Dr Sebastian Matzner
The saintly Christian soldier and the ultimate ‘bad emperor’ occupy a prominent place in the imaginary of men that wrestle with hegemonic masculinity. In their heavily gender roles, both pose a challenge to (hetero)normative masculinity: Sebastian by conforming to, but amending normative masculinity from a position of embraced disempowerment, revalorizing his passive suffering as arrows rain down on him; Heliogabalus by ostentatious gender-bending and self-determined disregard for tradition from a position of absolute power.
Both are eventually killed by the Praetorian guard, both have their bodies dumped in Rome's sewers—and both go on to become icons of queer masculinities in afterlives that range from appearances in Thomas Mann's Tod in Venedig (‘Death in Venice’) and Yukio Mishima's Kamen no Kokuhaku (‘Confessions of a Mask’) to dedicated works like Antonine Artaud’s Héliogabale, ou l’anarchiste couronné (‘Heliogabalus, or the Crowned Anarchist') and Derek Jarman's Sebastiane.
Dr Sebastian Matzner's project unfolds the remarkable story of how two late antique figures became global queer icons. A planned monograph, inspired in form and approach by Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, will scrutinize them as contrapuntal models for dissident masculinities and crystallization points for reflections on male bodies and desire, aestheticism and power, self-determination and abjection, offering timely new insights into histories and strategies of countercultural male self-fashioning.
This project ties in with doctoral research in the Department of Comparative Literature— Hannah Burke-Tomlinson, ‘The Body Poetic: Masculinity and Metapoetics in Latin Love Elegy and English Romantic Lyric’, and Rioghnach Sachs, ‘The Sapphic Mode: Lesbian Fluidity and the Classical Tradition’.
It is conducted in association with the Queer@King’s research centre under whose auspices a series of academic and public events related to the project are planned.
A team led by Dr Sanja Perovic (Department of French) has been awarded an AHRC Standard Grant of c.£1 million to carry out an interdisciplinary research programme which aims to develop a broad comparative framework for understanding the circulation of radical texts between Britain, France and Italy in the revolutionary period.
Dr Perovic is joined by Co-Investigators Professor Erica Mannucci (University of Milan-Bicocca) and Dr Rosa Mucignat (King’s College London, Comparative Literature) and a team of translators, creative practitioners, members of the King’s Digital Lab and 2 postdoctoral researchers to be based at King’s College London.
This collaborative project will provide the first comparative study of the translation and circulation of democratic and free-thinking texts between Italy,France and Britain during the French Revolution and Napoleonic era. It will enhance public and academic awareness of the role of translation as an integral element of the revolutionary project, and investigate how translation makes it possible for radical works to be 'living texts' that continually move forward into new communities, new places, and new times.
The project will create substantial research outputs including an open-access database of c. 400 radical translations and biographical information on c. 50-75 militant translators. Research activities will be complemented by a series of public events, translation workshops and performances involving students, translators, and focus groups to test the hypothesis that political radicalism is a shared European heritage still capable of generating new understandings and meanings today.
Professor Javed Majeed
The Linguistic Survey of India (1894-1928) remains one of the most complete accounts of Indian languages to date. Professor Javed Majeed’s Nation and Region in the Linguistic Survey of India (Routledge 2018) examines how Indian activists interacted with the Survey to define India’s regional languages. It highlights how the Survey played an important role in the emergence of religious nationalism and language conflict in 20th century India.
Professor Majeed's other book on the Survey, Colonialism and Knowledge in the Linguistic Survey of India (also Routledge 2018), shows how Indians collaborated with the Survey to produce knowledge about India’s languages. It argues that the Survey’s relationship to colonial power was ambiguous and fragile, and it frequently called attention to its gaps and mistakes. Its rigour rested on this acknowledgment of its failings, rather than on any celebration of its successes.
Dr Zoe Norridge
In April 2014 King’s marked the twentieth commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda with a photography exhibition reflecting on life in Rwanda today. It was curated by King’s College London's Dr Zoe Norridge (English & Comparative Literature) and Dr Mark Sealy MBE, Director of Autograph ABP. We asked visitors “How do you see Rwanda?” – inviting them to reflect on their mental images of the country and how those images had been formed.
Internationally circulating photographs of Rwanda still tend to be taken by visiting photographers. Our exhibition complicated this narrative by showing photographs of life today by ten Rwandan photographers, including Jean Bizimana, John Mbanda, Mussa Uwitonze and Jacqueline Rutagarama.
The exhibition was accompanied by a series of events featuring: a genocide commemoration in King’s College Chapel; discussion panels about justice, politics and culture; and the UK première of Ery Nzaramba’s play Split/Mixed.
The Rwanda in Photographs exhibition and events were supported by the AHRC (£44k) and the Cultural Institute at King’s. The work grew out of Zoe Norridge’s ongoing research on cultural responses to genocide and drew on an earlier AHRC grant exploring international conceptions of Translating Freedom lead by Paul Gready at the University of York.
It has since grown into two new projects: Children of Political Violence, exploring artistic work from Argentina, Rwanda and Northern Ireland; and Dr Norridge’s more recent AHRC Leadership Fellowship, Stories From Rwanda: Academic, Creative, Applied.
[Images selected from those featurered in the exhibition; used with permission.]
Dr Anna Bernard
The crisis in Israel/Palestine has long been the world’s most visible military conflict. Yet the region’s cultural and intellectual life remains all but unknown to most foreign observers. Dr Anna Bernard's book Rhetorics of Belonging: Nation, Narration, and Israel/Palestine (2013) redresses this gap by examining the ways in which internationally circulated Palestinian and Israeli writers have responded to the expectation that they will ‘narrate’ the nation. The book works towards a relational literary history of Palestine/Israel, and contributes to emerging links between Middle Eastern studies and postcolonial literary studies.
The work for this project was funded by doctoral awards at the University of Cambridge and a University of York Anniversary Lectureship in 2010-11. Dr Bernard also participated in a number of related public events, including audience Q&As at plays and film screenings, public reading groups, and an ESRC-funded think tank preparing a presentation to the Scottish Parliament.
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