This special issue emerges from a concern with academic practice around researching and theorising race, racialism and racism; particularly within the current theoretical climate in which race is, in the majority, accepted as a social construct. In public thinking and discourse, however, acceptance of the biological existence of races continues to dominate in many societies. Racial classification also continues in many state practices in South Africa such as the collection of racial demographics though the national census, and through countless private and public officials reporting towards government-stipulated race-based employment acts. These classification practices raise contradictions for the constitutional goal of non-racialism in South Africa. South Africa has also signed and ratified the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Professional Interest/Pages/CERD.aspx), which aims to eliminate racial discrimination in member states. The convention, to which member states are legally bound, raises a number of pressing issues that, to date, are not present in a wider national debate on the continued use of race in South African state policy. For example, there is little recognition by the state of the difficulties associated with identifying a targeted group based on race, nor clarity as to whether these groups are identified through markers based on phenotype, or socio-economic or cultural differences. Nor is there open discussion on the use of terms such as fair and unfair discrimination and how they relate to terms such as distinction and differentiation (see Bossuyt 2000), and the legal consequences of using such terms.
Kira Erwin and Gerhard Maré
Dickens and Sex
Holly Furneaux and Anne Schwan
This collection explores the still underrepresented topics of sex, erotics and desire in the work of Charles Dickens. Contributors draw upon and suggest new points of convergence between a wide range of theoretical perspectives including cultural phenomenology, materialism, new historicism, critical race studies, feminist and queer theory. Analysis of a broad range of Dickens’s fiction, journalism and correspondence demonstrates Dickens’s sustained commitment to exploring a diverse range of sexual matters throughout his career.
Whereas questions of race, class and gender may be uppermost in the minds of many late twentieth-century scholars and critics, in the early modern period tradition and belief were the predominant preoccupations, in practical terms, custom and Christianity were inextricably intertwined within the changing culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. An awareness of these past concerns motivates each of the seven articles in this issue, articles which re-examine literary and historical texts, not as past mirrors in which we might speculate upon our own particular preoccupations, but as sources of a more anthropological and spiritual history.
Representations of Dystopia in Literature and Film
In this issue of Critical Survey scholars from both Britain and North America analyse representations of dystopia in literature and film. In the keynote article, Patrick Parrinder offers an examination of Samuel Butler's Erewhon, contexualising it within the tradition of dystopian romance – which, he argues, saw a last flowering in the late nineteenth century. In a thought-provoking discussion Parrinder covers a range of utopian/dystopian narrative strategies and a selection of novels including The Time Machine, The coming Race and A Crystal Age.
This year American scholar Patricia J. Williams was invited to Britain to speak as Reith Lecturer, only the fourth woman and the third black speaker to contribute to the prestigious series of lectures which has a 49-year history. Her chosen subject was as topical as it proved controversial. Professor Williams’s subtle and measured discussion of the persistence of racism in daily life – and in even the most liberal of consciousnesses – struck a chord in British society. The furore that broke in the press was based as much in a certain ‘British’ intransigent refusal to allow that the persistence of prejudice could possibly be as ‘bad’ here as across the Atlantic as it was in a basic reluctance to address distinctive realities in contemporary society. Richard H. King and I interviewed Williams immediately following the transmission of the lecture series on Radio 4 and the transcripts, published by Virago as Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race, are reviewed in this issue by Larry Brown. Brown places Williams alongside fellow African-American scholar bell hooks in order to assess the different perspectives they take on issues of race and the politics of identity, and in order to decide on nature of the often very different roles of contemporary black intellectuals.
Graeme Smart and Amelia Yeates
The study of Victorian masculinities is now a burgeoning field. In 1995 an emphasis on pluralities was registered in titles such as Herbert Sussman’s Victorian Masculinities: Manhood and Masculine Poetics in Early Victorian Literature and Art and Joseph A. Kestner’s Masculinities in Victorian Painting. Ten years on, Martin A. Danahay’s Gender at Work in Victorian Culture: Literature, Art and Masculinity would still be concerned with the many and competing ways in which masculinity was represented in the nineteenth century. This is not the only task of writers on masculinity, however. In 1995 R.W. Connell noted: ‘To recognize more than one kind of masculinity is only a first step. We have to examine the relations between them. Further, we have to unpack the milieux of class and race and scrutinize the gender relations operating within them.’ Much recent work on masculinity does just that and the essays published here reflect this imperative.
Angels and Demons
This special issue of Critical Survey stems from a conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in June 2010 that was intended to explore continuities and ruptures in the representation and deployment of angels and demons and related binaries, be they in nineteenth-century print media or seventeenth-century Protestant texts, twenty-first century bestsellers or company PR strategies. From the first it was decided that discussion should not be limited to actual angels and demons, but the more general binaries of good and evil, lucid self and obscure Other. Considerations of the generic processes of demonisation and its opposite were also welcome, as were attempts to think outside such binaries (insofar as such is possible). Was it the case that the undoing of binaries, vital to Cixous’ feminist enterprise and deconstruction generally, was salient today for the various politics of gender, sexuality, ‘race’, class, disability, and place, or had such deconstruction been so co-opted by conservative commercial culture (as was always possible according to Christopher Norris) that alternative strategies were necessary? All these ways of thinking about angels and demons are represented in the essays that follow.
Eco-dystopias – Nature and the Dystopian Imagination
Rowland Hughes and Pat Wheeler
When, at the climax of Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 film Planet of the Apes, the astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) discovers the torch of the Statue of Liberty poking through the shifting sands of a postapocalyptic world, his horrified, despairing cry – ‘We finally really did it! You maniacs! You blew it up!’ – encapsulated the nuclear anxiety of dystopian fiction and film in the 1950s and 1960s. Thirty-five years later, that iconic image of Liberty’s torch engulfed by natural forces was knowingly echoed in both Steven Spielberg’s AI and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow, but in the first decade of the new millennium, the imagined apocalypse waiting to engulf the human race was not nuclear, but environmental: New York is swallowed by the rising waters of the Atlantic ocean, and frozen solid by the plunging temperatures of a new ice age. As these high-profile cinematic examples indicate, climate change has made its way towards the mainstream in recent years, on both the screen and the page, and has now eclipsed nuclear terror as the prime mover of the apocalyptic and dystopian imagination.
Creative Critical Shakespeares
Rob Conkie and Scott Maisano
critical creative sights at normative representations mainly of sexuality and gender, but also of dis/ability and race. ‘Shakespeare and Fanfiction’ is another viable alternative title for this issue. Not just these prose pieces just mentioned, set
Pippa Marland and Anna Stenning
by an awareness of the historical deployment of ‘nature’ as a construct to reinforce dominant ideologies around gender, class and race, as well as by the suggestion that the term ‘nature’ perpetuates an unhelpful conceptual divide between the natural