Feminism Now and Then: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex

Charlotte Kessler | 26 June 2017.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the best known contemporary feminists; she is a Nigerian writer of novels, short stories and feminist theory. In 2014, she published her essay We Should All Be Feminists after giving a Tedx talk on her approach to feminism and followed it up with her feminist manifesto Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions in March 2017. Written as a letter to a friend, and recommending how to raise her newborn girl, Dear Ijeawele makes powerful statements about feminism today. Issues addressed in Dear Ijeawele resemble those raised in Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist classic The Second Sex, published in 1948. I will examine how Adichie has furthered de Beauvoir’s feminist thought and made it more inclusive and therefore better suited to contemporary feminism. Adichie echoes, whether consciously or unconsciously, arguments made by de Beauvoir in The Second Sex about childhood, the mother and marriage.

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The (Ignored) Feminist Heroes of Wonder Woman

Scheherazade Khan | 13 June 2017

Warning : Spoilers ahead for Wonder Woman (2017)

Though box office ratings and some critiques seem to suggest that Wonder Woman is finally giving a female role the appropriate attention, I join with other critics who argue that the movie itself failed to deliver on the hope that it would be a feminist dream. For me, Wonder Woman suggests that the only way for female superheroes to be successful is to mimic traditionally male roles. That is, having adventures, engaging in physical violence while proclaiming superior – if not slightly naïve – moral standards, all while wearing absurdly tight clothing that seems like it would be a hindrance when fighting for one’s life. In comparison, the working women in the movie (of which there are a grand total of two) are used either as comic relief or for nefarious purposes.

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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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I Wish I Was a Girl: Counting Crows and Clarity

Bradley Copper | 15 May 2017

The patriarchal trope of using a woman in order to explain some woeful truth about a man is of course a damagingly old one. This sexist setup, in which women are one-dimensionally portrayed so as to help a speaker come to some conclusion about himself or his world, while never honouring their experience, is a genric cornerstone that remains in so much literature to the present day. American rock band Counting Crows adopt a version of this trope in constructing femaleness or womanness—the songs are predictably not definitionally specific on this point—as a signifier of clarity. The band’s frontman and lyricist Adam Duritz imagines the women characters in his songs as being able to speak directly about their emotions in a way that he as a man cannot.

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The Siren’s Call: Mica Levi’s Soundscapes of Alien Femininity

Katie Goh | 15 May 2017

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014) opens with a bright white light shining into the audience, which then morphs into an eye over the span of five minutes, accompanied by a crescendo of buzzing violins. The opening is disturbing and abstract, setting the tone for the film’s sonic and visual imagery and for the alien language created by Mica Levi’s soundscape.

Mica Levi’s second film score was for Jackie (2016), Pablo Lerrain’s biopic of America’s most famous widow, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The film chronicles Jackie’s response to the aftermath of her husband’s assassination as she simultaneously processes her personal grief and works to mythologize her husband’s legacy. Both Lerrain and Glazer’s films are about alien femininity: whereas Under the Skin centres on a literal alien playing as woman, Jackie follows an alienated woman.

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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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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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Hollywood: Shell without Ghost

Erden Göktepe | 18th April 2017.

I must be honest, I had high hopes for the 2017 remake of Ghost in the Shell directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Scarlett Johansson as Major, the female protagonist, perhaps even for seeing something as intriguing as the original manga story and anime. Sadly, at the end of it, I simply felt indifferent and bored. Apparently, Hollywood has taken another well-written story with a phenomenal potential for audience impact and turned it into a breezy action movie….

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The Paper Chase: Why My Piece of Paper isn’t Just a Piece of Paper

Maygan Eugenie Forbes | 18 April 2017

I recently came across an article on Forbes.com that told the story of a contributor, Neil Patel, who has deep regrets over pursuing his degree. In this article Patel writes: “Don’t listen to them! It’s not worth it…college was a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of money, and a waste of potential.” He then goes on to give a small description of his degree, and his early ambition to become an entrepreneur (which, according to Patel, is a job title that does not require a degree). He then proceeds to list a set of substantial degrees that he believes to be worth the time, energy, and money of a degree. For the sake of my word count I won’t write out the list, but I can tell you now, as a Film Studies MSc student, I don’t make the grade according to Patel. Everybody’s different but without a doubt, every degree counts. But is the question here less about the value of a degree and more about a void in cultural experience? Are we missing out on great wonders, wasting our limited time by being a servant to educational institutions, regardless of what degree we are pursuing?

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