All posts by George Kowalik

Summer Events with the Department of English Research Strands

By George Kowalik

In 2022, the organisation of research in the department has changed slightly. Meeting in the department’s weekly research hour (Wednesdays from 12.30-13.30, on Microsoft Teams) as well as during events organised by the research strand leads, the following research strands form the current structure of research interests amongst King’s staff and PGRs:

In addition to the regular departmental research hour sessions, the new research strands have also organised a variety of exciting events this summer. Below is a full guide to everything coming up…

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“A colossal accident”: Reflections on Discovering Faulkner at KCL

By Ahmed Honeini

KCL alumnus Dr Ahmed Honeini discusses his formative experience first reading William Faulkner ten years ago, alongside the state of Faulkner Studies in the UK today.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, James Gatz, “a penniless young man without a past,” finds himself in the house of his love Daisy Fay “by a colossal accident.” The Great Gatsby has been one of my favourite books since high school. In 2012, as a second-year English with Film Studies undergraduate at King’s College London, I took the module “Twentieth Century American Fiction, 1900-1945: Realisms and Modernisms” for the sole purpose of rereading and studying Fitzgerald’s masterwork at university level. I am ashamed to admit that I did not have much of an interest in American literature at that point; aside from Fitzgerald, my literary infatuations at the time were early modern drama and European modernism. However, on that same American fiction module, I discovered the work of William Faulkner, and specifically his 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury, “a colossal accident” which was to change the course of my professional and personal life.

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New Book Releases: ‘Irish London: A Cultural History 1850-1916’

By Richard Kirkland

Written by Professor of Irish Literature & Cultural Theory Richard Kirkland, Irish London: A Cultural History 1850-1916 was published by Bloomsbury in September 2021, and has a paperback release forthcoming in 2022.

What drew you to this subject?

I’ve always written about Irish culture – it’s been my life really – and in the area of Camden where I live the history of Irish London is inescapable and compelling. So I hoped the book would be a way of connecting my research interests with my day-to-day experience and the friends I have here. I’ve also thought a good deal about London itself over the years, partly because it is such a strong research and teaching area in the English department. In fact, so many of the events I describe in the book happened within a few hundred yards of what is now the Virginia Woolf Building!

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New Book Releases: ‘Samuel Beckett’s Legacies in American Fiction’

By James Baxter

Written by London-based independent scholar James Baxter, Samuel Beckett’s Legacies in American Fiction: Problems in Postmodernism was published by Palgrave Macmillan in December 2021, as part of their series ‘New Interpretations of Beckett in the Twenty First Century.’

What drew you to this subject?

At the outset, I think it was an intuited connection between a lot of the fiction that I was reading and enjoying at the time; Beckett of course, but also American writers like Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Thomas Pynchon, etc. A lot of headache-inducing postmodern stuff. While there is certainly no shortage of scholarship on Beckett’s relation to the more theoretical body of postmodernism, I was quite struck by the absence of any sustained work on literary postmodernism and the way Beckett skewers the work of periodisation by serving as an end but also a beginning for this new paradigm (not unlike the kind of stalled narrative sequences that a reader encounters in his mid-century Trilogy).

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Tracing the Legacy of William Blake

By James Carney

Second-year English Literature and Classics student and Gale Ambassador James Carney reflects on ‘Tracing the Legacy of William Blake with British Literary Manuscripts Online’, his recent piece published in The Gale Review.

Writing this article on William Blake finally satisfied an itch that I held for quite a long time in the most effective way possible. Over the course of my studies, Blake’s name had hung in the background as some sort of enigmatic shadow that I would encounter later, when I was ready. In my A-Level English Literature class on Christina Rossetti and the pre-Raphaelites, his influence lingered but was never explicitly discussed. As I progressed to university, this ghostly influence became even more pronounced – from thematic parallels in works like J.M. Barrie’s to the shared cultural context of romanticism in studies of Wordsworth, I felt like I was gradually honing in on this mysterious figure. So, when Gale commissioned me to write an article using their British Literary Manuscripts Online, I knew exactly where my interest lay.

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