All posts by Harriet Thompson

Statement of Solidarity with BAME Students from Department of English

At a time when our English Department community is already facing the challenges caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also want to reflect and act on recent events in the US and the UK surrounding police brutality, institutional racism, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The whole UK university sector, including King’s, needs to address issues such as the BAME awarding gap, the continuing presence of Prevent on our campuses, the need to decolonise the curriculum, the lack of people of colour in permanent faculty positions and leadership positions, and the level of surveillance and oppression faced by BAME students.

As an English Department, we want to stand together to work in solidarity towards racial liberation and we also want to do what we can to provide resources to centre these issues for our students.
Below is a list of various resources that we hope will provide support for those of you who have already been dealing with the impacts of racism or white supremacy directly, and information for those of you who are engaging with these issues in newer ways.


  1. Below is a list of some texts that centre black lives, including black joy, black excellence, and black struggles:
  • Butterfly Fish, Irenosen Okojie
  • Surge, Jay Bernard
  • Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
  • Jazz, Toni Morrison
  • Selected Poems, Danez Smith
  • Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far, Stormzy
  • Soul Tourists, Bernardine Evaristo
  • Selected Poems, June Jordan
  • Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin
  • NW, Zadie Smith
  • Burgerz, Travis Alabanza
  • That Reminds Me, Derek Owusu

2.   Some specific support for people of colour:

3.   Below is a list of some texts that engage with the multiplicity of issues that are central to the concerns and demands of the   #BlackLivesMatter movement:

4.    Additional Resources for white folks:

This is a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources. The goal is to facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work. These resources have been ordered here in an attempt to make them more accessible.

“Staying in your own emotional lane while waking up to racial injustice: A list of self-reflection prompts for white people who are coming to the work now and want to do it better by our very own Dr Jane Elliott.


Featured Image: Alisdare Hickson (Creative Commons License)

Techno-heartache: Reflections on the Telepoetics Symposium

by Imogen Free
Imogen Free is a first year PhD student at King’s College London, researching modernist women’s writing, sound technology and the politics of aurality (1930-1956).

One note held her ears through the hollow thunder of traffic: in shells of buildings the whirr of unanswered telephones. They were insistent
Elizabeth Bowen, To the North

In these ‘unprecedented’ times, I’ve been surprised to discover how much I’ve missed the postgraduate research community at King’s. I miss the distinctly un-academic chatter in our research room, sharing coffee with my supervisor, and the strange charm of the floppy triangles of sandwich, with beige fillings of unidentifiable flavour and lukewarm, headache-inducing wine after conferences. Sandwiches aside, it’s been a period in which we’ve been reflecting on how our institutions can support their students and staff and it’s been a lonely, uncertain, distressing time for many reasons other than the pandemic. But I have also been fortunate enough to participate in some of the changes the research community have had to make in order to stay in contact and find modes of communion with one another, as we become ever more reliant on the medium of telecommunication.

Continue reading Techno-heartache: Reflections on the Telepoetics Symposium

Erasing History? Colston in Bristol

by Brian Murray, Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature, King’s College London

The toppling of the statue of slave trader and MP Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol on 7th June has led to a predictable wave of outrage at the ‘erasure of history’. But what kinds of history might a statue be said to embody or project? The Colston statue was 125 years old. But it is also an idealised late-Victorian representation of seventeenth-century subject (unveiled 174 years after Colston’s death). What did Colston mean to Bristolians in 1895? Contemporary reports of the statue’s erection in the Bristol Mercury – accessed via the British Library Newspapers database – offer a glimpse of the new monument at its first unveiling.
Continue reading Erasing History? Colston in Bristol

Everyone Knows How to Fix a Bike Apart From Me

by Freya Thursfield

Freya is 19 and in their second year of undergraduate study in the English Department at King’s College London. They’re from London, but grew up between the UK, Lithuania and China. 

I don’t cry until the valve cap on my bike’s front inner tube snaps off in my hand, at which point I stand in a deserted street next to a public bike pump and sob for about five minutes. I had been coping with a global pandemic very well, but now being an adult has crept up on me and I am unprepared. This bike is also my only way of getting to work, which I need to do in less than 24 hours. The chain is so rusted I’m not sure it’ll turn even if I get the inner tube fixed. I don’t have a new inner tube, or the equipment to replace it at home, or the skills, or the energy, the way an adult would.

Continue reading Everyone Knows How to Fix a Bike Apart From Me

Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe

by Max Saunders, Professor of English at King’s College London

Max Saunders shares the story behind the exhibition Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe which was due to open at The Arcade at Bush House in March 2020. The exhibition had to close to early due to COVID-19, but is now available to view online.

When my step-father, the painter Alfred Cohen died in 2001, my mother, Diana Cohen, and I decided that rather than having a funeral or memorial service, which he’d have hated, we’d celebrate his life with a memorial exhibition in his studio instead. As I started tracking down his earlier work for the show I became fascinated with how different it had been and how many different but equally engaging styles and techniques he had evolved. He was a much more versatile and mercurial artist than I’d realised.

Continue reading Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe