The Podcasters

The Podcasts


Litbits and Hamlet

Hamlet? Hamlet! Why on earth not. In which James ‘Ophelia’ Kidd and Adam ‘Second Servant’ Smyth are joined by Professor Emma Smith of Oxford University. THEN—wait for it—dressed in black cloaks—they rush to the very core of the very centre of the very heart of the quintessence of the canon, and talk English literature’s biggest cheese. And we don’t mean Jeffrey Archer! Seriously, we don’t.

Why does the drum come hither? Listen on and find out, posters.

Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford University. She works on early modern drama and her most recent book is Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (2015).

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Litbits & the Cold

It’s freezing! But we go on, stumbling, rubbing our hands, teeth chattering, towards the distant dim glow of … LITERATURE AND THE COLD! How do writers represent below zero? What does the cold mean, in novels and poems? James Kidd and Adam Smyth ponder Petrarch, Thomas Wyatt, Keith Richards, Keats, Christina Rossetti, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Captain Scott, Charles Dickens, and more. Wrap up warm, people (we suggest the Litbits-branded deep tog “hammock towel”).

[First broadcast in December 2015 on Resonance FM.]

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Litbits & Beginnings

To start! Or not? Perhaps we should. So pull up a hammock, crack open a hot bottle of vodka jelly, and join podders James Kidd and Adam Smyth as they muse on origins. How do books begin? Where do books begin? What are the great openings in literature? Featuring Saul Bellow, Christopher Isherwood, John Donne, Margaret Atwood, and John Milton. You want more? Well have a warm slice of Samuel Beckett and some sprinklings of Henry James and Thomas Hardy and Laurence Sterne. Pip pip!

[first broadcast on Resonance FM in September 2015

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Literature & The Night

The night! To sleep? Or to cavort? Ah, the agony of choice. Adam Smyth and James Kidd, finding themselves standing in a cold rural field amid an inky night, fumble onwards with fellow nocturnal stalkers Dylan Thomas, Margaret Atwood, John Milton, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, WH Auden, and Samuel Pepys. Plus a dash of 4.17am talk radio.

Bring a lantern: it’s dark out here. [first broadcast on Resonance FM in October 2015]

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Literature & Connection

In which Adam “I think I’ve missed” Smyth and James “the 10.34 to Chertsey” Kidd are joined by Dr Laurence Scott to talk about things aligning, and things just missing. Do we read to be understood? Is everyone alone? Does literature console, or push us away? How has the digital era changed what it means to be on the same wavelength as someone? What is a wavelength, anyway? And could Craigslist teach EM Forster a thing or two about ‘only connect’? We talk Ben Lerner, Stephen Spender, Stefan Zweig, Fry and Laurie, and more.

Ships in the night. What larks! [first broadcast on Resonance FM in November 2015]

Laurence Scott is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and is the author of the award-winning The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World (2015). His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, the Financial Times and the London Review of Books, among other publications. In 2011 he was named a ‘New Generation Thinker’ by the Arts and Humanities Council and the BBC. In 2014 he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize. He lives in London.

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Lit Bitlette ... Giving Up Books

In which James ‘Slow Reader’ Kidd, and Adam ‘Easily Distracted and Also Slow Reader’ Smyth, discuss the merits and perils of abandoning books. Too long? Too boring? Too difficult? And we haven’t even started talking about the books yet! Of course we’re joking. Pull up a hammock, slip off your pumps, and start listening—you can potter off to “make a cup of tea” after a couple of minutes. No one need know.

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Literature & Difficutly

In which James ‘Tricky’ Kidd and Adam ‘Tricky’ Smyth talk hard poems, hard novels, hard plays, for no hard cash. Why do we need literary works that we can’t understand? Join the pod as it orbits a galaxy of complexity and struggle featuring Geoffrey Hill, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, and James Patterson. That’s right: James Patterson. YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THE PATTERSON?

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Literature & Destruction

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by bibliophile and jaunty-walker Gill Partington (left) to talk burning, eating, and cutting. What happens to a book when it is licked by flames? Can we literally consume fictions? And is that a pair of blades in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? Complete with practical demonstrations and that ‘outdoorsy’ feel we know will listeners like—and all to celebrate the publication of this little beauty. What ho!

Gill Partington is an academic and writer working in the field of modern and contemporary literature and culture, with a particular focus on the materialities and technologies of writing. She’s written for—among other places—Radical Philosophy and the London Review of Books, is completing a book on internet conspiracy theories.

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Literature & Holidays

Holidays! And Literature! In which we go back in time to September 2013, when “Adam” and “James” meet in a pub to commiserate about the end of their vacations. Are holidays a good thing? Why are they over so quickly? Mark Twain speaks through Tom Sawyer. Andrew Marvell gets in that holiday spirit. Stanley Middleton describes a wet weekend in the pub. Bakhtin opens his mouth and other orifices. Madonna leads us in a rousing 80s singalong. Don your shorts, and short your dons (that doesn’t mean anything—ed.), and join us. The water’s lovely and damp. (First broadcast on Resonance FM in September 2014.)

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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.