Weird Council: an International Conference on the Writing of China Miéville

14 - 15 September 2012

Sponsored by:
Gylphi: Arts and Humanities publisher
Birkbeck, University of London
University of Lincoln

Part of the Gylphi Contemporary Writers Series.  Organised with the Institute of English Studies, University of London, Senate House.

Image: Skulltopus by China Mieville, used with kind permission.

Keynote speakers:  Professor Sherryl Vint (University of California Riverside) and Professor Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck).  Response, reading and Q&A from China Miéville.

We are pleased to announce the first academic conference dedicated to the work of China Miéville.  The winner of multiple awards, Miéville has developed a distinguished body of fictional work since the publication of his first novel, King Rat, in 1999.  Having published nine novels (with his next forthcoming in May 2012) as well as a collection of short stories, Miéville is also a respected literary critic, political activist and legal scholar. His post-Suvinian working through of the “Fantastic” as a generic category encompassing science fiction, fantasy and the Gothic, as well as avant-garde traditions such as Surrealism, has been influential in cutting across received boundaries of genre. Miéville has recently been credited as “leading revolutions in fantasy as both a writer and a critic” (in a 2009 special edition of SF journal Extrapolation dedicated to his work). His fiction spans a wide variety of themes, contexts and genre-blurring literary traditions, which metaphorically explores, among other things, the implications of lived cultural, racial and geographical boundaries, collective struggle, and bodily affect.

In addition, Miéville’s monograph Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law was published in 2005 and he has written and edited critical articles for a variety of journals; from Historical Materialism and the philosophical journal Collapse, to the Harvard International Law Journal.

Podcasts from the Conference:
Roger Luckhurst, (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Konvolut n+1: City/Slither'
Plenary Discussion (chair: Roger Luckhurst): Caroline Bassett, Sherryl Vint, John Rieder, Joe Sutliff Sanders


The conference is organised by Dr Caroline Edwards, Lecturer in English, University of Lincoln and Tony Venezia, PhD Candidate and Tutor, Birkbeck, University of London.

The conference is sponsored by Gylphi Arts and Humanities Publisher, the Department of English, University of Lincoln and the School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London. Selected papers from the conference proceedings will be published as China Miéville: Critical Essays, with a contribution by Miéville, as part of Gylphi’s Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays series (Series Editor: Dr Sarah Dillon). For more information regarding the Series see:



Thursday 13th September - 7.00-9.00pm, speakers at 7.30pm: Keynes Library, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square.  
An evening reception with featured guest speakers hosted by Gylphi.  Free admission.  All welcome.  
Jason Lee (University of Derby; editor Transgressive Culture, author Seeing Gallileo) and Paul March-Russell (University of Kent; editor SF Story Worlds: Critical Studies in Science Fiction)

Friday 14th September – Chancellor's Hall, Senate House, London

09:00-09:30 Assembly and registration
09:30-10:30 Keynote: Professor Roger Luckhurst, (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Konvolut n+1: City/Slither'
10:30-11:00 Coffee

Panel: Languages (chair: Zara Dinnen)

Why after language came the AI did not speak
(Caroline Bassett. University of Sussex)

Spoken, Written, Smelt, and Lost: the Treatment of Language and Communication in the Work of China Miéville
(Xavier Marco del Pont, Royal Holloway University of London)

Worming-Worlding: Reading as Fabulatory Infection in China Miéville’s Weird (Rob Coley and Dean Lockwood, University of Lincoln)

12:15-13:15 Lunch (own arrangements)

Panel: Dialogues (chair: John Rieder)

Invisible Men:  China Miéville’s The City and the City and Christopher Priest’s The Glamour
(Paul March-Russell, University of Kent)

Sympathy for the Shoggoth: China Miéville’s Revolution of the Weird Tale (Christina Scholz, University of Graz)

The Doubled City of China Miéville and Bruno Schulz
(Dr Robert Duggan, University of Chichester)

14:30-14:45  Coffee

Panel: Cities (chair: Caroline Edwards)

The Living City: From Gormenghast Castle to New Crobuzon
(Clare Wall, McMaster University)

He Do the Polis in Different Voices: Miéville’s Uncanny Cities in The City and The City
(Andrew M. Butler, Canterbury Christ Church University)

New World Entropy: London and the Short Fiction of China Miéville
(Martyn Colebrook, Hull University)

16:00-16:15  Coffee

Panel: Politics (chair: Andrew M. Butler)

The Rule of Abstractions
(Anej Korsika, University of Ljubljana)

Iron Council, Walter Benjamin, and Revolutionary Rehearsals
(Dougal McNeill, Victoria University of Wellington)

Between…International Law in Miéville’s Fiction
(Anthony F. Lang, Jr. University of St. Andrews)


Plenary Discussion (chair: Roger Luckhurst)

Caroline Bassett, Sherryl Vint, John Rieder, Joe Sutliff Sanders


Screening: "Deep State", a film by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, scripted in collaboration with author China Miéville. Details:

Venue: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square. Introduced by China Miéville. 

Saturday 15th September – Beveridge Hall, Senate House

09:00-09:30 Assembly and registration
09:30-10:30 Keynote: Professor Sherryl Vint (University of California Riverside)
10:30-11:00  Coffee

Panel: Spaces (chair: Owen Hatherley)

"Strange Tricks of Cartography": the Maps of Perdido Street Station
(Raphael Zähringer, University of Tübingen)

Unto the breach: a primer of Miévillean space
(Mark Blacklock, Birkbeck, University of London)

Ab-natural Resources: Miéville's Use of Immaterial Production: Music and Literature, Production and Subjectivity--from Embassytown to London to New Crobuzon
(Mark P. Williams, Independent)

12:15-13:15  Lunch provided

Panel: Splicing (chair: Paul March-Russell)

Iron Council as Meta-Utopia? Cacatopic History and Utopian Closure
(Gordon MacNeill, Independent)

"Blatantly Coming Back": Fetishizing the Line between Here and There, Child and Adult, Fantasy and Real, London and UnLondon
(Joe Sutliff Sanders, Kansas State University)

14:30-14:45 Coffee

Panel: Bodies (chair: Joe Sutliff Sanders)

Miéville’s Monsters: Combinatorial teratology in the fiction of China Miéville
(Hallvard Haug, Birkbeck, University of London)

“You couldn’t fight the inevitability…”: The Legends of Jack Half-A-Prayer and Robin Hood 
(Kristin Noone, University of California, Riverside)

“The Differential Grotesque”: Miéville and the Body of Ethics
(Neil Easterbrook, Texas Christian University)

16:00-16:15 Coffee

Panel: Genres (chair: Farah Mendelsohn)

Iron Council, Bas-Lag and Generic Expectations
(Matthew Sangster, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Miéville’s Dirty Mind: On Cognition, Fantasy, Politics and Hope
(Rhys Williams, University of Warwick)

What are the Stakes in Genre Theory? Miéville and the Suvinian Paradigm
(John Rieder, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa)

18:00-19:00 China Miéville – Reading and Q&A
19:00 Wine reception, followed by a Conference Dinner at Olivelli Restaurant, 35 Store Street (WC1E 7BS). Please email if you would like to attend so that we can reserve enough seating.