What you get

Madison Pollack| 11 November 2019
Seven books, a wind chime, assorted ticket stubs left over from trains and shows, movies and museums. … Lydia Davis’ initially cold calculation of how much a love affair costs (in dollars but, then, in more than dollars) in her story “Break It Down” ends with the following sentence: “So I’m just thinking about it, how you can go in with $600, more like $1000, and how you can come out with an old shirt.”

Read Article →

Brexit Will Hurt British Literature and Publishing Industry

By Conor Kavanagh|The Immigration Advice Service| 28 October 2019
… Britain’s publishing industries are some of the world’s most prominent – from Penguin Random House to Bloomsbury –  and help contribute a significant part of the £87 billion a year that the creative industry brings to the UK. However due to a rise in xenophobia, the stricter migration laws and the economic changes Brexit will bring, foreign authors and the British publishing industry are at risk. … Edward Said, a Palestinian-American writer, in his 1979 book ‘Orientalism’, helped expose how our ‘knowledge’ of different peoples and countries was often shaped and written by those who were not a part of them. …

Read Article →

‘What it means to be a human being’

Gabriel Smith | 11 February, 2018
Upon entering a bookshop, the canny reader/consumer (a heart-breaking slash) becomes aware that critics’ praise now adorns the cover of every newly released book, and therefore no book can be chosen on the basis of what critics are saying on its dustjacket. A massively inflationary adjectival market has rendered superlatives valueless.

Read Article →

Shakespeare vs. Pushkin – On Not Reading National Poets, or: A Tragedy in Two Acts

Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
To be or not to be – who has not heard, used, or abused this phrase, written down over 400 years ago? Who cannot conjure up a spontaneous image of the Bard, or name at least one of his plays? Shakespeare has performed a feat that few other writers have achieved across the globe: he has been elevated to a symbol of national culture. But when did you last stop and ask yourself what the point of having a so-called national poet really was?

Read Article →

Romance novels: more than just a guilty pleasure

Lucy Hargrave | January 22, 2018
Has there ever been a more maligned genre than romance? Often romance novels are considered nothing more than a trashy beach read, something that should only be read while on holiday for light entertainment. They aren’t proper literature after all. Even avid romance readers will often refer to these books as their ‘guilty pleasures,’ thereby implying they shouldn’t be talked about, much less taken seriously. But what if we did take the romance genre seriously? If we strip away its reputation, what could be discovered about one of the most commercially successful genres in publishing history?

Read Article →

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.

Read Article →

Migrant Literature or Migration Literature – and Why Does It Matter?

Charlotte Kessler | 15 May 2017

The twentieth and twenty-first century have been widely accepted as an unprecedented age of migration; according to Stephen Castles et. al. in The Age of Migration (2013), their global scope makes them distinct from previous centuries (6). Our century has been moulded by events such as the two World Wars, various civil wars, and immense progress in transportation and communication. This is not to say that migration has not shaped much of human history before the twentieth century, however, international migration and its political influences characterise our current era and many contemporary literary works have thematised such migration experiences. In the past few decades, ‘migrant literature’ has often been used as an umbrella term for the works of migrant writers. However, contemporary comparatists like Søren Frank, Rebecca Walkowitz, Sandra Vlasta, and Roy Sommer have shifted from using the term ‘migrant literature’ to ‘migration literature’ in order to describe literary works addressing migration, and for good reason.

Read Article →

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 →

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.

Read Article →