Responding to Charlottesville

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 21st August 2017.

When I got to writing this article this week, I quickly realised I couldn’t write something that didn’t address the recent events in Charlottesville. However, I was also keenly aware that it was not necessarily my place nor within my capabilities to provide a response, beyond an expression of the horror, devastation, disappointment, and determination that so many have been expressing in the past few days. I know I am not alone in feeling helpless in the face of these events, and I know that many of us have been looking for ways to support the counter-protestors of Charlottesville, both in the work they have already done to fight white supremacists and neo-nazis, and in the work that they will doubtless continue to do in the future. I also know that many of us would like all the guidance we can get in helping us to understand what has been happening and how best to move forward. With this in mind, I have decided to use my platform this week for two purposes: providing links to organisations doing invaluable work that would greatly benefit from our financial support; and providing links to excellent, spark-inciting pieces written by those most affected by the rise of these racist movements and those who have been fighting this fight for a long time.

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On Apathy as a Scholar

Robyn Pritzker | 7 August 2017.

As a humanities researcher (and as a human), I am often reminded about the importance of caring: empathy, sympathy, and general sensitivity to my environment are some of the important values that supposedly distinguish the humanist from their scientific or otherwise quantitative counterparts. As humanists, we study culture, literature, language, and other facets of the world expected to inspire feeling or indicate meaning (freedom, beauty, truth, and love, even)! Working on a long-term independent project like a thesis, we are absorbed by our research, or we absorb it, depending on the day.

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Two Words Where One Won’t Do: Against Conciseness

Dylan Taylor | 25 July 2017.

The dawning supremacy of M.F.A. writing is well observed and disparaged by many. Arguably, this ‘homogenized, over-workshopped writing’ has become increasingly content to follow prevailing literary models, making much contemporary English literature unambitious and conservative. Rather than push boundaries, many modern writers seem content to contribute their own version of a story that has been told a thousand times before: a story typically of love, of coming-of-age, of examining identity, in middle-class London or New York. Overwhelmingly, the stylistic cornerstone of such a story is prose that is polished and clear: all unjustified adjectives must go.

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The Unspoken Hierarchy in Literature

Scheherazade Khan | 10th July 2017.

The humanities in higher education are often looked down upon as a wasted pursuit. In the presence of doctors, engineers, scientists, policy makers and accountants, the humanities can be considered rather pointless. Most students in the arts are well accustomed to jokes regarding poor employment opportunities in our fields. Though these comments may hint at the difficult reality of job searching for those in the arts, generally humanities students have learnt to laugh along. We understand and have accepted that we did not choose this field for its financial potential but for a passion we felt determined to follow and explore.

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Antidepressants after Prozac Nation

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 10th July 2017.

Twenty-three years after the publication of American author Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir entitled Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (1994), public opinion about antidepressants is still as rife with misconceptions, fear, and judgement, as it was when Wurtzel was first prescribed medication to manage her persistent and devastating depression. Writing in what is now a significant traditional of women’s narratives of mental illness— including Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted (1999), and Marya Hornbacher’s Madness (2008)—  Wurtzel details the brutal development of her depression from early adolescence into adulthood, and notes the rise in illnesses such as hers across the country.

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Whither Truth? An Ode to Fargo, or How Russia Stole the Limelight  

Anne Liebig|10th June 2017.

‘This is a true story.’ Every connoisseur of the Coen brother’s timeless classic Fargo and its equally cult-like series spin-off about small-town megalomania will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek quality of so blatant a lie. The sentence is repeatedly dangled in front of the viewer at the beginning of each episode as a propitious prop for make-believe, calling viewers to rejuvenate their sense for a suspension of disbelief and jump right into this mellifluent maelstrom of snow storms, ice deserts, and funny accents. If it is only popular entertainment, what does it have to do with our current post-truth political climate? 

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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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