Museum. Poetry collections include: Film Poems (Les Figues, Los Angeles, 2014),  (Punk Faun: a bar rock pastel'(Subpress, 2012), 'Secure Portable Space' (Reality Street, 2004), 'Book of the Fur' (rem press 2000), and, in collaboration with Susan Johanknecht, 'Here Are My Instructions' (Gefn, 2004). She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she convenes the influential Poetic Practice CW MA.

Christopher Ohge is Senior Lecturer in Digital Approaches to Literature at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Herman Melville Electronic Library. The author of the book Publishing Scholarly Editions: Archives, Computing, and Experience (2021), he has also published widely on nineteenth-century literature, textual scholarship, and digital humanities. In 2023 he received a joint fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) to complete a digital edition of Mary Anne Rawson’s anti-slavery anthology The Bow in the Cloud (1834).

Unless stated otherwise, all our events are free of charge and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend. Registration is required for all events.