2017 Abstracts and Bios

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Panel 1: The One that Imitates, Famously

Between Protestantism and Atheism: Religious Thought and The Influence of Edmund Spenser on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Poetry.

Edmund Spenser’s central position within the English canon is predicated both on his own staggering achievements and the degree of influence his workhas had on generations of poets who first wrote a line long after his lifetime. Some 200 years after Spenser’s death, with Romanticism in full vogue, poets like Percy Bysshe Shelley received great inspiration from this Renaissance bard. To argue that a poet widely perceived as “that great English champion of monarchy and Protestantism” (Kucich 243) spurred the republican Shelley, a notorious member of The League of Incest and Atheism, requires peering beyond superficial notions about their ideas and political affiliations. This paper will argue that Shelley’s use of allegory to promote his atheist and revolutionary ideas borrows substantially from Spenser’s accomplishments, in spite of their opposed religious views and positions within the political establishment. This study will focus on questions of genre, form and imagery to demonstrate the particular ways in which Spenser’s poetry stimulated Shelley and to add nuance to prevalent assessments of both poets in relation to the religion of their times. This essay will focus on Book I of Spenser’s The Faerie Queen (1590-96), given its emphasis on faith and holiness, and Shelley’s Queen Mab (1813, a poem embodying the Romantic poet’s development and his indebtedness to Spenser.

Carlos Fuentes is a second-year MA student at McGill University’s English department. He is also a proud Concordia alumnus, having completed the BA Honours in English and Creative Writing Program. His academic interest center on nineteenth century literature, namely Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel within English and German language literary traditions. His current research is a comparative study of dilettantes in Henry James and Thomas Mann. He has also been known to enjoy the odd epic poem or cat video.

Friendly Glue: How Photoplay Created Community

Today, celebrities feel like virtual community members, or even family members, but it has not always been this way. In his book A Short History of Celebrity, Fred Inglis explores how technology has invented and continues to reshape the modern celebrity. He argues that “celebrity” is a new phenomenon (less than 250 years old (8)), and that as technology allowed for imagesto be reproduced in better and better quality, we felt closer than ever before to celebrities with each technological upgrade (10). He also tracks the changing nature of fame, and how glamour replaced honour or respectability as the key ingredient of celebrity. Today, I will demonstrate how Photoplay magazine played a role in the changing nature of the celebrity at a critical moment in the early-twentieth century when motion pictures became available to mass audiences. I will start with a closer analysis of Inglis’ arguments.

Mark Sardella is a Masters student in Ryerson’s Literatures of Modernity program. His research interests include periodical studies, nineteenth-century and early twentieth century history, and consumer culture studies. He holds a bachelors degree in Professional Writing and Institutional Communications from York University. Mark currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Love, by the Book: on Clichés and Affect in Sophie Calle’s Double Game

Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan (1992) features a fictional character (his love interest) based on the artist Sophie Calle (b. 1953 Paris). The novel is about a man who decides to take actions over words to deliver his message to the world, and Maria is his love interest: an artist. Fulfilling Auster’s claim that Calle loves self-contained adventures, she decided she would live her life by the book, literalizing all the hyperboles and metaphors used to describe her. Her response was documented and published as a book of texts and photographs titled Double Game (2000).

Critics often remark thatCalle’s project is merging fact and fiction. This essay seeks to move beyond this rather obvious conception of Calle’s work so as to see to what ends Calle mingles fiction and fact—for the implications are far reaching. In living out a love story by the book, Calle gives form to questions about love posed by Lauren Berlant, whose concept of “hegemonic fantasies” asks to what extent we love because of a raw and visceral affect that originates from within, or because of social convention. Double Game takes the tone of a sterile document, using text and photographs to produce an affectively-charged narrative that mingles fiction and fact. But because the premise it takes is absurd, because it tries so hard to convince us of its factuality, its sterile tone seems to mock itself. It is impossible to terse fiction from fact, and by extension, to discern what is cliché and performative versus what is genuinely felt, both in Double Game and in life. To that end, it would be more accurate to say that Maria is not based on Calleper se but Calle’s persona, and that Calle’s persona is based on caricatures of women that always already originate in works of literature and cinema, which always already originate in social codes from “real” life, and so on. Writes Judith Butler, “gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.”

Emily Watlington is a SMArchS candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Contemporary Art department at MIT. There, she focuses on contemporary art through the lens of feminist and affect theory. She is also the curatorial research assistant at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, and a contributing art critic at Mousse Magazine. Her forthcoming publications include a contribution to the exhibition catalog An Inventory of Shimmers: Objects of Intimacy in Contemporary Art (2017, DelMonico Prestel), and an essay on Ryan Trecartin’s film Junior War in Analogue Living in a Digital World (Tasmeem Doha, VCU Qatar 2017).

 

Panel 2: The One That Takes and Transforms

Game of Clones: Authorship, Ownership, and the World’s Most-Pirated TV Show

Game of Thrones is the most pirated television show in the world, with up to 1.5 million copies being downloaded on a single day (Van der Sar Torrent). Additionally, the book series that the show is based upon, A Song of Ice and Fire, has sold more than 58 million copies, and the fanfiction repository Archive of Our Own houses more than 150,000 unique fanfictions based on the fictional world and characters of Westoros and the Seven Kingdoms. Thanks to an extremely voracious fanbase, A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the most reproduced and circulated fictions of our time. This paper will investigate questions about authorship and ownership that arise from the extreme amount of copying of both Game of Thrones and A Song of Fire and Ice. Firstly, what is the canonical, “original” narrative? Secondly, who is/are the author(s) of this text? And thirdly, what effect does piracy and circulation have on the author function? This essay will argue that fans of the series, through their appreciative consumption, copying, and distribution of George R.R. Martin’s work, have actually laid claim to ownership of his works, and disrupted George R.R. Martin’s author function.

Colleen Gaspirc is completing a MA in English at Concordia University. Her research is interested in constructions of self, particularly in regards to gender, nationality, and celebrity.

Sexuality and Monstrosity in the film adaptation of Beowulf

In the 2007 film adaptation of Beowulf the shift from religion to sexuality as the narrative’s driving force reimagines monstrosity and affects the contemporary depiction of the monster in new media adaptation. In order to appeal to the audience and to adapt and pay tribute to the source material, the confrontation between paganism and Christianity is exchanged for an interwoven power relation between religion and sexuality. While the poem focuses on an Anglo-saxon warrior within the context of a Christian len, the 2007 film adaptation of Beowulf focuses on entertainment, visual stimulation, and of course, capital. And because sexuality is so easily adapted visually, religion takes a subsidiary role as guiding force of the story. However, while religion does plays a more obscure role in the film adaptation, it still works indivisibly with sexuality in the depiction of monstrosity, and as a thematic moral lesson and thus changes and questions the role of women, abjection, and monstrosity within the film and poem. And through this, can allow for a new reading of the source text.

Marie-Christine Lavoie is an MA student at Concordia University. At the moment she is interested in fan generated content and the ways video games can circulate marginalized narratives. She is also interested in the effects of player limitations in online game servers and how extrinsic rules can lessen the player’s enjoyment of a game. She enjoys reading, sewing, playing video games, participating in research initiatives and building computers.

Pamela 2.0: Public and Private in the Digital Age

Imagine a world where a person’s private thoughts and conversations, greatest dreams, and biggest fears were put on display, accessible to anyone who happened across them. Does this sound familiar? In an era where people use social media outlets as spaces to post vast ranges of details from their daily lives – everything from what they ate for breakfast to the latest drama with their significant other – it certainly should sound familiar. However, it may not occur to the thousands of people updating their Facebook statuses and Twitter accounts hourly that this same definition applies to past generations as well. Today, with all of our personal information listed on the Internet, it may seem to us that we are the only ones who have ever had to worry so extensively about the exposure and availability of our personal/private information to the public. Nevertheless, these worries did exist before the dawn of the technological age, and can be explored throughout Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Pamela, published in 1740. Here, Pamela – a young maid whose greatest wish is to remain pure and virtuous – writes detailed letters to her parents about her life working for Mr. B. In addition to the occasional theft of these letters, Pamela’s private conversations are also often eavesdropped upon. Essentially, her privacy, like ours, is precarious. By taking Pamela’s letters written in 1740 and turning them into a contemporary Facebook page, this project was able to uncover the similarities between the core concepts of public and private in both periods. This adaptation led to the conclusion that the difference between private and public in both eras is not one of kind, but one of degree.

Jessica Tucker is a first year MA student in English Literature at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Her academic interests lie in gender and sexuality, with a main focus on transgender young adult literature. She is interested in exploring how literature helps the early process of identity formation within today’s youth culture. Jessica hopes to either work in publishing or teach at the college level once she earns her degree.

Panel 3: The One that Navigates the Fanfiction Archive

In Defence of Happy Endings

In a 2008 interview with the Paris Review, Annie Proulx, author of the short story “Brokeback Mountain,” expresses frustration with the reactions to her tragic tale of love between two cowboys. When the interviewer asks if she is referring to the homophobic outcry against her work, Proulx replies that this is not the case. Her irritation is not directed towards detractors of her work, but towards fans: “those idiots who love happy endings.” Here, Proulx refers to the fanfiction community, which she feels has misinterpreted her work. Proulx’s rural, realist fiction focuses on setting, while she views characters as there “to hang the story on.” While Proulx intended “Brokeback Mountain” to be “about homophobia […] about a social situation […] about a place and a particular mindset and morality,” fans have rewritten the story to be character driven and to conclude on a positive note. As Proulx puts it, fans have “decided the story should have a happy ending […] So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed.” Proulx laments that these fans “have completely misunderstood the story” and even goes so far as to say that, had she anticipated the response, she would never have written “Brokeback Mountain” at all. Despite Proulx’s disapproval, happy endings continue to hold great appeal for fanfiction writers and readers, not only within the “Brokeback Mountain” fan community, but within the fanfiction community at large. This paper will examine the potential value of happy endings, particularly with regard to the representation of marginalized demographics. I argue that the fanfiction community does not misinterpret Proulx’s work; rather, they have different writing goals. Fanfiction is primarily character driven, and tends to focus on relationships between characters, with a high proportion of same-gender and queer relationships. As many fanfiction writers and readers consider themselves part of the LGBTQ+ community, positive depictions of the lives of LGBTQ+ characters can offer hope for their own futures. Their work is not misinterpretation, but deliberate reinvention.

Madelaine Caritas Longman was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She now lives in Montreal. Her work has appeared in publications such as Room, Frogpond, filling Station, and in 2014, her poem Insomnia was featured as the University of Calgary’s Poem of the Season. She is currently completing an MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at Concordia University.

The Heat is On: Gender in Omegaverse Fanfiction

In fanfiction, writers have free reign to put their favourite characters in any number of situations. In her book Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World, Jamison writes: “even with the seeming loss of taboos and a general acceptance of all kinks [in fanfiction], there are still some kinks that tend to be considered a bit kinkier than others. One particularly trendy trope at the moment is Alpha/Beta/Omega (A/B/O) stories”. Those stories are also known as Omegaverse and have been rising in popularity since they first originated in 2010. Omegaverse refers to an alternate universe in which the fanfic takes place. Essentially, in Omegaverseeveryone has a secondary gender: alpha, beta or omega. The alphas are stronger, more powerful and have a higher social status, whereas omegas are weaker, naturally submissive and of lower status. In fact, they often have no legal standing and have to be owned by an alpha. There are also biological and physiological differences between the two – most importantly, omegas of either gender can bear children, and alphas of either gender can impregnate an omega. Betas are generally most like regular humans, and whether or not they can have children depends entirely on the particular author. Many scholars have argued that slash fiction subverts the heteronormativity of mainstream fiction. Through an analysis of popular Omegaverse stories from three of the fandoms in which Omegaverse is most ubiquitous – Supernatural, Sherlock and Hannibal – as well as the general conventions of and response to Omegaverse, I will argue that Omegaverse takes this a step further and subverts not only heteronormativity but gender roles themselves.

Danna Petersen-Deeprose lives in Montreal, Canada, where she is doing her graduate degree in English Literature at McGill University. Her studies focus on literature of the sublime and the grotesque.

An Imperfect Archive: Reimagining Feminist Fan Writing Practices

The cultural discourse that surrounds the practice of fandom and the production of fanfiction is at once its greatest asset and its most significant downfall. For many cultural consumers, involvement in fandom and the production of fan materials such as fanart and fanfiction represents an invaluable opportunity to reclaim or even reshape popular media narratives that continue to prioritize heteronormative and heavily privileged storylines, to the chagrin of diverse audiences. According to Henry Jenkins, one of the first academics to claim the title of fan scholar, fanfiction often represents “a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by [the] corporations instead of owned by the folk.” It is a way of remedying injustice, diversifying narratives, and – for many of those individuals who find themselves caught up in the tide of creating or reading fanfiction – finding or imagining sympathetic characters in a media climate that maintains a vested interest in tirelessly reproducing its own narrow ideas of the status quo. In this way, the practice of fandom is an inherently subversive act and a direct challenge to mainstream narratives. Fanfiction frequently privileges the voices and creative output of female creators who might otherwise find themselves silenced by the patriarchal forces inherent in too many aspects of media production and distribution.

Morgan Bimm is a PhD student in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University. Her research interests include girlhood studies, participatory culture, and digital publics, particularly those populated by girlish subjects. Specifically, she is interested in the ways in which the affect circulated in online spaces represents an opportunity to subvert traditional ways of doing gender and sexuality through interpretive fan practices.

Panel 4: The One that Deconstructs the Gaze

Finding yourself in Slash: How Gender Performance Evolves in a Female-Centric Space

Whether a short story, a novel-length work or a ‘drabble’ of some five-hundred words, ‘fanfics’ are odes written by fans for the stories, characters or worlds they adore. What is often forgotten however, especially amongst those not within the community, is that early fanfiction (fiction written by fans) was often closely linked with queer narratives. Fanfiction came onto the cultural scene in the late 1960s, when fans of the television series Star Trek began writing short stories about a romance between Kirk and Spock. Slash, or Male loving Male fanfiction (M/M) as it is otherwise known, has only grown in popularity since then. Fandoms, i.e. fan communities who are devoted to a particular fictional series, have since created enclaves within cyberspace where they can reimagine and expand the canon material they are fans of. According to census data from the fanfiction archiving site Archive of Our Own, 80% of the consumers and producers of the fanfiction are female. However, despite this high concentrated female demographic, the writings produced by fandoms often focus on male homosexual pairings. From the same census, 89.7% of respondents claimed they preferred consuming slash fanfiction, while 68% of fanfiction producers said they preferred writing for M/M pairings. Given the above convergence, why is slash fiction so popular amongst women? If one approaches this question from a sociological and gender studies standpoint, do women negotiate with their gender and sexual orientation while consuming this homosexual material? The turn toward alternative, queer spaces may be explained by the dearth or proper representation in mainstream media. GLAAD reported in 2015 that only 4% of Broadcast Primetime programming had characters that identified as LGB; in addition, the same Primetime programming only had regular female characters 43% of the time. Though these statistics focus on North America while online fanfiction communities are international in membership, it can be said that the culture these women are responding to is one that is prominently heteronormative and female effacing. Given such, it is likely that women use slash fanfiction as a space for self-exploration. Using the theories of gender performativity, the female gaze and the lesbian continuum, this paper will argue that self-identified women see slash fiction as a safe, supportive cyber-space that can explore the fluidity of sexual and gender.

Ashley Lanni is completing an MA in History at Concordia University, with a focus on Soviet History. Her MA thesis focuses on the USSR constructed and presented its national identity at three different world fairs. Ashley’s interests, however, go beyond just history and the USSR. I’m interested in the sociology of culture, especially in how it affects women and LGBTQ, and have done research in both gender and sexuality studies. Fanfiction and fandom are both a hobby and an academic love, as the people who create them have inspired her to explore the boundaries between the real (‘canon’) and the imagined.

“She Started Out as Such an Ugly Duckling, and Somehow Suddenly Became a Swan”: The Transmogrification of Female Royalty in Children’s Animated Films

Myths and legends of metamorphosis and transmogrification can be traced throughout literature from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Ovid’s Metamorphosis, preserving, alongside the folkloric narrative, historical changes in attitude towards hybridity between the human and the non-human. In the early years of Disney, animated princesses defined themselves against an anthropomorphized, inarticulate, animal Other: Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora all demonstrated their inborn superiority through their ostensibly benevolent mastery over animals who devotedly undertook physical labour on their behalf. In 1994, however, the release of Disney animation director Richard Rich’s The Swan Princess saw the archetype of femininity transform into an animal herself, establishing a precedent for the metamorphosis of heroines in animated films. Focusing on the transmogrification of Princess Odette, Princess Tiana, and Queen Elinor, I explore the hybridity of The Swan Princess, The Princess and the Frog, and Brave. Drawing on Judith Butler’s theories of gender and Carol J. Adams’s analysis of the relationship between violence against animals and violence against women, this paper explores the underlying sexual implications of transforming women into swans, frogs, and bears that are subsequently hunted by men. By problematically equating courtship with predation, the films enact what Adams calls the use of the “absent referent” (69), where “[w]hat is absent refers back to one oppressed group while defining another” (69). Thus the films’ forays into hybridity, while initially appearing subversive, predominantly serve to emphasise the threat of the male hunter/ husband at the expense of valuable critique of the (mis)treatment of both animals and women.

Alex Custodio is an MA candidate in English literature at Concordia University where she works as an arts editor for Headlight Anthology, and a graphic designer for the Student Association for Graduates in English. Her research interests include fanfiction, video games, and queer theory. You can find her work in Spectra Journal, The Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality, and forthcoming in Soliloquies Anthology.

The Post and the Grab: The Invisible Labour of Feminist Instagram Artists

My presentation will approach feminist Instagram art practices by considering which bodies and whose labour gets represented or visualized, not only in the posts of Instagram artists, but in the academic research about these practices. By focusing on the feminist meme artist @GothShakira, I will consider the costs, value, and ethics of online affective labour in order to determine who is asking the questions and therefore “which questions are being asked,” in both Instagram art practices and research about these practices (danahboyd and Kate Crawford 2012, 674).How does the privatization of social media and the conception (or misconceptions) of an intimate ‘public’ lead to the exploitation of online affective labour? More importantly, how do young women and marginalized people navigate these spaces of empowerment/exploitation? In order to answer these questions, I will consider the representation of disabled, marginalized, or otherwise conventionally unrepresented bodies, while also acknowledging the complex ways that public and private spaces are confused and interpreted on these platforms. As danahboyd and Kate Crawford argue, “[t]he process of evaluating the research ethics cannot be ignored simply because the data are seemingly public” (2012, 672). In response to boyd and Crawford’s argument, I intend to question my own responsibility regarding the ethics of researching users’ ‘public’ content, such as whomI am choosing to look at and who I am excluding. I complicate networked identity using ZiziPapacharissi’s edited collection A Networked Self(2011), Sara Ahmed’s representation of identity in terms of affect, and Theresa M. Senft’s theory of identity-formation through networked grabs.My primary focus is to prove that it is inaccurate to describe online affective labour, such as Instagram feminist meme-making, as either solely exploitative or activist (considering, but also resisting sole dependence on the user’s intention) when it necessarily exists in complex in-between spaces—as both public and private, activist and exploited, erased and visible.

Eileen Mary Holowka is a writer, editor and grad student who also makes video games and music. Her most recent project, a narrative video game called circuits, looks at what it means to speak about personal traumas within and outside of media, institutional, and clinical platforms. She lives in Montreal with her pet gecko, Monte, and giant cat, Merton, and will be starting her PhD in Communications Studies at Concordia University in the Fall.  Find her on her website or on Twitter.

 

Panel 5:  The One that has Agency as the Final Boss

Copy/Paste/Play: Amateur Games as Appropriation Art

Independent game-making has, despite its relatively short history, seen a significant evolution. “Indie” games, as they are known, are now associated with popular titles that have unquestionably penetrated mainstream consciousness; the genre has earned a certain sophistication, with more and more titles whose end results are capable of rivaling the sheen of commercially-produced games. A number of factors have contributed to this shift, including changes in the economic landscape in which independent games are made. As such, the formal characteristics and aesthetics of an Indie game have since been transmogrified. This presentation examines a moment in time in which indie games were characterized by free (or pirated) software like Flash and RPGMaker, and by the borrowing or appropriation of audiovisual resources from commercially-produced video games. While these games – often made by hobbyists with no expectation of accruing a profit – made blatant use of assets that were not of their belonging, an argument can be made for economist William Landes’ concept of ‘appropriation art’: art that borrows images from mass media and incorporates them into new and original works of art, that, themselves, have significant cultural value. Examining multiple amateur video games that follow this trend, as well as the digital architecture of existing networks and communities that act to facilitate the sharing of resources, this presentation aims to qualify these indie games as appropriation art and argue for their cultural value, as well as explore the nuances and complexities of the independent game-making scene.

Saeed Afzal is a first year graduate student in Concordia University’s English literature program. His area of focus has been on digital storytelling and the intersection between media studies and literature, particularly with regards to video games. His research and interests include: Role-playing games, Japanese Pop culture, fan culture, fandom as religion, graphic novels, webcomics, and gender & queer theory.

Who’s Telling the Story ? A Study of the Video Game Perceiving Narrator through Kentucky Route Zero.

Kentucky Route Zero (Kr0) is an episodic game made by Cardboard Computer. Which is an indie studio composed of Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy and Ben Babbitt. To this day, the studio released four of the five episodes. Kr0 is a narrative game, which means a game which put its emphasis on its story. But also an adventure game, or point and click. Through experiments in both form and content, the game challenges how we tell stories in a video game. It puts at the foreground what could be specific ways in which a games can tell these stories. This essay will explain why classical narrative typologies are not fit for game narrativity.

Benjamin Gattet is an interdisciplinary Designer/Hacker specialized in playful interactions, game design, and exploring uncharted territories. His work revolves around atypical experiences, new forms of narration (wordless, environmental, purely diegetic or systemic), prodcedurality and the phenomenology of play. He is doing a PhD in Game Design and Game Criticism. He holds a MA in Media Design from the University of Geneva HEAD, where his final dissertation was about the new kind in narration found in videogames. To explore the ideas of his thesis, he made a small videogame : Within, which can be found on his itch.io page. Before that he studied multimedia and digital design at Gobelins, Paris. Benjamin is interested in what can spawn between art and technology, that’s why he doesn’t want to identify either as a designer or as a developer, but rather as a maker.

#SavePepe: The Political and Social Mobilizations of Internet Memes

Traditionally, adaptations represent a remediation of a story or concept from an original source text — whether that source be literary or otherwise. However, the remediation of the source text does not transform its very nature; though it may alter the way read or understand it, the source itself will remain unchanged. Internet memes, on the other hand, exist only as adaptions. While posts online may be funny, and may even go viral, a post itself cannot be considered a ‘meme’ until it has been repeated, adapted, and shared. As in the case of all adaptation, the way in which something is adapted is not apolitical, and internet memes are no exception. My paper examines the ways in which internet memes, in their many iterations, are mobilized for political, activist, and/or radical movements. I argue that, despite their apparently purely digital existence, internet memes have a real impact on the so-called ‘meatspace’ of our political lives. This notion is perhaps best illustrated in the well-publicized punch white nationalist Richard Spencer received just as he began talking about the popular meme Pepe the Frog. Pepe, as a figure, has been a particularly contentious meme since he has been used as a symbol of white nationalism, just as people of colour have attempted to reclaim him. What are the stakes of this struggle? Can memes be an effective form of activism? My paper asks these questions and others, in an attempt to understand how memes can be effectively mobilized for political aims.

Marika Brown is currently working towards an MA in English Literature and Digital Humanities at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her current research focuses on the works of James Joyce, with a specific focus on animals and machines in Ulysses. She is equally interested, however, in looking at works traditionally excluded from the canon — including young adult literature and internet memes. As a graduate of Concordia’s Honours English undergraduate program, Marika is excited to be back home in Montreal.

Panel 6: The One that Decolonizes our Words and Bodies

Gertrude Stein, The Vichy Paradox

In her translation of the Pétain speeches, commissioned during the Second World War, Gertrude Stein employed translation as a medium of resistance against the Vichy government she was working for. Stein was a fervent advocator of agency, especially in relation to literature. On the one hand, her compositional style, with its interest in transforming and subverting language, resulted in linguistic uncertainties that encouraged interpretive agency. On the other hand, as she expressed through her notion of genius, creation required a dialogue between self and other. Consequently,a translation that simply reiterated, murdered authorial genius; it confined the translator in the position of a “scribe rather than innovator” (Lost, Will 655). This crucial difference between translation as transportation and translation as transformation, will benefit from being analysed through the lens of media theory. By drawing from the importance Stein placed on actively creating meaning rather passively relating it, I will validate how the translations are not, as has been often stipulated, in opposition to the rhetorical style and ideological framework that directs her previous work, but rather a continuity of it. In other words, as texts such as Melanctha and Tender Buttons demonstrate, Stein capitalized on gaps –both interpretive and semantic –in order to challenge the notion that systems of language can be deciphered to arrive at an incontestable truth. This is also applicable to her Pétain translations, whose syntax is disorganised by literal, word-for-word equivalences. Rather than condemning Stein for collaborating with the anti-Semitic Vichy government, I propose that the syntax of her translations need to be analysed in relation to the compositional style that permeates the texts of her literary career –most notably, her usage of linguistic ambiguities to heighten the value of indeterminacy. Stein’s Vichy translations mark one of those instances where the “medium is the message” (McLuhan 7) insofar as the form is more telling than the content.

Ariane Legault is a Master’s student at Concordia University. She is currently working on the way literary activism is affected by celebrity culture, focusing predominantly on the careers of writers Arundhati Roy and Naomi Klein. President of the Student Association of Graduates in English (SAGE) at Concordia University, she has been involved in many student-based initiatives, such as moderator for Concordia Write Nights and editor for the journal Headlight.

The Spectre of Colonialism: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea as a Satire of Imperialism

Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has enthralled readers for generations, thanks to its elements of adventure, intrigue and wonder. More than a simple adventure story, Verne used his 1870 novel as a vehicle of satire. More specifically, he was satirizing imperialism, which was a powerful force at the time, both in Europe and the world at large. In my essay, I seek to contextualize and explain how Verne created his satire. One example of this is the Nautilus, which is Captain Nemo’s submarine. The ship and its crew represent the concept of the empire. The ship itself is an instrument of colonial domination: Nemo uses it to claim the South Pole for himself. Moreover, the crew members represent the nameless, faceless aspects of the empire. The distant, remote crew members are removed from everyone else, and in particular those who are harmed by their actions. They even speak their own private language. The three prisoners represent the mental states of people whose nations have succumbed to imperialist domination. Ned Land, representing the lower class, is constantly at odds with the ship’s direction, but he never achieves anything. The indecisive Conseil symbolizes the middle class; believing that his loss of freedom was inexorable, he resigns himself to his fate. Meanwhile, Professor Aronnax represents the upper classes, what with his constant quest to seek knowledge from the Nautilus’ library.

Laura Giuliani graduated from McGill with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, and is now studying law at UQAM. She also freelances online as a writer, translator, editor, researcher, and transcriptionist. For fun, she enjoys working out, knitting, writing stories, and risking her life by doing crosswords in pen.

Joyce Would Love the Internet: The Adaptation and Decolonization of the English Language in “The Oxen of the Sun”

The impulse that drives the argument of this essay arose in the context of an informal class discussion, during which one of my peers maintained that, were James Joyce aware of the current state of the English language, he would be turning in his grave. When questioned, this peer eagerly revealed the underlying premise of the claim: with the increasing ubiquity of LOLs and IDKs and IIRCs—respectively standing for: “laughing out loud,” “I don’t know,” and “if I remember correctly”—the Internet has hailed a decline in the quality and accuracy of the language. However, to assert such a position is to entrench Joyce in his place within the canon of literature, while disregarding his contextual position as an Irish writer at a time when Ireland was rife with political upheaval and increasingly resistant to colonial rule. This essay is an examination of what is at stake in a reading that resists the desire for a seamlessly homogenous state of the English language, and an attempt to tease out the merits of the kind of linguistic experimentation and adaptation that can be found on the Internet today, as well as in Joyce’s Ulysses. One example of such adaptation, particularly salient as a rebuttal of the examples used by my peer in his explanation, can be found in the “Aeolus”chapter: one of the section headers is “K. M. R. I. A.,” standing for Myles Crawford’s exclamation that Mr. Keyes can “kiss my royal Irish arse” (186).For the purposes of this essay, I will focus on the “Oxen of the Sun” chapter, and the use of language therein.

Katheryne Morrissette is a SSHRC-funded MA student at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research interests focus mainly on the development of colonialism and Imperialist narratives, specifically in medieval vernacular literature.


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