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The Archive and the Digital Age: Field Notes from the Pedagogical Front

Abstract

The digital environment in which the humanities are now firmly immersed has opened the door to innovative ways for students to interact with traditional formats such as archival and print material, and to develop a deep and personal understanding of topics and issues. Libraries, museums and archives are in the unique position of facilitating the creation of digital initiatives in the classroom by offering up their collections as “learning laboratories,” and by sharing their expertise in technology, information, and digital literacy as well as data management. Through active collaboration with course instructors, they can build bridges between their collections and the digital skills students need in order to embrace the new learning paradigm and to help lead them into the future. This paper outlines an archival-digital pilot launched in 2015 at the University of Ottawa, Canada. It situates the project in its historical context; details its early and subsequent iterations; and surveys the assumptions, challenges, surprises, and pleasures of introducing students to archival sources and to acquiring digital skills.

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Book Reviews
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The Development of Marxist Shakespearean Criticism in China

Abstract

Chinese Shakespearean criticism from Marxist perspectives is highly original in Chinese Shakespeare studies. Scholars such as Mao Dun, Yang Hui, Zhao Li, Fang Ping, Yang Zhouhan, Bian Zhilin, Meng Xianqiang, Sun Jiaxiu, Zhang Siyang and Wang Yuanhua adopt the basic principles and methods of Marxism to elaborate on Shakespeare’s works and have made great achievements. With ideas changed in different political climates, they have engaged in Shakespeare studies for over eight decades since the 1930s. At the beginning of the revolutionary age, they advocated revolutionary literature, followed Russian Shakespearean criticism from the Marxist perspective, and established the mode of class analysis and highlighted realism. Before and after the Cultural Revolution, they were concerned about class, reality and people. They also showed the “left-wing” inclination, taking literature as a tool to serve politics. Since the 1980s, they have been free from politics and entered the pure academic realm, analysing Shakespearean dramas with Marxist aesthetic theories and transforming from sociological criticism to literary criticism.

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East Meets West: Identity and Intercultural Discourse in Chinese huaju Shakespeares

Abstract

This article examines two huaju performances of Shakespeare—The Tragedy of Coriolanus (2007) and King Lear (2006), which are good examples of cultural exchanges between East and West, integrating Shakespeare into contemporary Chinese culture and politics. The two works provide distinctive approaches to the issues of identity in intercultural discourse. At the core of both productions lies the fundamental question: “Who am I?” At stake are the artists’ personal and cultural identities as processes of globalisation intensify. These performances not only exemplify the intercultural productivity of Shakespearean texts, but more critically, illustrate how Shakespeare and intercultural discourses are internalized and reconfigured by the nation and culture that consume and re-produce them. Chinese adaptations of Coriolanus and King Lear demonstrate how (intercultural) identity is constructed through the subjectivity and iconicity of Shakespeare’s characters and the performativity of Shakespeare’s texts.

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Ellen Glasgow’s In This Our Life: “The Betrayals of Life” in the Crumbling Aristocratic South

Abstract

Ellen Glasgow’s works have received, over time, a mixed interpretation, from sentimental and conventional, to rebellious and insightful. Her novel In This Our Life (1941) allows the reader to have a glimpse of the early twentieth-century South, changed by the industrial revolution, desperately clinging to dead codes, despairing and struggling to survive. The South is reflected through the problems of a family, its sentimentality and vulnerability, but also its cruelty, pretensions, masks and selfishness, trying to find happiness and meaning in a world of traditions and codes that seem powerless in the face of progress. The novel, apparently simple and reduced in scope, offers, in fact, a deep insight into various issues, from complicated family relationships, gender pressures, racial inequality to psychological dilemmas, frustration or utter despair. The article’s aim is to depict, through this novel, one facet of the American South, the “aristocratic” South of belles and cavaliers, an illusory representation indeed, but so deeply rooted in the world’s imagination. Ellen Glasgow is one of the best choices in this direction: an aristocratic woman but also a keen and profound writer, and, most of all, a writer who loved the South deeply, even if she exposed its flaws.

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Forgetting to Re-member: Politics of Amnesia and the Reconstruction of Memory in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Everything Is Illuminated and Memento

Abstract

This essay aims to discuss the ideological aspects of memory loss as a reconstruction of personal and collective memory with reference to several Hollywood movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento and Everything Is Illuminated. The essay explores the construction of memory within a network of power relations and the profound influence that the reproduction of memory has on the embodiment of personal identities. The unreliability of human memory has been a major issue in philosophical debates and works of art from early Greek philosophy to cyberpunk novels. Memory studies draw on a wide range of academic fields varying from neuroscience to political science, with an emphasis on prosthetic memories, identity and body politics, displaced cultural identities, and consumer culture. Often intermingled with collective narratives, memory is an ideological artifact or rather a form of language that can be institutionally manipulated or manufactured. The mass production of personal and collective memories further deprives human beings of control over their personal histories and identity constructions. In this regard, this article elaborates the formation, reinforcement, and reconstruction of memory in contemporary culture with particular references to the inclusion of hegemony, cultural politics, and identity politics in selected movies.

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Hamlet, or about Death: A Romanian Hamlet directed by Vlad Mugur (2001)

Abstract

This essay looks at the 2001 Romanian production of Hamlet directed by Vlad Mugur at the Cluj National Theatre (Romania) from the perspective of geocriticism and spatial literary studies, analysing the stage space opened in front of the audiences. While the bare stage suggests asceticism and alienation, the production distances the twenty-first century audiences from what might have seemed difficult to understand from their postmodern perspectives. The production abbreviates the topic to its bare essence, just as a map condenses space, in the form of “literary cartography” (Tally 20). There is no room in this production for baroque ornaments and theatrical flourishing; instead, the production explores the exposed depth of human existence. The production is an exploration of theatre and art, of what dramatists and directors can do with artful language, of the theatre as an exploration of human experience and potential. It is about the human condition and the artist’s place in the world, about old and new, about life and death, while everything happens on the edge of nothingness. The director’s own death before the opening night of the production ties Shakespeare’s Hamlet with existential issues in an even deeper way than the play itself allows us to expose.

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How the Booker Prize Won the Prize

Abstract

This article shows that the Booker Prize for fiction, which is neither the oldest nor the richest award given for novels in English, is nevertheless widely conceded to be the pre-eminent recognition. Sometimes it is called the “most significant”; sometimes the “most famous”; ultimately these two qualities are inseparable. I canvass some of the explanations for the Booker’s position as top prize and argue that the most important reasons are Publicity, Flexibility, and Product Placement. The Booker has managed its public image skillfully; among the devices that assure its continued celebrity is the acceptance, almost the courting, of scandal. Flexibility is partly a function of the practice of naming five new judges each year, but the Booker has also been responsive to challenges, including the recognition that it paid too little attention to female authors. The decision to admit American books into the competition was a sign of flexibility, as it was a guarantee of scandal. And the Booker has followed a path of “product placement” that positions it accurately between demands for high art and for “readability,” as examination of several periods in its history demonstrate.

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