Lockdown Cultures

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

Edited by Stella Bruzzi and Maurice Biriotti and with Sam Caleb and Harvey Wiltshire

ISBN: 9781800083394

Publication: November 10, 2022

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

What is this?

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 commented on and were impacted by one of the dominant crises 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 and 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

Maurice Biriotti

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 The decolonial option and the end of the world
Izabella Wodzka

5 Distant together: creative community in UK DIY music 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 Reflections on Covid-like pathogens in ancient Mesopotamia
Markham J. Geller

8 Handwashing save slives: producing and accepting new knowledge in Jens Bjørneboe’s Semmelweis (1968)
Elettra Carbone

9 Experience and coping with isolation: what we can see from ethnic Germans in Britain 1914–18
Mathis J. Gronau

10 Unexpectedly withdrawn and still engaged: reflections on the experiences of the Roman writer and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero
Gesine Manuwald

11 The Gallic Sack of Rome: an exemplum for our times
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: Vaughan Williams' 'The Water Mill; and new meaning of 'quotidian'
Annika Lindskog

26 The habit of freedom
Naomi Siderfin

27 Pandemic 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
SMRU (The Social Morphologies Research Unit : Davdi Burrows,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 Poems from 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: Open Access PDF

344 Pages

Copyright: © 2022

ISBN: 9781800083394

Publication: November 10, 2022

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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