Art vs Craft: Zine-Making as Feminist Practice

At the beginning of December, students and staff at Winchester School of Art (where I work) took part in a series of Critical Media Practice workshops, focused around the theme of ‘Gendering Technology’. The workshops developed practical skills, but also explored the gendered dimensions of technology’s access and use, and the framing of debates around gender … Read more

Zombies and Colonial Coffee: Max Havelaar, Life after Death

This article was originally published in Dutch on Hebban.nl, 16 May 2017. I have translated and reproduced it here with the kind permission of the website and the original author, Adinda Volkers. Some of the hyperlinks have also been adapted to redirect readers to equivalent English-language sources.

Warning: this is a political piece. I would not know how to write something apolitical or noncommittal about a book like Max Havelaar. If you don’t care about politics, thinking, the environment, or human rights, please feel free to read something else. But then you’ll miss the zombies!

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Penny Dreadful Review: ‘Perpetual Night’ and ‘The Blessed Dark’ (Season 3 Finale, Episodes 8 and 9)

As part of my forthcoming book project, I’ve been revisiting the Penny Dreadful series and comics. This included looking back at my online reviews of the show’s third and final season, which I will be posting here over the coming weeks. This post originally appeared on The Victorianist, 8 July 2016. It has been edited and corrected for reposting.

In my very first post I rhetorically questioned whether any of the ‘monsters’ in Penny Dreadful would be able to come to terms with their past or their actions. I also asked to what extent the show could be labelled ‘Victorian’ or ‘neo-Victorian’.

When I started writing this week’s post, I had no idea that I would be writing about the end of entire series, as well as the end of the third season. Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to finish it is the way this ending has (unexpectedly) forced me to completely re-evaluate the show, and my expectations of it.

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Penny Dreadful Review: ‘Ebb Tide’ (Season 3, Episode 7)

As part of my forthcoming book project, I’ve been revisiting the Penny Dreadful series and comics. This included looking back at my online reviews of the show’s third and final season, which I will be posting here over the coming weeks. This post originally appeared on The Victorianist, 17 June 2016. It has been edited and corrected for reposting.

What does it mean to be true to yourself? What does it mean to be a good person? These are questions Penny Dreadful has frequently explored over its three seasons, but I’m not sure they ever felt as pressing or disturbing as they do in ‘Ebb Tide’. More than anything, the episode seems to suggest that the answers to these questions depend entirely on the person asking.

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Penny Dreadful Review: ‘No Beast So Fierce’ (Season 3, Episode 6)

As part of my forthcoming book project, I’ve been revisiting the Penny Dreadful series and comics. This included looking back at my online reviews of the show’s third and final season, which I will be posting here over the coming weeks. This post originally appeared on The Victorianist, 10 June 2016. It has been edited and corrected for reposting.

This week’s episode of Penny Dreadful is essentially all about submission and dominance. It takes us on a tour of all the key characters and stories this season, and throws in a few more for good measure. In each story, we are given an example of how characters refused to submit, submitted to easily, or were forced into submission, and the episode then explores the effect this relationship to submission has had on them. Ethan’s refusal to confront his problems has taken over his life. Lily is so scarred by being broken into submission that she is determined to break the men who used her in return. She has been given a new life, but refuses to let the old one truly die. ‘I’ve suffered long and hard to be who I am,’ she tells Frankenstein during his failed kidnapping attempt. ‘I want my scars to show’. Vanessa, physically weak and emotionally fragile, is also paradoxically the strongest. She is not afraid to submit to others, or risk her heart again and again.

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CfP: ‘Neo-Victorianism and the Senses: Sensing the Past’

The University of Surrey (UK) is hosting a one-day conference on Friday 22nd March 2019. Their call for papers closes on 16th December 2018. Keynote Speaker: Professor Rosario Arias, University of Málaga ‘Every sensorial perception is at the same time past and present’ (Hamilakis, 2013). Since the publication of William A. Cohen’s seminal text Embodied: Victorian Literature and … Read more

CfP: (Neo-)Victorian ‘Orientations’ in the Twenty-First Century

University of Málaga (Spain) May 15-17, 2019 Under the auspices of the Research Project “Orientation: Towards a Dynamic Understanding of Contemporary Fiction and Culture (1990s-2000s)” (ref. FFI2017-86417-P), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, this conference addresses past, present and future orientations of (neo-)Victorian literature and culture. Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn’s … Read more

Penny Dreadful Review: ’This World Is Our Hell’ (Season 3, Episode 5)

As part of my forthcoming book project, I’ve been revisiting the Penny Dreadful series and comics. This included looking back at my online reviews of the show’s third and final season, which I will be posting here over the coming weeks. This post originally appeared on The Victorianist, 3 June 2016. It has been edited and corrected for reposting.

After last week’s welcome respite from the grand narrative, Penny Dreadful returns to the story of Ethan Talbot, with a secondary plot that follows Jekyll and Frankenstein in their quest to find a permanent cure for social deviance. Ethan and Hecate are still being pursued by various authority figures, and an uncertain welcome awaits them at their destination. Jekyll and Frankenstein are still working on a way to prolong the effects of Jekyll’s serum, and it seems they may finally have succeeded.

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CfP: ‘Of Gods and Monsters’

For those who followed the Gothic Bible conference with interest, here’s another CfP that might catch your eye: ‘Of Gods and Monsters’ Texas State University, 4-6 April 2019 San Marcos, TX Judith Halberstam famously claimed that monsters are “meaning machines” that can be used to represent a variety of ideas, including morality, gender, race, and … Read more

Penny Dreadful Review: ‘A Blade of Grass’ (Season 3, Episode 4)

As part of my forthcoming book project, I’ve been revisiting the Penny Dreadful series and comics. This included looking back at my online reviews of the show’s third and final season, which I will be posting here over the coming weeks. This post originally appeared on The Victorianist, 27 May 2016. It has been edited and corrected for reposting.

Last week I wished for a quieter episode that focused on one or two characters in a bit more depth. This week, that wish was granted. Seasons one and two both used an early episode to explore a part of Vanessa’s past, and this season does the same. ‘A Blade of Grass’ is a frame narrative that starts and ends as a hypnotherapy session between Vanessa Ives and Dr Seward, and the two women are attempting to discover where Vanessa first met The Master (a.k.a. Dracula).

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