By Emma Catan, Franca Leitner and Sofie Schrey
In this final Alluvium issue of 2021, we explore a variety of perspectives on topical themes in the study of modern literature. Themes addressed in this issue include dystopia and race, gender identity and othering, and issues of consent.
Our first article in this issue, written by Kit Schuster, examines Jeanette Winterson’s Frankisstein. They consider how Winterson’s retelling of Frankenstein can be read as a way of understanding the connection between the myth of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, and the transgender experience. By focusing on the protagonist Ry Shelley (who represents non-binary identity in addition to being part creator, part creature), Schuster’s article argues how Ry is classified as the other, specifically due to their gender identity, rather than being the mythic creature. This provides a timely contribution to the current debates surrounding trans identities, non-binary representation, and how marginalised gender identities continue to experience similar ‘othering’ processes.
Our second article in this issue, written by Liam Knight, examines Wayne Holloway’s 2019 novel “Bindlestiff”, which shows the reader a glimpse of a dystopian future for humanity while closely connecting that dystopia to the current discriminatory environment of the Hollywood film industry. Knight explores the three-part structure of the novel and deconstructs the parallels between them, highlighting the novel’s poignant addressment of racial issues in Hollywood. Knight discusses the film production process outlined in Holloway’s story, including the discriminatory casting process, the introduction of racial stereotypes in scripts and the treatment of women in the film industry. At its core, the article attempts to pinpoint the true makings of a dystopia, as it considers the novel’s formal hybridity and metafictional elements.
Not unlike Liam Knight’s contribution to this journal issue, Marni Appleton’s article “Feeling Straight: Heterosexual Fatigue in ‘Cat Person’” involves themes of consent and agency. Focusing on the ‘viral’ short story “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian from 2017, Appleton raises the queston of whether young women, trapped between neoliberal postfeminist demands to celebrate their own sexual agency and the realities of a dating scene overshadowed by the constant threat of sexual violence, might retreat to a passive state Appleton terms ‘hetersosexual fatigue’. Drawing on concepts like “heteropessimism” by Asa Seresin and “tragic heterosexuality” by Jane Ward, she outlines how contemporary concerns around questions of consent are reflected in “Cat Person”.
All these timely articles are linked in their research on distorted representations of different social groups, gender roles and issues of consent across different relationships, and perhaps most importantly, the notion of agency. Although the connection between them is not necessarily intentional, it is no surprise that in their analyses related to urgent social issues, all three of the articles in this November edition discuss primary texts that count as forms of active resistance. We hope these contributions will provide you with new and exciting perspectives in modern literature and will inspire you in your future research.
Emma Catan, Franca Leitner and Sofie Schrey, “Alluvium Editorial 9.6,” Alluvium, Vol. 9, No. 6 (2021): n.pag. Web 13 December 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7766/alluvium.v9.6.01
About the Editors
Emma Catan (she/they) is a third-year (part time) PhD candidate at Northumbria University; their thesis is titled ‘Cross-Dressing and ‘Transgression’ in the Neo-Victorian city’. Their research interests focus on gender and space; how city-spaces are constructed and policed, and how social codes can be transgressed through gender performance (specifically, cross-dressing). They also have interests in fantasy and science-fiction; early modern and nineteenth-century literature, and the works of Terry Pratchett. They run the Victorian and Neo-Victorian Studies podcast, Victorian Legacies, and can be found on Twitter as @academicmeeple and @victorianlegac1
Franca Leitner is a Master’s student in British and North American Cultural Studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau and has recently finished her Master’s thesis focusing on contemporary Irish crime fiction. She holds a B.Sc. in Psychology and a B.A. in English and History. Her research interests encompass ecocriticism, cultural memory studies and animal studies, mainly in the context of contemporary fiction.
Sofie Schrey is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at Northumbria University, where she is part of the Environmental Humanities Research Group. She holds a BA and an MA in Applied Linguistics and a MA in Linguistics and Literature. Her research thus far has focused on nature and wilderness representations across written and visual mediums in 19th Century and Modern Literature. Her main research interests are Ecocriticism and Landscape Studies, with additional interests in Mythology, Gender Studies and Natural History. She is an active member of Arcadiana (EASLCE) and currently holds a three year mandate as an Assistant Editor for Ecozon@ Journal.
Feature Image: PatoLenin on Pixabay