Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change

Anahit Behrouz | January 10, 2018
In an article for The Pool published the week before the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, film critic Helen O’Hara questioned what a Hollywood awards ceremony would look like in a post-Weinstein world. O’Hara argued that although women only get 27% of the lines in the average Oscar-winning film, this year’s Golden Globes nominee list showed a progression towards a more equal awards ceremony, with numerous women and female-focused films up for consideration. As heartening as this may be, O’Hara did not delve into the question of how the mechanics of an awards ceremony in a post-Weinstein world would work, and what the optics would look like in an industry spending millions of dollars in self-congratulation during the same year that its ugly underbelly has been exposed.

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Communicating the Upside Down: Meaning Making and Semiotics in Netflix’s Stranger Things

Anahit Behrooz | November 6, 2017
At its heart, Stranger Things is about tension: the tension between the normal and the weird, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the known and the strange. The normal and the familiar are established through the show’s primary setting – the small, quintessentially American town of Hawkins, where everyone knows everyone, children can play outdoors and, according to the town’s chief of police, Jim Hopper, the worst thing to ever happen was an owl flying at a citizen’s head. This familiarity is reinforced on an extradiegetic level through the numerous intertextual references to numerous works of 80’s sci-fi genre fiction, which provide a network of signifiers that make Stranger Things immediately readable and accessible. At the other extreme, events happen throughout the show to destabilise this familiarity.

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LLC Blethers Video Presentations 2017: You Oughta Know

LLC Blethers is a night of academic storytelling talking about any and everything students in the school of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures want to have a blether on about (in case you don’t know, at it’s simplest definition, blether is a Scots word for a chat). To help give the event a little something extra, all the presentations are given in the PechaKucha style, that is, they are done using slides that contain only (or at least predominantly) one image each. There are 20 slides allowed, and each slide is on screen for 20 seconds. We have collected together the videos from the 2017 Blethers event so you can watch them all!

Titles and presenters are:
– Amateur Psychopathy 101, or: How to Tell if your President is a Psychopath (Vicki Madden)
– Field Work: From Crooks to Books (Angus Sutherland)
– How Not to Organize a Conference: A 6-Minute Masterclass (Harriet MacMillan and Anahit Behrooz)
– I Was a Teenage Film Geek (Heather Thomson)
– My Personal Trial: A Night at the Theatre (Gina Maya)
– Picture Books for Grown-Ups: A History of Illustration in Four Books (Tess Goodman)
– Project Myopia: Crowdsourcing a Diverse Curriculum (Rianna Walcott)
– The Merits of Weird PhD Topics (Juliet Conway)
– Who Let the Vlogs Out? (Aran Ward Sell)

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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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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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