In this issue of Alluvium, four contributors discuss an international variety of texts. What these novels and films all have in common is that their characters deal with adversity, be it through their surrounding society or their own inner lives. As such, their struggles, losses, and triumphs are examined. The four contributions thus come together to reflect on the impact literature can have on the world in criticizing injustices and imagining a better future.
In the article “Shamrock Social Norms: Security, Catholicism, and Shame,” Carleigh Garcia analyzes Irish author’s John McGahern’s autobiographically inspired novel The Dark (1965). Garcia examines how the protagonist’s feelings of shame are linked to the transgression of normative behavior established by the Catholic Church in Ireland. In doing so, Garcia exposes how shame is socially conditioned and theorizes that literature like The Dark can have an effect on readers’ own understanding of shame, helping to uncover and maybe even mitigate injustices
Orlaith Darling’s article “‘Something as definitionally useless as art’: Contemporary Women Writers’ Künstlerromane and the Possibility of a Beautiful World” concerns itself with the role of contemporary novels in criticising the society they are set in themselves. Taking the three novels Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, The New Me by Halle Butler, and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh as her source material, Darling analyses how the capitalist reality of this world is exposed in these novels through their characters who, all working within the art industries in one way or another, have to come to terms with their own waning enjoyment of their work as it seems to become more and more trivial.
Elsie Unsworth’s article “‘Is There No Alternative?’: Capitalist Realism and Genre in Contemporary Political Fiction” considers how framing and perspective influence political impact in two different genres—British social realism and speculative fiction. By analyzing and comparing Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake and Susan Collins’ novel Catching Fire, Unsworth investigates how genre is used to imagine a world beyond capitalism. Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism serves as framework for Unsworth’s investigation of contemporary political narratives. Speculation, they posit, plays an important role in advocating vividly for revolution, and thus occupies an important space in contemporary anti-capitalist discourse.
In her article “Reimagining Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Living in Virtual Spaces and Cyber Autocracy in Hank Green’s The Carl Saga”, Alyssa Whiting uses the book series The Carl Saga, consisting of the two novels An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green, to analyse how society adapts and changes according to developments made in the technological field. Using Benedict Anderson’s theory on imagined communities as her framework, Whiting exposes the potential the internet has to divide or unite global societies and to inspire new communities based on parameters formerly not used to this effect.
Sophie Bantle, Jasmin Lieberwirth and Kit Schuster, “Alluvium Editorial 10.2,” Alluvium, Vol. 10, No. 2 (2022): n.pag. Web 8 August 2022. DOI:https://doi.org/10.7766/alluvium.v10.2.01
About the Authors
Sophie-Constanze Bantle (she/her) is a Master student in British and North American Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Her research interests include adaptation studies, Neo-Victorianism, and detective fiction. Her MA thesis was concerned with Neo-Victorian detective fiction on television, and she will continue her exploration of this topic in her upcoming PhD studies.
Jasmin Lieberwirth (she/her) is an MA student in British and North American Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She previously obtained her BA in English and American Studies at the same university. Her thesis concerned itself with Escapism as a genre in British Children’s Literature. Her research interests also include gender and women’s studies from the 18th century onward.
Kit Schuster (they/them) is a Master student in British and North American Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where they will continue their studies with a PhD dissertation on trans speculative future fictions. Their current research focuses on bodies, gender, sexuality, and how these define (post)human identities in popular culture. Kit Schuster also works as a dance pedagogue, giving workshops on the interrelations of gender and movement. They can be contacted on twitter @KitSchusterAca.