UCL Urban Laboratory


Alexandra Parsons

English Department

Derek Jarman and Life-writing

My research focuses on the director, artist, writer and activist Derek Jarman. I explore the way he records his dissident uses of the city as the means by which to provide social commentary and ignite political activism. I engage with his use of city spaces as diverse as the abandoned industrial wastelands of Millenium Mills, heterotopias such as Hampstead Heath at night, the development of central urban areas like Soho, and how he reclaimed the streets via protests and political activism. I do this by exploring Jarman's life-writing. Throughout these texts, Jarman repeatedly makes use not just of his own memories, but also examines the lives of queer figures from the past alongside those of his friends and other contemporaries.