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Emma Liggins

The social purity ‘crusade’ that gathered force after 1885 initiated a change both in ways of representing prostitution and in public opinion about ways of dealing with the sexually deviant woman. Since the 1860s the police had been granted the power under the Contagious Diseases Acts to apprehend women of doubtful virtue in the streets and insist that they be medically examined; if found to be diseased, they could then be detained in lock hospitals. Once these acts were repealed in 1885, prostitutes had greater freedom but were also kept under surveillance by philanthropists and the medical profession. A variety of discourses constructed the prostitute either as an innocent victim of male lust or as a ‘demon’ and ‘contagion of evil’. Judith Walkowitz has argued that such an ideological framework excluded the experience of women who drifted into this lifestyle temporarily, and provided ‘a restrictive and moralistic image’ of the fallen woman. Arguably, literary representations of prostitutes tended to flesh out the potentially restrictive images used in feminist, medical and periodical writing on the subject, though no form of discourse was immune to the strong influence of the language of purity used by the members of the National Vigilance Association (NVA) and its advocates.

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'in plain English, stark naked'

Orlando, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Reclaiming Sapphic Connections

Alison Winch

Despite her claims to truth and plainness, however, Montagu’s autobiographical account is embellished, feigned and fragmented. She rewrites herself as a precocious fourteen-year-old as opposed to nineteen, and the related events and emotions do not always correspond with those outlined in her letters. In failing to write in so ‘plain a manner’, Montagu gestures at the inevitable fabrication involved in writing the self and in writing history. In particular, she exposes the difficulty of portraying a protagonist who ‘had a way of thinking very different from that of other Girls’ (79), of inscribing a person who defies the fixed, gendered categories of ‘plain English’. The problematics of depicting history and conforming to that powerful dictator, ‘reputation’, are further evident in Montagu’s ‘History of her Own Times’which she reportedly destroyed ‘as fast as she finished it, in a sustained, heroic act of self-censorship’.2 Indeed, the contradictory impulse to write the life of Montagu and to write it according to the policing gaze of ‘Chastity, Modesty and Purity’ plagues Montagu’s self-representations, as well as those of the critics who attempt to write and edit her life for future readers.

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Sabine Vanacker

Families, hidden family links and family origins feature largely in the detective novels of both P.D. James and Reginald Hill, as indeed they did for their precursor Agatha Christie. With their more recent police procedurals, however, both authors have intensified the plotting around the motif of family and friends. James and Hill now write long and expansive novels, introducing us to large, extended communities often consisting of a central family, their servants and employees, their friends and lovers, and at times even a dependent village. The novels by P.D. James, featuring the policeman Adam Dalgliesh, and the novels by Reginald Hill, based around the detectives Dalziel and Pascoe, are hugely popular detective series. However, in narratological terms, the novels’ length and the sheer complexity of the plotting around the family would initially appear to be distinctly counterproductive. Indeed, as the detectives interview them one by one, so many family and friends pass the review that one of the basic features of narrative would appear to be undermined, the narrative tension established in a novel’s opening pages and arching down to its closing sentence.

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Aris Mousoutzanis

Michael Cunningham’s most recent novel, Specimen Days, was bound to be compared to his previous work, The Hours. Reviewers and readers alike could easily identify the numerous similarities between the two texts: both novels were made up of three narratives set at different historical periods but with very similar if not related characters and themes, and a major literary figure haunting their background – Virginia Woolf in The Hours and Walt Whitman in Specimen Days. Lucas, Catherine, and Simon are the three main characters of Cunningham’s latest novel, caught up in similar relationships across three different stories of death and rebirth, trauma and recovery, sacrifice and transcendence.Ahistorical fiction, a police crime thriller, and a science fiction text, the three stories are all set in New York, tied together with recurring symbols and motifs: a white porcelain bowl, a music box, a white horse, the date 21 June, the angel statue at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. For a novel that took its creator eight years to complete, Specimen Days seemed to some critics to be short of inspiration. Not only was the novel repeating themes, images, and characters within its own three novellas, but it was also repeating patterns from Cunningham’s previous book.

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The 2011 English Riots

A Contexualized, Dynamic, Grounded Exploration

Tony Jefferson

After a brief account of what happened, the question is posed of whether the idea of moral panic is the most revealing approach with which to understand the riots. Before answering, the question of how novel were the riots is addressed in relation to policing, social media, riot areas, the rioters, rioting behavior, the State’s response and the reaction of communities. The elements of a dynamic, grounded explanation are then tentatively offered, followed by an attempt to situate this explanation within the context of the contemporary lives of disadvantaged youth lacking both political support and an economic future. The conclusion returns to the question of moral panic. It suggests that since most of what happened had clear precedents in the series of urban riots since the 1980s, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that the constructions of the 2011 riots are best understood as a moral panic. However, the small indications of new developments, namely, the sheer vindictiveness of the state’s post-riot response—hunting down the rioters, harsh sentencing, naming juveniles—as well as the spread of rioting to new areas and the practice of communities ‘fighting back’, are important to explore for what they reveal about the present neoliberal conjuncture. They seem to be morbid symptoms of an apparently intractable series of crises characterized by, among other things, an unprecedentedly grim situation for poor, unemployed, disaffected youth living in deprived areas.

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Simulating Events as They Happen

Spectacle, Ideology, and Readymade Boogeymen—The 2011 August Riots and the Media

Christian Garland

The 2011 August riots that combusted with the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, North London, (Laville, 2011; Vasagar, 2011) spread literally like wildfire to cities and towns across England in the space of a matter of hours. At the time, much was written about the supposedly ‘nihilistic’ and ‘opportunistic’ nature of the events, and how, unlike previous urban rebellions, they could not be considered to have any ‘political’ dimension, although there were some notable exceptions to such blanket dismissals, which were offered en bloc from even ‘radical’ quarters, not say media and academic ones. The article seeks to offer an analysis and critique of the media narrative of the events in English cities that August, with the aim of contributing to their demystification and better understanding, more than three years on. The article is written from a Marxist perspective, heavily drawing on Critical Theory and using content analysis and an ideological critique of the media to develop its argument. In the three years since the riots of 2011, the production of literature on those events has been fairly continuous, but largely oblivious to their significance, or just why they received such blanket and unequivocal condemnation. This article, in keeping with its origins as one of ‘the notable exceptions’ at the time makes an interrogative critique of the media’s part in ‘simulating events as they happen’.

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Abject Bodies

The Politics of the Vagina in Brazil and South Africa

Lisa Beljuli Brown

This article looks at ideas and practices around female virginity in Brazil and South Africa. In South Africa, virginity testing of girls as young as six occurs. In Brazil, speculation about female virginity can have a devastating impact on young women's lives. In both contexts the intactness of the vagina becomes a symbol of a woman's worth as well as a reflection of national well-being or decline. I use feminist psychoanalytic theory to connect such valuations and practices to a perceived threat to the symbolic order of language, culture and law. I argue that during times of social upheaval the vagina comes to represent the abject, or a threat to the subject, and is policed in order for dominant meanings to remain intact. As women's experiences in both contexts demonstrate, these meanings are implicated in a violent economy of women's body parts, which render women symbolically homeless. Yet in Brazil, women subvert these valuations in an ongoing struggle for subjectivity, which involves the creative appropriation of soap operas, and the conversion of suffering into pleasure.

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France

une géographie à inventer

Jacques Lévy

This article argues that the way French society comprehends its territory is not only an aspect of a more general identity crisis, but also an acting component of an overall political model. France can be characterized as a "state-fatigued" society. Centralism has had an important spatial consequence: an alliance of the nation-state and provincial "notables" against the city. The major cities, especially Paris, produce for the rest of the country but continue to be denied effective local and regional political power. In this context, the peculiar tradition of aménagement du territoire can be analyzed as a discourse based on the myth of a demiurge, the state, which would be the only legitimate actor able to restore France's grandeur by reconquering the deprived parts of its territory. Correlative public polices target moral compensation for a supposed injustice: a partial reimbursement of the debt France once contracted by incorporating the provinces into the national territory. After reviewing disappointing recent changes in the geographical architecture of political power, the article makes some proposals. They are based on the dual framework that an empowerment of relevant spatial units will be necessary and that only a profound and massive debate involving ordinary citizens can overcome the current institutional gridlock.

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Samuel Kalman

Few scholars today question the binary relationship between imperialism and violence, and French historians are no exception. In recent years, a multitude of studies have appeared concerning the violence inherent in the conquest of the nineteenth-century Gallic empire, the maintenance and defense of the colonial system, and the decolonization process—massacres and torture during the Algerian War, for example. Such works often reflect Etienne Balibar’s definition of “structural violence”: an essential component of a repressive system, maintaining unequal social relations while defending “the interests, power positions, and forms of social domination.”1 This hegemony took various guises at different times throughout the history of French imperialism, operating in tandem with assaults on the indigènes (the term adopted by the authorities for natives). It could involve surveillance and intelligence gathering, security forces, and judicial-penal institutions employed to harass and control the colonized. Yet it also resulted from the forced pacification of native peoples (Alice Conklin refers to this policy as an “act of state-sanctioned violence”) and the imposition of the indigénat—the loose collection of rules that granted extraordinary police and disciplinary powers to the colonial administration, along with the imposition of forced labor and taxation.2 The ultimate defense of this system, and indeed its brutal apogee, emerged during the wars of decolonization, in which tens of thousands of the colonized were killed in Algeria and Indochina, while countless others were subjected to torture and incarceration.

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Reassembling Musicality

Critical Music in Reassembly on Tinos

G Douglas Barrett

Reassembly, curated by G Douglas Barrett and Petros Touloudi Tinos, Greece 5 July 2017 to 31 October 2017

The free movement of bodies and objects once considered critical for the smooth functioning of contemporary art has appeared, especially since 2017, increasingly uncertain in this era marked by new forms of nationalism, xenophobia, and economic isolationism. Indeed, many artists working in this environment have found it difficult or impossible to cross once unquestionably open borders, or to ship works to and from exhibitions held across a requisitely international stage. As an attempt to respond to this crisis, I, along with Petros Touloudis, curated Reassembly, an exhibition held in the summer of 2017 on the island of Tinos, Greece. The exhibition came out of an annual residency program organized by Touloudis’s Tinos Quarry Platform and was held at the Cultural Foundation of Tinos. Overall, we wanted to ask if there is a critical role for music can play in the field contemporary art, especially as its plagued by new forms of border policing and geopolitical conflict.