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University of Łódź

The Zong massacre was the mass killing of more than 130 enslaved African people by the crew of the British slave ship Zong, in 1781. They were thrown overboard when the ship ran low on drinking water. The ship's owners had taken out insurance on the lives of the enslaved Africans as "cargo"; and they now submitted a claim. It was denied. At an appeal hearing, the judges ruled against the ship owners.

The massacre was the subject of a famous painting  by J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (1840). Students on a module in "Intertextual Encounters" created their own artistic responses - to the massacre, to Turner, and to other art works, including Zong! by NourbeSe Philip.

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JOB 5 'story untold' by Maja Ratajczyk & Wiktoria Woźniak.png
JOB 3, A3 Natalia Makówska Zuzanna Kurowska.jpg
JOB 3, A3 Natalia Makówska Zuzanna Kurowska.jpg

This work was then "rolled" to a group of students on a module in "British Culture," who produced their own artistic responses, directly to the work of the first group.

And finally, the work of both groups was "rolled" to another group of "British Culture" students, who prepared an art exhibition.

JOB 10 G 6 work 5 (reaction to a work by W. Woźniak and M. Ratajczyk) (2)_page-0001.jpg

This video is an account of the Zong project. It includes a workshop with students at the university, led by David Allen (MAT). 


JOB 7 A work 3B (reaction to a script by M. Kryvoshei and C. Lopez) (1).jpg
JOB 8 F 5 work 6A (reaction to a work by N. Makówka and Z. Kurowska) (1).jpg

Students participating in the project activities were attending courses in "Intertextual Encounters" and "British History and Culture."


The "Intertextual Encounters" course focuses on intertextuality and transmediality in literature (poetry, prose, drama) and visual art (film, music video, painting, photography). In this project, students investigated textual representations (archival materials, poetry) and visual representations of the Zong massacre, and the absent/erased stories of the massacre victims.


The "British History and Culture" course looks at subjects such as architecture, visual arts, music, film, fashion, etc. In this project,  students looked at British painting (the art of JMW Turner); the history of the British Empire (Colonial Slave Trade); and postcolonial history - in particular, representations of the Zong massacre in literature and art, in the context of witnessing, remembering and commemoration. 

The project was linked to the Midland Actors Theatre "Lost Stories" project, and the development of the online "Museum of Lost Stories" (click here for more details). The point of change was the commissioning of an exhibition on the Zong massacre by the "museum."

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POINT OF CHANGE: Commission to create an exhibition on the Zong massacre

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