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Abstract

This article argues that David Mitchell’s novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) represents a new variation of the genre of historical fiction. The historical novel in Britain has risen to prominence since the 1980s and in the twenty-first century this strong interest in the past continues. Placing David Mitchell’s book in the context of recent historical fiction, the article takes account of Joseph Brooker’s hypothesis that, together with Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet may be indicative of an emergent trend in the contemporary English historical novel. The purpose of the article is to identify and explore Mitchell’s key strategies of writing about history. It is argued that, departing from the prevalent mode of historiographic metafiction, Mitchell’s book adheres to some of the traditional tenets of the genre while achieving the Scottian aim of animating the past in innovative ways. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the use of the present tense, the subjective perspectives, and the exclusion of foreknowledge lend the novel dramatic qualities.

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Abstract

This paper discusses glyphs of the 2-shaped or “round” allograph of the grapheme <r> with a tag protruding from the lower part of the stem, asking whether their distribution in a corpus of some 600 late Middle English texts can be meaningfully related to these texts’ localisation in A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English. It discusses what localisation expresses, and uses regression modelling to show that there is no co-variation between the texts’ paleography and their orthography, although there is a measure of correlation between them. The evidence in favour is that the quantitative analysis identifies localisation in northings as a predictor of the occurrence of the tagged form of the allograph, which occurs at a higher frequency in texts localised below the Midlands line at c. 300 northings. The evidence against is the form’s scattered distribution according to the localisation variable where co-variation would imply a more clear-cut concentration of points, and also the moderate success at explaining the form’s distribution by means of variables known to explain orthographic variation.

Abstract

Neither in Antiquity nor in the Middle Ages could literary theory settle the debate about the primacy of inspiration or imitation, Plato or Aristotle. It was in the Renaissance that serious efforts were made to reconcile the two theories, and one of the best syntheses came from England. Philosophical and aesthetical syncretism between Plato and Aristotle makes Sidney’s Defense of Poesie a non-dogmatic and particularly inspiring foundation for English literary theory. Also, Philip Sidney’s notion of “speaking pictures” needs to be revisited, in view of the ontology and epistemology of art, as a ground-breaking model for understanding the multimediality of cultural representations. The first part of the following essay is devoted to this. Furthermore, it will be examined how Sidney’s visual poetics influenced and at the same time represented emblematic ways of seeing and thinking in Elizabethan culture. These are particularly conspicuous in the influence of emblem theory in England and in Renaissance literary practice related to that. In the final section I intend to show that Shakespeare’s intriguing, although implicit, poetics is a telling example of how Renaissance visual culture enabled a model that put equal stress on inspiration and imitation, and also on the part of the audience, whose imagination had (and still has) to work in cooperation with the author’s intention.

Abstract

There are several reasons why essayist Richard Rodriguez could be classified as a ‘minority’ writer; namely, his Mexican-American roots, his Catholic faith, and his self- declared homosexuality. However, readers who expect his writings to display the kind of attitudes and features that are common in works by other ‘minority’ authors are bound to be disappointed. The meditations that Rodriguez offers are far from clearly dividing the world between oppressors and oppressed or dominant and subaltern. As he sees it, ethnic, religious, class or sexual categories and divisions present further complications than those immediately apparent to the eye. Does this mean that Rodriguez fails to resist and challenge the dynamics he observes between different social groups? Or that his observations are complaisant rather than subversive? Not necessarily, since his essays are always a tribute to the possibilities of disagreement and defiance. My analysis of his latest collection of essays, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013), maps out and dissects the writing strategies that Rodriguez employs to generate dialogical forms of inquiry and resistance regarding such up-to-date topics as religious clashes (and commonalities), Gay rights (in relation to other Human Rights) or how public spaces are being re-imagined in this global, digital era.

Abstract

This article discusses the role of the body in Alex Garland’s film Ex Machina (2015). It focuses on Ava’s female cyborg body against the backdrop of both classic post-humanist theories and current reflections from scholars in the field of body studies. I argue that Ex Machina addresses but also transcends questions of gender and feminism. It stresses the importance of the body for social interaction both in the virtual as well as the real world. Ava’s lack of humanity results from her mind that is derived from the digital network Blue Book in which disembodied communication dominates. Moreover, the particular construction of Nathan’s progeny demonstrates his longing for a docile sex toy since he created Ava with fully functional genitals but without morals. Ex Machina further exhibits various network metaphors both on the visual and the audio level that contribute to the (re)acknowledgement that we need a body in order to be human.

Abstract

This paper discusses the historical background and significance of the two most important national holidays in New Zealand: Waitangi Day and Anzac Day. Waitangi Day is celebrated on the 6th February and it commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between British representatives and a number of Māori chiefs in 1840. Following the signing of the treaty New Zealand became effectively a British colony. Anzac Day is celebrated on 25th April, i.e., on the anniversary of the landing of soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in 1915, during World War One. There are three major differences between these two holidays: the process of those days becoming national holidays, the level of contestation, and the changing messages they have carried. The present study analyzes the national discourse around Anzac Day and Waitangi Day in New Zealand, and attempts to reveal how the official New Zealand government rhetoric about national unity becomes deconstructed. The following analysis is based on a selection of online articles from the New Zealand Herald and Stuff published in Auckland and Wellington, respectively. Both cities are populated by multi-ethnic groups, with Auckland featuring the largest Māori population.

Abstract

This article investigates the history of the Queensland cane sugar industry and its cultural and political relations. It explores the way the sugar industry was transformed from an enterprise drawing on the traditional plantation crop cultivated by an unfree labour force and employing workers into an industry that was an important, symbolical element of ‘White Australia’ that was firmly grounded in the cultural, political, nationalist, and racist reasoning of the day. The demographic and social changes drew their incitement and legitimation from the ‘White Australia’ culture that was represented in all social strata. Australia was geographically remote but culturally close to the mother country and was assigned a special position as a lone outpost of Western culture. This was aggravated by scenarios of allegedly imminent invasions by the surrounding Asian powers, which further urged cane sugar’s transformation from a ‘black’ to a ‘white man’s industry’. As a result, during the sugar strikes of the early 20th century, the white Australian sugar workers were able to emphasize their ‘whiteness’ to press for improvements in wages and working conditions. Despite being a matter of constant discussion, the public acceptance of the ‘white sugar campaign’ was reflected by the high consumption of sugar. Moreover, the industry was lauded for its global uniqueness and its significance to the Australian nation. Eventually, the ‘burden’ of ‘white sugar’ was a monetary, but even more so moral support of an industry that was supposed to provide a solution to population politics, support the national defence, and symbolize the technological advancement and durability of the ‘white race’ in a time of crisis.