Category Archives: Long Read

The Plague Lit Pod: Reflections on New Radio, Learning in Lockdown, and Global Pandemic

by Mike Collins

Mike Collins recently developed, recorded, edited, and hosted a three-part podcast series called the Plague Lit Pod, with contributions from Dr. Jon Day, Dr. Kelina Gotman, and Dr. Emrys Jones on the subject of the relationship between literature and pandemics. The podcast is available through Spotify. Here, he reflects on the history of podcasting, his personal experience of the form, and how he intends to use it in future in research and teaching. Dr. Collins has previously published online on fiction podcasting at Alluvium and in collaboration with Danielle Barrios-O’Neill (Falmouth) for the journal Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 

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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.
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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.

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Ronald Moody: Between Concrete and Wood

To celebrate the English Department’s acquisition of Val Wilmer’s portrait of Ronald Moody, Luke Roberts reflects on the life and work of the Jamaican sculptor and KCL alumnus.

For us history was the carrier of no absolutes and conformed to no overarching scriptural commandments. Nothing was ever codified as having its correct place and time. In a suitably paradoxical formulation, displacement moved to the centre.
– Stuart Hall[1]

Val Wilmer, Portrait of Ronald Moody (1963) © Val Wilmer.

In Val Wilmer’s portrait of Ronald Moody the artist sits framed by two sculptures: the carved wooden head Tacet (1938) and the concrete and fibreglass figure The Man (1958). He holds a pipe in his left hand, gently resting on his right. His eyes are fixed on something out of shot. Although nothing in this picture returns our gaze, everything holds it. It’s a study of texture and material, balance and weight: the heavy fabric of his sweater, the flesh of the hands and the human face, the greying beard, the exposed brickwork of the studio wall, the concrete phallus, the dome of the skull, triangles of newspaper and just-visible handkerchief, light moving in and out of darkness. Moody himself is the centre of gravity, but it’s a restless centre.

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