Why did London place his life and those of his crew at risk of imminent death when he voyaged to the Solomon Islands in 1908, a region he believed to be filled with cannibals and headhunters? Based on archival sources, the books London had read to prepare himself for the voyage, and recent ethno-history of the region, this article argues that London’s voyage did not occasion a more enlightened view of race, as some recent scholars have argued; indeed, his months in the Solomon Islands confirmed the racialist cast of his thinking. London undertook his journey into a region he perceived as dangerous as part of a sense of adventure that depended on demonstrating courage and manliness, and in the process he acted as a metaphoric headhunter himself.
Jack London in Melanesia
Boat Time and the Temporal Experience of London’s Liveaboard Boaters
Itinerant boat-dwellers (‘boaters’) on the waterways of London speak about their lives as occurring in a time zone that is separate from the sedentary world around them. ‘Boat time’, as boaters call it, is simultaneously slow and unpredictable. The slow aspect of boat time is said to provide a much-needed contrast to the fast and highly choreographed movements of the city surrounding the towpaths. It becomes part of the boaters’ rhetoric of difference from, and resistance to, the state and other sedentary elements surrounding them. This article suggests that temporal experiences are a constitutive part of identity, a strategic component of resistance to the sedentary order, and a thread that links the disparate aspects of boaters’ own lives aboard.
Experiences of undocumented Latin American migrants in London
Ana Gutiérrez Garza
Through an ethnography of undocumented migrants from Latin America to London, I explore the temporality of illegality as a piecemeal process in which migrants find themselves embodying new ways of being in the world. I investigate the power of illegality beyond its legal connotations and through the analysis of the everyday experiences of migrants in London, I show how it affects the external structure of migrants’ worlds, as well as their subjectivities. I show how the illegal status is imagined, embodied, and sustained over an indefinite and uncertain length of time. Undocumented migrants in London are required to slowly adapt, to wait through anxious engagements with other people, and to deal with a legal system that controls their fractured presents and their uncertain futures.
(Dis)covering the Victorian City
David W. Chapman
Visitors to London are often seeking an imaginary city, one defined through literary depictions and pop culture. To (dis)cover Victorian London requires the visitor to disentangle the corporeal, historical, and mythical manifestations of the city. Thus, the corpus of London is both a literary and a physical space with geographical features, architectural styles, and visual references that sometimes form the viewer’s experience and are sometimes formed by the viewer’s expecta- tions. The corpus of London is not only an experience of recognition but also one that leads inevitably to magnification, distortion, disruption, and even erasure of the cultural artifact.
Temporary Nodes of Resistance to Capitalism
This article assesses squatted social centers in London as a means to understand the cycles, contexts and institutionalization processes of the local squatters movement. This diffuse social movement had its heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s when there were 30,000 squatters and still exists today despite squatting in residential buildings being criminalized in 2012. Analysis is based on a database of 245 social centers, which are examined in terms of duration, time period, type of building and location. Important centers are briefly profiled and important factors affecting the squatters movement are examined, in particular institutionalization, gentrification, and criminalisation.
The Archives of the 1920s
Joel T. Rosenthal
The Institute of Historical Research (IHR), University of London, was founded in 1921, largely due to the efforts of A. F. Pollard, professor at University College, a major authority on Tudor History and an active entrepreneur in the world of historical scholarship and organization. Thanks to a recent arrangement of the IHR's archives the story of its founding and its first decade of existence can be told with reference to such in-house issues as who taught—and who attended—the early seminars and who attended the first meeting of the Anglo-American Historical Conference. Pollard envisioned a central clearing house for historical research as an integral part of the university whereby ideas could be exchanged, students introduced to the mysteries of historical research, and questions about the nature of historical projects and inquiry could be answered both through personal communication and in the Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. Those who use the IHR today benefit from a vision that at the time was novel and unorthodox.
Carlos López Galviz
Designology, London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
London WC2E 7BB, United Kingdom
Admission: Adults £17/Concession £14.50
Singing in Yiddish about London: 1880-1940 is the story of six Yiddish songs that tell of mainly East End people and places and experiences; these snippets of history give insights into what was happening in London at the time. They tell of poverty and work, of street life and of love. They tell of characters; an old fiddler, a bagel seller, a prostitute. They tell of places, the Pavilion Theatre, Victoria Park, Morgan Street. They sparkle with life, whether deeply moving or comic. This article explores Jewish history through the songs, as well as exploring the history of the songs themselves. The songs were collected in Denmark, Canada, Germany, Liverpool and London. The article describes some of the people who sung them, who collected them and who wrote them. There is a lot unknown about the songs and why they were written, so there is much to conjecture by London Yiddishists and folk collectors. These answers throw more light onto the politics and issues of the day. Today these songs are being performed by Vivi Lachs and Klezmer Klub, a London-based band who are seeking to revive them and imbue in them a sense of their meaning for today.
Adapting the Gothic Metropolis
This article focuses on the reimagining of Victorian London central to two recent, high-profile television adaptations, NBC / Sky Living’s Dracula (2013–14) and Showtime / Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful (2014–). Paying attention to the series themselves and paratextual forms such as posters and title sequences, the article argues that both productions are more interested in responding to the popular Victorian Gothic image of the city than in carefully reconstructing a straightforward facsimile of nineteenth-century London. It shows, in fact, that this adaptation of the Victorian cityscape is presented in heightened, performative terms. Dracula and Penny Dreadful’s self-conscious approach to their Victorian London settings is related, on a textual level, to the playfully anarchic response of these adaptations to their literary sources and characters. More generally, it reflects recent contextual developments affecting the practice of adapting nineteenth-century texts.
This article challenges the common presentation of the medieval street as a mud- and muck-filled cesspit. Using the television episode “Medieval London” of the Filthy Cities series aired by BBC Two in 2011 as a springboard, I discuss the realities of medieval waste management and modern conceptions of it. Through an examination of historical records from London, I show that the early fourteenth-century medieval street was not nearly as filthy as portrayed in Filthy Cities. Rather than being based on medieval evidence, our notion of the dirty medieval city is built on modern ideas of civility and scientific progress. Interpretations like that in Filthy Cities reflect more on our modern condition than the medieval one. The constructed dichotomy of medieval filth versus modern cleanliness obscures our contemporary waste problems and reinforces a physical and mental distance from our own waste.