“The Supreme Black Literary Artist to Date:” Machado de Assis and the Shifting Canons
Bruno Soares dos Santos
Despite his undisputed position in the Brazilian literary canon, the international reception of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis has been marked, until nowadays, but especially in the twentieth century, by the stigma of being an overlooked genius. In the twentieth-first century, however, there has been good news regarding Machado de Assis’s life as world literature. In 2018, a luxury collection of his short stories, translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson, was published by W.W. Norton’s Liveright. Additionally, in 2020, something unprecedented in the history of Brazilian literature happened: Two English retranslations of Memória Póstumas de Brás Cubas, one by Margareth Jull Costa and another by Flora Thomson-Deveaux were simultaneously launched by Liveright and Penguin Classics. The icing on the cake came in May when Thomsom-Deavaux’s translation was sold out in both the American Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with the book becoming the number-one best seller in Amazon’s Caribbean and Latin American Literature category more than 100 years after its original Portuguese debut. It is overdetermined why Machado’s most recent English translation has achieved such a sales success. Many factors might be involved in this process, and this paper does not intend to explain the reasons for these recent publications. Yet, I’m concerned in understanding how Machado de Assis’s race has been read in the twentieth-first century, both in scholarly production and media publications. I argue that there has been special attention to his blackness in the past twenty years, with critics positioning him as a Black Literary Master, and showing a willingness to read racial-related issues in his literature. By engaging with world-literature theories by scholars such as David Damrosch, I aim to show that this racialized reading of Machado can work as a bridge between different cultures.
Bruno Soares dos Santos holds an MA in Transnational and Comparative Literatures from the University of Alberta, in Canada, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bruno has published, conducted, or participated in research projects on the international reception of Brazilian authors, contemporary Brazilian literature, autofictional writing, and ecocriticism. He has worked as a journalist, and his interests also include Media and Latin American Studies in a broader sense.
Correspondence for (Re)Conciliation : Let’s Talk About Settler Colonialism and Racism
Over the past few decades, there has been a surge in Indigenous literatures written primarily in French. While Indigenous authors turn to various genres including poetry, novel, and short stories, one genre particularly stands out: that of books of letters. These books are often non-fictional epistolary correspondences written through collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors. I propose to study how such epistolary exchanges contribute to building connections in a context of reconciliation. My paper seeks to answer the question: To what extent do these books and authors reflect a desire to build bridges and to maintain connections between peoples (Indigenous and non-Indigenous), particularly, in the face of ongoing settler colonialism and systemic racism in what is now called Canada and more specifically the province of Quebec?
To explore this question, I will draw from the following texts: Aimititau, Parlons-Nous (2008, edited by Laure Morali) groups together twenty-nine First Nations and Québécois authors through epistolary letters, poems, and stories and opens a literary dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Quebec; in the 2016 edition of Kuei, je te salue: conversation sur le racisme, Deni Ellis Béchard and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine take up questions of racism and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; written after the death of Atikamekw woman Joyce Echaquan in a hospital in Quebec in September 2020, the four new letters included in the 2021 re-edition of Kuei, je te salue continue the conversation on systemic racism in Quebec; in La bienveillance des ours (2020), François Lévesque and Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau explore their similarities as artists and their differences as people.
Malou Brouwer is a PhD student in Transnational and Comparative Literatures in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research project “Crossing Languages, Creating Communities: Imagining Decolonization in/through contemporary Indigenous Women’s Poetry” examines the use of languages – Indigenous, French, English, poetic, visual – to trace how community is build in/through Indigenous women’s poetry. More importantly, it explores how poetry can serve a range of decolonial practices. Her research interests include Indigenous literatures, Indigenous feminism(s), Francophone literature and la Francophonie, women and gender studies, and postcolonial/decolonial studies. Born and raised in the Netherlands, she now lives and works on Treaty 6 territory and in Region 4 Métis Nation.
Rawi Hage’s Cockroach, In-Between Metamorphosis: Disturbing the Logic of Neoliberalism
While recent scholarship has often examined Rawi Hage’s novels as narratives of exile, alienation, or revenge- or often in the framework of postcolonial studies- this essay sets out instead to explore Hage’s Cockroach as an example of world literature in the light of current debates about neoliberalism, biopolitics, and the idea of a “new form of life”. Hage’s central story is about an unreliable narrator who is expelled from political and socio-economic life. This paper shows how Hage’s novel reflects the human body resisting morphing into Homo Economicus or as human capital within neoliberal rationality. While also, and importantly, disturbing the logic of neoliberal technology of governance, Hage’s Cockroach offers critiques of the neoliberal claim of human well-being and possible resistance to the biopolitical practices of the neoliberal governance. Neoliberalism, this problematic but important term, has often been associated with economic practices, states, technologies, (and biopolitics) that reframe every aspect of human life. Drawing on theories from Michael Foucault, David Harvey, Giorgio Agamben, and Nicolas Rose, this essay argues that the interrelation between biopolitics and neoliberalism generates a new form of life that leads to an in-between position of the main character of Hage’s novel as a mode of transitory resistance to the socio-political contradiction of neoliberal policies.
Shahab Nadimi is currently a graduate PhD student in Transnational and Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. He received his MA in English Literature from the University of Kurdistan and his major research interests are World Literature, Refugee Studies, Biopolitics, and Neoliberalism. He is currently undertaking his PhD dissertation on refugee novels within contemporary World Literature.
100 Words of Solitude: Global Voices in Lockdown 2020
Dr. Phillipa Holloway
100 Words of Solitude is a project set up in early 2020 to connect writers and readers across the globe by documenting and exploring responses to the international lockdowns due to Covid-19. The core remit was to capture and record human responses to enforced or self-imposed isolation, moments of subjective truth amid media overload that would provide readers with a microcosmic insight into a shared experience that is infinitesimally varied. The project has since published work by 125 writers from 35 countries, and has provided comfort and connection to readers in 116 countries worldwide. This paper will explore how the project developed from an idea into a global writing community that continues to connect people across the world, using literary forms to document and capture the actions, emotions and behaviours of diverse individuals and communities. It will examine the benefits of using writing to, as Joan Didion states: ‘to find out what [we’re] thinking, what [we’re] looking at, what [we] see and what it means,’ and how this can benefit mental health at a time when the impact of the ongoing pandemic is taking its toll, demonstrating how creative expression is good for you. Finally, it will analyse the trends in content and theme within the final curated collection, revealing how while each piece is unique, they each explore aspects of the experience of lockdown that many others are also feeling.
Philippa Holloway is writer, educator and academic based in the UK. Her short fiction/non-fiction/research is published in the US, Australia, Africa, Europe and the UK Europe. She has won a number of small literary prizes, has been commissioned to curate and write for the New Welsh Reader, Material Cultures of Energy research group and, most recently, the Cognitive Sensations project, is a member of Liverpool University’s Literature and Science Research Hub and also Writer in Residence at Hack Green Nuclear Bunker. She taught Creative Writing/English Literature at Edge Hill University during and beyond her Doctoral research, ran writing workshops for the Mental Health Charity MIND and at literary/arts festivals and has judged a number of writing competitions. She is the co-editor of 100 Words of Solitude (Rare Swan Press), and her debut novel, The Half-life of Snails is due out with Parthian in 2022.
Covid Caring Costs: Pandemics, Patriarchy and Who Pays
Early in 2020, the world changed. China was locking down the city of Wuhan, a whole city. Rumors swirled that something critical was going to happen. In those early days, it seemed to be under control. Flash forward to a year later, large swaths of the world’s population are still isolating and jobs have become precarious. Privileged jobs are now online. Privileged people work from home. The work of running a home, however, did not change. COVID-19 significantly increased the burden of unpaid care. Women’s paid work dropped at levels faster than men’s as they left their jobs to take on more responsibilities in the home. Patriarchal systems and capitalism left women and underpaid workers behind historically and throughout the multiple lockdowns.
The economic system of western nations that consolidates money and thus power in the hands of the few leaves the majority of people to sell the only commodity they have, their labor. And as Margaret Thatcher once put it, “there is no alternative”. Or is there? Is there an economic style that seeks to build community through abundance rather than divide through scarcity?
This paper celebrates the positive impact of the gift economy and the community it develops inside and outside of COVID times.
Treesa Friesen is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, a student of art history and is presently studying the impacts of technology, such as mechanical art reproduction, on museums while exploring the repercussions of the replicas on institutions and communities. Treesa is currently a Masters (course-based) student at the University of Alberta, located on Treaty Six Territory. She is studying for a Master of Arts in Media and Cultural Studies. Cultural studies has allowed her to explore community building and the deep impacts that museums have had on society.
A Fantasy Theme Analysis of the “Great Reset” Conspiracy Theory and Libertynetwork.ca
The broad-tent conspiracy theory QAnon continues to threaten North American liberal democracy. The damage to liberal democracy is most obvious in the United States, where alt-right terrorist stormed the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021, in order to disrupt the Senate’s certification of electoral votes. Many rioters shouted QAnon slogans and sported QAnon-branded flags or attire. A similar, compatible conspiracy theory is spreading across Canada. The Great Reset conspiracy theory (GRCT) claims that the Trudeau government – in league with other shadowy globalist forces – intends to grant total debt forgiveness to anyone who accepts the coronavirus vaccine (which some varieties of the theory maintain is not a vaccine, but a microchip surveillance system). According to the theory, those who refuse vaccinations will be held in internment camps until they submit, and others who accept vaccines will be forced to relinquish all personal belongings in exchange for debt forgiveness. GRCT exponents believe that Trudeau and other globalists are trying to abolish personal property and currency in order to establish a global totalitarian-communist dictatorship.
This paper offers a fantasy theme analysis (FTA) of the Great Reset Conspiracy Theory in context of the underground social network libertynetwork.ca and its recent upgraded platform librtii.com, where much of this conspiracy theory is developed and spread among users. I analyze discourse from user posts, comments and discussion, memes, and website copy to build a comprehensive map of GRCT rhetoric and how it reinforces an anti-democratic, populist-authoritarian worldview among its adherents.
Peter Morley is a 3rd year PhD candidate in Media and Cultural Studies at MLCS. His dissertation, entitled 21st Century Digital Fascism: Neoreactionism in American Political Discourse explores the spread of alt-right extremism online, from its inception as a fringe neofascist political ideology to a mainstream threat to liberal democracy. Peter holds an MSc/MA dual degree in Global Media and Communications from The London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Southern California, and a BA (philosophy/sociology) from the University of Alberta.
Migration studies and literary discourse in the Ukrainian context: bridging the gap
In this presentation, I situate literary depictions of Ukrainian women emigrants as elements of the “subaltern” and consider Ukrainian women emigrants a marginalized group, “positioned simultaneously within several different discourses” (Loomba, 2005, p. 199), at the intersection of gender, family status, nationality, age, and class. By making literary depictions of Ukrainian women emigrants and Ukrainian emigration the foci of this exploration, I intend to draw attention to literary works exploring the topic of women’s emigration, to issues of emigration of women in general, and highlight the importance of women emigrants’ voices uncovered in fiction.
Using scholarship from the fields of migration, political science, sociology, and anthropology, I review the socio-political and economic aspects of Ukrainian emigration in the early 2000s in the context of modern globalization. This literature review constructs an additional framework to analyze further and to contextualize Ukrainian fiction by discussing socio-political trends and tendencies in emigration and migration studies. Simultaneously, though imaginary and fictitious, literary explorations of migration represent the often-missing individualized woman’s voice that, if considered, could help fill scholarly lacunae in the field of migration studies. I argue that including literary publications into the broader field of migration studies allows for a more comprehensive approach when exploring migration.This approach would consider economic, social, geographic, national, political, demographic, and cultural factors.
Olena Hlazkova is a PhD candidate (ABD) at the department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta. Her current research focuses on the confluence of migration and literature in the Ukrainian context. In her dissertation, Olena examines literary depictions of Ukrainian women emigrants using Appraisal Theory. Her previous research interests include but are not limited to: gender education, gender stereotypes in educational, political, and literary discourse, creative work by W.S. Maugham, Ukrainian emigration of women, feminism in the Russian and Ukrainian contexts, language and identity in multilingual Slavic contexts.
Bridging the gap: Gender history in the European past
The evolution of history as a scholarly discipline was truly remarkable from the second half of the twentieth century until now. The introduction of gender methodology into history has been one of the most fundamental changes in the discipline. Historians started to question hegemonic narratives by working on women’s history and showing that history could look different if women and other marginalized groups are taken into consideration. The paper focuses on new developments in research on the late medieval and early modern European history and how new approaches, such women’s and gender history, history of sexualities as well as history of marginalized groups have changed our understanding of the European past. The paper examines how historical research complicates the category of “woman” or “man” as intertwined in complex nets of oppression and dominance and how study of femininity and masculinities can help understand societies past and modern. The paper also discusses methodological difficulties associated with using modern notions of gender and sexuality in historical research and if such categories as “femininity”, “masculinity”, “heterosexuality”, “homosexuality” are appropriate in our discussions about the past.
I am a third-year PhD student at the University of Alberta working on the history of early modern European masculinities. I have a bachelor’s degree in history (Tomsk, Russia), and master’s degree in Gender Studies from Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). My research interests include: Gender history, history of masculinities, masculinity studies, Early Modern European History, History of the Holy Roman Empire.
Held Together by a Thread: Craftivism Combatting Crisis in Women’s Communities
While the creation of textiles has long been considered a domestic chore assigned to women, there has been a proliferation of craftivism groups working to create community and change the narrative surrounding the roles of women and craft in the community. As a form of material folklore, craft has often been overlooked as an aesthetic object due to its functionality, with museums, galleries, and communities maintaining an idea of what can be considered fine art. This conference paper explores the creation of crafting communities as a way to form connections while facing a number of divisive crises, such as colonialism, gender equality, and hostile displacement. By analyzing various craft-based groups and their activist work, this conference presentation highlights the importance of sociality during times of duress and the utility of craft as a form of resistance.
This research presentation will focus specifically on the push back against gender roles in embroidery and cross-stitching. Examining the shift towards popularizing subversive patterns in needlecraft, I highlight the interculturality of craft and the social trends which influence, and have been influenced by, both the in-person and digital crafting communities. Rooted in scholars such as Amy D. Wells (2015), Elizabeth Emery (2019), and Johanna Amos (2020), I emphasize the role of the craft in creating a community that contributes to both the micro- and macro- culture and a variety of activist movements, highlighting the effective nature of using needlework to craft both personal and group identities.
Katya Chomitzky is a 2nd year MA student in Modern Languages and Cultural Studies with a specialization in Media and Cultural Studies. Having had the opportunity to work with archival collections and cultural communities in her RA position at the Kule Folklore Centre and through many different work experiences, Katya’s experiences have influenced her research to focus on the ways in which communities create, preserve, and revitalize a variety of forms of material culture. With an emphasis on textile art, Katya is currently studying the role of material culture in decolonization and post-Soviet derussification. Her research interests include decolonization theories, material culture studies, folklore, women and gender studies, and post-Soviet spaces.
From The Bell Jar to La campana de Cristal: Importing and Translating Sylvia Plath’s novel in Spain (1960-1980)
Sofía Monzón Rodriquez
The study of the effects of censorship on literature and translation gives us an insight into particular historical periods and, by extension, into their culture and ideology. Literary products and their consequent rewritings (i.e. translations or adaptations) are seen as a reflection of the context and culture in which they were produced, and thus, they represent an array of information regarding the period. In Spain, throughout more than thirty years of dictatorship (1939-1975), the Francoist regime thoroughly suppressed and censored books on the grounds of immorality, political ideologies, and religion. In this article I analyze the reception of Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar,
in Spain during the Francoist dictatorship. Considering the feminist features that the author and her oeuvre embody, I examine the image the Censorship Board drew when the Spanish publishing houses requested to publish Plath’s works in translation. The censorship and import files stored at the General Archive of the Administration in Madrid confirm that several publishers applied for permission to repeatedly publish the translations of her only novel, The Bell Jar, into Spanish and Catalan; a Spanish compilation of her poems in 1974; and to import her seminal poetry collection, Ariel, in 1968. Nevertheless, the censors’ notes and verdicts reveal that her literary depth was neither admired nor understood by the ones who authorized, censored, or rejected the different editions of her work.
Sofía Monzón is a Ph.D. candidate in Transnational and Comparative Literatures at the University of Alberta, Canada. Born in Spain, she completed her BA in Modern Languages and Translation Studies at Universidad de Alcalá, Spain. There, she also received her first MA in Community Translation and Interpreting, and, two years later, she obtained her second MA in Spanish Literatures and Linguistics from Auburn University in the United States. Her research interests include ideology, censorship, manipulation in translation, and North American literary reception in Spain and Latin America. Recently, her research has been published in academic journals such as Transletters: International Journal of Translation and Translation Matters. Sofía’s first collection of poems was published in 2019 under the title Alas by the publisher Editorial Club Universitario.
Literary Translation as Cultural Battlefield: When a Translator Responds to Crisis
The times of profound societal upheavals may be devastating but can potentially open up new transformative opportunities in cultural production. In this presentation, I will show how Ukraine’s national political crisis brought about by the events of 2013-2014 and the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine has triggered a shift in literary translating practices, resulting in the emergence of activist translating projects that attempt to carve out a space for creative agency in the otherwise conservative and overregulated field of literary translation.
I will focus my discussion on Yevheniya Kononenko’s Ukrainian translation of Alice Munro’s collection of short stories (Too Much Happiness, published in 2017) to address the translator’s transtextualization strategy as a way to make her cultural affiliation and political position visible. In the climate of growing patriotic and anti-Russian sentiments among Ukraine’s largely bilingual population—and against the backdrop of continuing linguistic domination of Russian-language publications in the country’s publishing market—Kononenko’s subtle textual interventions and open programmatic statements in the translator-authored metatexts create a precedent of a resistant translation approach.
The fact that the translator’s resistance is oriented towards a rivalling Russian-language translation, rather than the source text itself, contextualizes the uniquely precarious position of Ukrainian literary translation as a cultural practice. However, the analysis of Kononenko’s case study reveals how empowerment of translators and the adoption of activist translating principles at the time of national crisis may become a factor of cultural and ideological transformation.
Anna Antonova is a fifth-year PhD student at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, specializing in Transnational and Comparative Literatures. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Translation Studies at Donetsk National University (Ukraine). Anna’s main research area is literary translation of Canadian women’s fiction into German, Russian, and Ukrainian. Her current research interests include the implications of gender for literary translation, with specific emphasis on feminist translation theories and issues of translators’ agency.
Homotextualizing Niezi: From Sinful Sons to Crystal Boys
In 1990, Gay Sunshine Press published the English translation of a Taiwanese novel titled 孽子 Niezi [Sinful Sons]. The novel, written by the modernist author Pai Hsien-yung and translated by Howard Goldblatt as Crystal Boys, became such a sensation among anglophone American readers that the publisher put out a paperback edition soon after. Blatantly marketed as “[t]he first modern Asian gay novel” (Pai 1993, cover), the paperback edition featured on its cover a half-naked hunk in jeans against a dark chartreuse backdrop. Such marketing schticks—highlighting queer erotics and picking a cover image that looks like a 1990s Calvin Klein advertisement—attracted a large number of queer readers who were curious about cultural uniqueness and universal experience of being gay. Yet, little did they know that when the original novel first came out in 1983 under martial law, it was not even considered by the mainstream Taiwanese critics and readers as gay-themed fiction, serious or popular.
In this paper, I investigate the homotextualization and canonization of Niezi, with emphasis on the shaping force of translation on the reading and reception of Pai’s novel. By synthesizing a select few representative pieces of scholarship on Niezi and the public discourse on non-normative sexualities in 1980s Taiwan, I demonstrate the connection between early critics’ evasive interpretations of queer motifs in Niezi and Taiwan’s conservative socio-cultural milieu. Then, I present a historicized, comparative reading of Pai’s original work and its English translation Crystal Boys, with special attention to the paratexts, the reconfiguration of the untranslatables in the English translation, and the politics of anglicizing non-Euro-American, non-normative sexualities. I argue that translation added to the complex production of meanings, facilitated the interactions between the text, the critic, the reader, and the author, and contributed to the queer iconization of Niezi.
Wangtaolue Guo is a PhD candidate in Transnational and Comparative Literatures. He has spent a fair amount of time researching and teaching translation. But unfortunately, according to a student, he “is by far the worst instructor I have ever had at the UofA.” Another student wrote in the USRI that he is “not demonstrating to be proficient or representative of the MLCS department.”
When Netflix meets literature – The connection between controversy and society in the reception debate of Lupin in France and in the Netherlands
This work in progress focuses on the reception of the Netflix series Lupin, in particular in France and in The Netherlands. Lupin was released in January 2021 and is based on a series of books about Arsène Lupin, a gentleman thief who first was published in 1905 and was written by the French author Maurice Leblanc. Leblanc’s books are known and appreciated worldwide and have been the subject of several adaptations. The Netflix series used the adventures of the eponymous French literary hero to inspire the escapades of Assane Diop, played by Omar Sy. On the one hand, critics are positive, on the other hand, there are comments criticizing the black character “representing” the classical French Lupin, particularly in France.
This contribution will analyze the discourse used by Twitterers writing in French and in Dutch. We build on the Foucauldian approach to discourse, who states that discourse is a set of relationships between discursive practices. The social context of discourse is, as Van Dijk (1990) and Fairclough (1992) underline, an important part of it, there is a strong connection between the kind of controversy and the society it appears in. The notion of text includes different forms, from written texts to pictures or symbols (Grant, Keenoy, and Oswick, 1998). The used emojis on Twitter are also part of the text. Our hypothesis is that the French (feel the need to) position themselves in the debate about the skin color of the main character, whereas Dutch people won’t necessarily feel this need because this series doesn’t address “their” literary or cultural heritage.
Eline Kuenen studied Francophone Literatures at Radboud University in Nijmegen. In 2015, she finished her master’s thesis on Congolese literatures and in 2016 she graduated with a master’s in education. Since 2016 she has been working as a teacher of French in secondary school. In addition to teaching, in August 2020, she started her PhD research on the role of orality within the new cultural movement called “Afropolitanism” that has taken root in several European and American cities. By analyzing orality in contemporary novels from different angles such as the narrative perspective, the posture of the author and the paratext, it becomes clear how the spoken or sung word occupies a place within the contemporary urban space, culture and literature.
When Classic Meets Modern: Intertextuality of Internet Memes
Internet memes, commonly known as memes, are undoubtedly an integral part of the 21st century Internet culture. Their phenomenon is bound with a great versatility that makes memes not only perfect for communicating but also expressing emotions and ideas. This versatility appeared to be especially useful during the ongoing pandemic as it allowed people to realize that they are not alone with their everyday struggles. While social media became an ultimate escape from a grim reality of Covid-19, various meme pages gained new followers.
The aim of this paper is to examine a well known meme page called Classical Art Memes. The page can be found in social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Classical Art Memes, owned and created by a person nicknamed The Emerald, gained its popularity by producing and posting content that combines classical art paintings with captions referring to common everyday situations. The paper proves how the characteristics of the Classical Art Memes page render it a perfect example of intertextuality. The chosen meme page was analyzed in the light of media theories of two experts in the field of memes and socials media, Anastasia Denisova and Bradley E. Wiggins.
Dominika Tabor is a second-year PhD student in the department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, specialization Transnational and Comparative Literatures, at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include children’s literature, fairy tales, Canadian literature, and travel writing. As a result of the pandemic, she decided to turn her love for Internet memes into yet another research interest.
Click me: multilinear cyberliterature as illness narrative for womxn with hyperandrogenism
In The Wounded Storyteller Arthur Frank wrote that major illness has the potential to disrupt the planned destination of our life, and that through the practice of illness narrative the capacity for telling our story is reclaimed. During times of global uncertainty, finding methods to cope with illness digitally has become especially vital. This project evaluates how multilinear cyberliterature can be used as an avenue for womxn (inclusive to trans, nonbinary, and femme identities) with hyperandrogenism to write illness narratives that construct positive relationships between their identities and the world. Multilinear cyberliterature is a form of digital story writing that calls on the reader to participate in the narrative’s unfolding by selecting hyperlink options which branch the narrative into nonlinear directions. Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterized by “excessive” levels of male hormones such as testosterone which, when identified in the female body, are associated with “masculinizing” symptoms. The condition has been employed as a justification to call into question which bodily signifiers and hormonal nuances quantify biological sex. Due to experiences of perceived subjugation in the medical encounter, some womxn with hyperandrogenism are turning to online illness narratives to write their “abject” bodies into a budding corporeal politic. Through an online story-writing module and hypertext tutorial, 10 participants with hyperandrogenism are currently writing their own stories based on their illness experience. This research will lead to the concrete realization of a novel pathway to inform therapeutic approaches for emotional well-being related to gendered illness.
Megan Perram (she/her) is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research centres the experiences of women and individuals with hyperandrogenism by exploring innovative digital tools for writing illness narratives. Megan is currently Editor-in-Chief of Connections: A Journal of Language, Media and Culture.
Queering the Myth: Defamiliarization, Classical Reception & The Female Gaze in Portrait of a Lady on Fire by Céline Sciamma
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a love story between Marianne (an artist) and Héloïse (an aristocrat who refuses to get married) set in 18th century France, has mesmerized audiences and film critics who think that the movie is an exquisite ode by Céline Sciamma to the female gaze. By female gaze, they refer to a symmetrical act that, unlike its male objectifying version, consists in looking and being looked at, not in a subjugating manner but in one that acknowledges the subjectivity of the women who participate in that act of looking. At the heart of the film and its masterful manipulation of the gaze, we find the reinterpretation of the myth of Euridice and Orpheus. This presentation explores how this classical myth is recreated in Portrait of a Lady on Fire to challenge the asymmetrical, and heterosexual nature of the male gaze, and emphasize the more liberating nature of the female gaze. I argue that Portrait of a Lady on Fire uses different defamiliarization techniques to look at the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus as a manifestation of what it means to be seen, artistically and queerly.
At the end, what this presentation seeks to uncover is how classical myth has the potential to challenge hegemonical (gender) discourses. In these times of crisis when classical myth has been used as a rhetorical weapon to justify hate speech, heteropatriarchy, and neocolonialism, reimagining the Classics in queer terms cannot be more urgent.
Laura L. Velazquez is a PhD candidate in Translational and Comparative Literatures. She holds a BA in Classics, an MA in Chinese Studies and an MA in Comparative and World Literature with a focus on Classical Reception in contemporary Chinese and Hispanic Literatures. Her PhD dissertation explores the intersections between the literary and cinematic notion of point of view and citizenship, in a corpus of Sinophone and Hispanic novels, documentaries, and films.
A Dildonic Assemblage: The Paradox of Masculinity, Desire, and Queerness on Chinese Reality Television’s Yundongba shaonian
Wangtaolue Guo and Jennifer Quist
In the summer of 2020, Hunan TV launched a sports/game show called 运动吧少年 Yundongba shaonian [Game on, Bro]. Its promos and posters, featuring athletic jocks and highlighting their chiseled torsos, blatantly promoted the show to the emerging tastes of a spornosexual trend in contemporary China (Cen 2019). Many state-owned media outlets have praised the show for its exciting challenges, reconfiguration of rugged masculinity, and positive energy (Wu 2020). Viewing Yundongba shaonian only as a sports-based game show capitalizing on an emerging spornosexual trend while privileging a particular fit, athletic, Euro-American standard of male beauty, however, is both superficial and problematic.
In this paper, we carry out textual and paratextual analyses of Yundongba shaonian, with emphasis on the representations and performatives of masculinity, desire, and queerness on the show. Recognizing the complexity of such an unstable triad, we draw inspiration from Paul B. Preciado (2018), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987, 1994), and coin the portmanteau term dildonic assemblage to theorize a sexual politics encompassing various arrangements of desire, gender, and visibility, a sexual politics in “fabrication” (Preciado 2018, 3) and “postsocialist metamorphosis” (Bao 2020, 5). The show is scrutinized not only as a semiotic discourse created by producers and contestants but also as a rhizomatic fannish event. We argue that Yundongba shaonian functions as an ambitious double-ended dildo. It aims to elicit a multiplicity of pleasures—male, female, genderqueer; sensual and sexual—through cultural elements rooted in an anti-queer regime but which ironically penetrate ultrafit “powdered” masculinity to ultimately subvert and complicate discourses that would suppress them.
Jennifer Quist is a PhD candidate in Transnational and Comparative Literatures at the University of Alberta conducting SSHRC-funded research of English-language hegemony in creative writing pedagogy. She is a novelist, critic, translator, and teacher.
Wangtaolue Guo is a PhD candidate in Transnational and Comparative Literatures. He has spent a fair amount of time researching and teaching translation. But unfortunately, according to a student, he “is by far the worst instructor I have ever had at the UofA.” Another student wrote in the USRI that he is “not demonstrating to be proficient or representative of the MLCS department.”