Arts & Humanities Festival 2014
The ‘underground’ has been irresistibly fascinating to the human mind.
As geological fact it has offered shelter in caves; precious minerals; the terrors of quicksand and volcanoes; the residues of prehistoric time, evolution, earlier civilisations.
Our cultures have used it to bury the dead; to organize our urban flows of water, waste, power, and transport; to dispose of the toxic; or to dig in during wartime, in foxholes, trenches, dugouts, air-raid shelters.
The underground is also a potent cultural and political metaphor. The underworld has been imagined as the realm of the dead. It also suggests the hidden underside of ordered society: criminality, gangs, vice; but also the exploited: the trafficked; slaves; sweat-shop workers; the underclass. It captures ideas of the black market, illegal immigration, addiction.
It has served as a metaphor of mind; for the unconscious, the repressed. But the underground is also a site of resistance to social repression: where freedom is forced to hide. Underground literature, film, music, creates a space for the counter-cultural and for protest. With ‘fracking’ in the news, we are reminded of the eco-politics of the underground, as well as of the atmosphere and the oceans. The underground is the site of growth and decomposition; of worms as well as roots.
The Festival touched on many of these aspects. The First World War was an important emphasis, given the centenary of its beginning, and how much of it was experienced underground. We will draw on the spaces beneath the Strand, not just in King’s but also neighbouring sites including tube stations (used for bomb shelters in WW2) churches and archaeological sites. The Festival will include presentations of research on many aspects of the cultures of underground, from archaeology or mining to the imagination of the subterranean, in music, literature, philosophy, politics, history and religion.
Throughout the Festival
Wednesday 15 October
Thursday 16 October
Friday 17 October
Saturday 18 October
Sunday 19 October
Monday 20 October
Tuesday 21 October
Wednesday 22 October
Thursday 23 October
Friday 24 October
From a folly in the Quad to burlesque dancing, music in the Aldwych tube station to comedy performances and talks, check out our photo gallery of highlights from the Festival:
We have collated our favourite comments and conversations about the Festival on Twitter using Storify: