:: Essays

Liberating the Canon: Intersectionality and Innovation in Literature published 16/01/2018

Liberating the Canon is an edited anthology capturing the contemporary emergence of nonconforming and radically innovative literatures in the UK and beyond. Historically, sociopolitical marginalisation and avant-garde aesthetics have not come together in UK literature, counterintuitively divorcing outsider experience and formal innovation. Bringing together intersectionality and literary innovation, it is designed as an intervention against the normativity of literary publishing contexts and the institution of ‘Innovative Literature’ as such.

Read Isabel Waidner‘s introduction to her new Liberating the Canon anthology.

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The Bowie Neurotransmitter published 10/01/2018

You are transformed. You are re-enchanted. The spell has been cast. In ‘Life on Mars’ the soft voice paints a picture of domestic and social chaos, but as the tracks proceed, you recognise the recurrence of something delicate that is crushed by the real. And you recognise too the trauma of living in a world riddled with dystopian forces. Trauma, that’s what you’re tuning into: stories that deal with human suffering and chaos with the universe as backdrop. Backbone, spunk and adrenaline: that’s what the range of voice transmits to your nervous system.

Susana Medina commemorates the anniversary of David Bowie‘s death on 10 January 2016.

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All That’s Solid Melts Into Airports published 02/01/2018

If the ultimate airport is a rich, luscious place brimming with entrainment and energy, a true magnet for local citizens—and if every airport can become such a site—of what use are the airplanes, of what use the term “destination” as we know it? John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay have called these future nodes aerotropoli, but we might as well ground all the pesky planes and call such a place utopia, instead.

By Christopher Schaberg.

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Midwestern Masculinity: Larry Clark in Tulsa published 27/12/2017

Clark salts a wound. He arrests that painful, contested space between childhood and adulthood in which power and identity begin to crystallize. In the area of adolescence we witness the growing pains of socially alienated young men, thrashing in violent protest as their bodies become politically co-opted and embedded within the American patriarchy.

By Hailey Maxwell.

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In Conversation With Friends published 15/12/2017

In her most recent essay Books Do Furnish a Room (2017), the author Penelope Lively concludes that not only do books furnish a room, ‘even more do they furnish the mind’, as well as telling us about their owner’s past and influences. I’ve read quite a few books, 364 according to Goodreads. But if you were to scrutinise my current collection, you’d be appalled. Maybe not at first. But if I asked you to check how many female authors are represented, you’d notice a significant skew towards male authors.

By Victoria Wang.

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Extract: 1997: The Future That Never Happened published 12/12/2017

During the period in which Hirst amassed his wealth, contemporary art retreated from the front pages to its former position of irrelevance, but it returned there laden with immense financial value. Since Hirst and his generation made their foray into mainstream culture, the contemporary art market has grown by 1,370 percent, and its annual turnover is now $1.5 billion. The artists from Sensation whom we remember believed or claimed that they were exploiting money and fame for the sake of challenging the mainstream. Instead, they helped to create a market in which speculators buy and sell artworks expressing politically radical ideas, but for millions of dollars. Subversion serves as an advert for a cornucopia of investment products.

By Richard Power Sayeed.

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In Praise of Ig-Nobel Literature: on Philip Roth published

Roth produces such undercutting gestures over and over in his novels, displaying contempt for automatic or censorious critical habits in the process, and demanding an engaged and imaginative analysis that expands the dimensions of the text instead diminishing it.

By Shannon Burns.

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The Idea of Building a Boat published 28/11/2017

Out of all of our fantasies, there are a few that come back again and again. They seem to be infinitely appealing. One of the greats is the paradise island; the personal idyll and the escape required to get there. We all desire escape. Most of us, in some way, also like boats. Inherent in the boat is escape. So we must obtain, or ideally, make the boat. Inherent in the building of a boat is the design of your escape. So too, we must build our lives around this design; a life in which we can build the boat.

By John-Paul Burns.

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Holy Ghostly: Encounters with Sam Shepard published 07/11/2017

Sam Shepard blew up in my teenage brain like an atom bomb. When I was in high school in the eighties in small-town Ohio, one of my friends worked at the local newsstand which doubled as the only video store in town. One day he came across a videocassette of True West, and on a whim he took it home to watch. That videocassette never made it back to the store. Instead, it got passed around at school like a cult totem until we wore it out, transforming all of us that opened up its contents.

By Jeff Wood.

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Coast of Utopia: Star Trek: Discovery‘s odd future published 31/10/2017

While many of the core elements of Star Trek’s “wagon train to the stars” model remain in Discovery, the series’ ideological focus and relative disinterest in depicting futurity sets it apart from much of the rest of the franchise. To be sure, there are many laudable elements early on—the strong opposition toward the rhetoric of racial purity, an animal cruelty plotline, and an interest in extensively representing diversity in both the cast and themes. However, in exchanging an idealised future for the quasi-present, Discovery abandons many of the solidaristic elements of prior series’ political utopianism and offers a flawed depiction of racial disharmony in their stead.

By James Rushing Daniel.

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