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Reading groups

The Centre is host to a number of reading and discussion groups. See below for further information about current groups, or contact the director to discuss ideas for new groups.


CModS has made links with YCCSA - York Cross-disciplinary Centre for Systems Analaysis - in an effort to build intellectual links across the humanities and sciences, specifically in order to investigate Complex Systems as they pertain to Modern Studies with a view to exploring World Systems and other related ideas. 
As part of this process we are participating in the YCCSA Complexity reading group.  We have built up a home and away pattern to the reading group where we visit YCCSA and explore their set reading and they then visit CModS and explore a reading set by us.
If you are interesting in finding out more about complexity studies, in exploring potential overlaps between forms of systems analysis across the supposed divide between humanities subjects and the sciences, then do join us for the next reading group meeting. You would be very welcome. Contact Susan Stepney ( or Richard Walsh (


The Contemporary Essay’s reading group, ‘Essayisms’, meets four times per term on Monday evenings at 5pm via Zoom. For each session we will choose an overarching theme and discuss a selection of essays related to this period or subject. We will pay careful attention to how we can historicize the essay or root it in a particular political, institutional or (trans)national culture as well as working together to generate a critical and aesthetic vocabulary for this elusive literary form. For further information or for access to the readings please contact either Ella Barker ( or Bryony Aitchison (

For details of this term's and previous events see The Contemporary Essay's webpage.

Global Literature and Culture

The Global Literature and Culture Postgraduate Forum provides students with the opportunity to share their research, to practice a conference paper and to receive supportive yet critical feedback.

We aim at a diverse programme and invite papers on a range of subjects that fall into the field of Global Literature and Culture, from different disciplines, such as Literature, History, Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Politics, Art History, and others. We especially welcome works-in-progress and first-time papers – so, if you have been working on an idea for a while, this is a great opportunity to present it and to receive some feedback!

If you are interested in giving a paper, please contact the organisers Lotta Schneidemesser, Melony Bethala and Richard Lukey (

Mental Health and Memoir

A reading group for the Mental Health and Memoir research strand, running fortnightly during term time, and focusing on questions of genre and paratext in the autumn; life-writing in the medical humanities in the spring; and creative methodologies in the summer. For further information or access to readings, please contact Giorgia Garilli ( or April Norfolk (

Political Forms

If you are interested in critical theory and political philosophy, the political dimensions of art and literature, or interdisciplinary reflections on politics, please do join us. The group aims to connect researchers working across different disciplines once a month to discuss readings in an informal and friendly atmosphere.

We meet virtually on Zoom and will hold our next meeting on Thursday, the 3rd of March from 17:00 to 18:00 BST. During this meeting, we will discuss the notions of grievability, nonviolence, and the politics of mourning. We will read three texts by Judith Butler: 'Violence, Mourning, Politics’ from Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004), 'Nonviolence, Grievability and the Critique of Individualism’, from The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethics-Political Bind (2020), and an interview 'Mourning Is a Political Act Amid the Pandemic and Its Disparities’ (2020) published in Truthout. We will consider the dynamic relationship between violence and nonviolence, Butler’s take on modern practices of mourning and its links with the Covid-19 pandemic, and we will discuss what it means for a life to be (un)grievable in the contemporary world.

For more information and access to readings please contact Rebecca Bevington ( or Wiktoria Tunska at (


The purpose of this reading group is to bring together researchers, postgraduates, and staff across humanities departments at the University of York who are employing or are interested in psychoanalysis as a theoretical framework to analyse cultural productions.  

The reading group will meet once a month and its themes will be group-curated to ensure that the varied and interdisciplinary interests of the research community are catered for. We want this to be a safe and informal space to test out theoretical ideas, to discuss and clarify any doubts on primary sources, and to feel less isolated as we continue our education and research at the University.

For more information, contact Greg Tiani ( or Veronica Orlandi (

Previous Reading Groups


Reframing Violence

The group takes an interdisciplinary focus and aims to 're-frame' the term ‘violence’. The main interest of the group regards the issues of a critical understanding and definition of violence in the contemporary politically turbulent societies and in ‘humanimal’ relations. Visual culture has a core role in this reading group, with the act of ‘reading’ being utilized also for visual material. Therefore, in each meeting a text, an image and a video are chosen and used equally to create the discussion. Every meeting has a particular theme – previous themes include: animal consumption, the ethics of photojournalism, the Vietnam War, the Holocaust and many more. Some of the themes are chosen to collide with other events or field trips, organized by the academic community of our University.


Poetry and Poetics

Poetry and Poetics was a reading group open to all students and staff with an interest in all things poetic. The group examined a variety of texts, both poetic and critical, from a range of times and places and consider such recurrent questions as the function of poetic form, poetry’s relation to history and the role of the individual poet. Meetings alternated between an open discussion of a selection of poems alongside a theoretical piece, and a staff-led presentation on a particular theme or issue within the study of poetry. The aim was for a conversation to emerge among readings of poetry, critical work, and an open network of outside concerns.

Writing Now

Creative Dissonance's reading group 'Writing Now', met once a term. It discussed emergent literary and art criticism on the exigencies of writing now, in conversation with some of the the most significant auto-criticism written by contemporary novelists in recent years. . 

Political Forms

This reading group originated in the ‘Political Forms’ CModS research strand (2017-2018) and met once per term. It discussed political history, critical theory and political philosophy, in the political dimensions of art and literature, and in interdisciplinary reflections on politics.

Geoffrey Hill

The Geoffrey Hill Reading Group met once a term and was open to all postgraduates and staff interested in the poetry of Geoffrey Hill. During each section, the group did close readings of up to five poems or sections from a longer poetic sequence by Hill, in the context of a larger topic. The poetic texts were often read alongside a critical text, either by Geoffrey Hill himself or by other writers with whom Hill enters into dialogue.