Lockdown Cultures

The arts and humanities in the year of the pandemic, 2020-21

Edited by Stella Bruzzi and Maurice Biriotti


ISBN: 9781800083424

Publication: October 03, 2022

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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Lockdown Cultures is both a cultural response to our extraordinary times and a manifesto for the arts and humanities and their role in our post-pandemic society.

This book offers a unique response to the question of how the humanities have responded to the dominant crisis of our times: the Covid-19 pandemic. While the role of engineers, epidemiologists and, of course, medics is assumed, Lockdown Cultures illustrates some of the ways in which the humanities understood and analysed 2020–21, the year of lockdown and plague. Though the impulse behind the book was topical, underpinning the richly varied and individual essays is a lasting concern with the value of the humanities in the twenty-first century. Each contributor approaches this differently but there are two dominant strands: how art and culture can help us understand the Covid crisis; and how the value of the humanities can be demonstrated by engaging with cultural products from the past.

The result is a book that serves as testament to the humanities’ reinvigorated and reforged sense of identity, from the perspective of UCL, one of the leading arts and humanities faculties in the world. It bears witness to a globally impactful event while showcasing interdisciplinary thinking and examining how the pandemic has changed how we read, watch, write and educate. More than thirty individual contributions collectively reassert the importance of the arts and humanities for contemporary society.

Stella Bruzzi, FBA is Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCL. Maurice Biriotti is Professor of Applied Humanities at UCL.

List of Figures
List of Contributors


Part I: Politics

1 ‘Give me liberty or death’.
Lee Grieveson
2 Translating Covid-19 information into Yiddish for the Montreal-area Hasidic community.
Lily Kahn, Zoë Belk, Kriszta Eszter Szendrői, and Sonya Yampolskaya
3 Shakespeare and the plague of productivity.
Harvey Wiltshire
4 Decolonial option and the end of the world
Izabella Wodzka
5 Community building and creative practice within UK DIY cultures during Covid-19.
Kirsty Fife
6 Now are we cyborgs? Affinities and technology in the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Emily Baker and Annie Ring

Part II: History

7 Pathogens in ancient Mesopotamia.
Markham J. Geller
8 Producing and accepting new knowledge in Jens Bjørneboe’s Semmelweis (1968).
Elettra Carbone
9 Ethnic Germans in Britain 1914–18.
Matthias J.Gronau
10 Withdrawn and still engaged: Cicero.
Gesine Manuwald
11 The Gallic Sack of Rome
Elizabeth McKnight
12 On Spinalonga
Panayiota Christodoulidou

Part III: Performance, identity and the screen

13 ‘The thing itself’
Alexander Samson
14 Towards a new history: The corona-seminar and the drag king virus.
Helena Fallstrom
15 ‘In spite of the tennis’: Beckett’s sporting apocalypse’
Sam Caleb
16 Screening dislocated despair: Projecting the neoliberal left-behinds in 100 Flowers Hidden Deep
Nashuyuan Serenity Wang
17 A digital film for digital times: Some lockdown thoughts on Gravity.
Stephen M. Hart
18 The Great Plague: London’s Dreaded Visitation, 1665
Justin Hardy 

Part IV: Literature and writing

19 Lessons for lockdown from Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain
Jennifer Rushworth
20 The locked room: On reading crime fiction during the Covid-19 pandemic
Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen
21 The weight of the shrinking world.
Florian Mussgnug
22 A voice-mail lyric for a discipline in crisis: On Ben Lerner’s ‘The Media’
Matthew James Holman
23 20,000 leagues under confinement.
Patrick Bray
24 Reflections on Guixiu literary cultures in East Asia
Tzu-Yu Lin

Part V: Personal reflections

25 At home
Annika Lindskog
26 Lockdown cultures: A room of one’s own
Naomi Siderfin
27 Historical dreaming
Adelais Mills
28 In pursuit of blandness: On re-reading Jullien’s In Praise of Blandness during lockdown
Emily Furnell
29 Blinded Lights: Going viral during the Covid-19 pandemic
Sarah Moore

Part VI: Visual responses

30 Morphologies of agents of the pandemic
David Burrows and SMRU (The Social Morphologies Research Unit) (Martin Holbraad, John Cussans, Kelly Fagan Robinson, Melanie Jackson, Dean Kenning, Inigo Minns, Lucy Sames, Hermione Spriggs, Mary Yacoob)
31 Wildfire
John Thomson and Alison Craighead
32 Gospel Oak
Sharon Morris
33 I have a studio (visit) therefore I exist
Carey Young, Alice Channer, Anne Hardy and Karin Ruggaber
34 Inventory
Jayne Parker
35 After a long time or a short time
Elisabeth S. Clark
36 When the Roof Blew Off
Joe Cain


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

311 Pages

Copyright: © 2022

ISBN: 9781800083424

Publication: October 03, 2022

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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