• Stark choices and brutal simplicity: the blunt instrument of constructed oppositions in news editorials

      Davies, Matt; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019)
      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.
    • The aura of facticity: the stylistic illusion of objectivity in news reports

      Davies, Matt; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)
      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.
    • Media 'militant' tendencies; how strike action in the news press is discursively constructed as inherently violent

      Davies, Matt; Nophakhun, Rotsukhon; University of Chester (Edinburgh University Press, 2018-11)
      Trade union endorsed strike action is systematically demonised in reports in the popular mainstream UK press (see for example Davies 2014), despite public opinion not reflecting this level of antagonism towards industrial action. One consistent strategy used to (mis)represent strikers is to habitually relate this form of protest to threats of intimidation and violence by using militarised discourse. We assert that a key word in the discursive construction of strikes is ‘militant’ and its variant forms (e.g. ‘militants’ and ‘militancy’) which is routinely used to express a negative attitude towards strikes in an attempt to smear them as a legitimate form of protest. We draw on the theory of semantic prosody to show that the sense of ‘militant’ is tarnished through its repeated use in reports of terrorism, often in the same edition used to report on strike action (for instance, the junior doctors’ strike in the UK). We use the WMatrix corpus tool to show that in the 21st Century, ‘militant’ unequivocally appears in semantic domains of violence and aggression in a 274,122 word corpus of news articles from 2000-2015, and therefore this sense is carried over to trade activity when used to report on strike action. This strategy contributes to a neoliberal ideology which promotes individualism, competition and the free market, at the expense of collective action and protection of workers’ rights.
    • Review of Charteris-Black, J. (2017). Fire Metaphors: Discourses of Awe and Authority. London: Bloomsbury.

      Neary, Clara; University of Chester (John Benjamins, 2018-11)
      Book review of Charteris-Black, J. (2017). Fire Metaphors: Discourses of Awe and Authority. London: Bloomsbury.
    • Building Compassion Capacity: Chester Retold and Storyhouse, a Case Study

      Pollard, Eileen; University of Chester (Edinburgh Napier University in collaboration with Aston University, the Universities of Dundee and Auckland, 2018-09-25)
      This article is a case study of a level five experiential learning module that I designed and taught at the University of Chester in the summer term of 2018 in collaboration with the city’s innovative new arts hub, Storyhouse. As a case study, it will demonstrate how ‘compassion’ can be placed at the heart of module design within Higher Education Arts and Humanities teaching, as well as how compassionate practice can emerge organically from innovation.
    • ‘What cannot be fixed, measured, confined’: The mobile texts of Hilary Mantel

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Carpenter, Ginette; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Bloomsbury, 2018-09-06)
      ‘I don’t know, you wait twenty years for a Booker prize, two come along at once!’ was Hilary Mantel’s laconic response to winning for the second time. A respected, if critically neglected, British author, she had in fact been writing and publishing for over twenty years when she won the Booker prize in 2009 for her tenth novel, Wolf Hall. She then made literary history by winning for a second time in 2012 with the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, an unprecedented achievement that catapulted her into the realms of global stardom. The Tudor novels have since been adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton and have been performed to much critical acclaim in Stratford, London and Broadway. Similarly, the 2015 BBC dramatization has aired in both the UK and the US to glowing reviews. Yet, despite Mantel’s renown and popularity at home and abroad, there remains surprisingly little critical material interpreting the rich and varied content of her work. As a result, this collection of essays aims to introduce students, scholars and general readers of Mantel’s writing to the diversity of her texts in order to showcase the extraordinary range and reach of this contemporary British author, currently at the peak of her writing life. The essays will explore the recurring themes of ambiguity, ghosts, trauma, childhood and memory that both trace and, in many ways, define Mantel’s oeuvre. The collection will also examine the challenge to conventional evocations of the past that underpins Mantel’s historical novels, from A Place of Greater Safety (1992) through to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, as well as the complex experimentation with perspective and tense that really sets apart her later work on Thomas Cromwell. The main objective of this book is to provide a wide-range of readers with a guide to Mantel’s historical fiction, autobiographical writing and short stories, as well as some of her more experimental early novels, that will help explain those most ambiguous elements of her corpus while demonstrating her fearlessness and breadth as a writer.
    • Making History Otherwise: Learning to Talk and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Carpenter, Ginette; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Bloomsbury, 2018-09-06)
      This chapter will explore ambiguous representations of history in Hilary Mantel’s two short story collections to date, Learning to Talk (2003) and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (2014). The chapter will consider the figure of the ellipsis, which is traced metaphorically and literally in the stories, as a pertinent means by which to read them, including the titular ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ in Mantel’s more recent collection. Despite the media furore that followed the publication of this book, this chapter will argue that it is less the fantasy of the shooting of the premier that disturbed, but rather the pervasive sense of ambiguity. The uncertainty of individual biographies in Learning to Talk develops into an unsettling national narrative in her 2014 collection. For example, as stated in the titular story concerning Thatcher, ‘note the cold wind that blows through [the door] when you open it a crack. History could always have been otherwise’ (2014: 239-40).
    • Superintelligence and Mental Anxiety from Mary Shelley to Ted Chiang

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, 2018-08)
      Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the earliest depictions of augmented intelligence; within the creature, we witness a very human intelligence that bases its understanding of the world on the convergence of human senses and human thought, yet one that presents these concepts in the uncanny shade of the doppelganger. In this portrayal, there is an anxiety that creeps in to the creature’s understanding of the world and its own subjectivity. It is based on language acquisition and knowledge. Once the creature becomes not only sentient, but intelligent, he begins to feel the existential weight of reality in a way that prefigures characters in subsequent Science Fiction, as well as presciently acknowledging recent pathological and scientific studies into the connection between mental health and intellect.
    • Hyper-compressions: The rise of flash fiction in “post-transitional” South Africa

      Blair, Peter; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2018-07-16)
      This article begins with a survey of flash fiction in “post-transitional” South Africa, which it relates to the nation’s post-apartheid canon of short stories and short-short stories, to the international rise of flash fiction and “sudden fiction”, and to the historical particularities of South Africa’s “post-transition”. It then undertakes close readings of three flash fictions republished in the article, each less than 450 words: Tony Eprile’s “The interpreter for the tribunal” (2007), which evokes the psychological and ethical complexities, and long-term ramifications, of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Michael Cawood Green’s “Music for a new society” (2008), a carjacking story that invokes discourses about violent crime and the “‘new’ South Africa”; and Stacy Hardy’s “Kisula” (2015), which maps the psychogeography of cross-racial sex and transnational identity-formation in an evolving urban environment. The article argues that these exemplary flashes are “hyper-compressions”, in that they compress and develop complex themes with a long literary history and a wide contemporary currency. It therefore contends that flash fiction of South Africa’s post-transition should be recognized as having literary-historical significance, not just as an inherently metonymic form that reflects, and alludes to, a broader literary culture, but as a genre in its own right.
    • Literary Illumination

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (University of Wales Press, 2018-07)
      Literary Illumination examines the relationship between literature and artificial illumination, demonstrating that developments of lighting technology during the nineteenth century definitively altered the treatment of light as symbol, metaphor and textual motif. Correspondingly, the book also engages with the changing nature of darkness, and how the influence of artificial light altered both public perceptions of, and behaviour within, darkness, as well as examining literary chiaroscuros. Within each of four main chapters dedicated to the analysis of a single dominant light source in the long nineteenth-century – firelight, candlelight, gaslight, and electric light – the author considers the phenomenological properties of the light sources, and where their presence would be felt most strongly in the nineteenth century, before collating a corpus of texts for each light source and environment.
    • Media, power and representation

      Neary, Clara; Ringrow, Helen; University of Chester; University of Portsmouth (Routledge, 2018-06-20)
      As the ubiquity and potential influence of the media increase, the language and imagery used to create meaning in this domain are of continued and enhanced interest to English Language researchers. While ‘the media’ or even ‘the English-speaking media’ is not one homogenous entity, the term is used throughout this chapter to refer broadly to a collection of media types such as newspapers, television, radio and so on. Media English can be understood as referring to the ways in which reality is linguistically constructed through these platforms. Additionally, media institutions play a significant role not only in terms of communication but also by way of ‘mediating society to itself’ (Matheson 2005: 1) in that the media helps to construct societal norms and values. Media language is distinctive because media discourses can be ‘fixed’ (i.e. recorded for posterity) as well as being interactive (people can react to subject matter, often using media forms to publically share their response(s), themselves becoming producers of media content). In investigating Media English, scholars analyse overall styles or genres in order to explore and challenge particular choices of language and/or imagery within a given media text.
    • Distances

      Seed, Ian; University of Chester (Red Ceilings Press, 2018-06-15)
      A chapbook of flash fiction.
    • Nothing to Worry About: Flash Fictions

      Gebbie, Vanessa; Blair, Peter; Chantler, Ashley; N/A (Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press, 2018-06-14)
      Welcome to the strange, fertile world of Vanessa Gebbie’s imagination in this collection of irreal flash fictions, in which little makes sense and yet everything does. A sea lion learns to fly. A man wakes to find his head is triangular. Babies talk. Sextants grow inside a man’s chest. Bella’s iron tablets work rather too well. And Daphne grows bonsai in a plethora of odd places. After all, the world keeps turning, and people occasionally do strange things – but then, that’s life, and life is nothing to worry about … Or is it?
    • Happier Than

      Chantler, Ashley; University of Chester (Woodhall Press, 2018-06)
      Flash fiction.
    • A Day in the Life of Steve

      Chantler, Ashley; University of Chester (Outpost19, 2018-06)
      Flash fiction.
    • ‘With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?’: Light and Dark in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘The Candle Indoors’ and ‘The Lantern out of Doors’

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (Göteborg University, 2018-06)
      Gerard Manley Hopkins was a poet inspired by, and very much interested in, processes of light and vision. Within his works he presents a flexible structure of metaphor that is based on the relationship between light and dark. These interchangeable elements come to symbolise Hopkins’s spirituality and religion, as well as the challenges his beliefs were subjected to, while also outlining a very nuanced interest in perception and the principles of sight. Dennis Sobolev identifies what he terms ‘the split world’ of Hopkins as he explores the ‘semiotic phenomenology’ of his writing: ‘To put it briefly “semiotic phenomenology” as it is understood here–proceeds from the grounds that are transcendent to the distinction between the subject and the object, the physical and the imaginary, nature and culture, or any other metaphysical distinctions of the “kind”’ (Sobolev 2011: 4). What Sobolev suggests is the dichotomous liminality of Hopkins’s ideas and poetry. The most prominent example of this may well be Hopkins’s own notion of the ‘inscape’: the term, itself a portmanteau of words connoting the inner being (in, inside, interior) and the outer experience (scape, landscape, escape), attempts to address what Hopkins saw as reconcilable differences between the inner character or ‘essence’ of something and the object itself (Philips 2009: xx). Also, his use of the term ‘instress’ crosses similar binaries, as it is most commonly associated with the impression, or feeling, something may relate to the careful observer.
    • History, Globalization and The Human Subject in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

      Stephenson, William; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018-03-22)
      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.
    • Tuberculosis Disabled Identity in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Invalid Lives

      Tankard, Alex; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-03-15)
      Chapter 5 as sample from monograph. Wuthering Heights ridiculed consumptive stereotypes, and Jude the Obscure exposed socioeconomic and cultural factors that disabled people with chronic illness, but neither could hope for a better future – much less suggest real strategies for improving the lives of people with tuberculosis in the nineteenth century. Beatrice Harraden’s 1893 bestseller Ships That Pass in the Night also offers a complex, bitter critique of the way in which sentimentality obscures the abuse and neglect of disabled people by nondisabled carers; it undermines the Romanticisation of consumptives, and shows consumptives driven to suicide by social marginalisation that leaves them feeling useless and hopeless. Yet its depiction of a romantic friendship between an emancipated woman and a disabled man also engages with the exciting possibilities of 1890s’ gender politics, and imagines new comradeship between disabled and nondisabled people based on mutual care and respect.
    • Travelling Solo: Flash Fictions

      Blair, Peter; Steward, David; Chantler, Ashley; N/A (Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press, 2018-03-01)
      In these thirty flash fictions, paths cross, people meet and part, and always there are consequences, often misremembered or misunderstood. Funny, caustic and poignant by turns, the stories remind us that we each find our own way through the muddle of life.
    • Nonsense and Wonder: An Exploration of the Prose Poems of Jeremy Over

      Seed, Ian; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-03)
      This essay reveals the delights of the prose poems of Jeremy Over. Setting his work within the tradition of nonsense literature in its ability to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable, this essay argues that Over goes beyond merely creating clever surprises in order to arouse authentic wonder. Connections are made between Over’s work and that of the Dadaists, Surrealists, Gertrude Stein and such New York poets as John Ashbery. Making the case that nonsense literature can be seen as a way to authenticity and freedom in its resistance to common sense and also to tragic heroism, the essay demonstrates how Over’s prose poems show reality in different possible lights and empower marginalized voices. Finally, Over’s work is set in the context of recent British prose poetry.