Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and the Recurring History

Sini Eikonsalo | May 31, 2018
Philip Roth, a canonical American writer, died recently at the age of 85, leaving behind a vast array of novels, the most popular probably being his Pulitzer-winning American Pastoral (1997). However, it is The Plot Against America (2004) that has been in the public interest for the past couple of years and now with the news of Roth’s death.

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Egregious: Donald Trump as a Protagonist in a Great American Novel

Kiefer Holland | February 12, 2018
This rather bizarre article is, I suppose, what you’d call a “thought experiment,” the origins of which would, I’m sure, be of limited interest to the reader, and would certainly take too long to explain. All I believe it is necessary to know, is that the article is driven by the question “if Donald Trump was a fictional character in a Great American Novel, how would he be analysed?” To answer this question, I thought it would be interesting to do a piece of fictional literary analysis from the perspective of a critic fifteen years in the future, considering a book published around now, in which Donald Trump is the protagonist. The book is titled Egregious, the author’s name is, of course, A. Author.

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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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A Carnivalesque Turn of Events

Alberto Nanni | 20 February 2017

Politics have always been full of buffoons and this is no news. In America currently, being allegedly rich and charismatically outrageous seem more important than intelligence and integrity for political success. But is this something new? The newly elected president of the United States is not an isolated case. As an Italian expat, I can’t help but think that Trump has at least one renowned precursor: Silvio Berlusconi. And I don’t just limit their similarities to their orange complexion.

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Marvel’s America: Living in an Age of Oversimplification

Dylan Taylor | 6 February 2017

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans have “a lively faith in the perfectibility of man…They all consider society as a body in a state of improvement”. Such descriptions help explain our common stereotype as pragmatic idealists with a penchant for exaggerated emotions and an uncomfortable awkwardness in the face of negative, or even ambivalent, sentiments. Studies [1] have implied what many introverts could readily describe: America is a land where being quiet or reflective can induce strange looks or even pity. Being slow-to-judge—a trait so often honored by moral philosophers throughout history—is, to that subset of Americans which subscribes to a masculine, red-blooded vision of our tenets, seen instead as a sign of weakness and naiveté. This diluting of issues into binaries—weak or strong, moral or immoral, right or wrong—is a cultural tendency that has seemed to reach its apotheosis in the theatrical build-up to the new presidency and its traumatic fallout.

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Television Light Lies on the American Lawn

Sarah Giblin | 23 January 2017.
In his first collection, Areas of Fog, Joseph Massey writes:

television light

lies on the

American lawn
I can think of no better way to encapsulate the omnipresence of the Presidential inauguration within mainstream media. A sense of resigned, abject, passive observation has permeated everything from the mundane to the grand. This is reflected in the ‘American lawn’ that ties the suburban white picket fences to the sweeping grounds of the White House, and the television light that ‘lies’ intimates the allure of submitting to docility that has accompanied the shock victory of President Donald Trump. It is often tempting to acquiesce when met with situations which seem hopeless; Barack Obama addressed this directly in his final press conference, ‘at my core, I think we’re going to be okay. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it’. In response to Massey, I only offer that this ‘television light’ rests not only on American lawns, but on lawns the world over.

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Trumpocalypse Now: Musings on what lies ahead

Vicki Madden | 9th January 2017.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I considered the US home. I’ve always felt as American as apple pie, but there’s just something about “going home” that scares me these days. An uncanny feeling of estrangement hits me every time I’m driving around unfamiliar roads in my hometown, getting lost amongst cookie cutter suburban houses. But it’s not just the topography that’s alien to me now. It’s the entire “feel” of the country. The mere fact that my foreign service dad feels it’s necessary to point out all the exits in the cinema lest a gunman should walk in makes me feel like I could never live in the States again.

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Keep Calm and Stay Tolerant: Engaging with Trump Supporters

16 October 2016 | Scheherazade Khan. ‘Tolerance’ is one of those words that gets thrown around frequently. But what does it really mean? At the risk of sounding overly academic, I refer to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of tolerance: “the disposition to be patient with or indulgent to the opinions or practices of others.” While tolerance to the “practices of others” is highly emphasised in day-to-day discourse, I feel as though the significance of being “indulgent to the opinions” of others has diminished in our current understanding of tolerance. Instead, there is a tendency to force an ascription to what appears to be the morally correct viewpoint, particularly in a university environment where the majority leaning is decidedly liberal. Yet isn’t this a form of intolerance against the morals and opinions of others?

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