Andrew Hewish

Studio 20: The Liminal

Michael Andrews, A Man who Suddenly Fell Over, 1952 © the estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London. Photo credit: Tate

Studio brief

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines. You will be assisted to develop a topic of your choice in a chosen field that relates to the liminal – it might be a transitional process, or avant-garde’s edge, or thresholds of experience or designed space. Or consider the hypnagogic’s role in ritual or creative practice, or consider the aesthetics of the indeterminate object or outcome, or practices that focus specifically on boundaries or outline or limits.

When thinking of liminality, you might think of Junichiro Tanazaki talking of deeply-felt shadows; Marjorie Perloff revelling in indeterminacy; Anne Carson questioning the audibility of women; Martin Heidegger wondering by what language we could know ourselves if we crossed beyond the line. Georges Bataille doesn’t believe in limits – we should accelerate to excess; James Turrell deals in transitions in half-light; William Burroughs slices and dices; for Slavoj Zizek we can really only see things whilst looking at them ‘awry’. Ours might be a world that demands harsh outlines, but this only serves to underline the importance of the in-between and the indistinct. Each week we will consider different permutations of the rich history of creative work around the liminal as it occurs across disciplines, and we might consider as part of your research an installation at C4RD in Highbury.

Outline of the first seven weeks of study

Weeks 1-7: We will wander London to discover experiences of liminality, do close readings of texts, and examine your own practice and interests with reference to these ideas and tease out the critical questions.

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Becoming
  • Week 3: The Horizon of Possibility
  • Week 4: A Wave that does not Break
  • Week 5: Indeterminacy | the Interzone
  • Week 6: Crossings 
  • Week 7: Finitude

Suggested reading

  1. Berardi, Franco “Bifo”, 2017. Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility. London: Verso 
  2. Broadhurst, Susan. 1999. Liminal Acts: A Critical Overview of Contemporary Performance and Theory. London: Cassell
  3. Brown, Wendy, 2010. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. New York: Zone Books 
  4. Carson, Anne, 1995. ‘The Gender of Sound’, in Glass, Irony and God. New York: New Direction Books
  5. Casey, Edward, ‘The Time of the Glance: Toward Becoming Otherwise’, in Liz Grosz, Becomings: Explorations in Time, Memory, and Futures. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  6. Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong, 2016. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media.Cambridge: MIT
  7. Haraway, Donna, ’A Cyborg Manifesto’, in D Bell and M Kennedy (eds), 2000, The Cyberculture Reader. London: Routledge 
  8. Heidegger, Martin, 2010. ‘On the Question of Being (1955)’ in Pathmarks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 
  9. Hollander, Dana, ‘Barthes and Derrida on the Limits of Representation’, in Wilhelm Wurzer, Panorama: Philosophies of the Visible. London: Continuum
  10. Krauss, Rosalind. E, 1986. The Originality of the Avant-garde and Other Modernist Myths.Cambridge: The MIT Press 
  11. Meillassoux Q, 2008 After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Continuum, London).
  12. Nancy, Jean-Luc, 1993. The Birth to Presence. Stanford: Stanford University Press 
  13. Perloff, Majorie, 1999. The Poetics of Indeterminacy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press 
  14. Petherbridge, Deanna, 2008. ‘Nailing the Liminal: The Difficulties of Defining Drawing’, in Writing on Drawing: Essays on Drawing Practice & Research, (ed. SW Garner), Bristol: Intellect Books, pp. 265-285. 
  15. Shrigley, Gordon, 2004. ‘Absence of that Everything’ in Shrigley, G, (ed.), 2004. Spatula: How Drawing Changed the World. London: marmalade 
  16. Stengers, Isabelle, 2015. In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism. (trans A Goffey) London: Open Humanities Press. 
  17. Tanizaki, Junichiro, 1977. In Praise of Shadows. Chicago: Leete’s Island Books 
  18. Weizman, Eyal, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability. New York: Zone Books 
  19. Zizek, S, 1992. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture. Cambridge: MIT 

[Critical Contextual Studies is committed to half of the recommended publications being by women, and at least 30% being published in the last 10 years]

Examples of things we might look at

  • Christo and Jean-Claude, 1979 to 2005. The Gates 
  • Frost, R, Mending Wall
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto. 711-1499
  • Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey. 1610-1640
  • Horn, Roni, 1980-1982. Gold Field. Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection
  • Je t'aime... moi non plus. 1967. Song by Serge Gainsbourg, with Jane Birkin. lyrics © Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc.
  • Miéville, China, 2011. The City and the City.
  • Ziegler, Toby. The Genesis Speech. Freud Museum London. 13 September to 26 November 2017


Tutor Andrew Hewish

Tutor Biography

Andrew Hewish

Coordinator of Critical Contextual Studies (Art and Photography)

Andrew Hewish is a contemporary artist and curator in London, who works in a variety of media.

Dissertation Studios

Studio 1: Another India

Harriet McKay

Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.

Studio 2: Contemporary Ecology

Nabil Ahmed

In Studio 2 we will explore environmental topics through the lens of art, architecture, spatial practice, media and design disciplines.

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry

Christina Paine

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.

Studio 4: Not allowed

Emma Davenport

Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories

Ektoras Arkomanis

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.

Studio 6: Curating as a Spatial Practice: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: This dissertation studio is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.

Studio 7: Souvenir

Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past.

Studio 8: Post – card

Edwina Attlee

Studio 8 will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives.

Studio 9: ‘The Form of the Text’

Danielle Hewitt

Studio 9: Together we will explore the space of criticism; acknowledging our point of encounter with objects, places, sites and processes and the relationship between text, writer and reader.

Studio 10: Constellating

Sinead Evans

As creative practitioners we digest and produce images every day – as citizens of the digital age we consume between hundreds and thousands of images each day. This dissertation studio will slim down your daily diet to one image.

Studio 11: Science Fiction Futurity

Luke Jones

Speculative descriptions of the future reveal a magnified — or distorted — reflection of the fears and desires of the present.

Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities

Lezley George

Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world.

Studio 13: Desire, Trauma, History

Jonathan Whitehall

How does the relationship of memory to fantasy affect history? What are the links between desire, sexuality and trauma? How are these relationships played out or negotiated in visual and written practice? These questions will form the beginning of our enquiries into artworks, films and literature.

Studio 14: Design and Nature: Forms of an Entanglement

Gabriele Oropallo

We will look at how the idea of nature has been constructed over time and place, and study its impact on design practice in an age marked by the sustainability imperative.

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling

Jon Baldwin

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences

Jeremy Collins

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.

Studio 18: Time and the Image

David Howells

This workshop will address some perennial problems of writing in the field of visual culture.

Studio 19: Material in Motion

Heidi Yeo

Studio 19: This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.

Studio 20: The Liminal

Andrew Hewish

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.

Studio 21: Reading the library (and nothing but the library)

Joseph Kohlmaier

This year, Studio 21 will stage an unusual experiment. It will move, unpack, catalogue, and perform readings from one private library; and make this library, without exception, the single resource for all the research and writing in the studio.

Studio 22: Meaningful work

Paul Harper

Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.

Studio 23: A Common Thread

Gina Pierce

Studio 23: In A Common Thread, we unpick and examine the importance of textiles and how they underpin culture, industry, and global connections.

Cass Studios archive by year