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16 May 2019

Executive Dean of the Faculty gives inaugural lecture

Professor Marion Thain, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities spoke on poetic form and how the arts link to a wider political conversation in 'The Politics of Decoration: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Poetic Form'.

Marion Thain inaugural lecture
Professor Marion Thain gives her inaugural King's College London lecture.

On Thursday 16 May, Professor Marion Thain, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities gave her Inaugural Lecture at the Safra Lecture Theatre in King’s College London to a room full of students, colleagues and staff members in the Faculty.

The lecture entitled, The Politics of Decoration: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Poetic Form uncovers a surprising politics of pattern. In the talk, Professor Marion Thain argues poetic verse forms highly stylized patterns, are at the heart of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and socialism.

During a wide-ranging and engaging talk, Professor Marion Thain touched on issues pertaining to culture, nationhood and how the arts are indelibly linked to the wider political conversation. The lecture was introduced by Frans Berkhout, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy and Professor of Environment, Society and Climate and Evelyn Welch, Professor of Renaissance Studies, Provost & Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences).


Professor Marion Thain has had an almost life-long interest in poetry, having begun composing her own at the age of 6. By the age of nine she [Marion] considered her best work done, wrote up her collected poems in a hardbacked notebook, and turned her attention to other creative pursuits."

Professor Welch

Despite 'retiring’ from the composition game rather early, Professor Marion Thain went on to read and study poetry in institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. And so, several years, countries and academic positions later, members of the inaugural lecture were treated to an overview of a lifetime's passion for poetry and poetic forms.

Professor Marion Thain has published five books, numerous essays and journal articles, and won awards for her research in the US and the UK. She is just beginning a new research project inspired in part by her experiences of living in New York City where she was Professor of Arts & Literature and Director of Digital Humanities at NYU.

Primarily interested in all the ways that poetry creates meaning outside of language, and all the ways we encounter poetry that are extra-linguistic, Marion is particularly attracted to the paradoxes of life and literature. Now as Professor of Literature & Culture, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, she is starting a new phase of her life and work."

Professor Evelyn Welch

Following the talk, a vote of thanks was given by John Henderson, Professor of Italian Renaissance History at Birkbeck, before the speakers and the audience adjourned for a drinks reception.


The lecture was followed by a discussion-rich drinks reception.
The lecture was followed by a discussion-rich drinks reception.

For further information about the inaugural lecture, please click here.

In this story

Marion Thain

Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Frans Berkhout

Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability)