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Ken Russell: Perspectives, reception and legacy

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Venue: Room 2002, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: to be confirmed
Speaker(s): Professor Linda Ruth Williams (Southampton University), Dr Brian Hoyle (Dundee University), Lisi Tribble (wife of and collaborator with Ken Russell) and Paul Sutton (biographer).
To attend: booking will be available soon, please check back

Ken Russell:  Perspectives, reception and legacy

Ken Russell was a renaissance man whose career encompassed not only film and television but also ballet, dance, the music video, photography, opera and the written word. His pioneering early work for the BBC's Monitor and Omnibus, from the 1950s through to the 1970s, redefined the art of the arts documentary and biographical format and he was among the first to negotiate the relationship between film and television. His major cinematic works, films such as Tommy (1975), Lisztomania (1975), Women In Love (1969), French Dressing (1964), Valentino (1977), The Music Lovers (1970), The Boyfriend (1971) and, of course, The Devils (1971) (among others) helped redefine the term ‘a British picture' (to use one of Russell's own phrases). Yet this vast body of work has received considerably less critical attention than those of his contemporaries (Stanley Kubrick for instance).

During his lifetime his work polarised critical and popular opinion. Criticised by some as tasteless, transgressive, camp, outrageous (and lauded just as much for the same qualities) and praised by others for its artistry, intellect, craftsmanship and beauty. Russell's films are considered to be among the most pioneering and important in post war arts cinema and culture (praised by Fellini himself as ‘the British Fellini') as well as sitting comfortably among a set of cult and transgressive texts.

Russell's work, however, is gaining new cultural currency with a range of contemporary film makers (such as Ben Wheatley and Guillermo del Toro) citing the importance of his influence over their own. There is even an ongoing internet campaign (#FreeTheDevils) which aims to liberate the complete uncut version of The Devils from Warner Bros.

Following in the wake of the 30th anniversary of his 1986 film Gothic (and of the sad passing of the critic Ken Hanke, one Russell's staunchest defenders), this conference hopes to be a forum to discuss and share current research in and around the field of Russell studies. It invites abstracts on all aspects of his work and in particular we invite papers which address Russell's cultural legacy and influence in film, television and across the visual arts; which consider Russell's place within 20th century visual culture and which discuss how Russell's work has been (and is being) received, recuperated and culturally restored in the 21st century.

Keynote addresses to be given by Professor Linda Ruth Williams (Southampton University), Dr Brian Hoyle (Dundee University) and Lisi Tribble (wife of and collaborator with Ken Russell). We also welcome Paul Sutton (Ken Russell biographer and author of the book Talking About Ken Russell).

We are also very pleased to welcome actor, Ken Russell collaborator and his lifelong friend Murray Melvin (Diary of a Nobody, BBC, 1964; Isadora, the Biggest Dancer in the World, 1966; The Devils, 1971; The Boyfriend, 1971; Lisztomania, 1975; Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ITV, 1978; Prisoner of Honour, 1991) to join us for a Q&A session.

Murray's  illustrious  career in film, television and theatre has lasted from 1959 to the present. Other than with Ken Russell, Murray has  worked with such directors as Tony Richardson (A Taste of Honey, 1961) and  Stanley Kubrick (Barry Lyndon, 1975) as well as with Joan Littlewood.  He is a founder member of Actor's Centre and the Theatre Workshop, and archivist of the Theatre Royal, Stratford.

Further guests and events to be announced!

Topics for presentation may include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Russell's critics, defenders and collaborators
  • Russell, history, biography and adaptation
  • Music in Russell's work
  • Censorship, genre, exploitation, cult and transgression
  • DVD, video and Blu-ray releases
  • Marketing and promotional material
  • Festivals and fans
  • Ken Russell and art history
  • Sex and horror in Russell's work
  • Documentary, realism and romance
  • Russell's own contemporaries and influences
  • Dance and the body in Russell's work
  • Architecture, landscape and location in Russell's work
  • Russell, television and arts programming
  • Dance, opera, photography and ballet
  • Incomplete and unmade projects
  • Russell's influence on contemporary (global) film, television and the visual arts.
  • Russell, experimentalism and the avant-garde

Please email abstracts (250-300) words to Matt Melia (m.melia@kingston.ac.uk) or Lucy Williams (l.williams@kingston.ac.uk) by no later than Monday 27th February 2017 (please note extended deadline) and don't forget to include your name, email address and institutional affiliation (if you have one). We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information please visit the official conference Facebook page and if you use Twitter, please get involved using #KenRKingston.

Please click here to view a local accommodation offer for this conference (must be booked by 28 April).

For further information about this event:

Contact: Matt Melia
Email: M.Melia@kingston.ac.uk

Directions

Directions to Room 2002, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE:

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