Possession & Subjectivity 31 July, 6-8 pm (BST), Online – Free Kyla Wazana Tompkins and Roberto Strongman join Nick Ridout for a conversation about possession and subjectivity. Register here
Online Porch Sitting – Split Britches 28 July, Online – Free via Barbican Join queer-feminist theatre icon, Lois Weaver (Drama), in this re-imagined online version of her Porch Sitting. Sit, think, dream, wonder and take part in conversation around our collective future. Photo by Alex Legge (Drama alumna). Find out more
Bloomsbury has at times in its history been much associated with visionary, utopian thinking and writing. This walk with Dr Matthew Ingleby will explore that history. From socialists and anarchists to feminists and queer artists, the neighbourhood has inspired a distinctly futural imagination, which has allowed readers to see how things might be, not only what they empirically, provably are.
Nadia Atia (English) and Malachi McIntosh (Wasafiri Magazine based at QMUL) presented on Iraq and Teaching Migration and Empire respectively at British Empire in English Studies event at University of Kent.
Julie Rose Bower has had her second ASMR video published by Victoria and Albert Museum and it features work using our Drama department’s very one ambisonic microphone. This video has costumes worn by Vivien Leigh, Sandie Shaw, PJ Harvey, Belinda Wright and Adzogbo dancers. JRB was also named as one of the artists you need to know for ‘carving out space to reflect on the world today’ in Elephant magazine.
Jerry Brotton (English)’s Mapping the Future programme is on BBC iPlayer now. In the programme he navigates the transformation from paper to digital mapping, from print to pixels, asks what is being gained and lost and in whose interests the evolution serves.
Dr Duckie aka Ben Walters (Drama PhD)’s Dr Duckie website is full of useful information about the project focused on the concept of ‘Homemade Mutant Hope Machines’ – a way of describing how people without much clout can start to build better worlds on their own terms.
Feather Pen (Blog by English student Aysel Kasap) are pleased to announce their new travel column, Seoul Searching by Ruby Punt, a QMUL student about her year abroad in South Korea! New entries are coming every month starting from July 15 on featherpenblog.com.
Olga Kravchenko (Drama alumna) is interviewed by our alumni team on her about being CEO of Musemio, a virtual reality app that connects children with content from museums around the world and seeks to turn them into museumgoers of the future.
PEACH Magazine has officially opened up for applications for their 2020/21 committee. If you are interested in being part of the only Queen Mary Student Medium that is solely dedicated to publishing students’ creative expressions, then click here to learn more about the different roles and how to apply. The deadline to apply is 31 July 2020, 11.59 pm. You can also follow PEACH on: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook.
Charlie Pullen (English PhD) shared a touching tribute by Lynsey Hanley in the 90s about English at Queen Mary in this tweet.
Stage 3 Theatre Company:Stage3 Extended is a platform which continues to encourage activism through creative responses for an extended week after a commemorating event has occurred. We believe that we should keep the activist momentum alive. Their first project was ‘Refugee Week Extended’ and this Saturday (11 July) they are launching the next one – ‘Remembering Srebrenica Extended’. Stage 3 Company is a performance-based activist group, tackling a vast range of political, social and humanitarian issues from immigration and discrimination to identity, belonging and empathy. Established in April 2018, as part of STAGES (PPP, QMUL), the group has since then performed at numerous venues around the UK.
Rosie Vincent (Drama Alumna) and her organisation Roman Road Trust’s Transform The Common Roomcampaign successfully reached target to provide a new community space. After receiving the maximum pledge of £50,000 from the Mayor of London, they then received an amazing pledge of £10,000 from the Tower Hamlets Innovation Fund and then a brilliant pledge of £5,000 from the Centre for Public Engagement at QMUL!
Jeremy Weller (Drama Master’s Student)’s work for Beyond Walls around art and mental health including an NHS Residency and Edinburgh Festival 2018 Production: Where it hurts is available to explore online here. Find out more about his work on his website and Instagram.
Performance, Possession & Automation – a collaborative research project led by Nick Ridout and Orlagh Woods, in collaboration with Joe Kelleher, Fiona Templeton and Simon Vincenzi – invites you to three online conversations.
Automation & Cultural Production
17 July, 6-8pm (BST)
Seb Franklin and Annie McClanahan join Nick Ridout for a conversation about automation and cultural production.
Instead of imagining a future in which our lives are managed for us by robots or AI, it may be time to think instead about how automation is already deeply embedded in our everyday lives. Automation is not replacing human beings, but it may be changing how we work and act, and how we think and feel about ourselves and other people.
Clickhere, to book your place and for further information.
Paul C. Johnson and Rebecca Schneider join Nick Ridout for a conversation about possession and performance.
What if possession is a totally modern idea? Could it be a way for people who live modern lives in a supposedly secular culture to describe modes of being that don’t fit with their ideas of what it is to be yourself? How does performance help us think about possession? Are performance and possession both ways of becoming an automated or programmed self?
Clickhere, to book your place and for further information.
Kyla Wazana Tompkins and Roberto Strongman join Nick Ridout for a conversation about possession and subjectivity.
Might possession and other experiences in which people seem to lose control of themselves – like intoxication or narcosis – expand our understanding of what it means to be a subject, beyond the bounded subjectivity assumed and promoted in so-called ‘Enlightenment’ thought? Do subjects always and everywhere have to fit neatly into bodies?
Click here to book your place and for further information.
Performance, Possession & Automation is a research project exploring automation and possession as two ways of thinking about what happens to human subjects who act in ways that they do not themselves fully control. How can making and thinking about performance contribute to thinking about these ideas?
This project is supported through the Collaborations Fund of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and The Centre for Public Engagement, Queen Mary University of Londonin partnership with Fierce Festival and Hampstead Theatre.
Roman Road Trust (Director is Drama Alumna Rosie Vincent) & Public Works’ Crowdfund London campaign to Transform The Common Room reached beyond target and finished with £81,721 after receiving pledges from Mayor of London, Tower Hamlets Council, Queen Mary University of London, and over 250 pledges from local people.
The campaign was launched in January 2020 to turn The Common Room from a deteriorating space into a fully-functional cultural learning facility for local people. The vision is for local people to access high quality community learning in partnership with cultural and educational organisations. The original target was £74,000.
The Common Room is a grassroots project that was initiated by the community of Roman Road in 2014. The space has been managed and led by local people for the past six years. The Common Room is a valuable resource for many groups, individuals, and surrounding organisations.
Transform The Common Room is part of Crowdfund London – the programme delivered by the Mayor of London and Spacehive aimed at backing Londoner’s ideas for improving their local area with funding and support.
After receiving over 150 pledges from local people in the first two months, Transform The Common Room was awarded the maximum pledge of £50,000 from Mayor of London in March 2020.
Following this, Transform The Common Room continued to gain momentum leading to a further 100 pledges. 15 of which were from local businesses who collectively raised £4,095 towards the campaign despite the current challenges facing businesses due to Covid-19.
During the final days of the campaign, Transform The Common Room was awarded the maximum pledge of £10k from the Tower Hamlets Innovation Fund. This was then followed by a £5,000 pledge from the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London on the very last day.
Rosie Vincent, Managing Director of Roman Road Trust and QMUL drama alumna said:
“We have been truly overwhelmed by the support shown by local people and neighbouring organisations.
“Receiving the maximum pledge of £50k from the Mayor of London as well as the maximum pledge of £10k from Tower Hamlets Council proves how vital this project is for our community and Roman Road high street.
“The Common Room is a project that has been trying to happen for over six years. We are very proud to know our 253 backers also agree it is time for this space to become what it truly deserves to be.”
The Common Room is scheduled to be ready in Summer 2021. Roman Road Trust is now developing the first wave of Learning Programmes to be delivered in The Common Room. If you would like to be involved or help the project please email: email@example.com
Even after choosing a degree, deciding which university to do it at might seem daunting. It’s worth researching the nature of a particular degree at various universities to compare them. English at one university is not the same as English at another.
To start off your research, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about English and Drama at Queen Mary, first hand from two students; myself (an English student) and Chris Dhanjal, a joint honours English and Drama student.
Applying to Queen Mary
1. What are the entry requirements?
For English The entry requirements are typically ABB at A Level (or an equivalent qualification), with an A in English Literature / English Language and Literature. Non-standard qualifications are also sometimes accepted from well-motivated candidates who demonstrate achievement in literary study.
For Drama we typically look for BBB at A-level or equivalent in other qualifications such as BTEC Performing Arts.
See our course pages in English or Drama for more details of our entry requirements.
2. Can you combine English or Drama with another subject?
Yes! Students are able to take joint courses, and are able to take English alongside another subject such as Drama, Linguistics, Creative Writing, Film Studies and History.
Our degrees are all about giving you social capital, through work experience, modules from other schools and extra activities, so you have the skills to succeed in life in and outside of university. The QMUL Principal, Professor Colin Bailey talks about this new approach we are taking in this article in The Guardian.
1. What modules are offered in an English and/or Drama degree?
English: In first year you’ll explore six compulsory modules; Reading, Theory and Interpretation, Poetry, London Global, Shakespeare, Literatures in Time. These modules gave us a foundation in English Literature across the spectrum which becomes more specific in second year. In second year, there are three categories, ‘Medieval and Early-Modern Studies’, ‘Eighteenth-Century, Romanticism, Nineteenth-Century Studies’ and ‘Modern, Contemporary, And Postcolonial Studies’.
We picked one module from each category and a fourth module either from one of these categories or from a “special list”, which offers a range of options. In our third year, we are given plenty more options, not bound by any categories, allowing us to pursue any field enabling us to take whatever piques our interest. Third year modules include Postcolonial, American and Children’s literature to name a few.
Drama: In first year, all students take London/Culture/ Performance, and Practices, which help negotiate Drama at university level. Joint honours students take six compulsory modules consisting of four Drama modules which are a combination of seminar and practical based ones and two English. For second year we were given more options, but again had to take one compulsory Drama module and at least two English modules from two separate areas.
In total we were allowed five modules but had to have an equal balance of credits across English and Drama. For final year, the options become a lot more flexible, with the choice of taking seventy-five credits in Drama and forty-five credits in English. Examples of second and third year Drama modules include Choreographic Performance, Shakespeare after Shakespeare and Race and Racism in Performance .
English: We have 8-10 contact hours per week, depending on whether we take 4 or 5 modules per semester. Each module has 2 contact hours; typically a 1 hour lecture followed by a 1 hour seminar. Some modules in second year may not have a lecture and only a 2 hour seminar. In third year, most modules have a 2 hour seminar. Though 8 may seem a little, we’re expected to prepare for each module with 4 hours of work, through reading, research and assignment preparation.
Drama: We typically have 10 hours a week. In third year there may be 14 hour weeks, depending on the modules taken, as Drama practical modules can be 7 hours per day.
3. What are class sizes like?
First year lectures have around 250 students in them, but seminars are smaller groups of 15-20. Lecture sizes get smaller in second and third year as there are more modules available for students to choose from.
Drama: Most seminars and practical workshops range between 10-20 people which creates a good atmosphere for independent and group work.
4. How many books do you have to read a week?
English: We usually have to read one novel per module per week, occasionally alongside some theoretical extracts, making it 4-5 texts a week. Some texts are studied over two weeks so students (particularly in first year) may sometimes only need to read a novel/play every other week.
Drama: Roughly around 2-3 primary books a week, excluding secondary reading, in first and second year. In third year we have 3-5 primary books a week, as well as secondary reading.
5. Do you have field trips?
English: We have occasional field trips, depending on the module. In first year we went to the V&A as a part of Literatures in Time as well as to The Globe to see a play and for a day of workshops for our Shakespeare module. During third year, we attended The Foundling Museum for the Children’s Literature module. Most trips are subsidised by the department so we are able to attend at reduced costs. We are also encouraged to attend museums and exhibitions in our own time.
Drama: Within Drama we had a few field trips in first year to theatres and museums, but second and third year trips vary depending on the module. London Performance Now is a second year module which consists of weekly theatre/museum visits.
1. How many assignments do you have a year?
English and Drama: Each module has about 4-5 assignments spread throughout the academic year. So in total there’s approximately 20 assignments. For English, most of them are essays, however there are also a couple of assessed presentations and class contributions. For drama it’s a mix of written and practical work.
2.Do you have exams?
English: In first year there is a final exam for Shakespeare and Literatures in Time. Other modules in all three years are generally assessed by coursework.
Drama: We have no written exams, however, we have assessed performances which can be timed assessments within a controlled environment.
3. Do you have to write a dissertation?
English: Yes, in third year, all single honours students must undertake a dissertation, which is a 10,000 word research project on anything of our choice so long as it falls under English Literature.
Drama: Instead of a dissertation there is a practical research module. Joint honours students have the option between the English dissertation and a Drama written project.
1. What resources does the department have access to?
Students in the School of English and Drama we have access to a wide amount of literature and criticism through the Mile End campus library, as well as through the University of London inter-library loan system and Senate House Library. The university is also subscribed to many journals and periodicals, giving us access to a huge amount of material. The department has 5 Drama studio spaces including rehearsal rooms, which students have 24/7 access to. Other resources for Drama include a wide range of drama and theatre professionals lecturing on the course who have influential and current experience.
2. Is there any guidance or support for assignments?
English and Drama: As well as useful workshops, advisers/seminar leaders/lecturers have weekly drop-in hours which are immensely helpful for advice and guidance on academic work. There are also beneficial student organisations, such as PASS (Peer Assissted Study Support), where second and third year students offer help to first year students and a Buddy Mentoring Scheme. We also have professional Literary Fellows available to review essays before students submit them. For practical work in Drama, consistent feedback is given by seminar leaders and peers as our work is shared with each other.
3. What’s a personal advisor?
English and Drama: A personal advisor is a teaching member of staff assigned to you in order to help and assist you with any queries you may have. Whether it’s something academic or personal they are there to support and help you!
On 10 June 2020 we hosted an event for 2020 Drama offer holders with Dr Shane Boyle our Director of Admissions for Drama, Thyrza a Drama student, Faisal Abul from Admissions, Lara Fothergill School Manager and Rupert Dannreuther from Marketing.
Main picture from a performance by Francis Dubem Udemezue
Scroll down for the recording and our collaborative reading/watch lists.
Please remember these are just informal suggestions and any preparation for your modules will be communicated later on.
Learning in the current climate has been a challenge. But don’t worry I have listed a couple of tips below that might be used to help incoming students adapt to online learning.
Christian Richardson – BA English with Creative Writing
Whether you are sharing an environment with flatmates or living at home, finding space to study can be difficult. I personally work best in an environment that is free from distractions, so I had to get creative with my study solutions. I was lucky enough to have a small walk-in closet that I repurposed as a study space: I used my clothes drawers and a dining table chair as a makeshift desk, added some fairy lights and a cactus et voila!
For those who don’t have the privilege of a walk-in wardrobe or some other space, you might wish to create something more temporary; this could be a comfy corner in a bedroom, or somewhere outdoors. Whatever you choose to do, I found using personal objects to customise the space made it comfortable and gave the area a purpose.
Time Management & Planning my day
I found it beneficial to manage my time into slots of 1 hour with dedicated breaks. It is worth noting that some tasks may take longer than others for example, listening to audio recordings of poetry did not take as long as reading a text and making notes. In these instances, I used my initiative and sometimes worked through my break times if I felt I was on a roll.
I worried that without the structure of day-to-day life (lectures, seminars, work) I would struggle to organise my day but after a week of recalibrating myself, I decided to take action. I created daily plans that I stuck on my fridge, for example:
8am – Wake up.
8:30 am – Breakfast.
9am – Attend Online Seminar.
11am – Independent Study.
1pm – Lunch Time.
While simple, these steps helped me to stay on top of my workload and I feel that when this is all over, I will have a new skill under my belt.It’s also important to mention that that worry, stress and anxiety are to be expected when adapting to something new. Rather than shutting these emotions out, when organising my daily tasks, I would also schedule in an hour or two where I allowed myself to deal with those anxious thoughts.
Since my worries came from deadlines, I was able to plan my time in a way that it eased these feelings and resulted in a better peace of mind.
Reach Out for Help
Reach out – don’t suffer in silence. The mistake I made early on was forgetting that my professors and peers were still there to help me. After a period of quiet panic, I spoke in confidence to a couple of friends about my situation and they advised me to speak to my professor, and I am glad I did. I emailed my Professor and within 24 hours they had emailed me pdf copies of reading materials and one even offered to post me a book.
On a second note, this also applies if you are struggling to cope mentally. The university’s Mental Health and Wellbeing team and the School’s Student Support team (Suzi pictured above) are available for support and you should contact them if you feel the need to.
Booking is now open for our online June open day session, which is a great chance to explore our unique English and Drama programmes, discover the QMUL campus and to meet our students.Register here LISTINGS
This one-day webinar hosted by our MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health explores productive, radical, contemporary encounters between the arts and mental health, bringing together clinical, artistic and research perspectives that offer a re-interpretation of contemporary mental health science and practice.
Julie Rose Bower (Drama PhD Researcher) has created a series of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s YouTube channel. ASMR is a relaxing sound design technique which gives some people a ‘tingles’ response and could provide a moment of calm for people in these times. ASMR has emerged over the last 12 years and is a digital native performance medium in which performers touch objects and whisper in close proximity to microphones.
Richard Coulton (English) has edited a collection of essays on James Petiver, an eighteenth-century apothecary, collector and natural historian. You can read a recent interview with Richard about his research on the Royal Society blog. Image: Angola Dragonfly – James Petiver
Brian Dillon (Creative Writing) talks about Roland Barthes, obtuse meanings, descriptions of food, and the “sanatorium society” in this video for Beyond Words Festival.
Dissenting Academies (English Research Project) recently supported BBC research for David Olusoga’s A House Through Time which explores the history of a house in Bristol which involves a Baptist minister called James Poulson found in the Dissenting Academies archive.
Dr Duckie aka Ben Walters (Drama)’s website is live showcasing the research project on Duckie’s community-centric performance projects like The Posh Club, The Slaughterhouse Club, D.H.S.S, Duckie Family and the Vintage Clubbing Sessions.
Live Art Development Agency (Drama) have curated Boxed-In, an online exhibition of artists who have used performance in confined spaces, often over long and painful (seemingly unendurable) durations – in self-imposed lockdown on cargo shops, freight crates, boxes, cells, or cages. The conditions of the performances – and the ways the artists survive in isolation – feel uncannily prescient in our current situation. Dominic Johnson’s work: ‘Rudimentary Things: Becoming an Object in the Performances of Skip Arnold’ features in the exhibition.
PEACH Magazine Congratulations to Lara Jakobsen (a 2nd Year English with Creative Writing student) who has been elected as Managing Editor and Ameerah Ali (a 2nd Year English student) as Deputy Managing Editor at PEACH magazine. PEACH was also awarded the Most Improved Outlet at the Student Media Awards this year. The magazine is dedicated to showcasing the creative work of students. Students can still send in creative work (creative writing, art, etc.) throughout the summer to published on their blog.
Peggy Reynolds (English)’s 1992 BBC Radio 4 discussion around poetry, gender and naturehood featuring the late Eavan Boland is being repeated oniPlayer to commemorate poet’s work after she passed away recently.
On 10 June 2020 we hosted an event for English offer holders with Dr Peter Howarth, Christian from our English with Creative Writing course, Faisal Abul from Admissions, Lara Fothergill School Manager and Rupert Dannreuther from Marketing.
Scroll down for the recording and our collaborative reading/watch lists.
Suggested Reading List
Our links are to publisher websites not stores and many books will be cheaper as e-books or could even be free via Project Gutenberg so please do search online or use your local library’s e-books too. Consider buying second hand or via sources other than Amazon such as Abe Books which Christian mentioned.
Please remember these are just informal suggestions and any required reading will be communicated later on.
You should have received recently an email from Queen Mary explaining some of our plans for September. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that we have been thinking carefully about how best to support you and your education.
Your safety is our first concern. With safety in mind, from September to January we will be offering an inclusive blended learning approach, drawing on insights and feedback from our current students.
If travel restrictions mean that you can’t be here with us in London this September, you will be able to start your course online. If you are able to join us, we will ensure that our premises and activities follow government guidance and that we are Covid-19 secure.
What a blended approach to learning and teaching in English and Drama means for you:
Teaching & Student Support: In the School of English and Drama, a blended approach means that you’ll be able to access online your Semester 1 lectures, seminars and, for those studying Drama, practice-based workshops, as well as meetings with your teachers, advisor, and our student support staff. Our online teaching and student support will be supplemented with one-to-one meetings and small-group campus-based activities if it’s safe and possible to do so for staff and students. These opportunities will also be available online so that everyone can participate wherever you’re based.
Learning Resources: To support your learning, you’ll have access to online learning resources (e.g. presentations, e-books, journal articles, videos). The School has strong connections with writers, artists, and other arts professionals and we aim to programme guests as part of your online teaching and in extracurricular activities.
Assessment: You’ll be supported to complete a range of assessments that will be submitted online, including essays, presentations, creative writing portfolios and practice-based assessments, depending on your course. Practical assessments in Drama are also supported by our dedicated Technical Team. The work our students have submitted online this year has been inspiring!
Meeting Staff & Students, Study Skills & Careers Support: To help you settle in to studying in the School, we’ll be running a programme of online welcome events so you can meet other students and members of staff. Our courses build in opportunities for you to meet and work with other students and we also facilitate the Peer Assisted Study Support and Buddy schemes. We embed study skills in all our courses to help you with the transition to university-level study with its increased levels of independent work, and you’ll also have a timetable of activities for each week of the semester to help you plan your time. We also offer dedicated careers support in the School in collaboration with our colleagues in Careers and Enterprise. To help you prepare for your course, we’ll send you further guidance and advice over the summer.
Always got her head in a book, a pen in her hand and her eye behind a camera.
Tell us about your time at QMUL. What have been your highlights?
My hightlights of QMUL has certainly been running CUB magazine on campus as editor-in-chief. I have learnt so many amazing skills through my position as well as having so many amazing opportunities, meeting the brilliant writers behind CUB and the students I would have have come across in my own degree. I found a little family in CUB and it will be so upsetting yo say goodbye in May.
How has your course at Queen Mary helped you to progress into the world outside? What’s next?
My course reinforced my love of writing, I was not an avid poet until second year and now I am published on Amazon as well as online publications. I also found my love of article writing through CUB which led me to my two summer internships with the Daily Telegraph Newspaper. My course showed me how diverse literature can be and I know how silly that sounds but A-levels and GCSE only gives you a small scope of literature and after university I know I will continue to explore the different pathways within literature and continue my studies.
Aside from course content what have been your favourite elements of the experience of studying here as a whole?
I cannot give CUB anymore of a shout out but without joining it in my second year as a writer, I would not be this confident or have this many amazing friends around me. I also would not have run for VP Welfare in the 2020 elections or be able to be this confident at public speaking, it gave me skills I could never have learnt without it. I also discovered how diverse peoples values and viewed can be, I met people from so many amazing backgrounds and faiths that it opened my eyes to new experiences and beliefs of my own!
Tell us about your life outside Queen Mary including any projects, ambitions or jobs you’ve had.
I’ve had several part time jobs throughout university such as bar work or retail. Bar work gave me a boost of confidence which allowed me to stand up for myself in difficult situations and to respect myself ad a woman in a male oriented environment.
What could be improved to enhance future students’ experience at Queen Mary?
Bridging the gap between SU and the students, making a less corporate relationship and more student led.
To give more opportunities to students who (like myself) travel to campus daily meaning we miss out on nights out or parties etc.
Dear students studying in the School of English and Drama,
I’m writing to you in response to the recent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the USA and the assault on Belly Mujinga in London, and the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and distress, among many others, across the USA, and here in the UK, including in our student and staff bodies.
On behalf of the School of English and Drama, I condemn these acts of violence and the structural and institutional racism that underpins them. I fully support the Black Lives Matter movement in challenging all forms of racism and committing to ensuring dignity, safety, liberty, and self-determination for Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic and global majority communities.
Structural and institutional racism is not confined to the USA but is very much present in the UK, and globally, and is a powerful force in preventing equal life opportunities for people of colour. The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, has both exposed and exacerbated the structural inequalities faced by many minorities, most significantly Black, Asian, and disabled people.
Universities have a key role to play in combatting racism and all forms of discrimination. I am committed to this work in the School of English and Drama. This involves continued acknowledgment and work to redress disadvantages experienced variously by our students and colleagues of colour. These manifest, for example, in differences in degree outcomes between our Black, Asian, and minority ethnic/global-majority students and white students, and significantly fewer colleagues of colour in senior leadership roles than white colleagues. It’s important, here, to acknowledge that we also have a majority white staff base in the School, and that many of us, myself included, have benefited from advantages and privileges accorded structurally, socially and culturally to white people, especially with respect to our educational and career development opportunities.
Affirming a commitment to equalities and anti-racist work is vital and action is more crucial still. We have been working to address inequalities in the School, especially in relation to race and ethnicity, through our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, co-chaired by Zara Dinnen and myself; revisions to our curriculum; more extensive student support; a dedicated EDI student representative on our Staff Student Liaison Committees; and a commitment to equality in our research, for example. This is not the time, though, to be individually or collectively self-congratulatory or complacent. Through our work we know there is much more to be done, especially as we address the impact of Covid-19 and the decisions that we’re making for 2020-21 (and beyond) on staff and students.
We stand in solidarity with our students of colour. With my colleagues in the School Management Group, I affirm the School’s ongoing commitment to listening to students and working together across our School community, to address structural racism. This work is carried out though our department, School, Faculty and University governance structures, alongside informal conversations with, and between, staff and students. It is not the responsibility of our Black, Asian, and minority ethnic/global majority colleagues and students to bear the burden of this work. It is, rather, a collective endeavour, led by those of us entrusted with leadership positions.
We have published the letter from Abi Adebayo from Queen Mary Theatre Company which we received on 1 June 2020 because we think she makes important points. Particularly around how the university can support black students and create the anti-racist university which stands up for social justice. Everyone has a responsibility to make sure our university stands up for these values.
Abi would like to recognise the following people who have helped with the creation of the posters, protests and spoken word pieces:
Peter Ndlovu – Gathering, MAIN organiser and director of the LONDON, BRISTOL and MANCHESTER protests on the 5th JUNE
I am writing to you as the Vice president of Queen Mary Theatre Society and as a black student within your university.
As I am sure you are aware of the countless protests, wide-spread media coverage, and news headlines around the subject of institutional, systematic, and general racism around the world, there has been a nationwide call for the end of injustice towards black people in all capacities. The murder – through means of suffocation – of George Floyd in the United States by the hands of the Minneapolis police was not only barbaric it was symbolic of how black people are stifled in every aspect of our lives due to continued active and passive racism. George Floyd’s name is now on the ever-growing list (that were caught on camera and so are aware of) of black people mercilessly killed for committing the crime of nothing more than simply being black in this month alone. We have called for Justice for Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man shot while he was jogging around his neighborhood, we have called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was shot up to six times by police officers who had broken into her home without knocking or announcing themselves under the claim that they were executing a search warrant for a suspected drug dealer, who not only had already been arrested but in fact, did not live at that address – Breonna lost her life and instead of charging the police officers for manslaughter, her boyfriend who was sleeping next to her fired back a single shot at what he thought were intruders, and so was charged and arrested despite the fact none of the police officers were harmed, as well as the fact he legally was allowed to put up arms of his registered gun in the state they were situated in. Black people are constantly being killed due to pre-consisting racist and prejudice bias without their murders being reprimanded further than (at most) a slap on the wrist and paid leave.
The UK is far from innocent and although shootings are less common, the mistreatment of black people from police officers to the general public is as prevalent as ever today, as it was before. Black people being harassed, beaten, and killed for their existence did not stop or even slow down in pace after the horrific murder of Stephen Lawrence, it has continued and, in some ways, even manifested in more covert ways. Rashad Charles, Mark Duggan, Darren Cumberbatch, Edson da Costa, Adrian McDonald, Sarah Reed, Mark Duggan and more recently Belly Mujinga – who was spat at on duty by a member of the public claiming to have COVID-19 and later fell ill and died herself from the contracted virus – are just a few of the documented black people within the United kingdom that have failed to be protected by the government and society in a whole, due to the colour of their skin. We as a people are tired, we are angry, we are devastated, and we are scared.
What kept me hopeful in this time, is seeing how much as a black community we have gathered together and how our Non-Black allies have stood with us. As the committee of Queen Mary theatre society, we have dedicated all of our social media accounts to #BlackLivesMatter initiatives and in using our platform to show our unwavering support as well as educating posts surrounding institutional, systematic, and general racism for our members. SED alumni such as Ndumiso Peter Ndlovu has taken the time to gather both past and current students of QMUL (like myself) to organise a peaceful protest in LONDON, BRISTOL and MANCHESTER both physically and through Zoom to honour George Floyd and Belly Mujinga, and demand for the further investigation, arrest, and charge of their killers. Efe Uwadiae is another alumnus of QMUL who has dedicated her platform to establishing the right discourse around the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I was not only shocked, disheartened, and concerned to see how silent not only the Queen Mary student union has been about the racial injustice that not only affects the black members of their faculty but the black student body within QMUL. It seems as if we have no support from the university, which I find particularly interesting considering the statement made by Colin bailey and the SU surrounding the university being reprimanded for racism, to the point where students felt compelled to spray-paint their views on campus – they felt they weren’t being listened to, and it seems evidently we still aren’t being listened to. I am appalled at the lack of support given to students during this time, especially as QMUL claims to care profusely about our mental health and wellbeing. I am appalled at how despite being sent newsletters on various other subjects, none of them have been addressing the current global pandemic of racism. I have been waiting for QMSU and QMUL to use their platform to not only show solidarity instead of complacency, and still, I have yet to hear a single thing which has in turn led me to write this email.
If the university claims to be proud of how diverse their student body is, why is it that when we need you to use your platform to not only help us but protect and encourage us to stand for what is right the voice of Queen Mary University of London is nowhere to be found? The slight change of flag creates the idea that QMUL is happy to passively support their students along as they don’t have to make a physical, undeniable stance.
Until our voices, influence and platforms as those against racism are as active as the killing and constant injustice of black people within society, we will never see change.
In no way do I want to endorse the #alllivesmatter stance and advise the university to stay away from this rhetoric as not only does it demean and belittle the experience of black people globally it also stems as a retaliation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is no secret that all lives matter, the point is there have been too many situations that reinforce the idea that black lives are discounted in the “All”.
To conclude, I expect from both QMSU, QMUL, and Colin Bailey to not only educate their students and faculty on the #BlackLivesMatter – why it is important and what it represents. To email all students and/or release a statement on the current climate that both comforts and reassures black students that the university is a safe space for them, and their voices are heard. To boost and encourage students to stand for what is right and carefully sculpt a message that re-lays sensitively the situation of George Floyd and Belly Mujinga in unity with the #saytheirnames movement.
I expect the university and the Student union to use their LARGE platform to show their solidarity with us as black students within the university. Here is the link to the protest led by your students and alumni as well as posts I feel could be reposted by the university and student union.
I hope to hear from you within the next few days before the protest on the 5th JUNE, with a retort, questions and further information on what can be done, what you plan to do and why the university has been silent thus far. As a university you have a duty of care, as QMTC a society within QMUL we are happy to keep the lines of communication open to ensure that duty is fulfilled.
Tag us @QMULSED on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SEDHallofFame
Message or post to our Facebook Page here
Entry closes on 3 July 2020 at 5pm. Our team will pick the winners on or shortly after 3 July so please get your entry in before then!There will be 2 winners one for selfie and one for meme.We will contact winners via email so keep an eye out on your inbox after 15 June.
“I have had the most amazing time at QM over the last three years. I’ve met some soulmates. Had a few breakdowns. Hit my limit of daily replacement library cards. Spent £49000 on coffee. And had most of the happiest moments of my life. I know that this dissertation doesn’t sum up everything I’ve learnt and everything that I can do now (notably, go to the shop without having a panic attack). But it was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And I’m proud of myself for doing it. A huge thank you to every lecturer, advisor, member of staff, and student for helping me through. From helping me choose a dissertation topic to making me a coffee with a smile. Also- to everyone who is still working on their dissertations- you can do this and you will do this. Remember not to compare your own academic achievements to other people’s because yours are just as brilliant and just as important. Okay I’m done now. Gonna go drink, eat, and watch Netflix… Until I have to start the next one.”
Hana Hussein – BA English with Creative Writing
“1 word down 9,999 to go”
Kirsten Murray – BA English
“Standing in the North Sea was not the original dissertation hand in photo I had in mind. Although I am currently some 300 miles from the bustling city of London, my time at Queen Mary has enhanced my passion for literature and developed my personal and academic confidence. The supportive SED staff have even inspired me to continue my studies at the University of Cambridge in a genre, Romanticism, I initially loathed when I arrived in London three years ago.”
Christian Richardson – BA English with Creative Writing