Shakespeare vs. Pushkin – On Not Reading National Poets, or: A Tragedy in Two Acts

Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
To be or not to be – who has not heard, used, or abused this phrase, written down over 400 years ago? Who cannot conjure up a spontaneous image of the Bard, or name at least one of his plays? Shakespeare has performed a feat that few other writers have achieved across the globe: he has been elevated to a symbol of national culture. But when did you last stop and ask yourself what the point of having a so-called national poet really was?

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Ladybird: Reclaiming the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Eva Dieteren | 28 January, 2019
When I heard that Greta Gerwig directed a film starring Saoirse Ronan, there was an immediate sense of excitement followed by me convincing everyone I know to come and see it with me. When I saw the poster, however, I hesitated. It showed the character of Ladybird and what particularly stood out for me was her pink hair. It is not that I do not like pink hair, but the moment that I saw Ladybird I thought: please no, not another Manic Pixie Dream Girl film.

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Of Music Videos and Museums

Uttara Rangarajan | 21 January
Art museums have long been an elite space, subsumed within hierarchies of colour and class while displaying work made for the rich and powerful. Western art has traditionally worked from within the colonial gaze to present whiteness as the norm, to invisibilise or stereotype people of other ethnicities. In the modern era, as people from around the world strive to break free of these categories, one of the most powerful challenges to western iconography has emerged from music videos which reinvent and undermine the Eurocentricism of western art.

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Ophelia and Pink in the Bathtub

Devika | 26 November, 2018
It was Edgar Allan Poe who said “the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world”. Poe’s misogynist statement is an accurate summary of the way the figure of Ophelia has been treated for centuries. Appropriated and rendered in multiple art forms, from paintings to dramatic representations, Ophelia is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic female figures. Besides drama, novelists, artists, painters and even pop stars have found inspiration from the dead, floating woman.

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Altered Carbon: On living forever

Have you ever wondered if you could have eternal life? Netflix’s dystopian science fiction TV series, Altered Carbon, tells us that immortality is possible in a way if our consciousness can be stored digitally and be implanted into a new body. But if we pay heed to the epigraph in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, we will find that immortality may not necessarily be a good thing.

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Recomposing Caesuras: The Silent Creativity of Sounds in A Quiet Place

Alexandra Huang | August 8, 2018
Ghastly verisimilar, aurally suffocating, and acoustically pioneering, John Krasinski’s sci-fi thriller A Quiet Place (2018) enacts the post-apocalyptic survival story revolving around the families of Lee and Evelyn (played by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt). Entangled in a fatal hide-and-seek human hunt in an unidentified wasteland set in America, the eerily predatory monsters attempt to trace the protagonists by utilizing auditory clues to target their prey across the ravaged planet. Witnessing the tragic deprivation of their youngest child by the reptilic monstrosities, the family is reduced to a miserable, quasi-mimical way of life against the backdrop of elegiac, death-like silence.

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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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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.

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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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