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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Fogging Lit Crit: Tale of Two Critics

Kate Lewis Hood and Niki Holzapfel | 3 April 2017.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.

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Toilet Block

Gina Maya | 3 April 2017.

Bears do it in the woods, they say, but Westerners do it as God ordained it, in a room labelled male or female. Never mind that gender-segregated toilets appeared not in Biblical times but the Victorian age; the issue of public toilets is becoming one of the touchstones of our post-Brexit, post-Trump age, regarding who goes where, and whether or not trans- or non-binary-identifying people count as legitimate.

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Video Games and the Humanities

Dylan Taylor | 3 April 2017.

With the release last month of the newest entry in the Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild, talk has turned again to the artistry of video games. The idea that interactive entertainment can tell interesting stories, or that it is capable of being considered “art” in the “high-brow” sense of the term, has been a contested one, albeit one which has seen the scale weighted more on the side of the defenders in recent years [1]. Within the field of the humanities, where scholars study what have, in many cases, been widely considered the highest forms of storytelling, how does one make sense of where this newer medium stands? How does one who has grown up with video games and who considers literature—and the art of storytelling itself—to be one of humanity’s highest achievements, come to terms with their appreciation of both?

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Finally, A Final Girl for the Twenty-First Century

Vicki Madden | 3 April 2017.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Final Girl. As a long-time horror film devotee, this unique figure has fascinated me ever since I first encountered her in the form of Alien’s Ellen Ripley. As Ripley shows us, the Final Girl is a bad-ass – she’s the last woman standing who’s left to defeat the monster through sheer wit and ingenuity (though occasionally, she still requires a man to rescue her – a trait inherited from the classic gothic stories of yore, no doubt). The Final Girl, as Carol Clover first described her in her seminal essay “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film” (1987), is “intelligent, watchful, level-headed; the first character to sense something amiss and the only one to deduce from the accumulating evidence the patterns and extent of the threat [1].” In other words, the Final Girl is the audience’s point of identification – we root for her because, unlike almost everyone else in a horror film, she knows what’s up and she’s prepared to do something about it.

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Trauma, Traditional Gender Roles and Radiation Fears: Shinya Tsukamoto’s Kotoko

Chantal Bertalanffy | 21 March 2017.

[TW: discussions of domestic and physical violence]

Single-mom Kotoko (played by Japanese singer Cocco) is traumatized. She is the anti-heroine in Japanese cult director Shinya Tsukamoto’s psychological horror film of the same name, Kotoko (2011). The story revolves around her struggle to raise her baby while suffering from paranoia, reoccurring visions, self-harm, and other Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-related symptoms of an unknown cause.

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City of Literature? Opposing Cuts to Edinburgh City Libraries

Aran Ward Sell | 20 March 2017.

In a recent Inciting Sparks article, Tess Goodman writes that libraries are hubs of intellectual community. ‘In libraries,’ she writes, people ‘find anchors on the great sea they must navigate.’ Goodman’s article concludes: ‘P.S. We all need books. Support your local library.’ The article you’re reading might be considered a regretful postscript to this postscript:

P.P.S. Public libraries in the UK are dying.

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Academia and the Bingo Card

Juliet Conway | 20 March 2017

While in a group of 8 PhD students recently, I discovered just how bad we all are at summarising our research. Our topics, on which each of us could wax lyrical for hours, cannot fit into a succinct summary, not at least without using several 5-syllable words. I am equally guilty of this. I try to get around the issue with a one-word answer. ‘What do I study?’: ‘Flirting’. It works, and usually gets a laugh or a politely bemused look. But if you ask me to extrapolate you’ll probably regret it. My arguments, which would (hopefully) sound eloquent and comprehensive in 100,000 words, become jumbled, convoluted and frankly indecipherable when squeezed into a few sentences. The questioner’s eyes start to glaze at the word ‘dichotomy’ and as I try falteringly to explain how flirts use intentional ambiguity to undermine notions of authority, I know I’ve already lost them.

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The Proustian Experience of Wine Tasting

Alice de Galzain | 6 March 2017.

Three years ago, since I was a literature student in Paris, I did what 99% of students do at the beginning of summer: start looking for a summer job. And for various inexplicable reasons, I decided that I would try my luck and leave my resume at a very fancy restaurant next to my house. The restaurant was Enrico Bernardo’s Il Vino and that job became the most memorable work experience of my life. From the very first day, I was able to learn that liking wine is very different from knowing about it. Yet, apart from that youthful realisation, I was taken aback by how my world – the world of literature, language, and words – surprisingly connected with the world of wine. The poetic nature of wine tasting opened so many unforeseen parallels that the associations between the literary world and somellerie just started to multiply.

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