Comfort, Escapism or Dystopia: How the Pandemic has Affected Reading Trends

… Among several other things, the UK lockdown  has drastically changed the way in which we consume media, including literature. Historically, periods of major political and social upheaval have shaped literature, with literary movements reflecting and reacting to times of societal and economic stress and change. … Though it may take several years before we are able to clearly see how this global crisis will spark and influence literary movements, three prominent threads have already emerged from our pandemic reading that may hint at trends we can anticipate over the next few decades…

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Being an Older Youngest

Katherine Carlman | 14 January, 2019
“I’m very good at math,” the boy said as I passed. He was five or six years old and made this declaration not to me, but to the adult who belonged with him. With his mop of long curls and declaration of brilliance, he had more self-confidence than I’ve ever had. How could a child have more self-assurance than a fifty-year-old woman? He must be an only child, I reasoned – maybe an oldest child, but certainly not the youngest.

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When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do

Julian Menjivar | July 23, 2018
I was inspired to write this piece from a conversation I had with my parents. I’ve always trusted their wisdom, and most of their experiences and stories have served me well in my life. We share similarities, yet we also have our own differences, some more evident than others. The particular conversation that came to mind was about the way I present myself. We argued about how what one wears, how one acts, and how the ways in which one is perceived matter a great deal in any culture and almost all of society. I found some points unjustifiable and illogical, yet I could also understand the perspective of my parents.

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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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A “Bittle” Love

Christa M. Burgin | May 1, 2018
For those of you who haven’t seen Love, Simon, there are numerous reasons why you should, most important of which is this: Simon, as we’re told early on, is just like you. He has a normal life with the exception of “one huge-ass secret.”1 In fact, this secret is so large that Simon doesn’t reveal he’s gay until he begins emailing “Blue,” a fellow student at his high school. Complications arise when another student reads Simon’s messages on one of the school computers. As a result, Simon is blackmailed into helping his classmate win over a girl in order to protect his identity.

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Capitalist Palliatives: Antidepressants, and How Not to Talk About Them

Vivek Santayana | March 30, 2018
A few weeks ago, the philosopher and literary critic Timothy Morton took a dig at his late colleague Mark Fisher, who committed suicide last year after a lifelong struggle with depression. Morton claimed the one big difference between himself and Fisher was that he took antidepressants, and so is still alive to write his new book. He was commenting on Fisher’s critique of neoliberal ideologies that shape discourses around mental health and pharmacological treatment. Morton’s tweet read like an insensitive gloat at his outliving his colleague whose opinion he disagrees with. At best, it was an ad hominem attack dismissing Fisher through a crude, mischaracterised version of his argument.

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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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