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Sol Neely

political imaginaries of virility staged against abject tropes of the monstrous-feminine. As Annalee Newitz (2008) writes in a post titled “Zombie Feminism,” “Filmmakers Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel did not accidentally create a movie that dabbles in

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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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Abjection and the Cinematic Cholo

The Chicano Gang Stereotype in Sociohistoric Context

Richard Mora

In this brief research note, the author uses a sociohistoric lens to examine selected films that have employed the cholo, or Chicano gang member, stereotype. He finds that the cholo is a prevalent archetype of Mexican and Mexican American youth. The author argues that the depiction of the cholo as a hypermasculine, abject personage threatening the social order converges with how actual Latino youth are constructed in sociopolitical and media discourses—as both marginalized young men and migrants unworthy of membership in U.S. society.

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Mary Ellen Lamb

Included in a work revealingly titled Terrors of the Night, Nashe’s reminiscence from childhood reveals the extent to which he had become a full communicant in the superstitious mysteries shared by the old women of his childhood. As Adam Fox has noted for this and other passages, ‘At the juvenile level… the repertoire of unlearned village women coincided for a brief but significant period with that of the educated male elite’. As Nashe’s evocative title suggests, however, these repertoires did more than coincide. The ‘witchcrafts’ that Nashe valued enough as a boy to learn by rote not only lost their usefulness: they became objects of contempt. The more common use of the phrase ‘old wives’ tales’ to refer to the lore of unlearned women conveys a similar sense of stigma. In this essay, I discuss various texts, finally focussing on Peele’s Old Wives Tale, to explore the implications of this shared repertoire within the wider context of a culture whose antagonism to illiterate old women participated in ideologies deeply formative to early moderns and their literatures.

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From the Horse's Mouth

The Other Paul Muldoon

Paul Bentley

In this paper I argue that Muldoon’s recent Horse Latitudes (2006) rereads, in a way that corrects our misreadings, images of horses and horse-related images in his work, and that from this self-reading another Paul Muldoon emerges: the postmodern ironist we think we know will here give way to a poet of abjection and of ‘abject’ political sympathies, a figure it turns out was there all along.

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Andrea Mei-Ying Wu and Jay Mechling

Boys in children’s literature and popular culture: Masculinity, abjection, and the fictional child by Annette Wannamaker. New York: Routledge Falmer, 2007, 200 pp.

We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love before Girl-Craziness by Jeffrey P. Dennis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007, x + 283 pp.

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Bodies of Evidence

Feminist Performance Art

Erin Striff

When a woman appears on stage, her body too often speaks for itself. It becomes the object of the gaze, an object of desire. Feminist performance artists attempt to disrupt the cultural associations with the female body. They extend their bodily capabilities through cybernetic technology; they practice body modification; and they enact the abjection of the female body. This article will explore whether or not it is possible for these artists to control the way their bodies are perceived on stage.

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From 'The Purest Literature We Have' to 'A Spirit Grown Corrupt'

Embracing Contamination in Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction

Gill Plain

In Powers of Horror (1982), Julia Kristeva suggests that the corpse is ‘the utmost in abjection. It is death infecting life’. This categorical statement, while not intended for the genre of crime fiction, nonetheless does much to explain the power and appeal of the twentieth century’s most successful fictional formula. For Kristeva, the abject is ‘the in-between, the ambiguous, the composite’ (4); it is experienced as an encounter with ‘an other who precedes and possesses me’ (10) and it is ‘a border that has encroached upon everything’ (3). Borders both defend and confine. They are the necessary limits that protect the subject from psychosis, and they are that which deny us our desired return to a lost imaginary plenitude. Kristeva’s abject evokes seepage, it speaks to the instability of borders, and the impossibility of the pristine, the firm, the uncontaminated. And it is just this sense of unavoidable defilement, this tension between the maintenance and collapse of cultural and social boundaries, that underpins both the crime genre and our fascination with the form.

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Poor Quality Health

A Symptom of Gender Inequality for Girls Living with Poverty

Zainul Sajan Virgi

Abject female intergenerational poverty is a systemic issue which denies girls the opportunity to access a higher quality of life because of poor health that results in under-development. The article focuses on the root cause-gender inequality-that is responsible for their inability to access adequate nutrition, particularly during their critical period of physical and intellectual growth and development. Their resulting sub-standard health has a bad impact on their school attendance. This article follows the lives of a group of ten girls between the ages of ten and fourteen years living in a peri-urban community outside Maputo. It outlines the importance of engaging girls, through participatory methodologies, and giving them the opportunity to express themselves, their challenges, strengths and ideas for possible resolution of the problem.

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Screening the Slob

Neoliberal Failure, Fatness, and Disability in “King-Size Homer”

Mackenzie Edwards

This article explores the archetype of the slob, narrowing in on its depiction in the episode “King-Size Homer” from The Simpsons (1989–), the long-running satirical animated series created by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon. More than simply analyzing what constitutes the slob, this article focuses on how the slob operates. Attention is paid to the enmeshing of fatness and disability. The undercurrent of neoliberal ideology that runs through the episode is made apparent. The article works intersectionally to understand the slob as being someone who is abject in a multitude of ways. Finally, it considers the topic of disidentification and the possibilities that it opens up for a better analysis and understanding of the episode. And throughout the article, the key themes of failure and the pursuit of failure are explored.