A Scanner Darkly
Feb24

A Scanner Darkly

The CCL's very own Dr Caroline Edwards was invited to participate in a panel discussion and screening of Richard Linklater's 2006 film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's classic novel, A Scanner Darkly (1977). The event was organised by the Vasari Research Centre for Art & Technology as part of their Digital Animation Series running in 2016-17. Linklater's film is a great example to consider with regards to digital animation: the film was shot in live action and then animated in post-production using a technique known as interpolated rotoscoping (watch the video below to learn more about this process).      The film screening was introduced with a 45 minute panel discussion chaired by Dr Joel McKim (Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies, Birkbeck) and Caroline was joined by Dr James Burton (Lecturer in Cultural Studies & Cultural History, Goldsmiths), who has published a book on Dick, titled The Philosophy of Science Fiction: Henri Bergson and the Fabulations of Philip K. Dick (Bloomsbury, 2015). Topics discussed included Dick's autobiographical experiences with hallucinogenics, the context of 1970s Californian counterculture, messianism and Dick's late religious tract, Exegesis, and the question of genre with regards to what kind of science fiction A Scanner Darkly might be understood to be pioneering. A podcast of the panel discussion is available below. Click on the SoundCloud file to listen to the discussion (it begins in medias res, shortly after the event had been introduced at the Birkbeck Cinema).     Featured image by Duncan Creamer under a CC BY-NC-ND...

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CFP: Station Eleven and Twenty-First-Century Writing
Aug26

CFP: Station Eleven and Twenty-First-Century Writing

Featured image by Nathan Burton. Reproduced with the artist's permission.   Our very own open access publisher, the Open Library of Humanities (based at Birkbeck, but internationally supported) has just posted a Call for Articles that may be of interest to colleagues working in twenty-first-century literary studies. Here's the call, taken from their page here. Since its publication in 2014, Canadian author Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven has attracted enthusiastic critical responses. This post-apocalyptic novel won an Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction in 2015 and was shortlisted for many other awards, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. In this OLH Special Collection, we seek to explore Station Eleven’s position within twenty-first-century writing. Station Eleven intersects with various debates in contemporary literary studies, opening up questions about genre, politics, national literary traditions, literary form and intermediality, popular culture and prize culture. The novel partakes in what James Berger describes as the “pervasive post-apocalyptic sensibility in recent American culture”. This sensibility is no longer the sole province of science fiction, as canonical literary authors like Cormac McCarthy and Jim Crace have written novels imagining post-catastrophic futures. Indeed Veronica Hollinger speaks of the “'disappearance’ of science fiction as a separate generic enterprise” in the contemporary and Mandel herself, Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction notwithstanding, identifies her novel as literary fiction rather than science fiction. How might Station Eleven help us to frame issues of genre in twenty-first-century writing, in particular the debate between “literary fiction” and “genre fiction”, and how are these issues entangled with the production of cultural capital through literary prizes? Biblical apocalyptic narratives, as Lois Parkinson Zamora underlines, “developed in response to political and moral crises”. To what do we owe the contemporary surge of post-apocalyptic narratives and is Station Eleven radical or conservative in the way it imagines a hopeful future after global capitalism? The post-apocalyptic world of Station Eleven is post-national. Similarly, the reception and publication history of the novel raises questions about the importance and legitimacy of national literary traditions and awards in the age of transnationalism. Station Eleven was written by a Canadian, published first in America and was nominated for and won awards aimed at American, Canadian, and Women's Fiction. So is the novel American Literature? Canadian Literature? A new kind of Trans- or even Post-National fiction? And if it is post-national, does the text feature "the eclecticism and borderlessness in language and structure" that Aitor Ibarrola-Armendariz claims is "typical of the best postnational fiction"? Finally, the narrative’s apocalyptic erasure of borders leads us to interrogate artistic and cultural borders....

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Alluvium Vol. 5, No. 2
Jun02

Alluvium Vol. 5, No. 2

Birkbeck’s very own Alluvium Journal has just published its May issue (Vol. 5, No. 2), which features articles on games studies, the contemporary historical novel, Roberto Bolaño's fiction, and the relationship between popular literature and "Quality TV." In "What Game Worlds Can Teach Us About Literary Worlds," Alistair Brown (University of Durham) argues that thinking about how game designers construct space, and the way this affects the stories that players can experience within games, might invite us to think about how literary places are conceptualised by an author, and how the configuration of places affects the experiences of characters and the permutations of plot. In "The Contemporary Historical Novel & The Novel of Contemporary History," Xavier Marcó Del Pont (University of Oxford) suggests that historical fiction would benefit from a much wider temporal scope, one that would include the novel of contemporary history and historiographic metafiction as some of its subgenres. Meanwhile, in "The Semblances of Roberto Bolaño," Neil Vallelly (University of Otago) explores the philosophical concept of semblance, drawing on Hegel, Heidegger and Adorno to unpack the function of this form of appearance which, he argues, can open up new readings of Bolaño's fiction. At the point where Bolaño's narratives could point towards reality (citing real historical events or people) and extend beyond the text itself and into the world, these novels turn back on themselves to reveal a mere appearance of reality, or semblance. Finally, in "Consuming Television's Golden Age with Hannibal Lecter," Rowena Clarke (Boston College) examines how popular and genre literatures inform contemporary "Quality TV" in television's so-called Second Golden Age. Focusing on a close reading of NBC's hit TV series, Hannibal, Clarke argues that the show's presentation of the aestheticization of murder should be understood as a comment on the ethics of television violence and the viewers it shapes, in which pulp sensibilities borrowed from popular fiction have transmogrified into quality TV.   READ THE NEW ISSUE OF ALLUVIUM JOURNAL HERE.   Tweet   Featured image by RodrixAP under a CC BY 2.0...

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China Miéville Double Book Launch at Birkbeck
Nov04

China Miéville Double Book Launch at Birkbeck

The Centre for Contemporary Literature is delighted to announce the launch of a scholarly edited collection which has been developed out of a conference we supported. "Weird Council: An International Conference on the Writing of China Miéville" was held at Birkbeck in September 2012 and brought together an international network of scholars working on the award-winning British novelist, China Miéville.  Dr Caroline Edwards (Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Literature, Birkbeck) and Dr Tony Venezia (Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Birkbeck) have co-edited China Miéville: Critical Essays (Canterbury: Gylphi, 2015): a collection of scholarly essays which examine Miéville's novels, short fiction, comics, non-fiction and legal scholarship. Contributors include leading scholars of contemporary science fiction and fantasy scholarship – Sherryl Vint (University of California, Riverside), Raphael Zähringer (University of Tübingen), Dougal McNeill (Victoria University of Wellington), Joe Sutliff Sanders (Kansas State University), Paul March-Russell (University of Kent), Ben de Bruyn (Maastricht University), Matthew Sangster (University of Birmingham), Anthony F. Lang, Jr. (University of St Andrews), Mark P. Williams (Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz) and Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck). The collection also includes a Foreword by China Miéville himself. China Miéville: Critical Essays is being launched with a new monograph by Professor Carl Freeman (Louisiana State University), Art and Idea in the Novels of China Miéville (Canterbury: Gylphi, 2015). The double book launch will take place: When: Tues 24th November 2015, 6-8pm Where: Room 404, 30 Russell Square, Birkbeck, London WC1B 5DT To book your FREE TICKET, please visit the Eventbrite page:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-launch-two-exciting-new-critical-works-on-china-mieville-gylphi-tickets-19404365981 To pre-order a copy of China Miéville: Critical Essays please visit Amazon.                                       Featured image by Anna Podedworna. Used with...

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Global Conflict Alluvium Issue
May19

Global Conflict Alluvium Issue

Birkbeck's open access journal of 21st-century literary criticism, Alluvium, has recently published a new guest-edited special issue titled "Global Conflict." Edited by Dr Daniel O'Gorman, the issue examines contemporary fictions that address conflict situations – from the Iraq War, ongoing drone strikes, displacement during the Sudanese civil war, and the question of "grievability" in contemporary war reportage, to the collapse of space caused by displacement and the ambiguous position of international humanitarian agencies such as the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), Amnesty International, and the World Food Programme.     The issue is composed of three articles which each offer a different approach to these challenging issues. Emily Hogg's "Displaced Perspective" considers Ugandan author Goretti Kyomuhendo’s 2003 short story, "Do You Remember?", which criticises institutional responses to displacement through war. Dorothy Butchard's "Drones and Dissociation" analyses the "empathy gap" in contemporary responses to hyper-technologised drone warfare under the Obama presidency in fiction by Atef Abu Saif and Teju Cole. Finally, Dana Bönisch's "Pixels/Tissue" offers a comparative reading of drone warfare and the suicide attack, examining the use of aerial perspective in fiction by Thomas Lehr, David Mitchell and Julia Loktev’s film Day Night Day Night (2006).   READ THE FULL ISSUE HERE   Tweet   Featured image by AK Rockefeller under a CC BY...

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