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.
Gabriel Smith | 11 February, 2018
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?
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?
June L. Laurenson | October 23, 2017
We live in a world that is constantly online, where speed, brevity, and accessibility enhance productivity and provide instant gratification. Multi-tasking is a prized asset. Things become condensed, abbreviated, or omitted, but is less necessarily more, especially in the Arts?
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.
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.
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 . 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?
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.
Richard Elliott | 6 March 2017
From the masterpieces of Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf to recent classics such as Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, the subject of memory has exercised some of the finest minds of modern literature. Indeed, think of the last novel you read and chances are that a good deal of the narrative was devoted to memory, whether in the form of childhood memories (as in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time), traumatic memories (Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians), or, more atypically, prenatal memories (Ian McEwan’s Nutshell).
Charlotte Kessler | 6 March 2017
Fatma Aydemir’s debut novel Ellbogen (2017) addresses the experiences of immigrants in Germany in the face of the current political and social climate. ‘Ellbogen’ is German for ‘elbow’ and refers to the pressures in society that cause people to elbow their way to the top in order to be successful. The novel is a striking portrayal of the second generation of immigrants, who are often the children of so-called ‘guest workers’. It captures sensations such as loneliness, alienation and the search for belonging, which Aydemir does through telling the heart-warming story of a teenage girl of Turkish descent living in Germany and by using the colloquial language of Turkish teenagers who mix German and Turkish slang. The observation of migration experience does not end there. There are various situations and characters that lend themselves to an analysis in regard to Claire Sutherland’s chapter on citizenship and migration in Nationalism in the Twenty-First Century (2012).