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?

Read Article →

Taylor Swift and the ‘Rules of Feminism’

Kitty Ruskin | 9th January 2017.

Many will remember Gretchen Weiner’s often quoted phrase from Mean Girls that dating friends’ ex-boyfriends is ‘off limits’, as per ‘the rules of feminism’. A few months ago, in the midst of the backlash against Taylor Swift, this line came back to me. I took a moment to consider exactly why Gretchen’s line stands out to me in this context, particularly as a feminist in 2016.

Read Article →

Plastic Art in the Anthropocene

28 November 2016 ¦ Kate Lewis Hood.

The Anthropocene is the name for a proposed geological epoch that marks the extent of human impact on the Earth’s systems and processes. This impact includes the sharp increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but also other changes which are less widely discussed, such as the transformation of the nitrogen cycle, or the mass extinction of species. Although the Anthropocene Working Group only recommended that the term be adopted officially in August of this year, the Anthropocene has already been taken up as a cultural concept, with implications and possibilities for the arts as well as the sciences.

Read Article →

Revisiting the ‘Angel of Assassination’

March 7, 2016 | Harriet MacMillan.

I wrote the above poem in 2012, but it had been in gestation for some time. I first encountered David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793) in 2006; I clearly recall finding the artwork, detailing the French revolutionary’s death in his bath tub at the hands of Charlotte Corday, at once stark and yet curiously sterile. I still retain a fascination with Marat and his murderer Charlotte Corday, described posthumously as ‘l’Ange de l’Assassinat’. I am not alone in my fascination; Corday’s brutal killing of Marat has inspired many artists and writers. But what do artistic acts of rewriting history teach us? Can they ever truly represent those figures who have inspired or horrified us?

Read Article →

Refuge and Asylum: A Gardener’s Guide

February 15, 2016 | Sarah Stewart.

Gardens are a cultural staple the world over. You would be hard put to find a major world religion in which gardens do not feature; the sheer multitude of garden-related metaphors you hear everyday are testament to our language’s continuing reliance on concepts born in gardens, not to mention the prevalence of the garden in literary and artistic traditions. For millennia, gardens have been reflections of divine order on earth; spaces to display status, but, fundamentally, they are places where people negotiate with the land, and other people, in order to thrive. Given their global relevance, what potential do gardens and gardening have to bridge barriers between cultures and people of vast differences in background and experience? Between, say, established British citizens and asylum seekers and refugees?

[tw: discussions of torture]

Read Article →