14th September, 18.30
To celebrate the publication of SMALL FIRES by Rebecca May Johnson, and GIRL ONLINE by Joanna Walsh, the two authors will be in conversation.
Cooking is thinking!
The spatter of sauce in a pan, a cook’s subtle deviation from a recipe, the careful labour of cooking for loved ones: these are not often the subjects of critical enquiry. Cooking, we are told, has nothing to do with serious thought; the path to intellectual fulfilment leads directly out of the kitchen.
In this electrifying, innovative memoir, Rebecca May Johnson rewrites the kitchen as a vital source of knowledge and revelation. Drawing on insights from ten years spent thinking through cooking, she explores the radical openness of the recipe text, the liberating constraint of apron strings and the transformative intimacies of shared meals.
Playfully dissolving the boundaries between abstract intellect and bodily pleasure, domesticity and politics, Johnson awakens us to the richness of cooking as a means of experiencing the self and the world – and to the revolutionary potential of the small fires burning in every kitchen.
What happens when a woman goes online? She becomes a girl.
The unwritten contract of the internet, that a user is what is used, extends from the well-examined issue of data privacy and consent to the very selves women are encouraged to create in order to appear. Invited to self-construct as 'girls online', vloggers, bloggers and influencers sign a devil's bargain: a platform on the condition they commodify themselves, eternally youthful, cute and responsibility-free, hiding offline domestic, professional and emotional labour while paying for their online presence with ‘accounts’ of personal ‘experience’. Can a Girl Online use these platforms not only to escape meatspace oppressions, but as spaces for survival, creativity and resistance?
Told via the arresting personal narrative of one woman negotiating the (cyber)space between her identities as girl, mother, writer, and commodified online persona, Girl Online is written in a plethora of the online styles, from programming language to the blog/diary, from tweets to lyric prose, taking in selfies, social media, celebrity and Cyberfeminism.
Rebecca May Johnson is a writer and academic whose writing brings critical practices into everyday life. She has written reviews and features for Fantastic Man, Times Literary Supplement, The Happy Reader, LRB online, Financial Times, the Guardian, and AnOther, among others. She also uses online publishing to conduct stylistic experiments: her essay 'I Dream of Canteens' was published via TinyLetter and gained widespread acclaim, winning 'The Browser' prize for the best piece on the internet in April 2019. Her anonymous waitressing series was voted in the Observer Food Monthly 'Top 50' of 2018. She was finalist in the 'Young British Foodies' writing prize judged by Marina O'Loughlin and Yotam Ottolenghi for writing published on her site Dinner Document. Small Fires is her first book.
Joanna Walsh is a multidisciplinary writer for print, digital and performance. The author of seven books, including Hotel, Vertigo, Worlds from the Word's End and Break*up she also works as a critic, editor, teacher and arts activist. She is a UK Arts Foundation fellow, and the recipient of the Markievicz Award in the Republic of Ireland. She founded and ran #readwomen (2014-18), described by the New York Times as “a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers” and currently runs @noentry_arts.