Hannah Ackermans | From Letters to Vlog Entries: Truthfulness as a Literary Trope in Fictional Life Writing

28.1 Writing the Self

Abstract

This article proposes that the vlog adaptation is a remediation of the epistolary novel by examining the logic of immediacy. although immediacy is often approached as a mediumspecific characteristic of digital media, this article illustrates that both the epistolary novel and the vlog adaptation implement narrative characteristics of non-fictional genres to create an experience of immediacy. This experience of immediacy is taken to the next level by the vlog adaptation, in which the narrative’s serialization creates a temporal experience parallel to the viewer’s temporal experience. The truthfulness associated with life writing thus becomes a literary trope in fiction.

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August 18th, 2017

Masterclass by Sophie van den Elzen | On the Limits of Autobiography and Not Getting to Age: How Hervé Guibert did not Go Gently in À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie and Cytomégalovirus

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

This paper discusses two works by Hervé Guibert, a French author who was an influential voice in the public debates surrounding AIDS in the early 1990s. It examines how his post-diagnosis novels play with the autobiographical genre, rejecting the conception of autobiography as a monument to the aged man, a stable subject reflecting on and recasting his life as purposeful and fulfilled. Instead, Guibert highlights his lack of control or authorship over his life and confronts his own youth mainly through the antithetical way he portrays his friend and mentor, Michel Foucault, reclaiming subjectivity in a series of political texts.

August 18th, 2017

Gregory Stephens | Fathering Rescripted: The Shadow of the Son in Coetzee’s Late Fiction

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

The issue of late fatherhood and the role children play in creative works of senior writers frame my discussion of representations of fathering in the late work of J.M. Coetzee. I focus on Coetzee’s allegorical treatment of fractured father-son relationships in The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus. Drawing on the literary nonfiction which I teach, and have employed to narrate my own experience of “senior fathering,” I critique the dystopian outcomes of the father-figure’s (Simón’s) compulsive self-erasure. His “blind faith” in a mother’s innate superiority represents not only the author’s reflections on his own shortcomings as a father, but his interrogation of the absence of the father in literary traditions.

August 18th, 2017

Marta Miquel-Baldellou | Disrupting Dictates of Gender and Ageing through Creativity: Daphne du Maurier’s Writing Persona in The Breaking Point

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

In her collection The Breaking Point (1959), Daphne du Maurier gives rise to a series of short stories which feature ageing characters facing a critical period in their lives, that subvert traditional dictates of gender and ageing. Du Maurier identified her writing persona in this later stage of creativity as “neither girl nor boy but disembodied spirit,” thus acknowledging how traditional cultural dictates could be blurred through creativity. This article explores the matrix of ageing, gender, and creativity with respect to du Maurier’s stories “The Alibi,” “The Menace,” and “The Chamois” in order to describe her writing persona at this particular moment of creativity, especially through feminist critic Betty Friedan’s precepts in her book The Fountain of Age (1993). Friedan argues that a gender-role crossover often takes place in the years following parenthood, as men and women adopt qualities that they felt required to suppress years earlier in order to fulfil their respective culturally-assigned gender roles.

August 18th, 2017

Rudolph Glitz | Ageing and Identity as a Problem for Social Justice

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

This article highlights a problem with social justice criticism in the humanities that treats age inequalities as if they were analogous to inequalities between different races or genders. It claims that what is missing from such criticism is an awareness of the peculiar temporality of age and its implications with regard to the distribution of goods. After outlining the problem with reference to the most sophisticated liberal account of social justice—namely John Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness—the article discusses three ways of addressing the problem and concludes with a preliminary evaluation of these.

August 18th, 2017

Art and the Anthropocene — Anthropocene Week at the Minerva Art Academy Groningen

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by Lauren Hoogen Stoevenbeld and Clara Vlessing

On 17th February the Minerva Art Academy, an art school in Groningen, exhibited the results of a week’s work around the theme of the Anthropocene. Following our own issue “Perspectives on the Anthropocene” in Winter 2016, Frame’s interest was piqued. Having explored academic discussions surrounding the Anthropocene, we were curious as to how it could be represented artistically. Would the Anthropocene mean the same thing or have the similar associations for artists? What new elements or perspectives could their art bring to the debates surrounding the Anthropocene? How could the Anthropocene be artistically represented? Keen to find answers to some of these questions we headed to Groningen to talk to the students and teachers of the Minerva Art Academy.

We were greeted by José de Lange, the exhibition’s organiser, who explained the week’s structure to us. The week had taken the form of a series of lectures and workshops, after which the students worked on projects in groups under the guidance of a project supervisor. It took only a brief conversation with De Lange to reveal her fascination with the Anthropocene. She argued that we, the human race, are at turning point in terms of our relationship with the planet: we can either keep doing what we’ve always done or start looking for new solutions. In many ways, the Minerva Art Academy’s project was a process of acknowledging the problem and looking for such solutions. “The Anthropocene,” said De Lange, “is inside all of us.”

Innovation for Groningen
One of the projects that strived most for innovation was No Guts No Glory: A Delta Plan for Groningen, led by designer Renate Boere. The province of Groningen suffers from earthquakes caused by fracking. Houses are falling apart but the government has not yet taken sufficient measures. No Guts No Glory presents creative solutions from students for this problem, such as filling the gaps in houses with chewing gum or building houses on springs. The ideas are collected as drawings in the form of a 200-page book, which the project’s participants try to send to as many politicians as possible, wrapped in paper that has also been designed by the students. Like the abandoned nuclear plant that was turned into an amusement park, as mentioned by Anna Volkmar in “Ironic Encounters in the Anthropocene,” in Frame 29.2, these creative ways of dealing with the negative consequences of human activity add a constructive voice to the Anthropocene debate.

Human Traces in a Human Environment
Other projects focused less on finding solutions to the damage we do to the Earth and more on highlighting the nuances and intricacies of our relationship with it. Several of the students felt the traces we leave on the planet as at the heart of the Anthropocene. For instance, one group of students collected abandoned bicycle parts found on the streets of Groningen. For the exhibition, they had brought these parts together, and suspended on string the parts formed the shape of a new bike floating in space. “Bikes are better for the environment than cars,” one of the students told us, “but they still leave traces all over the city.” Interestingly the students suggested that the metal parts of the bike were the hardest to find because they were normally recycled: proof that some human effort is being made to clear away such traces.

For another project, led by teacher and artist Pol Taverne, the students were inspired by a walk through the Wadden Sea area in which they collected natural materials. This was followed by a print workshop in which the students produced prints based on their findings. When we spoke to her, Taverne pointed to the artificiality of this exercise: the cliché of going back to nature for inspiration. She suggested that the project subverted the dominant idea that all human traces left on the planet are necessarily negative, blurring the boundaries between human artifice and the natural world.

The (A)politics of Art
Throughout our interviews, teachers and students alike stressed either the political or apolitical aspects of their projects. De Lange argued that we are at a turning point and need to start looking forward instead of backward. However, she also asked whether it is fair to ask this generation of artists to solve the mess they have not created. Artist and project leader Marko Lulic also felt that asking the students to change the world in three days would put far too much pressure on them. Professor Ann-Sophie Lehmann, on the other hand, took a much stronger stance: “We have to take responsibility,” she stated, even though, she added, at times that might feel uncomfortable. Some of the students certainly shared this opinion, as can be seen from the project No Guts No Glory. Marko Lulic said that many of the projects were much more political than he had expected, although he also stated: “There is, of course, no art that isn’t political.” Although art can be political to different extents, he argued, even claiming to be apolitical is a political decision: “Like science, art is not neutral.”

Art and Academia
Another recurring theme in our interviews revolved around the difference in approaches to the Anthropocene between artists and academics. De Lange was emphatic on the extent to which artists look at an issue from “all angles,” in constant dialogue with each other, united by their curiosity and unlikely to find a single answer. American literary scholar Cary Wolfe, whom Frame interviewed for their Anthropocene issue, took a similar stance: “I think, as I argued in What Is Posthumanism?, that art is an absolutely crucial part of this conversation. And it’s crucial because the medium that I work in, compared to the media that artists work in, is a very impoverished medium: it’s words, it’s texts. For artists, the value of art, or one of the values of art in these conversations, is that art can engage in “non-propositional conceptualization” of problems, in ways that are not limited by the textual medium, and that are not limited by the logical form of argumentation and so on.” Our interviewees confirmed this belief, insisting on art’s ability to show us obscurities and subjectivities in a way that writing is perhaps less able to, bound as it is by definition and the structures of language.

Despite having only discussed a fraction of the creative artworks and conversations we encountered at the Minerva Art Academy, it is clear that the idea of the Anthropocene has spread out of university lecture halls and is being used in ways that go beyond the imagination of anyone but an artist. Although it is unreasonable to look to artists to come up with solutions for environmental issues that have developed over decades, if we can find people willing to take the responsibility, create awareness, and come up with solutions, sometimes idealistic, sometimes practical, we will be very lucky. And in many respects Minerva’s Anthropocene week did just this – confusing, extending and bringing new questions and perspectives to our own conception of the Anthropocene – demanding attention on an urgent situation that is not about to disappear.

May 16th, 2017

Ben de Bruyn | Learning to Be a Species in the Anthropocene: On Annie Proulx’s Barkskins

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

This paper examines how contemporary literary fiction responds to the climate crisis and the attendant call for a seemingly universalist “species view” of human beings. What does it mean to think of the human as a species, how can we find traces of species being in literature, and how do they interact with other dimensions of human lives? To address these questions, the paper confronts recent accounts of historical context, animal characters, and capitalist time with Annie Proulx’s Barkskins (2016). As this confrontation shows, Proulx’s novel teaches its readers to be a species— without ignoring differences of race, class, and gender.

December 7th, 2016

Anna Volkmar | Ironic Encounters in the Anthropocene: Jürgen Nefzger’s Nuclear Landscape Photography

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

In this article, I explore the question of how art may help us to map and, indeed, inhabit the problematic subject position that the Anthropocene confronts us with. I focus on the landscape photography collected in Jürgen Nefzger’s Fluffy Clouds (2010) and its use of irony to obstruct the power dynamics at work in traditional landscape aesthetics. I suggest that Fluffy Clouds helps us to think subjectivity in the Anthropocene from a non-unitary position, i.e. a position that is not based on notions of individuality and identity, but is by default relational. My reading will be helped by Ernst van Alphen’s interpretation of perspective as a subject-constituting device and Paul de Man’s notion of the twofold, ironic self.

December 7th, 2016

Rosi Braidotti | Anthropos Redux: A Defence of Monism in the Anthropocene Epoch

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

This essay starts from the assumption that the historical situation of today is unprecedented in ecological, economic, sociopolitical, as well as affective terms. The era known as the Anthropocene requires new ways of thinking in order to account for new practices and discourses related to this situation. By offering a defence of Spinozist monism, this essay attempts to strike a critical balance between new and internally contradictory contemporary concerns, such as the fast technological developments on the one hand and the perpetuation of more familiar patterns of oppression, like structural economic inequalities, on the other. Both aspects of the present predicament will receive critical attention in the cartography of the Anthropocenic era that I will discuss here and which I read in terms of the posthuman condition.

December 7th, 2016

Lawrence Buell | Anthropocene Panic: Contemporary Ecocriticism and the Issue of Human Numbers

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

Environmental humanists rightly believe they have valuable contributions to make to rethinking and redressing Anthropocene Age excess. Ecocriticism’s recent maturation as an interdiscipline has put it in a stronger position to do so than ever before. Its “material” turn in the 2000s bears this out up to a point, but its interventions also seem somewhat self-limiting. This essay argues that ecocritics and environmental humanists more generally have foregone a promising opportunity by avoiding the controversial issue of unsustainable human population growth as a sociohistorical phenomenon and an impetus to creative imagination.

December 7th, 2016

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