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George Orwell’s Ethnographies of Experience

The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London

Michael Amundsen

George Orwell is most widely known as the teller of dystopian tales of oppression. A closer look at his oeuvre reveals a courageous truth seeker who frequently lived and worked with his literary subjects. In his fieldwork he used the methods of classic ethnography including participant observation, semi-structured interviews and field notes. This article argues that Orwell was an ethnographer in his research methods and that both Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier are ethnographic texts with valuable insights into marginal groups in the early to mid-twentieth century in Europe. The writer’s clear-sighted and humane depiction of ‘otherness’ shows his skill as an ethnographer. His personal investment with his subject matter, reflexivity and attention to broader social and political phenomena in his narratives mark Orwell as an autoethnographer.

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The Multiplied Mind

Perspectival Thinking in Arendt, Koestler, Orwell

Milen Jissov

perspectival thinking. 4 It appears in the work of Europe's three most prominent thinkers on totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, and George Orwell. They explore perspectival thinking precisely in their work on totalitarianism. As Nietzsche

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Origin Stories, Surveillance, and Digital Alter Egos

Sarah Young

In a scene from the film version of George Orwell's novel 1984 (Michael Anderson, 1956), the main character, Winston Smith, works in a circular office with his backlit desk around the periphery of the room. In the center floor of the spherical

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Sex, Violence and Concrete

The Post-war Dystopian Vision of London in Nineteen Eighty-Four

Lawrence Phillips

While London was to prove the cauldron in which the future of modern Britain would unfold, the early post-war anxieties about London and the social, political, and cultural future of the country initiated a series of near-future dystopian visions of the city. Although this was never an extensive tradition, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962), and J.G. Ballard’s High Rise (1975) represent three clear waypoints in its development. It has, nonetheless, marked a continuing sense of a loss of national prestige and an acute anxiety over the future of both the city and modern British society. Strikingly, given the known liberal credentials of these authors, such anxieties have provoked in these novels a conservative fear of change, whether represented by a socialist government, a burgeoning youth culture, or technological development.

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Traveling to Modernism's Other Worlds

Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four

Alexandra Peat

This article discusses two popular late modernist works, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. It argues that the formal and thematic complexity of both works has been overlooked because of an understandable, but ultimately rather myopic fixation on their gripping ideas and frightening political messages, and puts them back in the context of modernism, seeing them as part of a body of late modernist works engaged in questions of travel and transnational encounter. The article situates Huxley and Orwell's novels in the socio-cultural context of the 1930s and 1940s, figuring the dystopian impulse as a reaction to a time of global upheaval and uncertainty. By understanding these novels as examples of travel fiction, we become more attuned to the kinds of complex ethical questions they ask regarding how to view both other worlds and other people.

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Entering Dystopia, Entering Erewhon

Patrick Parrinder

Abandon hope all ye who enter here: a society cannot be truly dystopian if travellers can come and go freely. Anti-utopias and 'satirical utopias' - that is, societies considered perfect by their advocates but not by the implied reader - must be well-regulated enough to prevent the possible disruption caused by a visitor. There is no exit at all from the classic twentieth-century dystopias, which end either in an actual death, like that of the Savage in Huxley's Brave New World (1932), or in a spiritual death like Winston Smith's in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Any glimmers of hope that the protagonist may have felt are quickly destroyed.

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2012 Quebec Student Protests

Some Observations on Motives, Strategies, and Their Consequences on the Reconfigurations of State and Media

Audrey Laurin-Lamothe and Michel Ratte

The first part of this article reports the main events of the 2012 student protest in Quebec leading to the government’s adoption of Bill 12. It highlights the major ideological conflict generated through the liberal managerial mutation of the academic institutions as a key to understand more clearly the student’s claims. Rapidly, the standard strike was transformed into a massive mobilization that produced many protests and other forms of resistance. The response given by the government to these unprecedented acts of resistance was Bill 12, to be understood as a symbolic coup d’état with voluntarily disruptive media effects whose aim was to make people forget the massive rejection of a pseudo tentative agreement in relation to Higher Education reform. The bill was also supported through the abusive and twisted use by the government of a series of buzzwords, like “bullying” and “access to education”, which were relayed by the media. The authors also discuss the issues surrounding the traditional conceptions regarding the analysis of discourses, mobilizing Orwell’s concept of doublethink and the notion of selfdeception inherited form Sartre.

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Living Under the Bell Jar

Surveillance and Resistance in Yevgeny Zamyatin's We

Michael D. Amey

Observation plays an increasingly significant role in twentieth-century society as a means of regulation. In this regulatory function, observation manifests itself in the ubiquitous CCTV, traffic cameras and other surveillance techniques used to monitor and record the activities of ordinary citizens. One of the more alarming recent manifestations of the potential for all-pervasive surveillance is the announcement of the development of an urban surveillance system by the United States military, which 'would use computers and thousands of cameras to track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city,' and which could potentially be used by governments on their own citizens. The dramatic increase of surveillance in the twentieth-century has also been matched by an increase of voyeuristic entertainment, exemplified by the Orwellian titled television game show Big Brother. The entertainment value of voyeuristic surveillance has arguably rendered individuals more …accepting of regulatory surveillance in their personal lives. This trend towards increasing surveillance coupled with a citizenry inured to a constant invasion of its privacy has formed the basis for a number of twentieth-century dystopian novels and films, such as George Orwell's 1984 (1949), George Lucas's THX-1138 (1971), Stephen King's The Running Man (1982), Peter Weir's The Truman Show (1998), Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium (2002) and the Warchowski brothers' Matrix trilogy (1999-2003). The widely acknowledged forerunner of these works, however, was a novel, We, written in 1921 by the Russian author, Yevgeny Zamyatin.

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Re-membering the Future

Doris Lessing's 'Experiment in Autobiography'

Aaron S. Rosenfeld

Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) straddles various genres typically shunted off into the category 'science fiction' or 'speculative fiction'. Partly a dystopia, partly an apocalyptic text, and partly, in her own words, 'an attempt at autobiography,' the novel is difficult to classify. Indeed, the novel sparked disappointment and confusion upon its initial publication in 1974, with critics taking Lessing to task for exchanging the realist rigor of her earlier works for vague mysticism, and for producing a confusing work that alienated the reader. In fact, to call it a novel at all is something of a contradiction. Speculative fictions do not address the new; they address the future - the 'proleptic analepse of future history,' in the words of Bernard Duyfhuizen. And yet in the twentieth century we have embraced a number of future histories - from Zamiatin's We (1924) to Orwell's 1984 (1948) to Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (1963) to the experimental postmodern fictions of J. G. Ballard - as landmark novels. At the simplest level, these texts offer a critique of how we live and who we are now. Though they may not exactly be novels in the technical generic sense, we recognize that they speak in and to the present, if not of it.

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Jablonka’s History

Literature and the Search for Truth

Sarah Fishman

-seller, described as a “2017 Must-Read” by the New York Times . By June 2017, a stage version of Orwell’s 1984 , produced in London, had opened on Broadway. 26 In addition to the misuse of language, Orwell also warned, “he who controls the past, controls the