Altered Carbon: On living forever

Have you ever wondered if you could have eternal life? Netflix’s dystopian science fiction TV series, Altered Carbon, tells us that immortality is possible in a way if our consciousness can be stored digitally and be implanted into a new body. But if we pay heed to the epigraph in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, we will find that immortality may not necessarily be a good thing.

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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.

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A Few Reasons Why Not

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 1 May 2017

[tw: discussions of suicide and rape]

Netflix’ recent series, 13 Reasons Why, has been subject to a wide chasm in reception. The story follows a teenage boy, Clay, as he listens to the tapes left by his friend and love interest Hannah, detailing the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. The show depicts Hannah’s fights with friends, her parents’ financial troubles, her experiences of bullying, misogyny, and rape by fellow students, and, very graphically, her suicide. Given this wide chasm, what are some of the main critiques of the show and what problems does it engender?

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“As Exciting as a Movie”: How Does Streaming Change Theatre?

Katie Hawthorne | 6 March 2017

It turns out that finding a precise definition for theatre is deceptively tricky. For some theorists, theatre depends upon the live presence of an audience to witness an event. For others, it’s the live presence of a performer to tell a story. Some researchers and theatre makers hold that it’s the one-off, physical, fleeting nature of a performance which sets it apart from other art forms. For example, in 1993, performance scholar Peggy Phelan argued: Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented […]: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance” (146).

Each of these definitions relies upon an idea of liveness – the idea of a live audience and a live performer, sharing physical space and time. Cultural theorists like Phillip Auslander have grappled with what it means to be live – don’t worry, this won’t get morbid – and in 1999, he argued that we have only understood live art since we’ve had a mediated alternative, the not live, and explained that “the defining fact of the recorded is the absence of the live.” (2)

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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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