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Bleed Greener: Cli-Fi, a Genre to Save Us All?

This year, I have been thinking a great deal about the role of the arts and humanities in the fight against climate change. While I have heard anecdotes about interdisciplinary projects that aim to tackle the ongoing environmental crisis from a range of different scholarly perspectives, it is troubling that the input of the humanities scholars is often reportedly neglected in favour of the data produced by the scientists and geographers. Undoubtedly, there is a sound rationale behind such a decision: we need data to assess the extent of the problem, and to develop practical recommendations for change. However, I strongly believe that the arts and humanities have serious untapped potential for helping to divert our course away from environmental catastrophe. Continue reading Bleed Greener: Cli-Fi, a Genre to Save Us All?

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Poetry and Politics

As the striking young woman in the vibrant yellow coat approached the podium at the presidential inauguration earlier this year the world held its breath. Amanda Gorman represents the voice of a new political era, an embodiment of hope and a testament to the potential for change. Her words were not the empty promises of populist leaders but were enthusiastic declarations of joy and purpose. … Continue reading Poetry and Politics

Rewriting the ‘Bodice Ripper’

Racing heartbeats, open shirts and heaving bosoms; I’m sure we can all picture those tacky and titillating cover illustrations that make the Bodice Ripper so infamous within the realm of romance fiction. Popularised in the 1970s, the genre is commonly associated with patriarchal ideals of dominant men fighting for the heart of the passive woman, where the hero’s rape of the virginal heroine acts as a catalyst for her undying love. Increasingly formulaic in their historical settings and adventure orientated romances, publishers of the 1970s and 1980s knew what seemed to work for their female readership. Continue reading Rewriting the ‘Bodice Ripper’

Steamy Scandals: Literary Representations of Sex

Given we all have more spare time because of lockdown, I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I’ve been reading some books with a few spicy scenes. Especially with the likes of Bridgerton being released on Netflix in January, a lot of the popular books have a steamy romance at the heart of their narrative. The intimate parts of any novel always walk a … Continue reading Steamy Scandals: Literary Representations of Sex

Black Feminist Books That Should be on Your Bookshelf

Feminist literature is a category that takes up a huge amount of space on my bookcase. It is one of my primary interests when reading for pleasure or when picking modules within my degree. Considering the importance of intersectional feminism and inclusivity in what we read and how we educate ourselves, it is extremely important to diversify our bookshelves. As there are simply too many amazing Black feminist writers to mention in this article, including Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Claudia Rankine and Warsan Shire to name a few, I have instead decided to list three of my favourite Black feminist writers to get you started. The first being one of my favourite authors who I believe to be a fantastic starting point in your reading, the second is a recent read that I loved, and the final recommendation is the next book that I am planning on reading that I have heard amazing things about. Continue reading Black Feminist Books That Should be on Your Bookshelf

Palatable Feminism Doesn’t Owe You Accountability

At the start of December 2020, social media influencer, writer and artist Florence Given came under fire for seeming to have replicated the work and message of Chidera Eggerue (whose online moniker is The Slumflower). The initial accusation came from Eggerue herself, who posted a series of Instagram stories talking through what she perceived to be similarities in their books (Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty and Eggerue’s What a Time to Be Alone and How to Get Over a Boy). These included the cover style, some of the snappy phrases Given utilises (most notably “Dump Him”), and the self-illustrated, ‘coffee-table’ vibe of the book. Eggerue called for accountability from Given, and some redistribution of profits both to her and the other Black women Given credited in the afterword of her book, stating “Black women’s ideas generate wealth for white people. But that wealth doesn’t go to our community.” Radio silence followed from Given’s usually very active Instagram, until a few days later when she posted a statement via her Instagram, attempting to explain her side of the story. She pointed out that Eggerue had “ethusiastically” endorsed Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, and that it would have been impossible for her to read How to Get Over a Boy before handing in her manuscript for her own book. She cited her own previous work and drawing style, as well as her long-term interest in feminist thinking and the ways in which it has inspired her art. She also said she had donated a chunk of her advance to Black Minds Matter, a UK charity aiming to provide Black people with free care from Black therapists. Black Minds Matter has refused an offer of a further donation. Continue reading Palatable Feminism Doesn’t Owe You Accountability

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

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

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