NU Ideas at the Lit & Phil | 7

Events List

Thursday 15th February | 6:00 pm

LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE


Image of a cinema, sourced from Unsplashed

The seventh in our series of NU Ideas talks

Drawing on observational data of Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre retail environment, this presentation discusses recent literature on retail vacancies through the lens of ruins, ruination, voids and haunting. More specifically, paying attention to these emerging voids in the landscape builds a troubling account of consumer society in disarray. The spectacle, once triumphant and ubiquitous, now finds itself haunted by forces of destruction that return again and again. These void-like spaces reveal a constitutive materiality ready to erupt once the magic forces of retail capital are put on hold. Equally, these powers of haunting become implicated in urban politics, from retail gentrification and creative destruction to new forms of adaptive reuse of old buildings.

Is there such thing as a retail heritage that can be recovered here that might lead to a redemptive account of consumer subjectivity amid such conditions? A hauntological approach urges caution against too quickly re-establishing a unitary and coherent post-consumer subject in the wake of destruction, including that on the dead high streets and shopping malls, but also in the political sphere as democratic norms break down and new forms of authoritarian fascism are on the rise. The afterlives of spectacle include these dark and looming possibilities.


Going to the pictures: cinemas and their role in our story
Prof Richard Laing (Architecture and Built Environment)

Cinemas are buildings which have played a major role in most people’s lives. Whilst cinemas’ architecture, design, materials and location have changed over the decades, due to their sheer size and impact on streets, cinemas have had a major impact on the environment around us. This talk will explore how the lasting legacy of cinemas constructed during the 20th century can be best understood if we consider the social and cultural importance of the buildings, alongside the conservation of the cinemas themselves. It will also include some examples of ongoing efforts to digitally record cinema buildings that are still intact, which might be seen as a starting point to help us better understand their value to society.


(If you would prefer to book directly over the phone, please call the Library Desk team on 0191 232 0192 and they will be happy to help.)

‘Pay what you wish’

There is no set ticket price for this event, but if you would like to make a small donation to support the good work of The Lit & Phil we would be very grateful. Click the link above to donate via Paypal.