FACT: Torque #2: An Act of Reading Symposium

Unknown21 January 2015

11am – 6pm / The Box

£6 /5 (Members & Concs)

“It’s like your eyes are passing over the words but you’re not taking in what they say,” she confessed.
“When I realise what’s happening, I have to go back and read again and again.” 

Reading is a uniquely human among the animal kingdom, and as such offers a strong standpoint from which to study what it is to be and think as a human.  The ability to read is especially fascinating in this respect because its neural basis is a hybrid recycling of innate neuronal networks, such as object recognition or memory. Furthermore, being a relatively new evolutionary development, reading allows us to reflect on other more recent hybrid communication systems and inventions which recycle and hybridise older forms, such as smart phones or social media software.

The symposium seeks to examine how and why we read, from a broad variety of perspectives and contexts; in particular the impact of technology upon reading, its historical and neural underpinnings, and the political implications of reading today. An evening performance event at Static Gallery will finish off the day. Fint out more: www.artinliverpool.com/?p=55781


Speakers will be coming from the fields of media theory, philosophy, literature studies, and neuroscience. And the event takes place with the context of the Type Motion exhibition at FACT that explores the relationship between text and moving image (where we are also showing an installation that presents the Torque #1 book in speed reading, digital and print forms).

We are keen to promote audience engagement and discussion at the event and their will be significant time allocated to this. The audience will also be invited to submit texts for the forthcoming book.

Each speaker at the symposium brings their own distinct expertise to bear on this subject, but also, notably, the shared experience of having read many texts as part of their professional and personal lives will provide a touchstone and counterpoint for the day.  We want the audience and speakers to enter into self-reflexive discussions about what reading means to them, how it has impacted upon their lives and how they envision and want to shape its future.


N Katherine Hayles – Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Garrett Stewart – James O. Freedman Professor of Letters in the Department of English at the University of Iowa

Esther Leslie – Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, University of London

Nina Power – Senior Lecturer in the Department of Humanities at the University of Roehampton

Soenke Zehle – Director of XM Labs and Lecturer in Media Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts Saar

Alex Leff – Reader in Cognitive Neurology at the Institute of Neurology and an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery

Hannah Proctor – PhD candidate at Birkbeck College, University of London

Stephen Fortune – artist, media writer and tech editor at Dazed Digital

Find out more at torquetorque.tumblr.com/symposium. Part of the programme for current exhibition Type Motion