“Being understood creates the fear that you will never be understood again”: Literary Empathy in Rachel Cusk’s Outline Trilogy

Contrary to claims that autofiction rejects the goal of generating empathy, I will posit that Cusk’s works instead aim to produce what James Dawes calls “literary empathy.” Literary empathy, Dawes writes, does not necessarily advance human rights or overtly political goals, and “does not point past the reader,” but instead “points to the reader,” allowing readers to question their own capacity to empathise (431).

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Alluvium Editorial 10.1

This special issue is dedicated to papers presented at the biennial BACLS “What Happens Now?” Conference that took place on 2-3 September 2021. The conference focused on representing a variety of concerns and topics represented in contemporary literature studies, and these are reflected in the articles published in this issue: they address the intersections between literary studies, video games and television series, pertinent questions of representation and identity in contemporary literature, as well as exploring the political and social formations of the present through critical and creative methods.

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Decentring the “Scumbag” Veteran

“How do you get to be a scumbag?” wonders the veteran protagonist of Nico Walker’s novel, “Cherry”. A tale of war, dope fiends and bank robbery, Walker’s auto-fictional debut isn’t short of despicable people doing despicable things. The scumbag veteran, however, marks a striking departure from the veteran hero familiar to the contemporary cultural landscape.

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Authentic Violence: The Case for Autofiction

The recent surge in the publication and study of Life-Writing in its varied forms has largely been supported by the academic community, spawning dedicated research centres in academic institutions, journals and conferences and it…

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