Introduction to the Special Thematic Block: British Seaside Resorts and Their Representation in Literature and Cinema
Drawing on Michel de Certeau’s insights on spatial practices the essay analyzes two works by Canadian writer Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Love (2008) and its follow-up, Kicking the Sky (2013), and maps the spatial biography of their protagonist and narrator, Antonio Rebelo, from childhood to early adulthood. De Sa’s works are set in Toronto, presented as a city in transition. Both narratives interrelate the protagonist’s story with the spatial setting of Toronto’s Little Portugal and with the cultural issue of emigration. They also delve into the complex urban social reality formed by subalternity, hard work, sexual exploitation, spectral memory, and family affects. De Sa’s interpretation of Toronto as the background of Antonio’s spatial biography constructs a complex interaction with the cityscape and its different emotionally conflicting spaces. To greater or lesser degrees in Barnacle Love and Kicking the Sky De Sa’s storytelling questions the concept of Toronto the Good and the actual city of Toronto becomes a rhetorical space—the backdrop for a coming-of-age narration that empowers Antonio Rebelo with invention and agency and launches him toward adult life. (SCB)
British cinema has portrayed seaside resorts throughout its history with much dedication. Films featured both residents and visitors, the providers and the consumers of the seaside experience decade after decade by focusing on the synergies between space and identity. This article explores Brighton Rock (John Boulting, 1948), The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960), The Birthday Party (William Friedkin, 1968), Quadrophenia (Franc Roddam, 1979), Bhaji on the Beach (Gurinder Chadha, 1993), and Last Resort (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2000) as representative examples of how the motifs of escape and entrapment—as manifested in the pursuit of various imaginations, ideals, rites of passage and identity quests—changed through the decades that also saw a gradual decline in the popularity of seaside resorts. The fading reputation and eroding image of resorts is analyzed parallel with the identity crises of characters entrapped in subcultural, diasporic, and migrant environments. (ZsGy)
Combining Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope and Sarah Dillon’s notion of the palimpsest, the essay highlights the dialogic relationship between narrative time and space in Chicana author Helena María Viramontes’s novel, Their Dogs Came with Them (2007). Set in East Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s—the heyday of urban renewal projects and the rapid spread of freeways—the novel registers the geographical displacement and constrained socio-economic mobility of Mexican Americans whose homes are demolished by the freeway building bulldozers. The spatial form of intersectionality characterizing the architectural structure of the freeways also describes the narrative form of the novel. The non-linear narrative is structured upon multiple intersecting plotlines, each of which portrays the social struggles of a young Chicana woman inhabiting the city. Focusing on the interplay of environmental theme and narrative form, the paper explores the narrative representation of East Los Angeles as a spatially and temporally multilayered landscape that palimpsestously overlays and interconnects the personal memory of the characters and the collective history of Mexican Americans’ socio-political oppression in North America. (BR)
Rieder, John. Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2017. 224 pages. ISBN 9780819577160. Pbk. $22.95.
The manifold notion of migratory aesthetics serves as the critical grounding for this analysis focusing on Mohamad Hafez’s and Ahmed Badr’s multimedia installation, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage (2017-2020), a socially and politically committed artistic project. Migratory aesthetics as a conceptual frame can encompass artifacts reflecting upon the experience of forced migration, displacement, and uprootedness. However, the concept also proposes the engendering of a platform for the confluence of art and the political. In accordance with the theories of Mieke Bal, Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, and Jacques Rancière, “political” is meant to signify a space of generative conflict, an active, communal, participatory encounter between sentient bodies and artworks. UNPACKED confronts the audience on many levels: physically, by leaving them in limbo, suspended between the inside and the outside, the private and the public, safety and threat; conceptually (owing to the phenomenal, embodied experience of the viewers), by provoking a sense of dislocation and homelessness, resulting in the potential for identification with the status of being a refugee, a migrant, and an asylum seeker. UNPACKED encapsulates, both spatially and temporally, the invisible and silenced trauma of forced migration, eventually effectuating collective understanding in the constitutive political space of art. (GM)
Investigating the literary representation of urban spaces and identities the essay untangles the complex psychological and emotional relationship between the heroine and her beloved and hated cities in Sunetra Gupta’s The Glassblower’s Breath (1993). Drawing on Gernot Böhme’s (1993) theory of the atmospheric qualities of space, Steve Pile’s psychogeographical approach to reading cities, Walter Benjamin’s concept of phantasmagoria, and various interpretations of fascination, it explores the creation of atmospheres in the novel and the role of fascination in the perception of London and Gupta’s female protagonist as phantasmagorias. I argue that—as urban imaginaries—the emotional fabric and atmosphere of the cities portrayed are as much created by their spaces and places, their inhabitants and visitors, as they are manifested and formulated in emotional states of being, whether real or fictional, phantasmagoric or imaginary. (ÉP)
Beebe, Kathryne, and Angela Davis, eds. Space, Place and Gendered Identities: Feminist History and the Spatial Turn. London: Routledge, 2015. x + 158 pages. ISBN 978-1-138-83049-3. Hb. £110.
This essay examines Thom Gunn’s key poems, chronologically mapping Ruth E. Fassinger’s model of gay and lesbian identity development onto it. Gunn’s poetry gradually changed in terms of how he addressed his homosexuality: whereas in his early work his sexual orientation was concealed, later it became increasingly visible, to the point of unambiguously referring to himself as “queer” in a poem from the 1980s. The poems discussed in this article—“The Wound” (1954), “The Secret Sharer” (1954), “The Corridor” (1957), “The Monster” (1961), “Bravery” (1967), “Behind the Mirror” (1976), and “Talbot Road” (1982)—address the split self of the speaker accompanied by spatial division. The poems with this leitmotif form a corpus characterized by a gradual change in terms of the rigidity of the division. Identifying the spatial division as the closet and the split self as the closeted subject, the article argues that Gunn’s coming out of the closet is a recurring poetic device deliberately developed throughout his oeuvre, which demonstrates his growth as an artist. (IOH)
This article explores how spatial and temporal changes are considered as key features by both drama translator scholars and translation theorists and invites reflection on translation in general and the reception of contemporary Irish drama abroad. The comparison of Owen McCafferty’s Quietly and its Italian version demonstrates how the translation/adaptation, staging, and reception of the play in Italy must be considered against the contemporary backdrop of globalization. (MR)
The article analyzes an overlooked aspect of American suburban poetry—the writing of American women poets who deal with the problem of how to represent female identity. Drawing on the existing criticism of women’s poetry, a comprehensive survey of the suburban poems by American women poets, from the 1940s to the 2000s, is provided. The article documents the various approaches that these poets adopt in order to explore identity while resisting the gender stereotypization in American suburbia. These approaches include either embracing the suburban ideal of domestic conformity or attempting to present women suburbanites who reject the socially prescribed roles forced upon them and develop new identities of their own. (JF)
This analysis of “Spanish in the Morning” (2009) and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons” (1992) by Edward P. Jones offers a preliminary (re-)interpretation of the urban imaginary in Jones’s oeuvre by focusing on how urban places interact with the protagonists’ coming-of-age process. Detailed descriptions of routes, references to exact locations in the city, spatial relations, and changes of place run through both stories. Relying on trauma theory and Jon Anderson’s conceptualization of places, the essay argues that the geographical landscape is in the forefront in these narratives, but not as a means of emphasizing, matching, or complementing the emotional one, but rather to hide it from view. The protagonists’ memories and identities gain expression in spatial terms, but foregrounding the city is posited as a hindrance to their coming-of-age process insofar as it prevents them from accepting the reality of their loss and from facing and coping with trauma. (ZsLM)