Martin Cathcart Frödén: A circular argument

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Martin Cathcart Frödén, Lecturer in Creative Writing, K3

The title of the seminar is A circular argument

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, October 7 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here:

Johan has just taken up his position as Lecturer in Creative Writing this fall. Below you will find an abstract of his talk and a description of previous work:

The main focus of my talk will be on my forthcoming publication, A Circular Argument (Emerald, Jan 2021). I will also talk a little on my interdisciplinary PhD (Creative Writing, Criminology, Architecture), as well as touching on future research plans.


A Circular Argument / The Out

‘The architects, planners – and businessmen – are seized with dreams of order, and they have become fascinated with scale models and bird’s-eye views. This is a vicarious way to deal with reality, and it is, unhappily, symptomatic of a design philosophy now dominant: buildings come first, for the goal is to remake the city to fit an abstract concept of what, logically, it should be.’ (Jane Jacobs, Downtown is for People, 1958)

Spanning creative writing, criminology and architecture, this work examines some of the ways power and hierarchies can be explored and exploited in space. It is a practice-led study in two parts: one primarily creative non-fiction (A Circular Argument) and the other in the form of a novel (The Out). The two parts will be published in one volume with two entry points, two beginnings.

The novel part is about an imaginary prison. The story revolves around Cecil, an architect who for his own misguided reasons has designed a prison with an inbuilt escape route. A ‘boon’ for someone worthy. Cecil has promised himself that whoever solves his puzzle he will rescue and transport out of the country. One day the phone rings and Frank, the escapee, asks for help. Now Cecil has to make good on his promise and swallow his reluctance as it turns out that Frank has personally affected Cecil’s life. What ensues is largely a road trip where the two men are stuck in a cell on four wheels.

The main focus of the non-fiction part is the obsession with the circular as an architectural gesture and as a concept combining containment and transparency, from the ideal planned city of the Middle Ages, via Bentham’s panopticon, to the all-seeing eye of modern digital society. The creative piece explores how the complications and surprises of human interaction are bound to colour and change the supposedly watertight systems of social control we design as a society – how prison architecture or national road networks might be undermined, or how the power dynamics of the class system might be temporarily suspended in a heightened situation. Forgiveness, desistance and redemption also play a part in the narrative, for both the ‘guilty’ and ‘innocent’ parties. Both elements of the work also examine how time moves differently inside from outside of the prison walls, and the limited success of trying to build away social problems.

Methodologically speaking, the work follows certain key features of practice-led research, where the creative outcome constitutes the research in and of itself, rather than existing as a conduit for pre-existing research conclusions. The practice-led approach prioritises the making process, in dialogue with a theoretical framework, although this may not always be visible in the finished work. Again, there are hierarchies at play here, in an epistemological sense, in how knowledge is created, viewed, accessed and consumed. In this sense, the work takes a deliberately outward-looking approach in terms of intended readership, aiming to sit alongside works of fiction as comfortably as academic texts.

On several levels, the work inhabits grey areas and liminal spaces – between the three academic disciplines across which it is situated, between fiction and non-fiction, and between multiple social and spatial hierarchies. This liminality has come to be reflected within the work through exploring non-places, in an explicit sense in the non-fiction work, and implicitly in the creative work – from the limbo of the motorway service station, to the carceral dead space exploited by the prison architect and his escapee. It is also interesting to note that both ‘non-place’ and ‘non-fiction’ are defined by what they are not, rather than what they are. In researching and writing this book I found that the ‘thing’ and its Janus-like twin the ‘non-thing’ were often holding an inherent friction which ultimately proved to be creatively generative.

I have tried to keep the writing centred on the concrete and rebars of the various sites I’ve described. I’ve tried to conduct interviews with silent corridors. Mumbled monologues while walking down pathways, the line painter’s ruler-straight line separating me from the prisoners. I’ve come back on trains, furiously writing in a little notebook, which I couldn’t bring into the prisons. Transcribing an inner, half-remembered harangue of silent questions and slippery answers. It might have looked like I was doing one thing in the prison but I was doing something else – patching together an erratic, fictional ethnography, with a building as the main character.

On writing

Practice as Research is a lovely beast to wrangle. If nothing else, this work has taught me to wear my research lightly, and at the same time to be rigorous in my imaginings. My fictional and non-fictional output have for obvious reasons bled into one another, as they should.

This relationship between fact and fiction has meant that I have had the pleasure of translating concepts and complicated ideas into character, conflict, voice, point of view, tense, and dialogue. That I have been allowed to think about narrative structures as well as real concrete structures. I’ve busied myself with transforming people like one of the prisoners I have talked with, and places like the circular town of Palmanova, into imagined landscapes, townscapes, weather, and into written emotions, which lie somewhere between the real, the unreal and the hyper-real. This porous approach has allowed me to use the structural elements of fiction to represent critical thinking, and architectural critique. To re-use bricks and marble from one kind of structure to make anew, and like all builders past and present, re-imagine an edifice – in this case, a book.


Martin is the winner of the 2015 Dundee International Book Prize and the 2013 BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He was the 2017-18 National Trust for Scotland Poet-in-Residence and holds a PhD in Creative Writing, Criminology and Architecture. Swedish by birth, ten years a Glaswegian with his wife and three children, now in Malmö as lecturer in Creative Writing. Previoulsy also in Canada, Israel, Argentina, Haparanda, London, Stockholm.

List of publications

Forthcoming 2021

A Circular Argument: A work of creative non-fiction exploring the circle in carceral architecture and urban planning. This work formed part of my doctoral submission, ‘‘We make spaces and spaces make us – An exploration through Creative Writing of the relationship between literature and carceral spaces’.


The Lamplighter

Ms Adeline (Stories from Home, Garmoran Publishing)


I’m Away Home: Poetry pamphlet written as part of AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) funded collaborative action research project Distant Voices


Light and Other Observations: A 90-poem collection, the result of a year spent as Poet in Residence with the National Trust for Scotland 2017-2018

Near By: Editor of this collaborative publication between AHRC-funded composer Richy Carey, 8 other sound artists, and Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts, exploring the translation and flux between sound, image, object and text


Devil take the Hindmost: My debut novel, which won the Dundee International Book Prize, and was published by Freight Books


Various short stories published including:

Les Joueurs (Inside/Outside magazine)

Boiler plate (Underground anthology)

Finnish for Beginners (Shipwrights Review, Malmö)

March of the Monoliths (Glasgow Review of Books)


Various short stories published including:

A Floating Halfway House (Gutter Magazine)

Japanese Orange (From Glasgow to Saturn)

Ishaq (Octavius)

Golden Wonder (Sub City Radio)


An Underwater Cathedral (Short story, winner of BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition for emerging writers, broadcast on Radio 4 several times between 2013 and 2018)

Robert Anderson’s Fires (Novel shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Award)

Is/land (Shortlisted for the Baker Prize and published in Baker Prize Anthology)


Finnish for Beginners (shortlisted for the Birmingham Book Festival Short Story Award)

Keith Morris is a Royal Plum (longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize)

A Floating Halfway House (shortlisted for the Bridport Prize)

Johan Farkas: Reporting on ‘Fake News’: Journalistic Portrayals and Reflections on Disinformation in Denmark

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Johan Farkas on Tuesday, October 6, 10.15-12.00 (note that this is on a Tuesday).

The title is Reporting on ‘Fake News’: Journalistic Portrayals and Reflections on Disinformation in Denmark.

This is Johan’s 50 percent PhD seminar. Aske Kammer, docent in Media Innovation at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, will function as discussant (

You can join the seminar at  (please note that the link is not the same announced a couple of weeks ago).

Michael Krona: The media world of ISIS – Post-caliphate media strategies and digital expansion of terrorism

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Michael Krona, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies, K3

The title of the seminar is The media world of ISIS – Post-caliphate media strategies and digital expansion of terrorism.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here: (please note that the link has been changed from previous announcements)

Below you will find an abstract for the talk:


Since 2014 and the declaration of the proto-state caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has received not only international political- and media attention, but also maintained a strong online presence with the help of devoted supporter networks around the globe. These networks have been and are still essential in ISIS modus operandi, as they amplify the brand, help recruit and further propagate the ideological framework of Salafi-jihadism under which ISIS continues to operate.

In 2018 the caliphate dissolved in its original form, and since then a post-caliphate era has emerged in which ISIS has transformed into a social movement using guerrilla tactics to promote ideology and inspire attacks. A key element in this transformation is the use of encrypted platforms online for galvanised supporters to disseminate propaganda and act as ‘media mujahideen’ in ISIS hybrid warfare.

Strategies on these platforms are vast and innovative, and considering the success of ISIS and its supporters in maintaining such a strong presence and outreach of messaging in online spaces, the aforementioned transformation is interesting to mirror through the lens of propaganda and participatory engagement online by supporters. I will therefore present findings and empirical examples of the role of online spaces and supporters in ISIS current transformation and expansion – as an illustration of the rapid development in how contemporary terrorist organisations deliberately and strategically use media platforms and supporter networks as weapons in information warfare.

Dario Salvi: Supporting clinical research through citizens science: The Mobistudy app

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Dario Salvi, Associate Senior Lecturer in Design, K3.

The title of the seminar is Supporting clinical research through citizens science: The Mobistudy app.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 23 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here:

Below you will find an abstract for the talk:


“Mobile health”, or m-health, is the application of mobile technologies to healthcare. M-health is on the rise. As of today, thousands of health and fitness apps are available on the app stores and private and public investments in this technology are soaring. This is also being amplified by the current pandemic, in which health care systems are struggling to balance the need for visits versus the need to keep patients safe at home.

But how effective are these technologies? What are their potentialities and their limitations? These are subject of current research.

In order to help this research we have been developing an open source platform for mobile-drive health research: Mobistudy. The platform is both a tool for clinical researchers who want to test the effectiveness of mobile health, and for citizens who want to be involved in interesting research.

In this talk, I am going to introduce what Mobistudy is and what the roadmap for its development is. In addition to the engineering effort, there are important design aspects that need to be addressed, which could be of interest to researchers in K3. With this short seminar, I hope I will be able to engage with some of you in this journey, which (I won’t hide my ambition!) could become a prominent research initiative within the University.

Oscar Hemer: Contaminations and ethnographic fictions. Southern crossings

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Oscar Hemer, Professor of Journalistic and Literary Creation.

The title of the seminar is Contaminations and ethnographic fictions: Southern crossings, and it is based on Oscar’s new book with the same name, published by Palgrave ( Kristin Järvstad, Associate Professor in Comparative Literature, will function as discussant.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here:

New date set for seminar with Johan Farkas

A new date is now set for Johan Farkas’ K3 seminar, which is also his 50 percent PhD seminar. It will take place online on October 6, 10.15-12.00 ( The title is Beyond fake news: Disguised propaganda as socio-technical struggles in digital media.

Aske Kammer, docent in Media Innovation at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, will function as discussant (

Bojana Romic: Artificial Creativity. The robot as a techno-cultural icon

Welcome to this term’s first K3 seminar. It will be held by Bojana Romic, researcher and Marie Skłodowska Curie ‘Seal of Excellence’ Fellow at K3.

The title of the seminar is Artificial Creativity. The robot as a techno-cultural icon, and it is based on her ongoing Marie Sklodowska Curie research project.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 9 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here:

Below is an abstract for the talk:

From Terminator to Roomba: the robot occupies a special place in our cultural repository.  On the one hand, it represents cutting-edge scientific research; on the other hand, the robot is a figure of fiction and science fiction (Kakoudaki, 2007). The nascent field of cultural robotics aims to critically address this tension, and show how it reflects on the strategies of communicating science (Latour, 1996; 2000).

During my talk I will make an effort to explain why we are facing some terminological obstacles when researching AI and robots (also referred to as embodied AI), taking into account the history of this technology and cultural context. These matters become even more complicated when we discuss the status of the artefacts produced by AI and robots. The structuralist approach I am using in my research aims to avoid “othering” of this technology, which results in a dualistic “man vs. machine” discourse – prevalent in the Western popular culture.