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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The Siren’s Call: Mica Levi’s Soundscapes of Alien Femininity

Katie Goh | 15 May 2017

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014) opens with a bright white light shining into the audience, which then morphs into an eye over the span of five minutes, accompanied by a crescendo of buzzing violins. The opening is disturbing and abstract, setting the tone for the film’s sonic and visual imagery and for the alien language created by Mica Levi’s soundscape.

Mica Levi’s second film score was for Jackie (2016), Pablo Lerrain’s biopic of America’s most famous widow, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The film chronicles Jackie’s response to the aftermath of her husband’s assassination as she simultaneously processes her personal grief and works to mythologize her husband’s legacy. Both Lerrain and Glazer’s films are about alien femininity: whereas Under the Skin centres on a literal alien playing as woman, Jackie follows an alienated woman.

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A Host of Questions: Artificial Agency in Westworld

Maria Torres-Quevedo | 20th February 2016.

Trigger Warning: Rape, Violence.

Westworld (2016) depicts a sci-fi not-too-distant future in which humans have mastered the art of artificial intelligence, and have used this to create a Western-style theme park in which real humans (almost exclusively white men) from the real world can live out their fantasies consequence-free with “non-human” robots.

The park ostensibly serves to allow its human patrons to “find themselves,” revealing their real desires in an environment designed to cater specifically to them. More interesting to me, however, is the self-discovery exemplified by the two female robots (hosts) around which much of the narrative centres.

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From ‘A New Hope’ to ‘Rogue One’: A Successful Star Wars Adaptation to Current Political Climates

Erden Göktepe | 9th January 2017.

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead!)

The original Star Wars is a romantic and epic space opera with stunning visual effects, but at the end of the day, it is still an essentially political saga. It is a heroic mainstream statement of the fight against corruption, totalitarianism and injustice. When I first watched A New Hope in the 1980s, though, it was not the political aspect which swept me away from the Aegean small-city life I used to live. Star Wars invited me to travel to different worlds full of creatures in all shapes and sizes. To me, it was a truly romantic story with marvellous music that spoke to my emotions, while politics operated in the background.

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Where No Mainstream Sci-Fi Has Gone Before: Are We Getting Any Bolder?

18 October 2016 | Carolina Palacios.

This year marks an important date on any sci-fi geek’s calendar: the 50th anniversary of cult American TV series Star Trek, which aired for the first time on September 8, 1966. Despite the prompt cancellation of the original series after only three seasons, the Star Trek legacy has been kept alive, and 2016 saw the premiere of its 13th movie: Star Trek Beyond. In this era of big sequential blockbusters, amid all the comic book movies, dystopian adventures, and space epics, there is something that sets Star Trek apart: its philosophy. When giving a talk about the success of Star Trek, Roddenberry commented that “The whole show was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but to take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.” But while that philosophy influenced Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s every decision in his original series, the Star Trek ethos has unfortunately gotten lost amongst the shiny surfaces and explosions of director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 revival.

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Questions of (Mis)Translation: From Arrival to Brexit

17 October 2016 | Jonathan Drake

Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming sci-fi movie Arrival has already created a significant buzz amongst critics after first-look screenings on this year’s film festival circuit. There is still almost a month to go before its official release and it has already managed to attain an impressive score of 80/100 on the review aggregator Metacritic. The general consensus seems to be that this is a thoughtful science fiction offering that doesn’t rely too heavily on action; like the best of the genre, it isn’t afraid to tackle some big ideas. These ideas include the cultural, social and political significance of translation and Translation Studies: provoking thoughts on matters ranging from plot-holes in Roland Emmerich’s film Independence Day to cultural imperialism to translation’s role in the political discourse surrounding Brexit.

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In Defence of the Dark Arts: Academic Resistance to the Fantastic

November 10, 2015 | Anahit Behrooz.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”– Dr Seuss.

Read any review of the Western canon and the absence of one particular genre becomes immediately obvious. Despite being one of the most dynamic and commercially successful genres in literature, fantasy is rarely taken seriously in the academic world. Iconic works such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are frequently swept aside in favour of ‘serious’ works which are considered more suitable for literary, artistic and socio-political analysis. Why, however, does this tension between fantastic and ‘high-brow’ literature even exist?

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