The Podcasters

The Podcasts


Literature and portraits

In which Adam Smyth (in Blue Period) and James Kidd (Late Cubist) are joined by novelist Lynn Shepherd to mull over the pen and the brush. How are novels like portraits? How have portraits helped create a novelist’s image? Why do we care which portrait goes on a £10 note? And how does a portrait of Mr Darcy help woo Elizabeth Bennet? William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Frank O’Hara – all that while Lit Bits undrape, recline, and sit for their own portrait.

Lynn Shepherd is the author of (among other titles) Murder at Mansfield Park, The Solitary House, and—just out—A Treacherous Likeness (A Fatal Likeness in the US). You can read more about Lynn here.

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Literature and Law

In which James Kidd (prisoner number 768563457) and Adam Smyth (parole) are joined by barrister Christina Michalos. We tug our wigs, gather our gowns, and muse on twitter and defamation; literary representations of lawyers; the presence of legal thinking in literature; and ask why so many novelists are former lawyers. Shakespeare and Grisham and more. (First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Christina is a barrister at 5rb chambers. She a leading specialist in copyright, trade mark, intellectual property and privacy, especially in terms of the internet and social networking sites. She is the author of The Law of Photography and Digital Images (Sweet & Maxwell, 2004).

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Literature & Rooms

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth explore ROOMS with expert guide Alexandra Goddard. Can literature help us imagine historical interior designs? Was Edith Wharton the Laurence Llewellyn Bowen of her day? What does a room tell us about character? Are books the new wallpaper?

Plump those pillows. Chuck out those Ikea bookshelves. Join us as Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, John Donne and Emily Bronte get their Lit Bits Feng Shui on.

Goddard gets interior, Kidd is characterful, Smyth is Satanic.

Key texts: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton; Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room; John Milton’s Paradise Lost; Edith Wharton’s Decoration of Houses.

Alexandra Goddard is a Curator at the Geffrye Museum.

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Literature & Translation

Hello there! You’re looking well. Apart from the obvious. But I’m sure that can be—anyway. It’s LitBits! In which - this week—James ‘Kidd’ Kidd and Adam ‘Kidd’ Smyth are joined by Dr Dennis Duncan to muse over literature and translation. What is translation? What happens when Shakespeare’s To be or not to be’ turns Japanese? Can Finnegans Wake be written in Basic English – and what has this to do with Sex and the City? Join our polyglot podders as they tussle with Dan Brown, John Keats, Aphex Twin, Lydia Davis, Stieg Larsson, Humpty Dumpty and Die Hard (‘where are my detonators?’). [First broadcast on Resonance FM.]

Dennis Duncan is a Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. He’s currently writing a book about indexes. It’s not clear whether this book will itself has an index.

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Literature & Hair

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by historian Alex von Tunzelmann to talk HAIR. Which writers had great hair? Has hair inspired great writing? What does hair symbolise? And is hair-dressing an art? Alexander Pope, Rapunzel, Vidal Sassoon, Little Women and no doubt Melvyn Bragg. Hair are our radio aerials.

Alex von Tunzelmann is the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007), and Red Heat. Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean (2011). She writes the ‘Reel History’ column for The Guardian, on popular films and historical accuracy. For Alex’s website, click here.

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Literature & Sex Scenes

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd (both fully draped for almost the entire broadcast) are joined by Jonathan Beckman. What makes a good – or bad – sex scene? Are modern authors more bashful than their ancient counterparts? Lit Bits rises to the occasion, with Lee Child, Rowan Somerville, John Donne, Fanny Hill, Jane Austen and Gustav Flaubert. Close the curtains. Put the kids to bed. Get out the Barry White and join Lit Bits for a special late night edition. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.) Listeners of a sensitive disposition should be warned: this podcast contains strong sexual language, references to explicit body parts, gratuitous naughtiness, allusions to group intercourse, granny eroticism and some allusions to Andrew Motion.

Jonathan Beckman is a Senior Editor at the Literary Review, and organiser of the Review’s annual, and infamous, Bad Sex Awards.

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Literature & Blurbs

‘It was the loneliest place on earth ...’ In which ingénues James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by savvy advertising wizard Jonathan Thake to talk puffs and blurbs and the whole damn business of selling books. It’s literature in the marketplace. It’s Keats down Walworth Market. It’s Jane Austen driving a cab. Think Stephen King. Think Shakespeare. Think Patricia Cornwall. Now stop thinking about all those people and listen. Plus: in our version of 3-for-2, this pod comes with a free bonus song from US hipsters ‘Bring it to Bear.’ Enjoy podders! (First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Jonathan Thake is a television writer. His first comedy series, The Persuasionists, told the story of a fictional advertising agency, and premiered on BBC2 in 2010. Jonathan also works in advertising, and is best known for the controversial ‘slag of all snacks’ campaign for Pot Noodle.

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Literature & Laughter

30 minutes of tittering pod, in which Adam Smyth and James Kidd dance a merry waltz around the connections between literature and laughter. What is laughter? What does it mean? How do we read it? When is it wrong to chuckle? Do we really honestly laugh at novels? Why do we look like dogs when we guffaw? And just what has this all got to do with James Kidd and a thousand New York fire-flies? Answers to almost all of these teasers are contained within. Click, relax, unwind, recline, enjoy. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.)

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Literature and Impersonation

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by man of letters – and voices—Dr Joe Brooker, to discuss authors sounding like other authors. James Joyce. Mike Yarwood. Martin Amis. Keats. Shakespeare. And featuring what is almost certainly a radio first: Roy Hodgson (or ‘Roy Hodgson’) reading movingly from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Joe Brooker teaches English literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he works on modern and contemporary literature and culture. He has written on the work of James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, and his latest book is Literature of the 1980s: After the Watershed (Edinburgh University Press, 2010).

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Literature and Error

In which Adam Smyth and a train-delayed—but eventually present—James Kidd are joined by poet Liane Strauss to discuss mistakes, slips, wanderings, and things not quite going to plan. A dash of Shakespeare; a shot of Keats; a half-pint tumbler of Wallace Stevens; and a generous lacing of Phil “Errare” Larkin.

Like knights errant, but in Harris tweed.

Duration: 55.24

Liane Strauss is the author of Leaving Eden (Salt Publishing, 2010) and Frankie, Alfredo, (Donut Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals in the US and the UK, including The Hudson Review, The Georgia Review, Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and Magma. She teaches literature and creative writing at Birkbeck College, The Poetry School and The City Literary Institute.

You can read more about Liane here.

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"intelligent and irreverent ... cancel all social engagements and run a hot bath."

The Manchester Guardian

LitBits on the Wireless

Listen to Litbits on Resonance 104 FM on Tuesday evenings at 9 o'clock.