21st century writing | 21st century approaches

Caring about things in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blindfold

Caring about things in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blindfold

Jan 5, 2016

What does it mean to care about things? The Blindfold, Siri Hustvedt’s first novel, dangles this question in a series of set-pieces, moments of glimpsing into the weirdness of the everyday, the objects that fill it and the ways in which these objects are, might, should or shouldn’t be handled. The Blindfold’s objects are animate or border on animation...

Duration Without Breaks: Marclay and McQueen Against the Clock

Duration Without Breaks: Marclay and McQueen Against the Clock

Jan 5, 2016

‘There is a bitter and dark struggle around time and the use of time’. Thus wrote Henri Lefebvre and Catherine Régulier in an 1985 article later collected in Lefebvre’s final set of essays, Rhythmanalysis, posthumously published in 1992 (Lefebvre 83). As if the day is not long enough for all our repetitive tasks, the ...

Re-imagining Bluebeard’s Wives: Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr Fox

Re-imagining Bluebeard’s Wives: Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr Fox

Jan 5, 2016

In a Granta Magazine interview with Ted Hodgkinson, Helen Oyeyemi talks about re-writing the endings of canonical texts to suit her own reading of the novel in question. Writing in the margins of library books, Oyeyemi ‘would cross out endings that I didn’t like and I would rewrite them […] I would order everything to ...

Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World: Does Art Have a Gender Identity?

Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World: Does Art Have a Gender Identity?

Jan 5, 2016

In her most recent novel The Blazing World (2014), Siri Hustvedt raises the problem of sex biases in the art world. One of the central premises of the book is that works of art executed by women are rated significantly lower than the same piece by a man. “Does art really have a gender identity”, asks Hustvedt ...

Queerversity: Desire and Sexuality in China Miéville’s Fiction

Queerversity: Desire and Sexuality in China Miéville’s Fiction

Oct 30, 2015

Antke Engel, who works in the field of gender studies and queer theory, points out that gender difference and heteronormativity are organised by two mechanisms of power, normalisation and hierarchisation. Binary constructs have a crucial function in these processes. They influence concepts of identity and self-identification but are undermined by ...

Everybody Wants Some: Sexual Energy and the American Avant-garde

Everybody Wants Some: Sexual Energy and the American Avant-garde

Oct 30, 2015

Despite the ideals of freedom espoused by Americans a prudish attitude toward sex and sexuality pervades public discourse. From victim blaming to  slut shaming, America is simultaneously enthralled and enraged by sex. This complex attitude has been one of the driving forces of avant-garde thought throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries...

Photographing the Flag

Photographing the Flag

Oct 30, 2015

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag examines the history and development of representing war in photographs. Returning to the earliest images of conflict, she writes: ‘Not to be pained by these pictures, not to recoil from them, not to strive to abolish what caused this havoc, this carnage – these would be the reactions of a moral monster’ (2003: 7). ...

Fake Flesh: Black Mirror and Ex Machina

Fake Flesh: Black Mirror and Ex Machina

Oct 30, 2015

When human flesh first touches synthetic flesh in the Black Mirror episode “Be Right Back” (2013), the human recoils, but keeps touching all the same: “You’re so smooth—how are you so smooth?” whispers Martha (Hayley Atwell) to the android simulacra of her dead partner, Ash (Domnhall Gleeson). The android body is framed as both supernatural and technological, ...