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.
Talking to Patricia J. Williams Following the Reith Lectures.
Richard H. King, Sharon Monteith, and Patricia J. Williams
This year’s Reith Lecturer was Patricia J. Williams, a lawyer and Professor of Law at Columbia and author of the award-winning The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1993) and The Rooster’s Egg: The Persistence of Prejudice (1995) as well as numerous essays and articles in law journals and in The Village Voice, The Nation and Ms. Magazine. Professor Williams was invited to speak in this the European Year Against Racism but she found herself and the topic of her lectures the subject of heated media debate in Britain. Tabloids and broadsheets alike reviled her as ‘a militant black feminist who thinks all whites are racist and the family is wrong’ (Daily Mail) and her lectures were even described as ‘mumbo-jumbo’ in the Daily Telegraph. Britain’s newspapers and Melvyn Bragg on Radio 4’s ‘Start the Week’ combined to demonise the first black woman speaker in the 49-year history of the Reith Lectures.
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.
The Vampire and Transnationalism in the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse Series
This article reads Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels as contemporary developments in the Gothic genre reflecting current issues of group and national identity. It extends the trope of the vampire as a site of national anxiety to a globalised, post 9/11 context where national identity is renegotiated and transformed. In Harris's novels, the vampires reveal themselves as Other to humans but integrate by accepting human definitions of nation and race which are then superceded by globalised trade. In Meyer's series, supposedly discrete groups of humans and non-humans evolve niche groupings that transform and react to the exigencies of history. Drawing upon Bill Ashcroft's use of the term 'articulation' to describe the cognizant construction of identity through the influences of social, national and religious traditions, the contemporary vampire is read as the place where renegotiations of national identity in a transnational era are visible.
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.
A Sartrean Contribution to Resisting Racial Injustice
Justin I. Fugo
refers to as the practico-inert , which I will explain further below. 3 Race is one of those ideas, and it is permeated with beliefs, norms, and values. And although a belief in the superiority or inferiority of racial groups–i.e., racism
Shakespeare, Fandom, and the Lure of the Alternate Universe
Kavita Mudan Finn and Jessica McCall
, however, comes the potential for alternative readings of canon that are not possible in the original setting, particularly with regard to issues of gender, sexuality, race, and disability. Gender, sexuality, race, and disability remain some of the most
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
the navies lie, as do The thund’ring cannons that the world defy. 25 Of Wales, that ancient land, which still has been The craggy nurse of all the British race. 26 Of Durham’s stately seated towers, 27 and Of the burning rock called coal from