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Patrick Wright FBA

Patrick Wright FBA

  • Emeritus staff

Emeritus Professor of Literature, Culture and Politics


Professor Patrick Wright joined King’s in September 2011, having previously been Professor of Modern Cultural Studies at Nottingham Trent University and, from 2004, a fellow of the London Consortium. Before 2000, Professor Wright lived for many years as a self-employed writer. While researching and writing books, he also worked as a journalist (including a five year spell as a feature writer with the Guardian), and as a broadcaster, writing and presenting radio and television documentaries for the BBC and Channel Four. These included a four-part television history of the Thames (“The River”, BBC2, 1999). Patrick also presented BBC Radio Three’s Arts programme “Night Waves” over a period of approximately five years.

Patrick started out with an interest in modernist poetics, which he studied as a post-graduate student in Vancouver, and has since concentrated on exploring the broader material influence of various cultural (if not always literary) forms in the modern period. Patrick has written about the changing concept of heritage, the idea of China as it has featured in the British imagination, the literary origins and symbolic powers of the tank, and the development of the “Iron Curtain” as a divisive political metaphor that actually started out in the theatre.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • The cultural dimension of modern politics and international relations: narratives, metaphors and other symbolic devices
  • Englishness and the ongoing reconfiguration of the British state; wider question of national cultures as they stand in relation to cosmopolitanism and globalization
  • Heritage, identity, and the modern experience of historicity
  • The literature of place: settlement and mobility
  • London’s East

Patrick is presently engaged in two research projects. The first, which follows from his collaboration with the film maker Patrick Keiller, is concerned with English identity, and its forms and sources over the modern period. This reviews the ways in which various thinkers, including Cobbett, GK Chesterton, Tolkien and the historian EP Thompson, have set out to rally an idea of England against various forms of advancing modernity. The second extends Professor Wright's previous investigations into the cultures of East London, and, in particular, the Jewish East End, with which he was closely concerned when preparing Penguin Modern Classics’ edition of Emanuel Litvinoff’s Journey Through A Small Planet.

Patrick  welcomes enquiries from prospective students interested in conducting doctorate research in subjects close to his areas of expertise and research interests. For more details, please see Patrick's full research profile.


Patrick currently teaches on the following courses:

Postgraduate Modules:

Modernity and the City (MA English 1850 - Present)

During 2012 Professor Wright has been lecturing occasionally on various courses for the English undergraduate degree.

He is also developing two new courses: one examining the idea of Culture and its transformation since the late 19th century; the other concerning Melancholia, an ancient “humour” that has persisted into our time as a distinctive artistic and literary perspective.


16 April 2015

Uwe Johnson's secret life

Professor Patrick Wright will appear on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday with a programme that uncovers the…