Storytelling Competition at a London House Museum


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LONDON. BURGH HOUSE, an eighteenth-century building in Hampstead is hosting a writing competition on site as well as on-line. The sumptuous Queen Anne Building nested in the heart of Hamstead village was a private residence for decades before the Hamstead … Continuer la lecture


In 2017, during the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made a false statement during a press conference. The following day, on television, her lie was rebranded by Trump’s Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway as an ‘alternative fact.’ After this incident, George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 saw a new surge in popularity; so much so that the book was completely sold out on Amazon in the United States for several days.

These days, in the era of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, Big Tech spying, ubiquitous social media, and questionable political decisions all around the world, 1984 is still as relevant as ever. Its central themes of totalitarianism, massive surveillance, and State control of the population and media speak to the reality of the digital age.

This is precisely the inspiration behind the imaginary exhibition titled ‘1984: An Influential Book, 1949 – 2020.’

Orwell typing © Vernon Richards, 1946

Translated into 65 different languages and with over 30 million copies sold worldwide, 1984 has infiltrated popular culture to the point that people who haven’t even read the book still know the story. Phrases like “Big Brother is watching you” or “the thought police” can be quoted by virtually everyone.

The exhibition would have an immersive aspect. The walls throughout would be concrete-grey, covered with graffiti-like writing evoking the slogans of The Party: ‘War is peace’, ‘Freedom is slavery’, and ‘Ignorance is strength.’ There would also be cameras in the rooms, connected to small screens where people could see themselves as if they were being actively surveilled. The visual inspiration for the exhibition would come from the film adaptation released in 1984, as well as from the stage design for Greenday’s musical American Idiot, created in 2010.

The first room would be called the Ministry of Sound. It would contain book covers from around the world, as well as from different years. Given the large number of examples, the collection would be organized according to what is represented on the cover, such as eyes, cameras, a single dominating character representing Big Brother, multiple rebel characters, etc.

(Inspiration from

(Inspiration from

The second room would be titled the Ministry of Fiction. It would showcase the real-life inspiration behind the book, complete with posters, articles, and even videos exhibited alongside corresponding book excerpts.

For example, the phrase ‘2+2=5 ‘ was an actual Soviet Union slogan used to promote their Five Year plan. (The above poster is from 1931.) In the United Kingdom as well there were posters created during both World Wars to positively portray death in battle, as well as the erasure of individual identity through the act of becoming a soldier. As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Truth’ was based on the real-life Ministry of Information that existed during WWII and served to promote British propaganda. It was located in the Senate House in London, which is currently a building of the University of London.

The room dubbed Ministry of Fiction would also contain links to today’s world. For example, it could include images of Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal, or the now infamous ‘alternative facts’ live broadcast segment.

The following room would be the Ministry of Paper, showcasing audiovisual references to the book in popular culture. It would include the Apple Macintosh commercial that aired during the 1984 Superbowl and excerpts from two film adaptations, one released in 1956 and the other in 1984. It could even include images from the 1984-inspired reality television franchise Big Brother (1999- ).

This same room would also contain musical references from artists such as Muse, Eurythmics, The Jam, David Bowie, Rage Against the Machine, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, and Radiohead.

Finally, the last room would be called the Ministry of Uniqueness. It would be a gateway to discover other dystopian works that hold relevance for today’s world. It would include novels such as Brave New World (1932), Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and The Handmaid’s Tale (1985).

There could also be films inspired by 1984, such as THX 1138 (1971) or Gattaca (1997). It is particularly interesting that in every dystopian work, there is an emphasis on the control of words and reading in general. We have ‘newspeak’ in 1984 (1949) burned books in Fahrenheit 451 (1953), or women prevented from reading anything in The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). The latter leads to a terrifying visual in the series by the same name (2017- ) that was adapted from the original book. There isn’t a single letter left in the grocery store, and everything has been replaced by symbols.

For more information on elements mentioned above, here are a few links to useful articles.


Elodie Katan
Master 2 MC2L, Université Paris 8
Département d’Études des Pays Anglophones

100 Years of Clarice Lispector’s Magic

© Clarice Lispector’s notebooks

2020 was certainly an eventful year. A year marked by a global pandemic, explosions, protests and uprisings, more explosions, and several other unprecedented events that any other year may have been the sole news headline, but not in 2020. Nevertheless, one particularly noteworthy event still managed to slip through the cracks.

In 1920, in the city of Podolia in Western Ukraine, a star was born. Her Jewish family had decided to escape the horrific circumstances brought on by World War I by moving overseas to South America, specifically to Brazil. Chaya Pinkhasivna Lispector was only an infant when her name was changed to Clarice. One hundred years later, her new name would be celebrated as one of the most important Brazilian authors in history.

Clarice Lispector © Claudia Andujar

Clarice Lispector was an author and translator who wrote about personal experience. Her magical, prosaic walks through tales influenced by Woolf’s abstract stretches of time and Hesse’s lyrical, philosophical quests evoke the rich experience of being a woman. Lispector’s unique way of writing from the gut with a passionate and intuitive voice matched her poised and powerful image. She influenced many different artists who were inspired by her unapologetic rhetoric on what it feels like to be a woman — or just simply to be. The list is extensive, and this proposition is a simple one. As a tribute to Lispector’s ever-present magic 100 years after her birth, and 43 after her death, the exhibition would display a collection of pieces influenced and inspired by the Brazilian novelist, creating a poetic and rich homage.

The exhibition could explore the many facets of her life.

  • Her literary life — i.e. her books, her entourage, and the publishing world — would be shown through a selection of manuscripts and letters, as well as excerpts from different texts displayed on the walls. The exhibit would highlight the different genres she explored, including children’s literature, short-stories, novels, and short non-fiction.
  • Her reception in France, the UK, and the U.S., depending on the location of the exhibition

  • Her translations, her relationship with her translators, and her translated works

  • The film adaptations of her texts

  • Her influence on other artists

  • Her unique sense of fashion

  • Her status as cultural icon

I would display different objects and artefacts alongside her portraits to emphasise the significance of her life and literary career which remain rather unknown in France.

Amanda Cunha Batista
Master 2 MC2L, Université Paris 8
Département d’Études des Pays Anglophones