The Outlander Franchise and National History

Emanuela Militello | 12 June 2017

Since I came across the highly popular book and television series Outlander, partially set during the Jacobite rebellions, I have been asking myself how these fictional renditions of such a significant episode in Scottish history influence the perception of its viewers and readers. Do they allow viewers and readers to gain an understanding of the historical events they represent, or do they instead obfuscate the historical realities of the events in question?

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Migrant Literature or Migration Literature – and Why Does It Matter?

Charlotte Kessler | 15 May 2017

The twentieth and twenty-first century have been widely accepted as an unprecedented age of migration; according to Stephen Castles et. al. in The Age of Migration (2013), their global scope makes them distinct from previous centuries (6). Our century has been moulded by events such as the two World Wars, various civil wars, and immense progress in transportation and communication. This is not to say that migration has not shaped much of human history before the twentieth century, however, international migration and its political influences characterise our current era and many contemporary literary works have thematised such migration experiences. In the past few decades, ‘migrant literature’ has often been used as an umbrella term for the works of migrant writers. However, contemporary comparatists like Søren Frank, Rebecca Walkowitz, Sandra Vlasta, and Roy Sommer have shifted from using the term ‘migrant literature’ to ‘migration literature’ in order to describe literary works addressing migration, and for good reason.

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Malory Revisited; or the Enduring Appeal of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur

Emanuela Militello | 15 May 2017

King Arthur and the Round Table probably call to mind tales of heroism, adultery (perhaps the infamous affair between Sir Lancelot and Guenivere), and knights in shining armour, riding on their trusty steeds to the rescue of some damsel in distress—and as a depiction of a genre, that is all well and good. After all, most knights in the Arthurian cycle engage in incredible feats of arms and prove their honour in the service of a lady. In this short piece I want to draw your attention to the book that established many of the characteristics of the legend for modern audiences: Le Morte Darthur—the compendium of Arthurian legend in eight episodes, written by Sir Thomas Malory in the 15th century—and to the potential that this version of the Arthurian cycle still has to touch readers with its powerful emotional appeal that goes beyond the glamour of chivalric adventures.

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The Contemporary Citizen in Fatma Aydemir’s Ellbogen

Charlotte Kessler | 6 March 2017

Fatma Aydemir’s debut novel Ellbogen (2017) addresses the experiences of immigrants in Germany in the face of the current political and social climate. ‘Ellbogen’ is German for ‘elbow’ and refers to the pressures in society that cause people to elbow their way to the top in order to be successful. The novel is a striking portrayal of the second generation of immigrants, who are often the children of so-called ‘guest workers’. It captures sensations such as loneliness, alienation and the search for belonging, which Aydemir does through telling the heart-warming story of a teenage girl of Turkish descent living in Germany and by using the colloquial language of Turkish teenagers who mix German and Turkish slang. The observation of migration experience does not end there. There are various situations and characters that lend themselves to an analysis in regard to Claire Sutherland’s chapter on citizenship and migration in Nationalism in the Twenty-First Century (2012).

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John Green, Genre Fiction, and the Influence of David Foster Wallace

Bradley Copper | 6 February 2017

John Green isn’t the first Young Adult writer you’d associate with the labyrinthine depths of American postmodern fiction, let alone with the onerous figure of David Foster Wallace. The combination of Green’s happy-go-lucky YouTube persona and the explosive popularity of his cancer novel-turned-teen romance The Fault in Our Stars (2012) has made Green the figurehead of a supposedly adolescent romantic fandom. To anybody who digs a little deeper, the above characterisation of Green’s online community is condescending at best—it is also untrue (‘Nerdfighter Census’).

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The Vampire before the Vampire: Varney and the Feast of Blood

12th December 2016 | Michelle Mackie.

Today, the vampire figure has become ingrained in popular consciousness in various incarnations. We have the glittering “vegetarian” vampire in Twilight (2008), the depiction of vampirism as addiction in Interview with the Vampire (1994) and The Lost Boys (1987), as well as the inhuman demons depicted in films like the Blade trilogy (1998-2004) and the Underworld (2003–) franchise. Neither is there a lack of vampire parody, with the recent mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (2014) being a particularly good example. The figure of the vampire has long roots and traditions, though some would argue that the vampire in its most recognisable manifestation was created by Bram Stoker in Count Dracula himself. Dracula is often conceived of as founding the vampire genre, and many do not know which works influenced its creation. These works are significant, yet they remain on the fringes and are not widely known, taught or published. Let me, therefore, introduce you to Varney the Vampire.

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Who Owns Bridget Jones? The Contemporary Canonicity Conundrum

14 November 2016 ¦ Juliet Conway.

Recently a child showed me his favourite book; a written version of The Angry Birds Movie, which is already a film based, of course, on the popular App. When asked what he thought of the book, his reply was ‘it was good’, but ‘the birds weren’t the same as the game’. As a literature student I should probably balk at the idea that his favourite literature is the account of a pixelated bird, but instead he got me thinking. In a world where fiction is communicated in so many forms, which one is given precedence when contradictions occur?

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To Unmask is to Silence: the Case of Elena Ferrante

31 October 2016 ¦ Paulina Drėgvaitė

In A Room of One’s Own, first published in 1929, Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of space – both physical and metaphysical – to the undertaking of writing. This lack of space often prompts female writers to use a nom de plume or opt for anonymity in order to avoid scrutiny, or, in the past, to be published at all. The reasons for this are numerous. In many cases, the reception of literary work produced by women is locked within the framework of their gender and assuming a male persona allows it to transgress that boundary: think Mary Ann Evans choosing the comfort of naming herself George Eliot, think Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin opting for George Sand and the Brontë sisters publishing under masculine pseudonyms.

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Imagined Trauma: Ideology and Motherhood in Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train

17 October 2016 | Chantal Bertalanffy

It was not the crime story which kept me awake until late at night and had me turning page after page; I was under the spell of the women in Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train (2015). I urgently needed to know if Rachel, Meagan and Anna would redeem themselves at the end of the novel, or if Hawkins herself was just as lost as her characters in a narrative which was not her own, this narrative being patriarchy. Without spoiling the ending, Hawkins did not disappoint me.

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The Strange Case of Fanny Stevenson and Literary Partnership

March 21, 2016 | Robyn Pritzker.

Amongst the most misunderstood literary partnerships to date is that of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. The two coauthored several volumes, to wide critical disapproval, and Fanny was her husband’s amanuensis and editor for many years through his bouts of ill health. Fanny was an artist in her own right, a trained painter and an author who penned several short stories and captivating travel diaries during her family’s extensive travels across Europe, North America, and the Pacific Islands. Robert Louis Stevenson frequently mentioned their collaboration in his letters, referencing the two of them hard at work together on his latest pieces[1], but nonetheless critics and biographers like Frank McLynn and T.C. Livingstone have long asserted that Fanny’s influence was minimal if not actually detrimental.

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