The Mary Beard Effect: A Brief Review of ‘Women & Power’

Mary A. Pura | April 12, 2018
If you’ve been wandering through Blackwell’s and Waterstone’s lately, you’ve probably noticed the beautifully arranged and aesthetically pleasing displays featuring popular female authors. Partly inspired by a surge in public attention to the #MeToo Movement, there has been an outpouring of new and old literature addressing women’s equality. Amidst the heaping piles, you’ve likely caught sight of the shining silver and gold design adorning Mary Beard’s new publication, Women & Power: A Manifesto. Over the past twenty years, Beard has become a kind of celebrity academic. You may recall an incident back in 2012 consisting of public outrage towards the late AA Gill regarding his statement that Beard was “too ugly for television.” Her response placed her among the feminist gods:

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Rethinking Celtic Medieval Tales: The Worlds of Sarah J. Maas

Sonia Garcia de Alba | April 11, 2018
I have met many adults who confess to reading Young Adult novels for fun. While we may be willing to admit that we use them to disengage from our routines or to while away time, we should question whether such entertainment is the sum of these texts. Some of these books, like the novels of Sarah J. Maas, prompt us to explore and learn about other things, like the fairy tale tradition and Celtic folklore.

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Smelling the Colour Nine

June L. Laurenson | February 24, 2018
There is a phrase in the English language that is often used to express confusion and bafflement: ‘Understanding you is like smelling the colour nine’. You can’t smell a colour, let alone a number; and nine isn’t a colour. For most people, this chaotic multisensory phrase effectively conveys a deep incomprehension about a thing or a person. But to me the number nine does have a colour (although not a smell), and I am not alone in experiencing this; I am in very good company.

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Egregious: Donald Trump as a Protagonist in a Great American Novel

Kiefer Holland | February 12, 2018
This rather bizarre article is, I suppose, what you’d call a “thought experiment,” the origins of which would, I’m sure, be of limited interest to the reader, and would certainly take too long to explain. All I believe it is necessary to know, is that the article is driven by the question “if Donald Trump was a fictional character in a Great American Novel, how would he be analysed?” To answer this question, I thought it would be interesting to do a piece of fictional literary analysis from the perspective of a critic fifteen years in the future, considering a book published around now, in which Donald Trump is the protagonist. The book is titled Egregious, the author’s name is, of course, A. Author.

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Romance novels: more than just a guilty pleasure

Lucy Hargrave | January 22, 2018
Has there ever been a more maligned genre than romance? Often romance novels are considered nothing more than a trashy beach read, something that should only be read while on holiday for light entertainment. They aren’t proper literature after all. Even avid romance readers will often refer to these books as their ‘guilty pleasures,’ thereby implying they shouldn’t be talked about, much less taken seriously. But what if we did take the romance genre seriously? If we strip away its reputation, what could be discovered about one of the most commercially successful genres in publishing history?

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Leave Us Our Precious

Laurie Beckoff | December 4, 2017
The announcement of Amazon purchasing the rights to The Lord of the Rings was met with a resounding groan from many Tolkien fans. While some are certainly excited for more Middle-earth on their screens, a large contingent is more than a little concerned about how their precious story could be ruined.

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The Canadian Boat Song and Scottish spirit in exile

Emanuela Militello| November 27, 2017
Fair these broad meads – these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our fathers’ land.

While flicking through some traditional Scottish songs, I came across one that got my attention. The lines quoted above are part of the “Canadian Boat Song”, a poem that first appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh) in 1829. Being an enthusiast of Scottish culture, I am always interested in every expression of “Scottishness” – be it in literature, film or folklore. Learning about Scots in exile and the ways in which they coped with the loss of their motherland, and tried to keep their culture alive, is a subject that really fascinates me. So naturally, this song instantly grabbed my attention.

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Netflix’s Alias Grace and Female Testimony

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | November 20, 2017
Netflix’s Alias Grace (2017) is the second series to be released this year based on one of Margaret Atwood’s novels. The six-part series is, like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) before it, an unflinching depiction of women’s precarious position in society, through a defamiliarised, yet uncomfortably familiar, setting.

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Storytelling: Finding Humanity in Difference, and Difference as Humanity

Madison Pollack | November 6, 2017
The cartoonist Liana Finck recently published an article online called “Love Song,” where she worked through the issue of whether or not to post sketches about her relationship publically. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Finck has garnered a following on Instagram by posting autobiographical cartoons of her interpretations of moments on the subway, in coffee shops, and, often, in love. In “Love Song,” Finck writes that her cartoons are her “way of taking my story back from strangers on the street—and men I’d met on dating apps—who saw me as a minor character, if they saw me at all.” Finck’s Instagram is not merely a view into the artist’s inner life: it is her desperate and universal plea to be recognized as having one at all. By giving her inner workings a public platform, Finck enables herself to reclaim subjecthood in a world that is constantly taking it away from her.

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