The Literary Self: from Antiquity to the Digital Age

The journey to holding The Literary Self: From Antiquity to the Digital Age, began when Consuelo Martino and Caitlan Smith from the University of St Andrews took part in an Interdisciplinary workshop at the SGSAH Summer School in 2017. During the workshop Consuelo and Caitlan brainstormed a conference that could take an interdisciplinary look at confidence and the self. Soon after, Consuelo and Caitlan advertised for additional organisers to further widen their angles of approach. Miles Beard and Matthew Tibble, from the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh, respectively, were selected to join, bringing backgrounds in contemporary literature and history with them.

Read Article →

Handle with Care: Representing Chinese Factory Workers

Penny Wang | June 11, 2018
Stories about the miseries of Chinese factory workers have been regarded in the West as welcome gestures against the dehumanising globalised market economy to which China has submitted itself. These expository accounts have been applauded as signs of critical reflections against the silence imposed by the Chinese government—a government the Western media label as authoritarian and indifferent to the lower-income populations victimised by its profit-oriented policies. Much as I appreciate the necessity of such exposés, either through reports or slightly fictionalised accounts, I usually find these narratives deeply problematic. Taking an event I recently attended as an example—a screening of the short film Before Christmas directed by Chuyao He on 11 May at Edinburgh Printmakers (part of the Edinburgh Short Film Festival), I would like to examine exactly what is wrong with these representations.

Read Article →

Their Unrelenting Eyes: I Feel Pretty and the Entrapment of Narcissism

Nadia Ahmed | June 4, 2018
Addressing the lives of women, particularly white, heterosexual, cisgender, American women, is the film I Feel Pretty, which came out last month. What struck me upon watching this film was that the main character’s sense of self compares so closely to the narcissistic woman described in Simone de Beauvoir’s work The Second Sex (1949).  This article is concerned with drawing parallels between I Feel Pretty and The Second Sex in order to question the transcendence of the protagonist, Renee (played by Amy Schumer), who, bored and unsatisfied with her life, inculcates herself into a state of self-obsession.

Read Article →

Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and the Recurring History

Sini Eikonsalo | May 31, 2018
Philip Roth, a canonical American writer, died recently at the age of 85, leaving behind a vast array of novels, the most popular probably being his Pulitzer-winning American Pastoral (1997). However, it is The Plot Against America (2004) that has been in the public interest for the past couple of years and now with the news of Roth’s death.

Read Article →

Models of Capitalist Subversion: Hip Hop or Rock?

Tomas Vergara | May 30, 2018

On the 5th of May of 2018 Gibson, one of the most emblematic guitar manufacturers, announced bankruptcy. An interesting aspect of this event, beyond its economic repercussions on the music industry, is its cultural significance. It marks the decline of rock and guitar-based music, once the dominant musical genre. Gibson’s bankruptcy opens several symptomatic questions concerning the role of music in contemporary capitalist culture: What does this shift in musical taste reflect about the dynamics of capitalist culture? Does it signal the emergence of new ideological apparatuses no longer compatible with rock music? 

Read Article →

Transcending Incidental Music: Musical Theatricality in Schumann’s Manfred Overture

Alexandra Huang | May 12, 2018
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) is a music composer in high Romanticism. His symphonic rearrangement of the dramatic poem Manfred by Lord Baron Byron (1788-1824) to this day shares the limelight with Byron’s original text. The Manfred Overture is the opening introduction set in the beginning of his Symphony Op.115, Manfred: Dramatic Poem with Music in Three Parts along with the Overture (1848). In terms of genre, the piece is the apotheosis of incidental music, music composed for atmospheric accompaniment for dramatic actions in a play. Originating from ancient Greece, incidental music is a musical practice that looms large in the nineteenth century (Oxford Companion to Music). Interestingly, Shumann’s Manfred Overture is also a critique of the genre in that the place of music is as important as the dramatic scenarios.

Read Article →

A “Bittle” Love

Christa M. Burgin | May 1, 2018
For those of you who haven’t seen Love, Simon, there are numerous reasons why you should, most important of which is this: Simon, as we’re told early on, is just like you. He has a normal life with the exception of “one huge-ass secret.”1 In fact, this secret is so large that Simon doesn’t reveal he’s gay until he begins emailing “Blue,” a fellow student at his high school. Complications arise when another student reads Simon’s messages on one of the school computers. As a result, Simon is blackmailed into helping his classmate win over a girl in order to protect his identity.

Read Article →