Science and the Arts since 1750 – a new series

Ashgate seeks book proposals for a new series Science and the Arts since 1750 edited by Barbara Larson, University of West Florida, USA.

The series explores the arts – painting and sculpture, drama, dance, architecture, design, photography, popular culture materials – as they intersect with emergent scientific theories, agendas, and technologies, from any geographical area from 1750 to now. It welcomes studies on the aesthetic conditioning of scientists as well as those that explore the influence of technologies, medicine, and science on visual culture either in a specific cultural or social context or through webs of influence that cross national, political, or imperial boundaries. Projects additionally might address philosophies of mind, brain, and body that changed the way visuality and aesthetic theory were understood or how new theories can be used to reinterpret the past.

For more information about the series, including submission guidelines, please send an email enquiry to Margaret Michniewicz, at

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Tim Parkinson.


Interview with Tim Parkinson:

My first contact with Tim Parkinson, through Bryn Harrison, was via his work as a performer, notably at the series of concerts he programmed at the BMIC in its former Stratford Place home from 1997-2000. His industry in presenting music from composers who were new to me at the time, alongside my own pieces, was a galvanizing force. The associations we made through those events have led to many subsequent projects, including this book. Although I came to know his music well at this time, it was the later experience of working with Tim as a performer which led me to a clearer understanding of his work as a composer. We began playing together as a duo, Parkinson Saunders, in 2003, working on mostly indeterminate repertoire which uses any sound-producing means, seated at two tables. The kinds of strategies he uses to realise the music we find interesting reflects his tendencies as a composer: there is a meandering mix of randomness and extreme control, with one often subverting the other with surprising results. The multiplicity that appears in so much of his music confronts our notion of compatibility as a defining factor in a piece’s identity. There is an indirect connection between elements which only becomes apparent through our experience of them, and the way we make the links ourselves as listeners. So whilst found or pre-fabricated material is at the heart of his music, part of a need to look outside of himself to begin work, it is the often bare presentation of these tightly crafted moments which allows their natural beauty to project.

The interview was conducted by email between 3 November – 9 December 2003.

Read the full interview here.


The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

Reflections on elections!

Posted by Sarah Stilwell, Senior Marketing Executive

Over the coming weeks you may find yourself musing over some of the UK’s electoral traditions: Why do we vote in schools? What is the social meaning of secret balloting? What is lost if we vote by mail or computers rather than on election day? What is the history and role of drinking and wagering in elections? How does the electoral cycle generate the theatre of election night and inaugurations?

Ritual and rhythm in electoral systemsGraeme Orr’s newly published book Ritual and Rhythm in Electoral Systems answers these, and many more questions, and reminds us that elections are key public events which, in a secular society, are the only real coming together of the social whole.

Elegantly written and meticulously researched, this book captures the way we experience voting and elections – as a ritualised and recurring event – not only in the UK, but also in the US and Australia.

Graeme Orr is Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, Australia and is the International Editor of the Election Law Journal.

His book is published as part of Ashgate’s series: Election Law, Politics, and Theory

A selection of reviews of Ritual and Rhythm in Electoral Systems:

‘This is a masterly book – imaginative in conception, brilliantly executed, and above all beautifully written. Professor Orr is not only one of our best election lawyers, but also one of our most elegant and accessible legal writers. His original and skilful account of the “ritual and rhythms” of election day is both a work of great scholarship and a compelling read.’   Keith Ewing, author of The Cost of Democracy

‘Graeme Orr has produced a brilliant and compelling account of the role of ritual in elections. This book should be required reading for constitutional lawyers and electoral administrators who will come to understand that the act of voting is but one moment in a far bigger cultural drama.’   Stephen Coleman, author of How Voters Feel

‘In this important book, Graeme Orr goes a long way to helping us understand why elections matter so much. Beyond the mere casting and counting of votes, they consist of practices and processes that are imbued with deep meaning. This account of how the law provides a canvas upon which that meaning may be painted is masterful.’   Andrew Geddis, author of Election Law in New Zealand

‘Departing from the usual demographic-quantitative accounts, Graeme Orr offers an engaging, thoroughly researched interpretation of the tenor and cadence of the rituals of electoral politics, rituals redolent with intriguing symbolism and meaning.’   Ron Hirschbein, author of Voting Rites

‘In a radical departure from the usual writing about elections, Graeme Orr offers a fascinating sociology of elections, unmasking them as important rituals with deep social and affective significance. He persuades us that elections are not just about rules and numbers, winners and losers; they also operate on a social-systems level as indispensable occasions for political communion and the renewal of democratic community.’   Lisa Hill, University of Adelaide, Australia and author of Compulsory Voting: For and Against

‘Ritual and Rhythm in Electoral Systems brings an eye-catching “High Church” flourish, and a near sacerdotal intensity, to the complex field of comparative electoral law, canvassing its rites and elaborate ceremonies with an eye that is as much anthropological as it is theological. The result is a profound study in what might be called the “jurispathology” of everyday electoral life. Judiciously combining theory and practice, as well as doctrine and context, Orr’s elegantly written and meticulously researched book is sure to attract a wide readership in law, politics, and government.’    William MacNeil, Griffith University, Australia and author of Lex Populi

Children and asceticism in Late Antiquity

Vuolanto Ville“He has children, he is not dead”

This is a guest post by Ville Vuolanto, author of Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Continuity, Family Dynamics and the Rise of Christianity 


In Late Antiquity, asceticism challenged the traditional norms and practices of family life. The resulting discussions of the right way to live a Christian life provide us with a variety of texts with information on both ideological statements and living experiences of Late Roman childhood and children. Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Continuity, Family Dynamics and the Rise of Christianity is the first major book-length study of the interplay between children, family and asceticism in Christian ideology; it is also the first to scrutinise in depth the roles of children in family dynamics for any area of the Roman World.

“Better than to have children is childlessness with virtue, for in the memory of virtue is immortality”  (Wisdom of Salomo, 4.1)

Children and Asceticism in Late AntiquityWhy did parents want their children to become ascetics instead of contributing to their family lineage and, thus, their own continuity? By taking this question as its starting point, the study contributes to the discussions on family ideology, role of children and family dynamics in Late Roman world; to the study of Christian asceticism in Late Antiquity; and to modern theories on family strategies and continuity. Christian authors of the late fourth and early fifth centuries challenged the traditional Greco-Roman view that family was the central means by which the immortality in the continuity of the name, lineage and memory was assured, pointing to the superiority of asceticism in safeguarding meaningful life. “‘I will give you an eternal name’ … what more do you seek?” (Augustine, On Holy Virginity 25).

In the book, childhood and children are approached both from the ideological and social historical perspectives: first, what was the place reserved for children in the emerging Christian family ideology; second, what was the place for children in the actual family dynamics and life course; third, what were the limits of children’s own action? In analyzing the ideological side, the stress is on Christian family rhetoric: evading death and striving for continuity through family life is shown to have been conceived as a basic component for good life in the Late Roman world. “Each day we die, each day we change, and yet we are convinced that we are eternal” (Jerome, Letters 60.19)

Indeed, old ways of life were deeply embedded in the culture. It is shown in the book how asceticism fitted into the upper class culture and mentality, and how it was put into practice on the family level and in the lives of children, with some promised to God at their birth, some others driven to conflicts with their parents. These processes are informative in showing how the late Roman elite families worked, and what was the role of children in the contemporary culture.

“Thus, happy are those who leave behind children to succeed them and take over their possessions. He has children, he is not dead”  (Augustine, Expos. on the Psalm 48, 1.14)


Ville Vuolanto is Research Fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Tampere, Finland. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on the history of family and childhood in Roman, late antique and early medieval contexts. He also maintains an extensive online bibliography Children in the Ancient World and the Early Middle Ages.

More information about Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity.

Evidencing change: how do we measure social value?

This post is written by Carol Scott, author of Museums and Public Value. It originally appeared on her personal website. Carol Scott is speaking at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.


Evidencing change: how do we measure social value?

This is the title of the session that I am curating with Randi Korn (Founding Director, Randi Korn Associates) and Deborah Schwartz (President, Brooklyn Historical Society) at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The conference theme is the social value of museums. Creating positive social change is forging new directions for 21st century museums. But evidence to prove that change occurs remains elusive and approaches to measuring it are a work in progress.

At the heart of the issue is the question: ‘do museums make a positive difference to society as a whole?’ If we want the answer to be a resounding ‘yes’, how do we translate museum activity into measurable evidence of social value- and- what are the implications for planning and evaluation?

Our session is going to look at these questions through three lenses. Passion is needed to effect social change. Our museums need to resonate with and be relevant to our communities. Deborah Schwartz heads one such museum- where passion and commitment to the community are paramount. But passion needs to be directed. It needs to work in tandem with results-based planning and evaluation measures to achieve its social goals, a subject which is at the heart of Randi Korn’s work.

At a national level, the sector as a whole is challenged to find a narrative to demonstrates that museums create value that makes a difference in the public domain. Do museums contribute to the well-being of populations, their connectedness to one another and to communities, to an active, engaged citizenship? Where is the evidence to prove this and how do we capture it? This is the subject of my presentation.

Our session is on Monday afternoon, the 27th April from 1:45-3:00 p.m. in Room B405 at the Georgia World Congress Center. We look forward to meeting you in Atlanta.

Carol Scott

Piotr Spyra speaks about his book The Epistemological Perspective of the Pearl-Poet

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

The body of work by the so-called ‘Pearl-Poet’ remains one of the most widely-read and well-known written in Middle English. Existing in a single surviving manuscript (Cotton Nero A.x) and written in the same dialect, internal evidence suggests that all four works were written by the same author, and many scholars have recognised that Pearl, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience and Cleanness should be read in relationship with one another. Author Piotr Spyra, in his 2014 book The Epistemological Perspective of the Pearl-Poet, takes this viewpoint a step further by viewing the Pearl texts as one literary unit with a continuous narrative. By applying the epistemological thought of Saint Augustine to the Pearl manuscript, Spyra reveals that the works of the Pearl-Poet, when read together, disclose what it means to be human.

In this video, Spyra reveals a little more about his choice of texts, methodology and insights.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Jennifer Walshe


Interview with Jennifer Walshe:

Objects and their sonic properties are central to Jennifer Walshe’s music. The terms of reference for her work are wide and draw in the world around her: everything has potential as material, whether it is found text from food packaging, old answer machine messages, skateboarding, or the texture of ribbons. There is a voracity to her collection of sounds and exploration of ways to elicit them from performers, exemplified by pieces such as Hostess-in-a-Jiffy® Brings You Cooking With Stone: 4 Five-Minute Dishes (2004) which presents instructions for sonic cooking, or elephant (2004) with its unique scoring of ‘harp, gun’. The manner in which sounds are made is perhaps every bit as important as their audible result. Instructions in her scores typically indicate the necessary attitude required to make sounds as a primary focus, or differing forms of documentation are used to enable performers to triangulate her intentions when working with objects. This consideration of the physical situation of performing is a constant in her work, drawing on her own experience as an improviser and a concern with what it feels like to make sounds. Often this involves recontextualizing her material, stripping away some of its inherent meaning so that it can be used as a building block to construct new identities, finding a natural extension in her recent installation, stage, and intermedia work. All of this was present in the first piece of hers that I heard at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 2000, her astonishing duo for violin and voice as mo chéann (2000), which she also performed. This piece helped me begin to expand the palette of my own work and its impact on an unsuspecting audience was startling, as was her follow-up lecture there two years later, which mostly used kick-boxing as a presentation medium.


The interview was conducted by email between 10 May – 5 December 2004, and edited in September 2008.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.