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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An Inspiration for Murder? The Blakean Images in Popular Culture

September 6, 2016 | Amadeus Chen

What particular propensities in Blake’s poetry and art inspire fictional murders of the most gruesome kind? Or inspire the author to deem Blake a suitable spokesman for serial killers’ psyche? We can first take a look at Blake’s The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, the painting Dolarhyde is so obsessed with that he has a full-scale tattoo of its image on his body.

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99 Problems, Old Sport: The Meeting of Two Jays

June 27, 2016 | Niki Holzapfel

In 2013, when Baz Luhrmann released his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, more than a few people scratched their heads at his choice of soundtrack. Produced by Jay-Z, the album features rap, Fergie, and a U2 cover. Most of it sounds nothing like the 1920s. It led one writer for the music site Noisey to ask, “Who Let The Great Gatsby Soundtrack Happen?”

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Hungry for Murder: Interrogating America’s Obsession with True Crime

May 30, 2016 | Vicki Madden

In 1798, Charles Brockden Brown published the first novel written by a professional American author: Wieland: or, The Transformation. Brown’s tale of a patriarch compelled to murder his family under the influence of religious voices was quintessentially gothic. More importantly, however, it was based on a true story. Inspired by the case of James Yates, a New York farmer who murdered his wife and four children after purportedly hearing the voice of God, Brown’s novel attained cult status among nineteenth-century readers, underscoring the American public’s appetite for murder narratives drawn from real life horrors.

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Defying The Canon: Fanfiction As The New Literature

May 2, 2016 | Anahit Behrooz.

The history of literary fandoms is long and varied. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is often credited as the novel which produced the first literary fandom in the modern sense. The so-called “Werther Fever” spread over Europe – capturing the imagination of even Napoleon Bonaparte – and inspired hundreds of young men to copy Werther’s fashion, travels, and purportedly even his suicide. A few decades later, Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels had a visible impact on Scottish tourism, while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle received hundreds of fan letters and even real crime documents addressed to Sherlock Holmes, asking how he would solve them.

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Charles Bukowski: More than misogyny?

February 15, 2016 | Matthew Tibble.

“The male, for all his bravado and exploration, is the loyal one, the one who generally feels love. The female is skilled at betrayal and torture and damnation”

(Bukowski, “Letter to Steven Richmond”)

Bukowski’s academic respectability lies well below that of Frederick Exley, Hunter S. Thompson and John Fante. He was a self-proclaimed womaniser and an alcoholic whose writings ruptured the vanguard of American literature under his “Dirty Old Man” persona in the late sixties and he continued to garner attention with fictionalised memoirs right up until his death in 1994.

[tw discussions of abuse and violence]

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In Defence of the Dark Arts: Academic Resistance to the Fantastic

November 10, 2015 | Anahit Behrooz.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”– Dr Seuss.

Read any review of the Western canon and the absence of one particular genre becomes immediately obvious. Despite being one of the most dynamic and commercially successful genres in literature, fantasy is rarely taken seriously in the academic world. Iconic works such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are frequently swept aside in favour of ‘serious’ works which are considered more suitable for literary, artistic and socio-political analysis. Why, however, does this tension between fantastic and ‘high-brow’ literature even exist?

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Reading Between the Panels: Comics and Critical Theory

November 9, 2015 | Tom Sewel.

How do we read comics? How are the ways in which we read comics changing? For most of their history, the ways in which we have read and talked about comics has been left to comics fandoms to decide. While this has produced a passionate proliferation of reading approaches, it has meant that critical rigour has only very rarely been brought to bear on this uniquely multi-modal narrative form. With the academy’s relatively recent acceptance of comics as literature, this public conversation is now seeing a seismic shift.

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