The Team

Ctrl Network was founded by four postgraduate researchers at the University of Birmingham. It was born out of the Contemporary Theory Reading Group, which meets fortnightly to discuss contemporary theory.

Niall Gallen

Niall’s research considers the overlapping tendencies present between Eduardo Paolozzi, J. G. Ballard and contemporary left ideas of Accelerationism. To do so, he considers the wider milieu of both artist and writer, as well as their responses to modernism and their wider technological environments. Through his project, Niall is considering Accelerationist arguments of transvaluation, while also focusing on the 1950s and 60s periods as moments of aesthetic transvaluation more politically subdued than some of their points of inspiration, such as the Italian Futurists.

Josie Lilley-Byrne

Josie’s research explores slow reading, slow violence and climate crisis in contemporary American fiction. She is interested in how our relationship to time, narrative, and traumatic rupture shape our perceptions of and responses to climate crisis. By focusing on texts which resist violent spectacle or explicit fantasies of ecological destruction, her research aims to illuminate the quiet and complex power of the slow moving in an age of everything now.

Benjamin Horn

Ben’s research considers the commonalities between the science fiction of Philip K. Dick, Speculative Realist philosophy and contemporary debates in ecology. As such, he considers the writer’s work as a series of speculative investigations, and genre fiction generally, against the restriction of the world to its identity with human thought. To do so, he examines Dick’s use of syntax, representational devices and shifting technological and media landscapes to provide an aesthetic way of relating to non-humans. Throughout his project, Ben draws on Ray Brassier’s idea of the corrosion of the ‘Manifest Images’ of humanity by the ‘Scientific Image’, and how objects in SF are used to implode these distinctions. Further, he argues such corrosion provides speculative opportunities for contemporary left politics. As such, he situates Dick and SF writing in relation to critical theory and debates on eco-criticism and new, critical realism.

Arzu Bali

Arzu’s research delves into the political implication of the nonhuman turn. Focusing on the novels of China Miéville, Arzu is exploring how weirdness allies both with threads in contemporary philosophy and with the political project coordinated around human relationship with nonhuman subjects. H.P. Lovecraft, often noted as a master of the weird, has increasingly been deployed in contemporary philosophical discussions, but here Arzu makes a case for Miéville’s work as more weird, more significant and more powerful as a tool for supporting the findings of contemporary philosophy interested in the decline of the modern and the rise of the nonhuman.