The engagement between literature and cinema in the 1930s
Second World War lives and literature
Anglo-German cultural and medical exchange during and after the Second World War
Modernist and Second World War Literature
Dr Lara Feigel's research is centred on literature in the late modernist period, focusing particularly on the 1930s and the Second World War. Much of her work is interdisciplinary and she reads literature alongside film and fine-art. Her monograph entitled Literature, Cinema, Politics, 1930-1945, Reading Between the Frames (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) tells the story that unfolded between 1920s cinematic modernism and postwar cinematic neorealism, exploring the rise and fall of a distinct genre of politically committed, cinematic literature. While it was not possible directly to transfer the techniques of the screen to the page any more than it was possible to 'go over' to the working classes, the attempts nonetheless reveal a fascinating intersection of the visual and the verbal, the political and the aesthetic. The 1930s is also the decade at the heart of Modernism on Sea, a collection of essays co-edited with Alexandra Harris which explores the role of the seaside in literature, fine art and film in the modernist period and beyond (Peter Lang, 2009).
Dr Feigel has recently completed a group biography of five writers (Elizabeth Bowen, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay and Hilde Spiel) in Second World War London and postwar London, Ireland, Austria and Germany. Provisionally entitled A Burning World, this is forthcoming with Bloomsbury in 2013. Moving month by month through the war, the book follows the intertwined lives of these writers, telling the story of the war and then the postwar period through their eyes.
Dr Feigel's next book will explore Anglo-German networks during and after the Second World War, focusing on the role of the British in the literary, cultural and medical reconstruction of Germany (through official governmental activities, private initiatives and through the activities of International PEN and Unesco).
The Medical Humanities
Dr Feigel is a member of the Centre for the Humanities and Health and convenes the MSc in Medical Humanities. Her research in the medical humanities can be split into two areas: the body in the Second World War and the role of medicine in postwar reconstruction in Britain and Germany. As part of her work on Anglo-German exchange, Dr Feigel is planning to write an article on the role of the British in the medical reconstruction of Germany. She is also interested in the relationship between literary and medical approaches to consciousness. Together with Lisa Appignanesi she is currently conducting a project called the 'Brain and the Mind', funded by a Wellcome People Award, which interrogates contemporary neurological conceptions of the mind by bringing together neuroscientists, psychologists, psychoanalysts and writers, artists and philosophers to discuss topics including brain gender, autism, empathy and memory. The core of this project will be six panel discussions and associated workshops which will take place between September 2012 and May 2013. These will then form the basis for an edited book and a documentary film.
Dr Feigel is an active member of the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s and has recently organised two series of panel discussions for the Centre. The first, entitled 'Dissecting the Self', held in the newly refurbished Old Anatomy Theatre at King’s, brought together speakers including Lisa Appignanesi, Michael Frayn, Eva Hoffmann, Hilary Mantel, Stephen Romer and Fay Weldon to explore the role of autobiography in contemporary society. The second, entitled 'Picturing the Self' and held at the National Portrait Gallery, explored the relationship between portraiture and self-portraiture and biography and autobiography and brought together the artists Dryden Goodwin, Maggi Hambling, Andrew Kotting, Michael Landy and George Shaw, the biographer Michael Holroyd, the composer Michael Berkeley, the writers Peter Conrad, Geoff Dyer and Alexandra Harris, the actress Fiona Shaw, and the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips.
Dr Feigel has a research interest in the diary form and has co-edited the New Selected Journals of Stephen Spender (with John Sutherland, Faber, 2012). She is also interested in group biography as a genre and is planning to organise a symposium on group biography in 2013. Dr Feigel is engaged with the European community of life-writing researchers and has initiated a series of ongoing collaborations between life-writing researchers from the English department at King’s and the English department at the Humboldt University in Berlin. This has resulted in a workshop and a conference (funded by the DAAD) and will result in another conference and an edited collection - a joint grant application is planned in the longer term.