• ‘All the figures I used to see’: using Cognitive Grammar to grapple with rhythmic and intertextual meaning-making in Radiohead’s ‘Pyramid Song’

      Neary, Clara; University of Chester
      This article constitutes an application of Cognitive Grammar and Zbikowski's theory of Musical Grammar to Radiohead's 'Pyramid Song'.
    • ‘He was struck out. Deleted’: We Need to Talk about Wesley in Nicola Barker’s Behindlings

      Pollard, Eileen; University of Chester
      This article provides a poststructural reading of the character of Wesley in Nicola Barker’s 2002 novel Behindlings, which is broadly informed by Jean-Luc Nancy’s thoughts on being and community and Jacques Derrida’s thinking on khōra, as well as other established poststructural paradigms. It contends that the novel simultaneously engages with these ideas and exceeds them. Wesley is the void-at-the-heart of his own ‘philosophy’: ‘He was hollow. He was empty […] He was a vacuum. He was struck-out. Deleted. He was nothing’. And he is everything as well at one and the same time. It is the classic poststructural paradox – receiving everything while possessing nothing – that makes meaning possible. And that is the argument: the signifier, the empty sign for some, the palimpsest for others, here is simply Wesley. However, my argument is that the characterisation of Wesley challenges and complicates such readings, deliberately. This article will demonstrate how the novel repeatedly sullies the theories it implicates by introducing a persistent taint to the main vehicle used to articulate the theory, the protagonist himself, that ‘puerile […] shithead’, Wesley.
    • Utopia’s Extinction: the Anthroposcenic Landscapes of Ursula K. Le Guin

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      In the Anthropocene epoch, the utopian prospect which has structured civilizational development throughout recorded history is extinguished almost entirely. Our anthropocentric fantasies of dominion over the natural world have proven harmful not only to the biosphere we inhabit, but to the continued existence of our own species. Instead, new conceptualizations which foreground the role of humanity within its environment must take precedence. Intricate portrayals of humanity’s interdependence within its planetary environment—and illustrations of the damage that our daily lives inflict upon the natural world—have long been apparent in the Science Fiction genre. By emphasising the importance of fostering and recognizing our species’ symbiotic relationship with its natural world through practices of daily life, the Anthroposcenic landscapes of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Science Fiction texts exert a posthuman vision which refutes anthropocentric ideologies, and decenters the notion of progress as an eschatology. Accordingly, this article closely analyses three texts of Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle which particularly exemplify her Anthroposcenic objective; The Word for World is Forest (1972); Planet of Exile (1966); and City of Illusions(1967). These texts extrapolate the Anthropocene epoch into a cosmic paradigm, and so demonstrate the extinction of utopian potential it personifies vividly.
    • Charlotte Brontë's Gothic Fragment: 'The Story of Willie Ellin'

      Wynne, Deborah; University of Chester
      Charlotte Brontë’s eighteen-page fragment, ‘The Story of Willie Ellin’, written shortly after the publication of Villette in 1853, combines the gothic and realism and uses multiple narrators to tell a disturbing story of cruelty towards a child. The generic instability and disordered temporal framework of this fragment make it unlike anything Brontë had previously written, yet it has attracted the attention of few scholars. Those who have discussed it have condemned it as a failure; the later fragment ‘Emma’, also left incomplete by the author’s premature death, has been seen as the more likely beginning of a successor to Villette. ‘The Story of Willie Ellin’ reveals Brontë at her most experimental as she explores the use of different narrative voices, including that of an unnamed genderless ‘ghost’, to tell a story from different perspectives. It also shows Brontë representing a child’s experience of extreme physical abuse which goes far beyond the depictions of chastisement in Jane Eyre (1847). This essay argues that ‘The Story of Willie Ellin’ affords rich insights into Brontë’s ideas and working practices in her final years, suggesting that it should be more widely acknowledged as a unique aspect of Brontë’s oeuvre, revealing the new directions she may have taken had she lived to complete another novel.
    • Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives

      Wynne, Deborah; Regis, Amber K.; University of Chester; University of Sheffield
      This edited collection offers a timely reflection on Charlotte Brontë's life and work in the context of the bicentenary of her birth in 2016. Brontë's legacy continues to evolve and the new essays in this volume, covering the period from her first publication to the present day, explain why she has remained at the forefront of global literary cultures. Taking a fresh look at over 150 years of engagement with one of the best-loved novelists of the Victorian period, the volume examines areas such as genre, narrative style, national and regional identities, sexuality, literary tourism, adaptation theories, cultural studies, postcolonial and transnational readings. The contributors to this volume offer innovative interpretations of the rich variety of afterlives enjoyed by characters such as Jane Eyre and Rochester in neo-Victorian fiction, cinema and television, on the stage and on the web. Bringing the story of Charlotte's legacy up to date, the essays analyse obituaries, vlogs, stage and screen adaptations, fan fiction and erotic makeovers, showing that Charlotte Brontë's influence has been manifold and an enduring feature of the feminist movement.
    • Novum Decay

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      This article springs from the claim that representations of mundane human life are just as prominent as nova in contemporary sf, and that through their generative interplay the genre figures a transient dreamscape for visitation by the (post)human mind, via which the reader gains an expanded perception of not only their own empirical environment, but also of posthuman possibility. The presence of the quotidian in sf confirms the capacity of the (post)human mind to transcend the presumptions of traditional humanism. By deconstructing the rhetorical role of nova in Duncan Jones’s Source Code (2011), I demonstrate that the novel content of sf fades intratextually, just as nova within the genre tend towards entropy intertextually; an accumulative process I term novum decay.
    • The Underground Cabaret

      Seed, Ian; University of Chester
      The fourth and final volume in a quartet of prose poems and flash fictions, following on from New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018), Identity Papers (Shearsman, 2016), Makers of Empty Dreams (Shearsman, 2014).
    • No Windup: Paolo Bacigalupi’s Novel Bodily Economies of the Anthropocene

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Just as it looms large in contemporary consciousness, the figure of the Anthropocene dominates the speculative fiction of the Hugo and Nebula award winning author Paolo Bacigalupi. The post-apocalyptic and post-capitalist settings common to Bacigalupi’s oeuvre do not merely seek to depict unsettling Anthropocene landscapes. Rather, Bacigalupi’s speculative fiction vicariously demonstrates the crucial role that embodiment plays, and will continue to play, in determining the impact of the Anthropocene upon human life. Our bodies, his works propose, are both the fabric upon which the horrors of the Anthropocene will be written, and the means by which we can learn to adapt to the rigors of our rapidly shifting planetary environment. As such, Bacigalupi’s works propose a range of novel bodily economies, which are just as much potential alternatives to the damaging neoliberal ideologies of our contemporary world as they are statements of impending social upheaval and widespread human suffering. Through the textual analysis of a cross-section of Bacigalupi’s works, this article demonstrates his emphasis upon the urgency and importance of our own societies learning to construct and implement alternate economic paradigms.
    • Fully Optimized: The (Post)human Art of Speedrunning

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Over time, speedrunning communities work collaboratively to optimize, reconfigure, and improve upon the quickest possible completion times of video game titles. I argue that this progressive ethos, coupled with the performative nature of modern speedrunning, lends a distinctly artistic character to the practice. Speedrunning is a form of (post)human expression that is manifested not only through the programming of a video game, but also through players’ approach to gameplay. By choosing to speedrun, players actively impose a discrete temporal limit on the inhuman algorithms of video games, and so attempt to conquer and thereby curtail their technological novelty. However, within the field of game studies, the literature published on speedrunning to date is almost unilaterally anthropocentric, and focuses on the transgressive nature of the practice, ignoring the intricacies of its technological fundament. Rather, (post)humans and technologies interact in a transformational manner through intra-active assemblages, broadening the condition of embodiment. To theorize a posthumanistic theory of the practice, this article takes as its focus the speedrunning community of the video game Super Mario Odyssey and suggests that speedrunning may ultimately be considered a mode of (post)human performance art.
    • What’s a Little Monotony?

      Hay, Jonathan
      As this article demonstrates, the characteristic focus within Asimov scholarship exclusively upon the technological aspects of his robot stories and novels has meant that the importance of their mundane components have been systematically overlooked. By shifting critical focus to the mundane aspects of these works, it becomes newly apparent that Asimov uses a mundane foundation to problematise humanistic constructs of the human. These mundane components comprise an essential cognitive foundation of known phenomena, via which the comprehension of Asimov’s profoundly novel robots becomes plausible contextually. By readily anticipating and demonstrating the phenomenological impact of the everyday positionality of technology in the contemporary world, Asimov’s robot stories and novels recode the outdated signifier of the ‘human’ in a posthumanistic paradigm.
    • The Radical Voice of Margaret Oliphant: Extending Domesticity in Hester and Kirsteen

      Baker, Katie; University of Chester
      This paper demonstrates how the nineteenth-century writer Margaret Oliphant drew upon her domestic identity to write in radical ways which could educate and inform her young female readership. Through the exploration of two female characters, Catherine Vernon in Hester (1883) and Kirsteen Douglas in Kirsteen (1890), the paper demonstrates how Oliphant represented the importance of opportunities available for young women within 'extended domesticity', a version of the domestic space which extended beyond conventional boundaries to include all women. Through representations of female characters like Catherine and Kirsteen, who had careers and even businesses, of their own, Oliphant showed the possibilities available for women whose lives did not fit into the conventional mould of marriage and maternity. Hester and Kirsteen allow Oliphant to represent two very different versions of domesticity, and to reinforce the necessity for an extended version of it, which allows women the space to find personal growth and fulfilment. The paper engages with the scholarship of critics such as George Levine and Katherine Mullin to explore Oliphant's radical voice and to reinforce her place as an important writer.
    • 'The Great Famine in Fiction, 1901-2015'

      Fegan, Melissa; University of Chester
      This chapter considers Irish writers’ continual reimagining of the Great Famine and the way it has shaped understandings of the past and present. In doing so, it addresses novels and short stories from nineteenth-century writers such as William Carleton, Mary Anne Hoare, and Margaret Brew, who sought to explain or reinterpret the catastrophe while it was still a living memory. The return of the Famine in later historical and neo-Victorian fiction by writers such as Liam O’Flaherty, John Banville, and Joseph O’Connor is considered in light of the association between Famine fiction and present-day crises in the post-independence era. The discussion also extends to the resurgence in literary interest in the Famine in the 1990s and early 2000s, which, the chapter suggests, was due not only to the greater exposure of the Famine in public discourse but also to a revival of insecurities that seemed to belong to the past.
    • 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.
    • Talking Bodies Vol. II

      Hay, Jonathan; Bonsall, Amy; Ashton, Bodie A.; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of Adelaide
      This volume brings together scholars from across disciplines and continents in order to continue to analyse, query, and deconstruct the complexities of bodily existence in the modern world. Comprising nine essays by leading and emerging scholars, and spanning issues ranging from literature, history, sociology, medicine, law and justice and beyond, Talking Bodies vol. II is a timely and prescient addition to the vital discussion of what bodies are, how we perceive them, and what they mean. As the essays of this volume demonstrate, it is imperative to question numerous established presumptions about both the manner by which our bodies perform their identities, and the processes by which their ownership can be impinged upon.
    • Introduction

      Hay, Jonathan; Bonsall, Amy; Ashton, Bodie A.; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of Adelaide
      Bodies occupy a paradoxical space in modern society. On the one hand, the body is the most obvious and visible medium used to represent and express ourselves and our identities. On the other hand, this importance also leaves the body open to being controlled, regulated and interpreted. The result of this uncomfortable balance is that body diversity remains at once embraced and vulnerable, and the expression of that diversity is encouraged by some, while also being the subject of the prejudice of others. This chapter acts as an introduction for nine interdisciplinary, international essays, each engaging with the theme of “the body”, broadly defined. It thus lays the groundwork for a volume in which the body not only speaks but is heard and listened to.
    • The Posthuman Lifeworld: A Study of Russell T. Davies’s Doctor Who

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Via the analysis of a cross-section of episodes from Russell T. Davies’s era of the revived BBC Science Fiction television series Doctor Who (2005–2010), this paper demonstrates that the programme utilises representations of the viewer’s everyday lifeworld to figure a posthuman rhetoric. Through the viewer’s in-phenomenal interaction with its representation of the mundane, the show emphasises the already significantly posthuman nature of the technologically saturated lifeworld of the contemporary individual. It challenges Darko Suvin’s notion of cognitive estrangement, which fails to describe the show’s Science Fictional discourse, and instead proposes the alternate mechanism of cognitive engagement. This inquiry, therefore, reappraises the thematic concerns of the show during the years when Russell T. Davies served as the programme’s showrunner, revealing Doctor Who’s emphasis upon the everyday (post)human lifeworld. It concludes that the show refutes technocentric ideologies, and thus rigorously demonstrates the consonance between the (post)human present and posthuman future.
    • Anglophone Literature of South Africa

      Blair, Peter; University of Chester
      An analysis of key texts and critical debates in the literary history of Anglophone writing in South Africa.
    • 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.
    • Revolting Women: Performing the New Explicit

      Rees, Emma L. E.; University of Chester (University of Chester Press, 2018-06-11)
      Casey Jenkins's performance art and a qualitative analysis of the vitriolic comments about it of members of the public in a UK national newspaper. Redefining pornography as 'the new explicit' because of the artist's autonomy and (non-monetised) control over her work.
    • Varieties of Embodiment and “Corporeal Style

      Rees, Emma L. E.; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017-12-07)
      A chapter on embodiment and identity, considering and analysing different philosophies relating to the idea of 'Talking Bodies'. Overall book abstract: In this collection leading thinkers, writers, and activists offer their responses to the simple question “do I have a body, or am I my body?”. The essays engage with the array of meanings that our bodies have today, ranging from considerations of nineteenth-century discourses of bodily shame and otherness, through to arguing for a brand new corporeal vocabulary for the twenty-first century. Increasing numbers of people are choosing to modify their bodies, but as the essays in this volume show, this is far from being a new practice: over hundreds of years, it has evolved and accrued new meanings. This richly interdisciplinary volume maps a range of cultural anxieties about the body, resulting in a timely and compelling book that makes a vital contribution to today’s key debates about embodiment.