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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A Few Reasons Why Not

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 1 May 2017

[tw: discussions of suicide and rape]

Netflix’ recent series, 13 Reasons Why, has been subject to a wide chasm in reception. The story follows a teenage boy, Clay, as he listens to the tapes left by his friend and love interest Hannah, detailing the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. The show depicts Hannah’s fights with friends, her parents’ financial troubles, her experiences of bullying, misogyny, and rape by fellow students, and, very graphically, her suicide. Given this wide chasm, what are some of the main critiques of the show and what problems does it engender?

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A Host of Questions: Artificial Agency in Westworld

Maria Torres-Quevedo | 20th February 2016.

Trigger Warning: Rape, Violence.

Westworld (2016) depicts a sci-fi not-too-distant future in which humans have mastered the art of artificial intelligence, and have used this to create a Western-style theme park in which real humans (almost exclusively white men) from the real world can live out their fantasies consequence-free with “non-human” robots.

The park ostensibly serves to allow its human patrons to “find themselves,” revealing their real desires in an environment designed to cater specifically to them. More interesting to me, however, is the self-discovery exemplified by the two female robots (hosts) around which much of the narrative centres.

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Morbid Curiosity – Sorrentino’s Ironic Pope

12th December 2016 | Eszter Simor.

Why are we so obsessed with scandalous news pieces? Paolo Sorrentino’s new television series, “The Young Pope” (2016), stars Jude Law playing a fictional Pope Pius XIII. It contemplates power and faith but at the same time, satisfies a morbid curiosity about death, sex and corruption. Just like Pope Francis, Sorrentino’s fictional pope also uses the media in a very conscious manner, but he chooses entirely different tactics…

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Cultural Appropriation: From Seinfeld to Shriver

17 October 2016 | Richard Elliott

In ‘The Yada Yada’ episode of Seinfeld, dentist Tim Whatley announces to Jerry and George that he has become a Jew, and immediately begins to crack jokes based around his new-found identity. When Jerry goes to a Catholic confessional to express his suspicion that Whatley has “converted to Judaism purely for the jokes,” the priest asks him “And this offends you as a Jewish person?” to which Jerry replies “No, it offends me as a comedian.”

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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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