PhD Studentship: Beat Culture, Tantric Ecstasy, creative residues

Beat Culture, Tantric Ecstasy, creative residues (the ‘long 1960s’ and contemporary art practice) (RDF16/ART/DORSETT)

Northumbria University | Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences | Newcastle | United Kingdom

Application Deadline:
Friday, March 18, 2016

Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description
Many counterculture experiments of the ‘long 1960s’ linger in the contemporary imagination. What should artists currently seeking to create alternative intersections between visual, sound, and writing practices make of, say, William Burroughs’ magical universe, or Allen Ginsberg’s explorations of Eastern thought, or Philip Rawson’s Hayward Gallery exhibition Tantra: the Indian Cult of Ecstasy? The prospect of counterculture motifs lingering in our present-day landscape of ideas, and the kinds of experimental practices that might be encouraged or informed by the artefactual or textual residues of past fashions for occult divination, prompt Mark Jackson (American-British curator of the London gallery Image, Music, Text) and Professor Chris Dorsett (an artist-curator with a long involvement in practice-based archive and collection research) to propose a funded practice-based doctoral project that utilises exhibition-making resources at Northumbria University’s newly enlarged Gallery North facility.

This supervisory partnership brings together Beat Studies (Jackson’s 2010 exhibition Dead Fingers Talk: The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs) and the collections and archives that both provoke and resist emergent understandings of 60s counterculture (Dorsett & Nair’s series of ‘performed’ conference papers initiated in 2015 with Revisiting Tantra: contemporary British and Indian responses to the ‘seductiveness’ of Tantric museum objects).

As a result, applications are sought from artists who can produce original visual, sound, and textual works within a research frame related to, but not confined by, the counterculture themes outlined above. Northumbria University is well positioned for this research because Rawson planned and directed his Tantra exhibition whilst based at the nearby Oriental Museum in Durham. Both supervisors believe that these regional associations and resources, as well as their national and international research networks, provide a unique platform on which a successful studentship can be constructed. Finally, the University has key exhibition-making partners (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums) that offer unique opportunities to interrogate historical periodisations such as the ‘long 1960s’ and uncover the creative potential of archival and museum residues associated with Beat Culture and Tantric Ecstasy.

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. normally an Honours Degree: 1st or 2:1 (or equivalent) or possession of a Masters degree, with merit (or equivalent study at postgraduate level). Applicants may also be accepted on the basis of relevant and substantial practitioner/professional experience.

* Appropriate IELTS score, if required (evidence required by 1 August).

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Funding Notes

The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000).


2016: Dorsett, C. & Nair, J. ‘Revisiting Tantra: contemporary British and Indian responses to the Tantra- oriented songs of Rabindranath Tagore’, conference paper and forthcoming journal article. Variations, Rewritings and Adaptations of the Jātaka Tales and Buddhism in India Today, SARI 2016, Annual and International Colloquium, University of Paris 13.

2016: Dorsett, C. & Nair, J. ‘Rawson’s Rasa: handling the taste of emotion’, conference paper and forthcoming book chapter. Presenting the Theatrical Past: interplays of artefacts, discourses and practices, IFTR 2016, Stockholm University.

2015: Dorsett, C. & Nair, J. ‘Revisiting Tantra: a contemporary British and Indian response to the “seductiveness” of Tantric museum objects’, conference paper and book chapter (in press 2016). The Culture of Seduction [The Seduction of Culture], Cyprus Semiotic Association, University of Cyprus.

2014: Jackson, M. ‘Ghost of an Image: The Haptic Images of William S. Burroughs and David Burrows’, conference paper. Beyond the Cut-up: William S. Burroughs and the Image, The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

2010: Jackson, M. Dead Fingers Talk: The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs, exhibition curator. IMT Gallery, London