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Reading Corner: Daddy by Emma Cline

I’ve found that there is a curse amongst English students. We have chosen to study an activity one usually conducts for pleasure and as a result, too often the joy of reading is drained from us. Just as I am falling into a novel which has sat patiently on my to read pile, I spot The Odyssey or Othello glaring at me, and the guilt of neglecting the reading list for my module pulls the book from my grasp. Continue reading Reading Corner: Daddy by Emma Cline

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Toxic Productivity and Why You’re Probably Experiencing It

Productivity seems to be society’s obsession. Whilst a strong work ethic is a desirable quality, a fixation with it can lead to a mindset that is dangerous and harmful to our wellbeing. Perhaps we are left with a feeling of guilt no matter how much work we get done, or perhaps we become so overwhelmed with these thoughts that we are unable to work at all. Productivity is a spectrum, and ‘toxic productivity’ actually lies at both ends; mental health nurse Emma Selby defines the term as ‘an obsession with radical self-improvement over all else’, a goal which is ultimately unachievable. Continue reading Toxic Productivity and Why You’re Probably Experiencing It

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2020: A Year that Left us Speechless, Yet Indescribable in just One Word

Conflicting with their standing traditions, Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has struggled to narrow down their findings to a singular term for their annual Word of the Year. In precedented times, the word would stand as a tribute to the English language and a reflection of the most popular, and suitable summary, of the previous 365 days. Usually taking the form of the latest zeitgeist creation, … Continue reading 2020: A Year that Left us Speechless, Yet Indescribable in just One Word

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Challenging Fashion Boundaries and Showcasing Minority Creators

The December issue of Vogue US saw Harry Styles grace its cover, making him the first solo male to front the magazine in Vogue’s 128-year history. Whilst it may not be surprising that Styles was chosen for the cover of Vogue magazine considering the success that 2020 has had in store for him, the shoot instantly became a defining moment in fashion history. The cover photo shows Styles wearing a classic double-breasted black Gucci jacket over a custom-made baby blue, lace Gucci dress (designed by Gucci’s Creative Director and Styles’ close friend, Alessandro Michele). Naturally, an image of a man wearing a dress on the cover of the world’s most notorious fashion magazine drew headlines and ruffled a few feathers. The most famous quote that this image bore was Candace Owens’ tweet “bring back manly men.” This controversial quote lead to an onslaught of praise in support of Styles, as well as some right-wing commentators supporting Owens. Whilst it is evident that 2020 has proven that masculinity is no more than a concept formed by societal norms, it is also worth considering if Styles deserves the praise that he has been given. Continue reading Challenging Fashion Boundaries and Showcasing Minority Creators

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Harry Potter and the Author Who Won’t Stop Tweeting

During lockdown, a time already fraught with fear, anxiety, and literal and emotional isolation (particularly for members of the LGBTQ+ community who may have found themselves locked down with families who don’t accept their identity), J.K. Rowling wrote an essay about her notorious anti-trans views. In the article, published on her own blog (but summed up much better on other sites, so you do not have to give her page clicks that she presumably profits from), Rowling explains her defence of tax specialist Maya Forstater, a woman who’d claimed that a distinguished non-binary CEO was “a white man who likes to dress in women’s clothes”, and later lost a tribunal debating whether the philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected by the law. She then went on to similarly defend her support of Scottish activist Magdalen Burns, who had compared being transgender to being in blackface. In the rest of the essay she uses tired, offensive arguments to defend what Andrew J. Carter called her ‘half-truths and transphobic dogwhistles’. These statements included pointing out the risk trans activists apparently pose to children who may be questioning their identity (‘I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on education and safeguarding’), the risk trans women apparently pose to cisgender women, (‘When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman, then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside’), and the erasure of free speech that apparently occurs when laws are enshrined to protect trans people. Continue reading Harry Potter and the Author Who Won’t Stop Tweeting

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Review: Out of the Blue Theatre’s IMAGINARIUM

Confined to the safe and cosy space of my bedroom, Out of the Blue Theatre pierced my heart with their wonderful production, IMAGINARIUM. Out of the Blue has beautifully transformed theatre into a progressive, interactive, audio-immersive journey of the self. With no visual aids to help bring the production to life, you are dependent upon your own imagination. And so, the production establishes a collaborative process between listener and actor. This revolutionary creative form, which I can only describe as an amalgamation of theatre watching, meditating, and podcast listening, has cultivated a profoundly personal exploration of the unknown, which makes the impossible imaginable. Continue reading Review: Out of the Blue Theatre’s IMAGINARIUM

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Why Sex Toys Continue to be Devices for Women’s Empowerment

Female masturbation has always been a taboo subject. And the only way to overcome taboo is by talking about that thing. So, let’s talk about it. Sex toys are important not only because they cataylse a conversation about a topic which women often feel ashamed to talk about, but they are also an active agent in taking control of sexual pleasure. Nothing signifies female empowerment better than being able to orgasm on your own, wherever and whenever you want (within reason, of course). Continue reading Why Sex Toys Continue to be Devices for Women’s Empowerment

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Creative Corner: The Last Train Home

This is it. The final connection. You shuffle your orange tickets between your trembling, flaking, ice-cold fingers and brush an unruly wisp of hair behind an exposed ear. A litany of tinny carols reverberates down the platform, and the scattered Christmas lights of reds, pinks, greens, yellows, and blues shudder in the foggy distance, falling casualty to the terrorising wind. You glance up and down … Continue reading Creative Corner: The Last Train Home

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Review: Home for Christmas S2

Home for Christmas is a Norwegian television series, which was directed by Per-Olav Sørensen and produced by Anders Tangen. The first series premiered on Netflix in December 2019 and is, in fact, the first Norwegian original series to grace the popular streaming site. The idea behind the show was conjured up by two advertisement students, Amir Shaheen and Kristian Andersen, who were inspired by the popular Nordic TV Christmas calendars; something which I haven’t seen done in the UK. Continue reading Review: Home for Christmas S2

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A Very Covid Christmas

Christmas – ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ December usually brings festive parties, dinners, and drinks with friends and family. It can often feel as though the world comes to a holt in order to celebrate the national holiday. However, due to COVID-19, 2020 has been a year unlike any other and with Christmas quickly approaching we can expect an unconventional holiday season. The … Continue reading A Very Covid Christmas

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Review: Comedy Society’s Is This Thing Still On?

Exeter Comedy Society has hilariously satirised the dismal state of society during the pandemic in their new online sketch, Is This Thing Still On?, complete with pedantic ‘Karen’ neighbours, domestic drama and the typically dysfunctional Zoom seminar. I will do my best to highlight some of my favourite sketches without spoiling too much of the show. I definitely recommend giving it a watch as, to be honest, what else could you possibly be doing in tier 3, (if by some miracle you are not, I have nothing but contempt for you) other than feeling guilty about ignoring University work. Continue reading Review: Comedy Society’s Is This Thing Still On?

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If You’re Feeling the Pressure this Christmas, It’s Okay

Growing up, I used to spend every month of the year counting down to December. My most beloved month, full of Father Christmas, family and food. However, the older I get, the more I realise that in many ways Christmas isn’t always the happiest time of year, and dismantling the pressure to be happy is crucial, this year more than most. Continue reading If You’re Feeling the Pressure this Christmas, It’s Okay

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Reviews in Retrospect: Get Out

When you think of racism in America, what comes to mind? Images of right-wing rednecks wearing red caps, cries of making America ‘great again’, and promises of building a wall can feature as assumptions associated with ideas of modern racism in society. Well, Jordan Peele in his directorial debut avoids such stereotypes. Labelled by Peele as a ‘social thriller’, Get Out questions the idea of … Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Get Out

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Boobs and Books: How Women Often get Told They Can Only Have One or the Other

When Emily Ratajkowski’s interview with French Marie Claire in 2018 went viral this year, I don’t expect many women were all that surprised by its contents. The writer Thomas Chatterton Williams was shocked to learn that the now 29-year-old model and actress was writing a series of essays about the modelling industry and commodification, because apparently you can’t have boobs AND brains in the twenty-first century. Ratajkowski is sadly not the only victim of the sexist trope, that conventionally attractive women are not intelligent, and any signs of intelligence are merely a ploy to seem even more attractive to men. Time and time again, famously beautiful women are mocked for having an interest in politics, literature or anything other than material items. But this issue doesn’t end with just the famous ladies out there, it trickles down even more potently to all levels of society. Continue reading Boobs and Books: How Women Often get Told They Can Only Have One or the Other

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Scotland’s Period Poverty Bill

On Tuesday 24 November, 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to make free period products available to all menstruating people. This landmark step in the global fight against period poverty was met with wide celebration by campaigners and activists, including Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who has been fighting for the cause since 2016. Continue reading Scotland’s Period Poverty Bill

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Festive Favourites: The Holiday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to stare longingly into Jude Law’s eyes, and there’s no better way to do so than by watching The Holiday this Christmas. I religiously watch The Holiday every year, and it’s particularly great for the beginning of December when you’re easing into the Christmas spirit because it isn’t that Christmassy. It’s one of those Christmas films that happens at Christmas but could, equally, happen at any time of the year. This year, while watching The Holiday with my housemates, I realised what makes it quite so enjoyable — it is absolutely ridiculous. Continue reading Festive Favourites: The Holiday

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Bleed Greener: A Very Sustainable Christmas

With the nights getting darker and term one at its end, it is inevitable that people’s thoughts are turning towards Christmas – the food, the presents, and the celebrations. But have you ever stopped to consider the environmental impact of this widely celebrated holiday? From the perspective of sustainability, the real cost of Christmas stretches far beyond the financial implications of the day, and translates into increasing amounts of plastic waste, uneaten food, and energy consumption. While businesses and manufacturers need to accept the burden of responsibility and develop more sustainable products and packaging, there are also several things that you can do at home to have a more environmentally friendly Christmas. Continue reading Bleed Greener: A Very Sustainable Christmas

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Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down may be one of his less well-known novels, but for me it is his best. It combines all of the essential qualities of Hornby’s work: the dark comedy of About A Boy, the subtle humour of How To Be Good, and the characteristic literary style seen in his first novel, High Fidelity. I was left thinking about this book a long time after I had finished the last page, so much so that it even inspired one of my undergraduate creative writing pieces (but maybe don’t tell that to my tutors). Continue reading Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

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Review: evermore by Taylor Swift

During the first few months of the pandemic, many of us made banana bread and sourdough starters, and probably achieved little more creative output than choosing which pyjamas we could seamlessly transition into being daytime wear. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift wrote, produced and recorded not only one, but two albums, the second of which was released last week. Continue reading Review: evermore by Taylor Swift

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The Power of Music

Most of us know the feeling of listening to an old favourite song that transports us back in time. Every time I hear “Sun” by Two Door Cinema Club, I am back in my first-year bedroom, packing a bag for the first beach day of the year with my new friends. I can smell the sun cream, taste the strawberries, remember the games we played, everything. All from one song. And it always, undoubtedly, makes me feel happy – a nostalgic kind of happy – but happy nonetheless, because it’s not just the memory these songs evoke, but the emotions we were feeling at those times as well. Continue reading The Power of Music

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Festive Favourites: The Muppet Christmas Carol

In 1843, Charles Dickens published a novella which defined Christmas for its readers as a time for being surrounded by family and friends. With these timeless themes at the centre of its storyline, it is unsurprising that it has been adapted to film 29 times, not counting the ludicrous number of stage and TV adaptations. However, for me, there is only one definitive film adaptation, The Muppet Christmas Carol, because it would not be an accurate depiction of Victorian London without singing vegetables. Continue reading Festive Favourites: The Muppet Christmas Carol

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Reading Corner: Winter Recommendations

With autumn coming to a close and the winter holidays in the not-so-distant future, we all need some good reads to occupy our time with.   From cosy classics to horror novels, here are some of the books that will be keeping me entertained this season.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens  A classic which fully embodies the essence of Christmas – introspective and heart-warming, this book is a must-read for the holidays. I highly suggest lighting some candles, making yourself a hot beverage, … Continue reading Reading Corner: Winter Recommendations

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Review: Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

And just like that, it’s December. 2020 has certainly been a weird, whirlwind of a year, but we can always count on one continued tradition: the annual Netflix Original Christmas film. And this year, in true 2020 style, Netflix really went for it. Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square has undeniably earnt the title of a Netflix Original, as I can easily say there is … Continue reading Review: Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

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The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

My housemates (from first, second, and third year) can testify when I say that Christmas music runs through my veins as soon as December hits. When the clock strikes midnight on the 30th of November, the Christmas playlist bursts into life and my sullen November mood is immediately replaced with festive joy. This year things are a little bit different, and rather controversially my housemates and I have decided to start Christmas celebrations early. So, join me in blasting some absolute holiday bangers as we attempt to disguise the misery that is a festive lockdown. Continue reading The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

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Intimacy and Isolation: Coordinating Intimate Scenes on Production Sets

Intimacy onscreen has been an ever-evolving phenomenon. Starting out as a somewhat taboo aspect of narrative, intimate scenes were often avoided by swift cuts or cameras panning urgently away. But all this did was rob us of sentimental moments. There was even a time, and I think this is still the case for some people’s perspectives, when anything of an intimate nature was flippantly labelled … Continue reading Intimacy and Isolation: Coordinating Intimate Scenes on Production Sets

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Review: Confetti by Little Mix

Little Mix’s sixth studio album, Confetti, has once again confirmed why the band won The X Factor. Nearly a decade after their appearance on the talent show, the girls now have their own show to their name; Little Mix: The Search, with contestants competing to support the band on their upcoming tour – and supporting this album will be no mean feat. Their sixth record proves how they earned their right to sit on the other side of the judges table – Confetti is filled to the brim with pop bangers, full of fun and sass. Yes, the album is just what you expect from the four piece, but the perfect harmonies and playful lyrics that have defined their last five releases are what make Little Mix Britain’s best girl band and this record is no exception to that. Continue reading Review: Confetti by Little Mix

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Review: Re-Animator by Everything Everything

Inconsistent but with moments of brilliance, and what might be one of the most important songs of the year. 3.5/5 stars Manchester Prog-Rock/Pop outfit Everything Everything turned heads with their 2015 album, Get to Heaven, and have rarely disappointed since. Frontman Jonathan Higgs proved himself a writer attuned to current affairs, with the band hiding weighty political ideas behind catchy melodies and fast paced rhythms. … Continue reading Review: Re-Animator by Everything Everything

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Bleed Greener: Eco-Anxiety or Eco-Empathy? The Climate Crisis and Mental Health

It is undeniable that the pandemic has had a severe impact upon many people’s mental health. Invariably, people are spending less time interacting with other human beings in social situations and work environments, and more time in isolation with only their thoughts for company. This has caused the worsening of pre-existing mental health issues such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with the rise of anxiety and loneliness amidst the general population. Furthermore, the ways in which Covid-19 has shifted the nation’s focus away from crucial, time-sensitive efforts to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis have also had a particularly negative impact upon those individuals suffering from a chronic fear of the consequences of environmental damage. In the past few years, this state of heightened concern for the future of the planet has been termed ‘eco-anxiety’. Continue reading Bleed Greener: Eco-Anxiety or Eco-Empathy? The Climate Crisis and Mental Health

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Mourning through Online Dating

I don’t know about you or whether it’s just the condition of my friends (myself included) but there seems to be a prolific obsession with online dating at the moment. Every time I see my friends they are either telling me about the Hinge date they went on last night, showing me outfits for their Tinder date tonight or aggressively breaching privacy laws with an immensely deep Facebook stalk of their new match. Continue reading Mourning through Online Dating

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Review: The Crown Season Four

As the final season of Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth graces our screens, there is a lot of talk about the new season of The Crown. The highly anticipated TV drama is now finally getting to the juicy bits of British Royal history with the divisive Thatcher administration and the introduction of Lady Di. For many viewers, this is one of the most exciting TV drops of the year, as the Diana scandal is still fresh in the minds of many Brits. It certainly made for interesting viewing, but did it live up to the hype? Continue reading Review: The Crown Season Four

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Lockdown Wanders: Walking Spots Around Exeter

Going for walks everyday can soon become monotonous. However, lockdown has left us with little to do and walks have become a great way to stay active and get some fresh air. I know that most of us would rather be living our best student lives, going to the pub and meeting friends. However, this is a great opportunity to explore Exeter and the surrounding areas a little more. There are some hidden gems right on your doorstop and here are some of my personal favourites: Continue reading Lockdown Wanders: Walking Spots Around Exeter

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Single Review: ‘Yesterday’ by Loyle Carner

Loyle Carner’s new single ‘Yesterday’, is a heartfelt, politically charged and introspective account of mixed-race identity in our contemporary society. The track marks the hip-hop artist’s latest release since his second album, Not Waving, But Drowning, and like his previous tracks incorporates both sensitive and intelligent lyricism. Continue reading Single Review: ‘Yesterday’ by Loyle Carner

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It’s Debatable: Gym Closures

For: 2020 has been an odd year in many, many ways, and for me, perhaps one of the oddest personal developments has been that I have become a Person Who Gyms. Regularly. On Purpose. Enjoying it. I cannot emphasize enough that if I went back and told 2019 me about this, she, along with everybody else I know, would have laughed very hard, for a … Continue reading It’s Debatable: Gym Closures

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My Culture Comforts: Saturn Returns with Caggie

Whilst I know astrology might not be for everyone, I cannot recommend the podcast Saturn Returns with Caggie enough. This enlightening podcast aims to bring clarity to listeners during challenging or transitional periods, which I am sure we can all agree is particularly needed in our current climate. With her therapeutically calming voice, Caggie Dunlop offers lessons and advice on a range of subjects from sex and relationships to identity and purpose, and even broaches the topic of witchcraft. At first, some episodes might seem a bit far-fetched. However, with the help of her guests and her astrological expert, I’ve found that at least one lesson can be taken away from each episode in a bid to further our individual quests for authenticity. Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Saturn Returns with Caggie

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Review: A Bit of a Stretch by Chris Atkins

A Bit of a Stretch by Chris Atkins is undoubtedly one of the most topical, funny and damning works of non-fiction that you will ever read. The book narrates, in diary form, the time that Atkins, Oxbridge graduate and award- winning filmmaker, spent in Wandsworth prison, after being convicted of tax fraud in 2016. Continue reading Review: A Bit of a Stretch by Chris Atkins

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Cohabiting for COVID-19

If you’d told me at the start of the first lockdown that I’d spend the second one living with a man I had been dating for less than two months, I’d have laughed in your face. Cackled. In April, I had only recently got out of a pretty intense situationship that, looking back, did not spark joy, just near-clinical anxiety, and had followed that with a very brief phase of ‘I will sleep with anyone who even blinks at me from across a room/shows mild interest on a dating app’ before being cock-blocked by Rona. Continue reading Cohabiting for COVID-19

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The Best Podcasts for Lockdown Listening

Lockdown is boring. It really is. One can only bake so much banana bread and tolerate so many Zoom quizzes. Therefore, the question of 2020 has become: ‘what shall I do now?’
Solution: Podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to fill the hours because you can listen to them whilst you do other things, such as run, take a bath, or bake the tenth banana bread of the day. Below is a selection of some of my all-time favourite podcasts: Continue reading The Best Podcasts for Lockdown Listening