• 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.
    • 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).
    • Oppositions and ideology in news discourse

      Davies, Matt; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2012-11-08)
      This book discusses how binary oppositions are constructed discursively and the potential ideological repercussions of their usage in news reports in the British press. The focus is particularly on the ways that a variety of common syntactic structures can contribute to the positive representation of groups and individuals subsumed under the first person plural pronouns 'us' and 'we', and the simultaneous marginalisation of groups designated as 'they' or 'them'. Exploring the dynamic relations between the linguistic system and language in context this is a key publication for those involved in discourse analysis (including critical discourse analysis) and stylistics.
    • The vagina: A literary and cultural history

      Rees, Emma L. E.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2013-08-01)
      From South Park to Kathy Acker, and from Lars Von Trier to Sex and the City, women’s sexual organs are demonized. Rees traces the fascinating evolution of this demonization, considering how calling the ‘c-word’ obscene both legitimates and perpetuates the fractured identities of women globally. Rees demonstrates how writers, artists, and filmmakers contend with the dilemma of the vagina’s puzzlingly ‘covert visibility’. In our postmodern, porn-obsessed culture, vaginas appear to be everywhere, literally or symbolically but, crucially, they are as silenced as they are objectified. The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History examines the paradox of female genitalia through five fields of artistic expression: literature, film, TV, visual, and performance art. There is a peculiar paradox – unlike any other – regarding female genitalia. Rees focuses on this paradox of what is termed the ‘covert visibility’ of the vagina and on its monstrous manifestations. That is, what happens when the female body refuses to be pathologized, eroticized, or rendered subordinate to the will or intention of another? Common, and often offensive, slang terms for the vagina can be seen as an attempt to divert attention away from the reality of women’s lived sexual experiences such that we don’t ‘look’ at the vagina itself – slang offers a convenient distraction to something so taboo. The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History is an important contribution to the ongoing debate in understanding the feminine identity.
    • ‘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.