By Guest Editors Emma Catan, Alexei Warshawski and Andreas Theodorou
In this March issue of Alluvium, our articles draw together a variety of scholars at varying stages of their academic careers. Breaking down elements of contemporary cinema and literature, this issue addresses topics of feminism, colonialism and metafiction, terrorism, and implicit rape across a selection of texts and cinema. This month’s collection of articles is a celebration of the contemporary, and an insight into the future of literature and media studies.
In our first article, Isabel Sykes’ ‘Mad Max: Fury Road: A Feminist Redemption’ offers a refreshing take on the 2015 film and challenges the notion that the film is “un-feminist” – instead, viewing it as a metaphor for breaking the shackles of patriarchal capitalism. Drawing from and challenging existing eco-feminist arguments, Sykes defends Fury Road against essentialist arguments, and seeks to break the binary between the needlessly gendered notions of nature and technology. Sykes further argues that, in re-appropriating technology, and re-crafting the body, Fury Road challenges the essentialist gender dichotomy by combining (rather than separating) what we perceive as natural and technological. This paper challenges the ways in which we interpret Fury Road, and seeks to disrupt the needless gendering of technology and nature.
Imandi Mudugamuwa’s article ‘“Sunt Lacrimae Rerum”: A Structural Analysis of Cloud Atlas’ is an exciting new engagement with David Mitchell’s famous 2004 novel. One of the most widely-written on texts of the 21st century, writing on Cloud Atlas ranges from geopolitics, to colonialism, to metafiction, to spiritualism, and much more. Mudugamuwa’s article offers a highly specific structural reading of Cloud Atlas which explores the novel’s palindromic structure, its embedded narratives, its metalepsis, and its hyper-mediacy. Such a focus on the novel’s textuality and structure itself provides a fascinating and insightful exploration of the construction of a text whose structure is so often considered as a conduit for its grand, sweeping themes. As Mudugamuwa puts it, “audacious postmodern structural choices encourage the novel’s reflexivity as a metafiction, as a self-awareness of its own fictionality and textuality highlights rather than obscures the stories and individual lives within”. We must also mention that Mudugamuwa only began her undergraduate study this year, and that she had been developing this work on Cloud Atlas whilst studying for her International Baccalaureate qualifications. The quality of scholarship from someone so early in their academic career is astonishing.
In ‘Terrorism in Jennifer Egan’s Fiction’, Mairi Power explores the ways in which Egan depicts terrorism and citizen violence in her various works. Power argues that the American identity is one theme which is embedded throughout Egan’s body of work; from A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010), her Twitter fiction Black Box (2012); and her latest novel, Manhattan Beach (2017). Her discussion of the ways in which terrorism and technology creep into daily American lives, argues that terrorist violence is now ‘as ubiquitous in the headlines of the daily paper as the next iPhone launch’. Power’s work concludes that all of Egan’s texts share a common thread; revealing her evolving investigation into the ways that technology and terrorism interact, slowly becoming more and more intertwined within our mundane lives.
Sofie Schrey’s work ‘Implicit Rape and Female Consent in Thomas Pynchon’s V’ rounds off this issue’s collection. This article draws on Pynchon’s work and how previous critics have considered his work either sexist or misogynistic. However, Schrey’s article considers the extent to which Pynchon’s V uses metaphors to discuss the topic of female consent. Her timely piece particularly focuses on a rhinoplasty scene in the novel, to consider how this scene – and Pynchon’s presentation of the surgeon and patient responses – can be considered a form of rape.
The articles collected in this issue reflect both emerging ideas and scholars in contemporary literature and media, and offer a brief insight into the near future of such studies. We’re keen to hear what you think of the papers, so be sure to make your thoughts known below!
Emma Catan, Alexei Warshawski and Andreas Theodorou ‘Alluvium Editorial Issue 9.2,’ Alluvium, Vol.9, No.2 (2021):n.pag. Web 19 April 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7766/alluvium.v9.2.01
About the Authors
Andreas Theodorou is a PhD Researcher at Liverpool Edge Hill University, having previously completed a BA and MRes in English at Liverpool John Moores University and going on to become a British Library Labs Researcher in Residence. His research observes medical and digital humanities, focusing on simulated terror and play in contemporary Gothic video-games. In his spare time, Andreas is also a culinary hobbyist, baker, and the author and artist behind Beyond the Darkness. You can tweet him @AndreasT94.
Alexei Warshawski is a postgraduate student at Birkbeck, University of London, and holds a First Class BA in English Literature from the University of Warwick. His research focuses broadly on contemporary literature and culture but with specific interests in ontology, temporality and the philosophy of time, and neoliberalism. Alexei has previously been published in Ad Alta: The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Vector. Since 2017 he has also worked as secondary school teacher in English and Media Studies
Emma Catan is a second-year (part-time) Ph.D. researcher at Northumbria University: her project is entitled ‘Cross-dressing and ‘Criminality’ in the Neo-Victorian City’. Her primary research interests centre around gender studies, queer theory, urban space, and Neo-Victorian literature, and she also has interests in contemporary literature, fantasy literature (such as the works of Sir Terry Pratchett), and crime writing. Emma is currently the part-time strategic lead representative, in addition to the English department representative, for Northumbria University.