Monday 24 June 2019, 6.30-8pm

Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Book tickets (free)

Please join us for an informal conversation between three scholars whose work deals with solitude, isolation, confinement and the rooms, cells and other spaces within which these states are experienced and enforced. Ranging across history, philosophy and architecture, from the eighteenth century to the present, the discussion will address questions such as: What distinguishes solitude from isolation, a room of one’s own from a cell? Why study the history of these concepts and spaces? What is the relationship between body, mind and space in the confines of the single room? Can spaces of solitude be seen as a connecting thread between areas as diverse as psychiatry, criminal justice, monasticism, academia and the intellectual life?  


Barbara Taylor, Professor of Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London, is an intellectual and cultural historian with a special interest in the subjective dimension of historical change. She is author of The Last Asylum (2014), and is Principal Investigator on the Wellcome-funded project ‘Pathologies of Solitude, 18th – 21st century’.

Lisa Guenther, Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies at Queen’s University, Ontario, is author of Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives (2013). She is currently researching the relationship between slavery, settler colonialism, and incarceration in Canada and the United States. She is a visiting scholar at Birkbeck, hosted by the Hidden Persuaders research project.

Leslie Topp is Reader in Architectural History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is author of Freedom and the Cage: Modern Architecture and Psychiatry in Central Europe, 1890-1914 (2017) and is working on a comparative study of single rooms in psychiatric and prison architecture in the UK, France, Germany and Austria in the nineteenth century.

 This event is organised by the Architecture Space and Society Centre (ASSC) at Birkbeck in cooperation with the projects Pathologies of Solitude (QMUL) and Hidden Persuaders (Birkbeck).

Book tickets (free)