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.

Read Article →

John Green, Genre Fiction, and the Influence of David Foster Wallace

Bradley Copper | 6 February 2017

John Green isn’t the first Young Adult writer you’d associate with the labyrinthine depths of American postmodern fiction, let alone with the onerous figure of David Foster Wallace. The combination of Green’s happy-go-lucky YouTube persona and the explosive popularity of his cancer novel-turned-teen romance The Fault in Our Stars (2012) has made Green the figurehead of a supposedly adolescent romantic fandom. To anybody who digs a little deeper, the above characterisation of Green’s online community is condescending at best—it is also untrue (‘Nerdfighter Census’).

Read Article →

The Hamiliad: Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Epic Tradition

31 October 2016 ¦ Bradley Copper

Virgil’s Aeneid was an epic poem composed from 29-19 BC. It describes the mythological journey of Trojan hero Aeneas and his founding of Rome, and was immediately placed at the centre of education in the early Roman Empire. Hamilton: An American Musical, a show about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and the American Revolution (1765-83), has with similar speed entered classrooms across the United States in the year since its Broadway debut. In his poem, Virgil lauds Emperor Augustus, to whom he performed parts of it; Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind Hamilton, sang an early version of its first song at a White House Poetry Jam in 2009. In fact, it’s difficult to find higher praise for the musical than from the White House: recently Michelle Obama called it “a musical about the miracle that is America” (70th). Rarely do literary works get so warm an imperial reception, so what may we make of this anecdotal connection between Hamilton and the classical epic?

Read Article →