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  • The Doctor’s Anatomy: The Androgynous Performance of Gender and (Neo-)Victorian Sexual Politics in Patricia Duncker’s James Miranda Barry
    Views:
    85

    Patricia Duncker’s 1999 neo-Victorian novel is a fictional biography of the legendary Victorian military surgeon, James Miranda Barry, rumored to be a hermaphrodite. Duncker’s postmodern feminist fiction recreates the medical discourse, as well as the body and sexual politics of the Victorian era by writing these nineteenth-century somatic ideologies onto the ambiguously gendered body of Barry. Interrogating the poetic and political strategies of creating medicine as a masculinized profession from a cultural studies point of view, the essay argues that Duncker’s novel can be contextualized within a recent tendency in contemporary British fiction that could be hypothesized as medico-historical metafiction, indirectly addressing twenty-first-century biopolitical questions about the cultural inscription of gender roles and bodily normality by (re)telling a Victorian narrative. These questions are examined from three aspects: the neo-Victorian historical novel as a feminist genre, the androgyne as a late-Victorian subtype of the grotesque freak, and nineteenth-century female identities as the reservoir of disempowering pseudo-choices.  (EU)

  • Contemporary and Beyond?
    Views:
    51

    Book review:

    Acheson, James, ed. The Contemporary British Novel Since 2000. Edinburgh UP, 2017. 214 pages. ISBN 978 1 4744 0375 7. epub. £80.00.

  • The Destructive Potential of the Imagination
    Views:
    157

    Two contrary concepts dominate our understanding about human imagination—this all-but-undefinable human faculty. While one tradition contrasts the creativity of the imagination, on the one hand, and the perception of reality, on the other—often suggesting that fact (reality) and fiction (imagination) are mutually exclusive—the counter-tradition defines imagination as integral to the creation/perception of reality, what Edith Cobb calls the “preconfigurative imagination.” Drawing on these theoretical-philosophical considerations, the essay takes an interdisciplinary approach to probe the inherently adverse nature and the destructive potential of the human imagination in action. With examples from literature, cultural history, politics, and diplomacy the analysis offers the case in point and demonstrates the ways destructive imagination, impervious to rational argument, may render our ability void; as Henry James put it in “The Art of Fiction,” “to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implication of things, to judge the piece by the pattern.” (ÉM)

  • Editor’s Notes
    Views:
    117

    Editor’s Notes

  • Beckett’s Politics of Space
    Views:
    85

    Book review:

    Little, James. Samuel Beckett in Confinement: The Politics of Closed Space. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. 235 pages. ISBN 978-1-3501-123-2. Hb. $115.

  • Bridging the Narrative Gap: The Ghost Narrator in Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)
    Views:
    315

    The essay reads Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) in the context of Walter D. Mignolo’s discussion on “border thinking” and “border gnosis” in Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking (2000). Through introducing the narrative voice of Sir Arthur Jennings Marlon James creates a link between past and present, between Caribbean and European tradition of cultures of orality and literacy, and between pre- and post-colonial times, critically engaging in the erasure of thresholds of epistemological location. Specific attention is paid to Sir Arthur’s role as a “duppy” (a ghost or spirit in the religious practice of Obeah) and as a “griot” (an African/Caribbean bard and story-teller) whose function is to narrate and document local histories and guard verbal art traditions of the community. (AMT)

  • What Will Survive of Us?
    Views:
    40

    Book review:

    Booth, James. Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. 532 pages. ISBN 978 1 4088 5166 1. Hb. £25.00.

  • The Sound and the Fury: Verbal Pre-texts in Vincent Woods’s A Cry from Heaven
    Views:
    50

    Vincent Woods’s play, A Cry from Heaven (2005), is an interesting and provocative rewriting in the twenty-first century of the old legend of Deirdre and the Sons of Uisneach, mainly following the Old Irish version, Longes mac N-Uisleann. Unlike the Deirdre plays of the Revival, it stages and exploits the dramatic cry of Deirdre from her mother’s womb.

    The play has a mixed nature, it is both a pre-text and an after-text, since Woods manipulates the sources and provides twists and variations recounting his own alternative conclusion. At the same time, the play sheds light on language, words, and speech acts as structuring principles. The essay examines the multiple sources of Woods’s play in order to focus on the structuring power of language which characterises the old legend and which plays a relevant role in A Cry from Heaven. (GT)

  • Between Addiction and Cultivation: Coleridge’s Modern Turn
    Views:
    52

    Book review:

    Timár, Andrea. A Modern Coleridge: Cultivation, Addiction, Habits. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 264 pages. ISBN 9781137531452. Ppk. £55.

  • Old Age and Aging: Presence and Absence in the Plays of Brian Friel
    Views:
    348

    Old age and aging may not seem an immediate priority in Brian Friel’s drama, yet several plays feature memorable characters of old, elderly, aging, or declining people, whose presence on stage is occasionally revealed through their absence. The growing cultural visibility of older people contrasts with their invisibility as useless members of society: they are physically present, yet invisible. In Friel’s dramaturgy, this arouses reflection on the role of old age absent from the mimetic space and relegated to the diegetic space offstage; absence as a theatrical device marks offstage characters as potential catalysts for action. If in some plays elderly characters remain in the background, in others they become pivotal to dramatic construction, ranging from dominant figures like Columba in The Enemy Within (1962), to tyrannical ones such as Manus in The Gentle Island (1971) and Father in Aristocrats (1979), to social outcasts in The Loves of Cass McGuire (1967) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). This essay considers the variety of ways in which Friel introduces or openly deals with the issues of aging and of old age through stagecraft and varied dramatic choices as well as the manipulation of mimetic and diegetic space in terms of presence and absence in particular. (GT)

  • The Weird Impossibility of Story
    Views:
    294

    What do we read in horror stories? To answer such an elusive question, research both historic and theoretical in nature is necessary. A comparison of proto-horror fiction by highly canonized nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American authors (Poe, Bierce, James, Harvey, and Gilman) as well as Lovecraftian poetics reveals the presence of a theoretical thread that sutures these seemingly disparate literatures together. Classic American short stories show a strikingly similar memetic conformation to weird fiction when examined from the framework offered by Sigmund Freud’s seminal essay “Das Unheimliche” [The Uncanny] (1919). Identifying the memetic transmutations that the uncanny goes through in various close readings offers a taxonomy of six tropes—allegorizations of singularities, doubles, and triads—that are already implicit in the Freudian text. Such categorization applied to the weird genre unravels poetics that, as the article argues, stem from an innately subversive impulse in American literature. (PH)

     

  • Reading Rieder by Lamplight
    Views:
    62

    Book review:

    Rieder, John. Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2017. 224 pages. ISBN 9780819577160. Pbk. $22.95.

  • The Birth of Imperial Race Medicine
    Views:
    94

    Book review:

    Seth, Suman. Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire. Cambridge: CUP, 2018. 324 pages. ISBN 978-1-108-41830-0. Pbk. £29.99.

  • Kindred Spirits: Lajos Gulácsy and Oscar Wilde
    Views:
    130

    Lajos Gulácsy (1882-1932), the acknowledged Hungarian painter of the early twentieth century, was a kindred spirit to Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), sharing his love of beauty, his escapism, and his belief in the superiority of art over mundane reality. Gulácsy’s art cannot be easily described in relation to the artistic groups and tendencies of his age; however, the literary portion of his oeuvre reveals definite affinities and parallels with dominant artistic trends of the millennium. Gulácsy wrote a number of essays, short-stories and tales, and even a novel, Pauline Holseel (1910), which all give evidence to an aesthetic similar to that of Oscar Wilde. Pauline Holseel, in particular, shows close correspondences with Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Besides displaying the typical features of the Künstlerroman of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century, such as the lack of a plot, artists as protagonists, or a heavy reliance on sensual experiences, they also share more particular parallels concerning structure and attitude to art. (ÉP)

  • Representation of Young People in British Films Set in Coastal Resorts
    Views:
    127

    This article examines representations of young people in three recent films set in British seaside resorts: Jellyfish (2018), directed by James Gardner Vs. (2018), directed by Ed Lilly, and Eaten by Lions (2018), directed by Jason Wingard, in light of the fact that in the past few decades resorts have been seen as places from which young people try to escape, rather than go to.  My essay shows how the experience of those who visit the resorts is different from that of those who live there. It considers the production values, characters, stories, and locations of these films, drawing on secondary research on coastal resorts and their cinematic representations, Erving Goffman’s taxonomy of spaces into “front” and “back regions,” and Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque. The article also links the representation of the resort itself to wider discourses about England, class, and race. (EM)