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…
Continue reading Summer Events with the Department of English Research Strands
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.
Continue reading “A colossal accident”: Reflections on Discovering Faulkner at KCL
By Samantha Seto
In Edith Wharton’s American novels, the heroines are part of the French aristocratic milieu. The American expatriates, Undine Spragg and Anna Leath, are situated in France and characterized by attributes that suggest French influence through literary elements such as narration and dialogue in The Custom of the Country (1913) and The Reef (1912). Wharton reveals an implicit feminism in a patriarchal society and thematic marital relations drive the plot, which indicates the conventional role for women dedicated to the social traditions of the aristocracy. The French have their own code of manners in society, idealised aesthetic of female beauty, and their honour resides in the social expectations of probity. In my narratological analysis of character identity, French cultural norms and the common French aesthetic blends into the portrayal of the primary female characters. Wharton interweaves a French theme into the narratives which shape the portraits representing aristocratic women and particularly their romantic conflicts that arise at the turn of the century. In the novels, Wharton establishes heroines characterised by attributes that belong to the French aristocracy.
Continue reading The Female Character and French Aristocracy in Edith Wharton’s ‘The Custom of the Country’ and ‘The Reef’
By Goh Wei Hao
Written during a different time, when the world was consumed by another virus, the themes of The Normal Heart remain extraordinarily relevant in today’s world.
The play is set in New York City, and takes place over a span four years in the 1980s — during the early days of the HIV epidemic when the virus did not yet have a name. It is centred around the writer Ned Weeks and the gay health advocacy group that he helped to establish along with closeted banker Bruce Niles, the free love advocate Mickey Marcus, and the self-described “Southern bitch,” Tommy Boatwright. Also part of this ragtag group is Dr Emma Brookner who pushes the group to campaign harder for their voices and her advice to be heard by the community.
After watching the 2021-revival of Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical play, a question lingers in my mind: What does it mean to be a moral gay man?
Continue reading ‘The Normal Heart’ and the Morality of Being Gay
By Sophie Roell and Patrick Wright
Sophie: Through careful research and compelling argument, the books shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding cast light on globally significant problems, says Patrick Wright, chair of the 2021 jury and Emeritus Professor of Literature, History and Politics at King’s College London. Here he talks us through the books that made the 2021 shortlist as well as last year’s winner, works of nonfiction that “speak directly to the urgent challenges of the times in which we live”.
Continue reading The 2021 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, Recommended by Patrick Wright