• The aura of facticity: the ideological power of hidden voices in news reports

      Davies, Matt; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020-04-16)
      This chapter explores the most significant stylistic features of and relationships between the two most ubiquitous genres in print news reporting – the editorial column (the anonymous official line of the newspaper on the issues of the day) and the so-called ‘straight’ or ‘hard’ news reports which typically constitute the front pages (and many of the first few inside pages) of the daily national (UK) newspapers. It provides a framework for identifying some of the most significant characteristic stylistic features of these genres, focussing specifically on how a defining distinction is the absence and presence of authorial voice in the news report and editorial column respectively. However, the claim, for instance by that “journalism derives a great deal of its legitimacy from the postulate that it is able to present true pictures of reality to objectivity in the news report” (Wien, 2005:3) is challenged. The chapter argues that the aura of facticity projected by the absence of often highly rhetorical features manifest in editorial columns, camouflages attitudes and values embedded within the equivalent news reports, and in doing so performs significant ideological work in hiding those values. Using news reports and editorials published in five UK national newspapers published on 13 July 2018, based around the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK, the chapter demonstrates how the attitudes and values expressed in editorial columns are still in evidence in their equivalent front page news reports and that despite the best intentions of professional journalists to report events using standard techniques, objectivity is and can only be a myth.
    • ‘The Madman out of The Attic’ Gendered Madness in Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Villette, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

      Bury, Hannah (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-12)
      The nineteenth-century ‘madwoman’ is critically established, but not always contentiously questioned or repudiated, within Brontë scholarship. This dissertation will therefore explore the possibility that the quintessentially ‘mad’ female can be replaced by the heavily flawed, and often equally ‘mad’ man, who continuously controls and represses her. Through a diachronic analysis of Bertha Mason and Lucy Snowe in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Villette, Catherine Earnshaw in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Helen Graham in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, this project will demonstrate how and why the middleclass, ‘sane’ and respectable man can be met with character divergences and vices of his own. This undermines his credibility as a ‘doctor’ or a dictator in his treatment of women, which in turn vindicates and questions the validity and the ultimate cause of female ‘madness’ in the first instance. Chapters One and Two will trace Bertha and Catherine’s respective downfalls to death through ‘madness’, and their connecting relationships with both Rochester and Edgar. Chapter Three will examine how Lucy does manage to survive her mistreatment; yet, she is left without purpose or a definitive identity of her own as a result. In contrast to the preceding chapters, Chapter Four will inverse and redeem the trends of the nineteenth-century woman, ones which so heavily affected Bertha, Catherine and Lucy, as Helen survives her unfavourable experience. While Bertha, Catherine and Lucy react and succumb to their patriarchal repression in different ways, only Anne Brontë offers a solution to the polemical issues which all three authors raise. As she emancipates her heroine Helen, in contrast to repressing her further, she negotiates how an alternative and a more optimistic fate potentially awaits women who are entrapped within the rigid patriarchal systems of nineteenth-century literature and culture.
    • Afrofuturism and Splendor & Misery

      Hay, Jonathan (British Science Fiction Association, 2019-09-29)
      A countercultural movement characterised by a dynamic understanding of the narrative authority held by texts, Afrofuturism rewrites African culture in a speculative vein, granting African and Afrodiasporic peoples a culturally empowered means of writing their own future. This article examines the manner by which clipping.'s 2016 album Splendor & Misery-a conceptual hip-hop space opera-freely enlists and reclaims texts from the African cultural tradition in order to manifest its Afrofuturist agenda. The process by which Afrofuturism reclaims and rewrites culture is paralleled within Splendor & Misery through the literary device of mise en abyme; just as the album itself does, its central protagonist rewrites narratives of African cultures and traditions in an act of counterculture.
    • Crossing borders in Victorian travel: spaces, nations and empires

      Fegan, Melissa (Informa UK Limited, 2019-09-26)
    • (Post)human Temporalities: Science Fiction in the Anthropocene

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (Brill, 2019-09-24)
      Although many SF texts proceed from the speculative premise that our species will continue to develop technologically, and hence become increasingly posthuman, our species’ continuance into even the next century is by no means assured. Rather, the Anthropocene exerts a new temporal logic; it is an age defined by an intensification of geological timescales. It is therefore noteworthy that many contemporary SF texts are ecologically interventionist and figure apocalyptic future temporalities which curtail the posthuman predilection common to the genre. This article analyses a tetrad of literary texts, written at various points during the last three decades, which summatively reveal the mutations of the (post)human temporalities figured by cli-fi texts. These four texts are: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (1992-1996); Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007); Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (2014); and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015).
    • History, Globalization and The Human Subject in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

      Stephenson, William; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019-07-25)
      Jacob de Zoet and Aibagawa Orito, the protagonists of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, think and act like people of their time and place. Mitchell's novel thus falls into step with Georg Lukács's classic Marxist account of historical fiction as a genre that 'endeavours to portray the struggles and antagonisms of history by means of characters who, in their psychology and destiny, always represent social trends and historical forces'. The gestures, hints and fantasies that characterize Jacob's and Orito's unconsummated affair suggest in microcosm the state of world historical relationships in the novel, where the expansionist West and isolationist Japan imagine one another, creating spectres of race and nation. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet alludes to its own time by advancing Mitchell's project, begun in Ghostwritten, of engagement with the contemporary globalized world where civilizations clash in a state of mutual ignorance. Caroline Edwards has shown how Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas offer 'a non-contemporaneous narrative present' of the sort described by Jacques Derrida in Specters of Marx. Taking its cue from Edwards's point that this disjointed present exists in Mitchell's fiction to defamiliarize and critically examine 'the globalized capitalist world of his readership', this essay will study the contemporary cultural conflicts played out in the historical setting of Mitchell's Japan.
    • Dark marks, curse scars and corporal punishment: Criminality and the function of bodily marks in the Harry Potter series

      Andrew, Lucy; University of Chester; University Centre Shrewsbury (Manchester University Press, 2019-06-21)
      This essay explores the function of tattoos and scars in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and considers the contribution of these marks to the series’ overarching crime narrative. Focusing primarily on the final four books, the essay addresses three major instances of tattooing and scarring: the Dark Mark – the brand of Voldemort’s Death Eaters; Harry’s lightning-bolt scar – the product of Voldemort’s failed killing curse; and the message imprinted on Harry’s arm through his use of Professor Umbridge’s ‘special’ quill to write lines during detention. This essay considers the various conscious functions of these bodily marks – as a signifier of gang membership, a means of intimidation, a statement of possession and a punitive measure to control and modify behaviour through pain. It also examines the subconscious role of bodily marks in constructing the identities of and relationships between criminal, victim and seeker of justice. This essay explores how the analysis of scars and tattoos illuminates the series’ treatment of crucial issues within crime literature, such as morality, criminal origins, the process of detection and the possibility of redemption.
    • Quotidian Science Fiction: Posthuman Dreams of Emancipation

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (University of Iowa, 2019-06-13)
      This article argues that Science Fiction is a posthuman art form, whose texts posit a utopian dream which emphasises that the process of becoming posthuman is both incremental, and conditional upon the equitable cultural, social, and environmental evolution of our societies. The genre provides a transient dreamscape for visitation by the (post)human mind, by which the reader gains an expanded perception of not only their own empirical environment, but also of posthuman possibility. This posthuman dream however, is not a simply literalised by SF’s estranging narrative strategy, but rather is located in the intersection between the SF narrative and its generic form. Through the decay of their initially defamiliarizing nova into data which are cognitively explicable by their (post)human audience, SF texts dramatize our species’ continuous journey of becoming posthuman. This fundamentally posthuman model of the SF genre therefore challenges the model of cognitive estrangement proposed by Darko Suvin, and so proposes that SF exerts a pragmatic utopian dream that avoids being deterministic or teleological.
    • Experience’s Potential and Potential Experiences: Subjectivity, Alterity, and Futurity in the Late-Apartheid Novels of Nadine Gordimer

      Blair, Peter; University of Chester (Société d'Étude des Pays du Commonwealth / Society for the Study of Commonwealth Countries, 2019-06)
      This article begins by scrutinizing divergent critical views of Gordimer’s subject position and authorial agency, which locate her variously on a spectrum ranging from liberal-humanist autonomy to historical-materialist determinism. It then considers how Gordimer’s nonfiction articulates a parallel ambivalence about the reach of the writer’s imagination (and its dependence on “the potential of his own experience”), particularly regarding the ethics and feasibility of creating racially “other” characters. Its main part reads July’s People (1981), in relation to other Gordimer novels, as a similarly self-reflexive engagement with subjectivity and alterity: the otherness of the imagined future (a “potential experience”) facilitates fresh socio-political perspectives, even as the novel expresses philosophical scepticism about such imaginative extrapolation and its textual representation. The article concludes with a new reading of the novel’s “open” ending as a projection of this epistemological conflict.
    • Book Review: The Language of Jane Austen by Joe Bray, 2018. London: Palgrave: pp. 182 ISBN 9783319721613

      Neary, Clara; University of Chester (Sage, 2019-05-15)
      Review of The Language of Jane Austen by Joe Bray, 2018.
    • Textile Recycling in Victorian Literature: An Interview with Deborah Wynne

      Wynne, Deborah; University of Chester (Council for European Studies, 2019-05-07)
      This interview refers to Wynne's research into Victorian textile recycling and how it was represented in Victorian literature and culture, particularly the work of Charles Dickens.
    • Review of Helen Kingstone and Kate Lister (eds), Paraphernalia! Victorian Objects (Routledge, 2018) pp. xiii + 267 (£115.00)

      Wynne, Deborah; University of Chester (Sage, 2019-05-01)
      A review of Helen Kingstone and Kate Lister (eds), Paraphernalia! Victorian Objects (Routledge, 2018) pp. xiii + 267 (£115.00).
    • Origin and Ellipsis in the Writing of Hilary Mantel: An Elliptical Dialogue with the Thinking of Jacques Derrida

      Pollard, Eileen J.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-04-17)
      This monograph provokes a re-engagement with Derrida’s thinking in contemporary literature, with particular emphasis on the philosopher’s preoccupation with the process of writing. This is the first book-length study of Mantel’s writing, not just in terms of Derrida’s thought, but through any critical perspective or lens to date.
    • Stark choices and brutal simplicity: the blunt instrument of constructed oppositions in news editorials

      Davies, Matt; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-04-12)
      This chapter uses a typology of oppositional syntactic triggers (e.g. ‘either X or Y’, ‘X but Y’) to show how the conflicting positions of opposing political parties are reproduced and perpetuated by the UK press as simplistic mutually exclusive binaries in General Election campaigns. The premise is that political discourse is predisposed to representing complex moral positions, policies and practices as simple polarised ‘stark’ contrasts, often reducing them to a rudimentary choice between GOOD and EVIL, POSITIVE and NEGATIVE, US and THEM. Using a corpus of data from the daily editorial (or ‘leader’) columns of UK national newspapers in the 2010, 2015 and 2017 UK general election campaigns, the chapter shows how the conflict can be constructed through discourse by the artificial prising apart of more ambiguous and intricate political positions and is strongly facilitated by the very nature of the syntax available for representing alternative views, disguising any shades of grey which are likely to exist. A search for syntactic frames and triggers based on a typology developed by Davies (2012, 2013) and Jeffries (2010), show how oppositions are used to promote Conservative policies at the expense of the Labour Party by constructing ‘stark contrasts’ between them.
    • A Certain Romance: Style shifting in the language of Alex Turner in Arctic Monkeys songs 2006-2018

      Flanagan, Paul; University of Chester (Sage, 2019-03-15)
      This paper reports on a diachronic study of the language employed by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner in his songs over a 13-year period. The analysis adapts Simpson’s (1999) USA- 5 model for studying accent in vocal performance, and focuses on the realisation of three phonological variables and two dialect variables in a 16,000-word corpus of 69 songs across all six albums released by the band. Hailing from High Green, Sheffield, Turner speaks with a vernacular Yorkshire accent, and the band’s early appeal (particularly in northern England) is often accredited partially to their authentic down-to-earth image, content and performance. Throughout their career, the band have evolved in terms of their musical genre and style, and, having recorded their first two albums in England, later albums were recorded and produced mostly in Los Angeles. Simpson’s model is modified in order to analyse trends in usage of five linguistic variables with non-standard variants iconic of northern British identity, with a view to analysing how Turner’s changing linguistic practice relates to his affiliation with vernacular and institutional norms, and thus his performance of different identities within songs. Keywords: Accent, Arctic Monkeys, dialect, identity, northern English, non-standard, vernacular
    • ‘Please could you stop the noise’: The grammar of multimodal meaning-making in Radiohead’s "Paranoid Android"

      Neary, Clara; University of Chester (Sage, 2019-02-01)
      This article uses Zbikowski’s (2002, 2012, 2017) theory of ‘musical grammar’ to analyse Radiohead’s song ‘Paranoid Android’ from their 1997 album OK Computer. Invoking the close structural and compositional parallels between language and music, Zbikowski’s approach appropriates some of the core elements of cognitive linguistics to provide a means of ‘translating’ music into meaning-bearing conceptual structures via the construction of ‘sonic analogs’, which are a type of conceptual construct formed when incoming perceptual information is compared to existing cognitive knowledge stored as image schemas. The result is an analysis of the interactions between the linguistic and aural constructions of a multimodal text that not only sheds new light on this text’s meaning-making devices but also endeavours to unlock the strategies through which such distinctive semiotic modes act and interact within texts to create meaning potential.
    • How the Other Three-Quarters Lived: The Cabin in Famine Literature

      Fegan, Melissa; University of Chester (Peter Lang, 2019-01-23)
      In the 1841 census three-quarters of houses in Ireland were placed in the lowest two classes, one-roomed mud cabins and slightly larger mud cottages. What Harriet Martineau describes as ‘Irish cabin life’ was a matter of fascination for visitors to Ireland before and after the Famine, and the cabin became a key site of ethnographic exploration. Curious or philanthropic observers were either shocked by the poverty and wretchedness they saw, or puzzled or even offended by the seeming happiness and healthiness of cabin-dwellers. During the Famine, the cabin was a scene for tragedy and horror: the place from which the people were evicted, from which they emigrated, in which they were quarantined, where they were found dying or dead, where they were buried. The roofless cabin later eloquently attested to their suffering and absence, and has become one of the most significant visual icons in the commemoration of the Famine. This chapter examines the representation of the cabin in literature from the time of the Famine to the present day, in the works of authors such as William Carleton, Anthony Trollope, Margaret Brew, Carol Birch, Anne Enright, and Tana French, considering the ways in which social hierarchy and communal relations are mediated through its space in texts set during the Famine, and its spectral significance in modern and contemporary literature as a concrete or symbolic inheritance, a time-machine, a haunted house, a place to desecrate or take refuge in, and a crime scene.
    • No Such Thing as Society: The Novel under Neoliberalism

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Schoene, Berthold; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Cambridge University Press, 2018-12-20)
      Because literature always depends on evoking a sense of community between writers and their readers, there can be no flourishing of literature without society. Indicative of this axiomatic is the novel’s contribution to how any specific ‘social imaginary’ or ‘structure of feeling’ comes to crystallize in the first place. Complementing Raymond Williams’ influential encapsulation of ‘structure of feeling’ as each new generation’s response to ‘the unique world it is inheriting, taking up many continuities [...] yet feeling its whole life in certain ways differently’, Manfred Steger defines social imaginaries as the ways in which ‘“we” – the members of a particular community – fit together, how things go on between us, the expectations we have of each other, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie those expectations’. The final two decades of the twentieth century are no exception in this regard, as they too constitute a singular slice of history with its own particular set of common understandings, expressions and practices of culture and community. Importantly, the perceived distinctiveness and newness of the period was the result not so much of a gentle generational shift as a wholescale political revolution, the enormity of which would jolt society into a hitherto inconceivable direction of socio-economic change and cultural transmutation. As Colin Hutchinson puts it, the inception of Thatcherite neoliberalism in Britain is best understood as a violent ‘assault […] on the public realm [leading to] the erosion of civic sensibilities and collective allegiances’. Another point of interest for us is the formative implication of ‘The Individual’ in the symbiosis of society and the novel. Nancy Armstrong describes individualism as ‘the ideological core’ of the novel; in her view, ‘novels think like individuals about the difficulties of fulfilling oneself […] under specific cultural historical conditions’. Armstrong’s proposition assumes special significance in the light of Margaret Thatcher’s announcement in 1987 that ‘there is no such thing [as society]! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.’ Thatcher’s eradication of society and her hyperbolic championing of the individual instigated a fundamental ideological recasting of late twentieth-century Britain’s social imaginary, which in turn significantly influenced the development of the British novel.
    • Accelerated Times: British Literature in Transition, 1980-2000

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Schoene, Berthold; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Cambridge University Press, 2018-12-20)
      The central premise underpinning our volume is simple: the final two decades of the twentieth century no longer constitute an integral part of what we call the contemporary. We now view the late twentieth century through a complex historicising lens darkened by the events of 9/11, the ensuing ‘clash of civilisations’ and ‘war on terror’, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, ongoing austerity and – most recently – the rise of populist politics. An additional impediment to immediate access and perfect recall is the impact effected by technological advances on everyday life in the twenty-first century: how reliably can we ‘supermoderns’ (to adopt Marc Augé’s term ) be expected to recollect and relate to a now bygone world that did not have the internet, email, social networking, wifi or the mobile phone? Even those of us who lived through the 1980s and 1990s will be finding this increasingly difficult. Superseded and defamiliarised by previously unimaginable technologically-modified ways of everyday living, the late twentieth century is beginning to look more and more like history. One prominent theme informing the tone of this introduction is how the final two decades of the twentieth century were marked by the speed of accelerated change in society’s attitudes to class, subnational devolution, religion, sexuality and the Black and Asian Minority Ethnic experience, as well as how these complex and mutually imbricated discourses helped produce a notable sense of motion sickness in the literature of the period.
    • Cultural Representations: Hair as the Abundant Signifier

      West, Sally; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2018-12-13)
      This contribution to A Cultural History of Hair: The Age of Empire considers a variety of representations of hair in literature and wider culture. It argues that such representations exhibit a complex array of significations, including moral judgements and cultural anxieties of the age.