The ‘Chinaman’ in the basement: Visual den narratives of the late-nineteenth century

Historically, art and literature have served a fundamental role in mirroring (and perhaps creating) a society’s cultural climate; they have become the means through which a society comes to ‘know’ itself. By artistically or literally depicting categories of people, or ‘social types’, one is easily able to comprehend society at large. Yet the socio-cultural worldview […]

Post-Modern Tremblings

Whilst critics continue to dispute the categorization of filmic Noir, the very texts that spawned this filmic (r)evolution have been largely dismissed as predictable ‘junk’ for the plebian masses, unspectacular in their normalcy as standard Modernist works. So I wonder: what is it that makes these texts so plain and ordinary, and so Modernist that they require no further attention? Furthermore, in aligning these texts with one particular school (‘Modernism’), are we not limiting their potential to convey a marked unique or progressive ideology?

Reagan-inspired Dystopia and the Impediment of Human Freedom

While not intended as realistic or plausible predictions, these dystopian texts seek to expose extremist attitudes (such as radical conservatism, religiosity, or technological reliance) as fundamentally threatening to human nature and individualism. Dystopia, then, can be understood as a locale for the constant impediment of human freedom, maintained by a regime’s oppressive control of technology, gender and ideology.

Fogg, The Newborn

Jules Verne’s 19th century novel about the travels of the “eclectic” Phileas Fogg at first seems a quick read, an adventurous tale written in a light-hearted vernacular. Yet a close reading of passages, such as the paragraph at the beginning of chapter two, reveals more complex, latent themes amidst the pages of such “mass” fiction. […]

Elizabeth Cowie’s “Fantasia”

Elizabeth Cowie’s article, “Fantasia”, uses a psychoanalytic approach to deconstruct the presence of fantasy in psychology and in cinema. Cowie is motivated to dispel the notions of fantasy as escapism or childish, and choose, instead, to explore its construction and meaning. She begins her argument by siding against one feminist conception of fantasy as an oppressive symbol of patriarchal dominance, and rather supports the claim that fantasy is essential to human nature.