Rolling for Insight: How table-top role-playing games can change the way we see the world

A presentation by Vivek Santayana, ‘Rolling for Insight: How table-top role-playing games can change the way we see the world’.
Vivek won the award for ‘Best Presentation’ at LLC Blethers, an evening of academic storytelling with the University of Edinburgh, February 2019.

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The Failed Orlando: Exploring the Reception of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor

The revered series Doctor Who has faced harsh criticism in its last season: it was too PC; the actors failed to match the previous cast and even the stories lacked the thrilling qualities that Whovians have come to expect from their favourite TV show. Like all previous cast choices, the announcement of Jodie Whittaker taking the reins as the 13th Doctor was met with harsh opposition. Unlike the previous actors portraying the Doctor though, the disapproval did not abate, but seemed to alienate a significant number of fans. Now that Jodie’s first series is over, a closer look can be taken into the her portrayal of the Doctor.

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Decoding the linguistic jiggery-pockery of Brexit

Chris Jardine | 10 December, 2018
It has been two and a half years since the United Kingdom’s referendum on EU membership. While this decision has dominated the political landscape ever since, less attention has been paid to the linguistic innovations, reincarnations and clichés this event has had on and within the English language. Given that the wider Brexit debate has been hijacked by a failed Tory leadership candidate, whose choice in language has been met with disdain by even his allies, and a bizarre anachronism from North East Somerset, a linguistic decoding of some of the key terminology is long overdue.

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AN ANGRY WOMAN READS AUSTEN

Elise Walter | October 12, 2018
I left Washington DC with relief and regret.
Relief to escape the relentless, oppressive landscape of a new political reality, and regret that I was running away from a fight. The rights and dignity of so many people were–are–being stripped away, day by day. I was and remain furious. How could I justify abandoning my work to study literature, when everything else was burning? What good does reading Jane Austen do?

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On the Hollywood Trend of Woman-Centered Remakes

Whitney Hubbell | July 3, 2018
Ocean’s 8 has just hit theaters and so far has unsurprisingly received mixed reviews. The film definitely has appeal: it boasts an undeniably great cast – Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, even Rihanna – and an intriguing concept, being an all-woman heist film. However, the film’s title and the name of Sandra Bullock’s character (Debbie Ocean) reveals that it’s basically just a rehashing of the earlier Ocean’s films starring George Clooney as Danny Ocean. But Ocean’s 8 is just the latest in a growing trend of Hollywood remakes in which the formerly male cast is replaced with women.

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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.

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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.

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Cardboard Critics: The Language of Protest

Anna Kemball | April 30, 2018
A picture says a thousand words, they say. When it comes to how we take collective action, how much can be said through pictures and words, hastily scribbled on a scrap of cardboard? What impact do these transitory collections of text, image and object have in relation to more permanent messages associated with our universities?

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Capitalist Palliatives: Antidepressants, and How Not to Talk About Them

Vivek Santayana | March 30, 2018
A few weeks ago, the philosopher and literary critic Timothy Morton took a dig at his late colleague Mark Fisher, who committed suicide last year after a lifelong struggle with depression. Morton claimed the one big difference between himself and Fisher was that he took antidepressants, and so is still alive to write his new book. He was commenting on Fisher’s critique of neoliberal ideologies that shape discourses around mental health and pharmacological treatment. Morton’s tweet read like an insensitive gloat at his outliving his colleague whose opinion he disagrees with. At best, it was an ad hominem attack dismissing Fisher through a crude, mischaracterised version of his argument.

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