plot twist was initiated by Jo Kali and Georgie Sinclair in 2018. It is held monthly at fanfare; each season lasting approximately eight months. The second season begins in early October 2019.
During these sessions, we gather around a table laden with snacks and drinks to explore a different theme through literature and perform collective reading, writing and listening exercises.
All resources such as readings, films and artworks are created by women, trans and non-binary writers. We borrow from Sara Ahmed’s citation policy in Living a Feminist Life, in which she encourages us to view citations as (re)productive technologies – a tool that circumscribes the world around certain bodies. By citing these voices, we work against a system that intrinsically favours cis-men: “Citations can be feminist bricks: they are the materials through which, from which, we create our dwellings.” Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life, p.16.
Texts are provided digitally prior to each session, and we can print and share the readings if you have no access to a computer and/or printer.
Meetings are held in English.
There is no fee for plot twist but small edible contributions towards snacks for each meeting will be met with open arms (and hungry mouths!).
fanfare, our host venue, is on the ground floor and is wheelchair accessible.
plot twist aims to offer a safe space for everyone involved. Any form of bigotry – racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism – is not tolerated, and you will be asked you to leave if you behave in a way that offends or upsets others.
If something being discussed is new or unfamiliar to you, please don’t be afraid to make it known so others can explain. We kindly ask that you come willing to listen to the opinions and subjectivities of others, even if it differs from your own.
Occasionally, we organise public activities and events, which are announced via our social media channels.
empathy is often regarded as one of two binary opposites: a superpower that will change the world, or a sign of weakness (see: Book of Human Emotions). our capacity for collective empathy is thought to be diminishing across society, but this does not mean we are becoming less capable of it. can empathy be learned? or is it a trait some have that others do not? how do we distinguish between empathy, sympathy, compassion and sensitivity? and how do oppressive agendas – racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, sexism et al – interfere with our capacity to connect with the feelings of others?
The Empathy Exams, pgs. 1-26
the concept of privacy has many different meanings and people attach different values to it. privacy scholars have distinguished, among others, informational privacy (control over personal data), relational privacy (privacy in interpersonal relationships), decisional privacy (autonomy over decisions regarding the body), and intellectual privacy (privacy of the mind). but who is allowed to benefit from privacy and what means privacy in different social settings and roles? for this session, we will read about feminist critiques of privacy and the continued importance of privacy for women and other vulnerable groups. we will also talk about our own experiences with privacy while we conduct the session virtually from the privacy of our homes :-)
Private Internet and Public Streets
Anita L. Allen
“The feminist critique of privacy”
Reclaiming privacy: a feminist manifesto
“This is a story of art without markets, drama without a script, narrative without progress. The queer art of failure turns on the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it imagines other goals for life, for love, for art, and for being.” ~ Jack Halberstam
everyday, we “fail” at work and in relationships; we fail our expectations, desires and in the decisions we make. within a capitalist framework, failure usually depends on another’s success. but what does it mean to succeed? what opportunities and parts of ourselves do we squash when we comply with hegemonic value systems? our interest in this topic stems from Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure (2011), in which failure, refusal, forgetting, not knowing, or any inversion of “success” is presented as an escape from the prison of hegemonic thinking. we will introduce ourselves to the text and Halberstam’s writing on ‘low theory’ – a term borrowed from Stuart Hall, and unpack the capitalist success/failure binary, learning to feel good about being bad. we are all losers!!!!!
The Queer Art of Failure, Jack Halberstam, pgs. 1-18 (up to ‘Pirate Cultures’), 27-32 (up to ‘Penguin Love’) and 79-82 (from ‘The fish in Finding Nemo…’, up to ‘Conclusion’)
Further reading to dip your toes into now or whenever you feel up to it:
– section(s) from Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman
– ‘The Single as Pariah’ and ‘The Social Wheel of Five’ from Playing Monogamy, Simon(e) van Saarloos
– Never the Blade, Mira Mattar
– ‘No’ from A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, Anne Boyer (pgs 9-17)
– ‘Stir-fry’ and ‘The Gloves are Off’ from Pond, Claire Louise Bennett (pg 30 + pgs 55-60)
– ‘Slumming’ from Homesick for Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh (pgs 53-62)
– Speaking From The Wound, Jesse Darling
– Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows - a tumblr page dedicated to ‘new words for obscure emotions’ (or the failure of language). Have a little browse or here are some favourites: lachesism, silience, gnossienne.
The Queer Art of Failure, pgs. 1-18
"Ngl, it feels trite and pointless in big big 2020 to say: ‘Food is political’. We all know this, we didn’t even really need to be told. For anyone with any kind of life that could be lived outside of the West and its parameters, food has always political. But still, I can’t stop thinking about it: food as political agent, tool & object." - excerpt from 'EAT THE RICH', The White Pube
The selected texts are both academic/critical and fictional pieces on the politics of food. We are interested in how the texts explore ideas of disgust, womxn's appetite, (non-)eating rituals, food & race, food & class, and sexualisation.
‘Sweet Traditions and the Martyrdom of Saint Agatha’ in The Women in God's Kitchen
Plainly Repulsive. The more I think about eggs and their textures, the more horrified I am by them
Interview with Rachael Allen
British Poetry & Class
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene
How to Decolonize Your Diet. on cultural reclamation, food politics
Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel
EAT THE RICH
The White Pube
The Female Appetite: On Lara Williams’s “Supper Club”
We'll be thinking about the potential of world-building and speculation to address social and political issues, to dream and imagine other possible ways of being.
Letter to my Moms
The Question of Sex: The Left Hand of Darkness
Ursula K. Le Guin
The Lost Races of Science Fiction
Octavia E. Butler
Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Interview with Linda Stupart
Studio International, Izabella Scott
DIZZINESS & GIDDINESS
When sensations of dizziness or giddiness arise they can change our spatial, temporal and bodily relation to the world, and result in feelings of disorientation. Sara Ahmed describes experiences of disorientation as shattering one's "belief that the ground on which we reside can support the actions that make a life feel liveable". In reading and listening to narratives that capture these experiences we want to talk about the potential dizziness and giddiness have as moments in time that imply a failure to be proper, a getting lost, a being thrown. In this way we hope dizziness and giddiness make space for alternative bodily orientations that find hope in changing direction and risk departing from the straight and narrow lines of patriarchy, heteronormativity and whiteness.
'Girl Body' from When the Sick Rule the World
Section from Artificial Gut Feeling
'Car Sickness' from Small White Monkeys
Section from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
Section from Thought and Vision
'Say What You See' from The Happy Hypocrite: Silver Bandage
this session will take up two central questions concerning friendship:
one: the history of friendship
by which I mean: how did this hierarchy between relationships (family, romantic/sexual partner(s), and friends) come about? which or whose ends does it serve to institutionally/legally privilege familial and romantic relationships over friendships?
two: doing it differently
what are some ways we can resist or undo this hierarchy in our own lives and relationships? how can we create more space for platonic intimacy as a feminist practice?
with space for a kind of discursive analysis, looking at representations of friendship (in particular between women) in literature, film, television, etc., as a third element.
The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy
Witches, Witch hunting and Women
I'm Having A Friendship Affair
Auto-theory is a term used for a kind of "experimental" or at least genre-bending writing in which the writer's auto-biographical experiences (auto-) and literary, queer, feminist, critical theory is digested and presented together. The writer's first-person experiences are understood through the lens of a broader discourse, and it also helps inform any political arguments the writer is putting forward together.
It’s a term that’s generally pretty unfamiliar, but it’s creeped into use to designate a type of queer and feminist literature that:
– is self-reflexive, between the writer and the text or the “larger world” around them
– plays with the traditional formal aspects of fiction, poetry, essays, academic writing, etc.
None of these are “real” designations, and the problem of definition is a slippery one we should think about critically. We’re also going to talk about kinds of knowledge, knowledge production, and the relationship of autotheory with academic language.
Living A Feminist Life
in this session we will give a discursive exploration of a much-overlooked practice, weaving together lesser-known histories of textile, craft and technology. we are particularly interested in tracing the patterns by which needlework has been divided and exploited (gender, hierarchy, labour practices); the ways that textiles are used by women – past and present – to pass along ancestral and cultural knowledge; the intricate techniques of weaving, braiding and coding; and the moods and emotions that many fabrics hold.
Don't Touch My Hair
The Creation of Femininity
Accumulations (Appendix F)
Garments Against Women
Zeroes + Ones
plot twist x Studio bonbon: needlework
In this reading group and workshop we will collectively read and respond to a handful of texts (poetic and otherwise) on textile, craft and technology; weaving together lesser-known histories through a de-colonial and feminist lens. During the session we will perform a number of exercises to break away from our typical reading, writing and listening habits, using them to arrive at a number of original (textual) outcomes.
There are 15 spots available and these are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis. ALL are welcome to join.
Please RSVP to email@example.com with 'studio bonbon x plot twist reading group' in the subject line.
Following the workshop there will be time to read and rest in the space. Participants can bring and read their own material or take something from the plot twist library. No sign-up required.
Thank you to everyone who came along to the plot twist summer squeeze! We are taking a summer break and will be back in October.
If you'd like to pick up a copy of the zine in exchange for printed material (zine, magazine, book, leaflet) send us an email or get in touch via our social channels on the homepage.
This month we are looking at surrealism, which is the first time we’ve covered a (literary) genre rather than a topic, and thus the first time our reading list consists of 100% fiction! It is also perhaps an odd genre to go for as it is better known for its influence as an art movement, of which the incredible Leonora Carrington was part. But she was also a prolific writer and contributed dozens upon dozens of stories to the world – both hilarious and bizarre – throughout her lifetime. Carrington’s writing literally IS the canon of surrealist fiction (imo) but with this month’s readings I'd like to expand the genre to encompass threads of magical realism and fantasy too. Each story is rooted in a version of reality, but as they unfold, surreal, magical or nightmarish scenarios begin to emerge.
Real Women Have Bodies
Carmen Maria Machado
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington
The Silent Verse
A Heavy Devotion
We will consider:
Womxn’s inclusion in the sphere of nature as tool for oppression;
Landscape, water, fluidity and leaking as metaphor for womxn;
The redemptive capacity of wildnerness for womxn;
Manifestations of pollution, displacement and violence in womxn’s landscape, particularly trauma in indigenous landscape and communities.
Feminism and the Mastery of Nature
Women Who Run With The Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
On Art, Walking With Our Sisters and the Problem with Reconciliation
‘viscosity’ and 'head of the lake’
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
There has been renewed interest in witchcraft and the occult lately – for reasons that require deeper critical thought. The figure of the witch is embedded within every culture since early civilisation. We associate witches with magic, healing, spells, fortune telling, demons, the Devil himself, brooms, power, disobedience and, of course, women: lonesome women, often terribly old and most likely evil and dangerous women. However, they used to hold a very important place in the community, as healers and sometimes midwives, these supposedly evil witches were simply the common medical system in ancient times, in touch with their environment.
Through this collection of readings we will think through modern-day practices, the connection between feminism and witchcraft, the relationship systematic powers (like patriarchy, modern science and medicine, doctrine religions) have with witchcraft and the witch hunts throughout history.
Witches, Witch-hunting and Women
The Spiral Dance
Spells: 21st-century Occult Poetry
Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamas
CHAPTER 1: Motherhood
6 November, 18.30-21.30.
If you haven't already, please send us an email letting us know you'd like to join. We can accommodate a maximum of 20 people so please get in touch ASAP!
plot twist is looking for members! If you are interested in joining, please get in touch and tell us about your favourite piece of writing or author, and why you'd like to join the group.
The first session will be held in October 2018.
Please see a provisional reading list below. Each month we will put together a focused reading list based around the theme we wish to explore. The first two themes are Motherhood/Reproduction and Technology/The Body.
plot twist is a literary collective aiming to facilitate alternative practices, with a focus on women, trans and non-binary writers.
plot twist is the collective identity of a community of women and non-binary folk who organise reading groups, workshops and events in and around literary, queer and feminist interests. plot twist believes learning and unlearning is relational and refuses hierarchical pedagogical practices. As such, plot twist’s core activity, a monthly reading group, is organised by and with its members, who, guided by their personal or professional interests, prepare the reading lists and host the sessions. To date, topics have dissected genres from sci-fi to auto-theory, as well as embracing more intimate matters such as friendship, anger, and sickness and disability. Striking a balance between a reading group and a workshop, plot twist aspires to initiate collective discussion and reflection, trouble normative frameworks, whilst prioritising community and care.
If you're interested in joining the group please email and introduce yourself at firstname.lastname@example.org (books you are reading, favourite author(s), personal interests and why you’d like to join the group). plot twist is a project we devote ourselves to in our spare time, so we'd be grateful your patience as we might take some time to get back to you. Meanwhile, you can read more about us on our info page, keep up to date with our reading lists on our news page or follow us on social media for very erratic updates.