plot twist was initiated by Jo Kali and Georgie Sinclair in 2018. From 2018 - 2020 it was held at fanfare, but the third season, which begins in November 2020, will take place online.
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. As such, we prioritise the work of women, trans, non-binary, queer, black, indigenous, POC, working-class, disabled, and other marginalised bodies in our resources and reading materials: “Citations can be feminist bricks: they are the materials through which, from which, we create our dwellings.” Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life, p.16.
Announcements for our reading groups are sent to our mailing list every month, to which you must RSVP in order to participate.
There is a maximum of 12 spots for each session which are offered on a first come first serve basis.
All resources and materials are provided digitally prior to each session.
Meetings are held in English.
fanfare, our host venue for our in-person events and reading groups, is on the ground floor and 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.
Occasionally, we organise public activities and events, which are announced via our social media channels.
THIS IS WHAT THE TRUTH FEELS LIKE
"it is often said that the internet is full of disinformation, but what is deemed disinformation in the eyes of one, is truthful and important information in the eyes of another. everyone should be able to establish their own truths. but at the same time, speaking for myself (Sarah), when people adhere to certain truths that i do not share (such as hard-core anti-vaxxers), i can become agitated or impatient. in this session, we will ask questions such as: what makes something ‘true’? what different types of truths exist? is it important to have shared truths? and when is it reasonable to try to correct someone’s personal truths?"
Hosted by Sarah Eskens
The State of the Fact
The Believer w/ Morgan Parker & Rachel Khong
Private Fears in Public Space
The yoga world is riddled with anti-vaxxers and QAnon believers
Seeking After Truth
If women are hesitant about the vaccine, it's because the health industry hasn't earned their trust
Why we can't have our facts back
‘I am becoming part of his vegetal network too.’- Rebecca May Johnson
In this session, we will explore the utopian potentials of land cultivation: the possibilities and pitfalls of retreating to the garden.
Since March 2020, desires for the bucolic escape of #cottagecore have filtered across the socials- images of gardening, allotments, and analogue forms of domestic living offering both an aesthetic respite, and a stark contrast, to the varied experiences of an urban lockdown. Looking at various forms of pastoral maintenance we will discuss the ways these texts use land to explore themes of care, escape, and community- in addition to problematising the political undertones these trends can gesture to. How might issues of land ownership, climate grief, and gendered forms of care intertwine in a desire to grow our own herbs?
Hosted by Loren Ewart
The Disturbances of the Garden
Qualities of Earth
Rebecca May Johnson
Why queer teens are embracing cottagecore
Collective reading and discussion of Unknown Language by Huw Lemmey & Hildegard von Bingen
"Long before the collapse of the Information Age, in the twelfth century since the appearance of the prophet Christ, young Hildegard finds grace. In this story of survival and miracles, Hildegard encounters love, both queer and divine, and great peril. As the visionary healer travels through the unfamiliar landscape following a great cataclysm, she discovers the mythic quantum energy of viriditas in the natural world around her. Her journey becomes one of return, to the sacred truth of her own being.
Hildegard’s tale is received in the plague year of 2020 by Alice Spawls, and then in the next century, in a sea cave with cracked amethyst walls. On planet Avaaz, once known as Earth, Bhanu Kapil’s Pinky Agarwalia finds fragments of a beautiful codex. Lingua Ignota, Hildegard's unknown language, bears seeds of renewal for a world in flux."
Huw Lemmey & Hildegard von Bingen
OUT NOW: PLOT TWIST II
plot twist ii is an anthology of short stories and essays from the hosts of our 2019-2020 programme. Our work as a reading group is often intangible to those who don't participate in the sessions, so – in lieu of our intended public event last summer – we chose to produce something in print to share with a wider audience.
plot twist ii includes:
meditations on privacy, work, failure, and friendship
a sci-fi tale in four acts
auto-theory on books that 'stick'
two essays on food and the cultural politics of disgust
sensory creative fiction on dizziness and giddiness
an illustrated guide on practicing empathy
extended reading lists of our reading groups 2019-2020
a BEAUTIFUL A3 limited-edition riso printed poster
With contributions from Andreea Breazu, Angelica Sgouros, Elisa Grasso, Georgie Sinclair, Jo Kali, Juliette Lizotte, Loren Ewart, Lucia Dove, Naomi Credé, Rosie Haward, and Sarah Eskens. Designed by Juliette Lizotte and Lucie de Bréchard.
It would mean the world to us if you could support us and these small book shops by buying a copy!
Lowkey writing workshop focused on autobiographical memory-writing
Writing memories can change our perception of how life was. Feelings we might feel somewhat estranged from in this state of locked-up “half-living”, such as shame, desire, joy and loss are mediated through the temporal distance from our ‘other selves’. In this session, by looking at different writers’ approaches to memory-writing, we will experiment with what it means to remember. How do we write our past selves?
The way memories feel might change over time: seen from a distance, we can put memories into their political, class or cultural context, like scattered pieces of a puzzle.
Hosted by Ida Blom
from The Happening
CRIP-TIME: BENDING THE CLOCK
“Crip time is flex time not just expanded but exploded; it requires re-imagining our notions of what can and should happen in time, or recognizing how expectations of 'how long things take' are based on very particular minds and bodies. Rather than bend disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds." Alison Kafer
In this session, we will think through the notion of ‘Crip Time’. Our brains and bodies all process and understand time in different ways, but for some people there is a heightened disparity between theirs and “regular” (often ableist) visions of time in daily life. In a culture where productivity and an attitude of “getting stuff done” is also a measure of self-worth, it’s important to recognise how these feed into and perpetuate the pathologization of people with disabilities. Being late, not finishing, sleeping too much or at irregular hours all spring from the same rigid and exclusionary sense that time is organised and experienced by everybody in the same way.
Hosted by Elisa Grasso
Feminist Queer Crip
Six ways of looking at crip time
The value of 'crip time': Discarding notions of productivity and guilt, to listen to the rhythms of our bodies
ATTENTION IS THE BEGINNING OF DEVOTION
“Understand from the first this certainty. Butterflies don’t write books, neither do lilies or violets. Which doesn’t mean they don’t know, in their own way, what they are. That they don’t know they are alive–that they don’t feel, that action upon which all consciousness sits, lightly or heavily. Humility is the prize of the leaf-world. Vainglory is the bane of us, the humans.”
– Mary Oliver, Upstream (2016)
the reading list for the upcoming reading group is late because we are tired – permanently and infinitely tired. and it was in this spirit that we were motivated to gather the materials for this month’s theme. not so much a response to our exhaustion, but an invitation to tune ourselves out from the conditions that are responsible for our fatigue, and listen instead to something else, to the ecological bio-regions and more-than-human world.
the session will be gentle; we will read together in the first half, and prepare some writing prompts for some exercises in multispecies storytelling in the second half.
Hosted by Georgie Sinclair and Jo Kali
The Mushroom at the End of the World
On Interspecies Humility
Notes of a Bioregional Interloper
KISS ME THRU THE PHONE
In this session, we will explore and challenge the potential for technology to facilitate care and intimacy. In a time we all know as ~The Information Age~ our lives have become increasingly mediated through digital technologies. After the outbreak of COVID-19, we retreated on-mass to screens and devices in order to stay connected during isolation. Across landscapes of corporate surveillance, exploitation, and algorithmic control our interactions with loved ones are disembodied, fragmented, and compressed into computational code. Whilst this might feel like cause for refusal, it’s also an opportunity to rethink how we make and sustain connections. What role can technology play in transmitting non-verbal communication? How deep can our digital bonds and romances go? Can we repurpose virtual spaces as sites of healing and care? Using the set texts as guidance, we will attempt to unpack matters around intimacy and speculate on alternative uses for the Internet beyond its techno-capitalist constraints.
Hosted by Georgie Sinclair and Jo Kali
Intimacy: A Special Issue
A Drop of Love In The Cloud
Musings on A Drop of Love In The Cloud
passage from Time Is The Thing A Body Moves Through
Intimacy And Its Discontents
Speaking In Tongues
Sarah Nicole Prickett
Seeing Relationships And Bodies Through Screens
Emily van der Nagel
The Desktop: A Place Where Writing Happens
Technologies of Care
Elisa Giardina Papa
this is a really big topic, not only in how much of our lives it seems to take up (especially if you subscribe to a limited view of education as merely a step for us getting work), it’s also our (social and personal) structure and routine, it’s capitalism, it’s how we survive in this world, it’s the time we have, it’s the economy, it’s our value, it’s what is valued by us.
Silvia Federici, a marxist feminist that we’ve explored before in the theme of witches, founded the WAGES FOR HOUSEWORK campaign in 1972 which drove debates around social reproduction and gendered aspects of labour.
In tandem with Federici it’s important to read from Angela Davis’s WOMEN RACE AND CLASS. In the chapter we’ve chosen, Angela Davis, a political activist and Black marxist feminist, critiques the women’s liberation movement for being run by and for white middle class women, to the exclusion of Black women, other women of colour and other social classes.
Kathi Weeks, another marxist feminist (not at all sorry!) wrote THE PROBLEM WITH WORK, a book in which she argues not for the reform but for the refusal of work.
Sophie Lewis, a feminist geographer and abolitionist wrote FULL SURROGACY NOW (argues that all gestation is labour). We have two talks to choose from, first WAGES FOR WOMBWORK where she asks “what role might automation play in a gestator-led struggle in and against the whiteness-reproducing work of capitalist babymaking?” and the second option is MOTHERING AGAINST THE WORLD where Lewis discusses the topics in her book.
Thinking about terms such as LABOUR. WAGES. REPRODUCTION. ECONOMY. VALUE. PROFESSION. DOMESTIC WORK. TRADE.
Wages For Housework
Women Race And Class
The Problem With Work
Full Surrogacy Now
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 reading group, occasional publisher, and alternative learning space. We believe learning (and unlearning) is relational and refuse hierarchical pedagogical practices. As such, our core activity, a monthly reading group, is organised by and with our members, who prepare the reading lists and host the sessions guided by their personal or professional interests. Topics have dissected genres such as sci-fi, auto-theory, ecological interdependence, crip time, sickness & disability, autobiographical memory writing, failure, digital intimacy, and much more. Striking a balance between a reading group and a workshop, we aspire to initiate collective discussion and reflection and trouble normative frameworks whilst prioritising community and care.
If you're interested in joining the group please email and introduce yourself at email@example.com (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 for 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.