Caucasia

Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo

Edited by Ketaki Zodgekar

Illustration by Maïa Walcott https://maiawalcott98.wixsite.com/mysite

Danzy Senna’s first novel, Caucasia (1998), is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Birdie with a black academic father and a white mother who is the estranged descendant of a prominent Bostonian family. The story follows the highly problematic construction of the young girl’s identity after being separated from her sister and black father and growing up with her white mother on the road around New England assuming different racial identities, which she is able to do due to her ambiguous ethnicity and her ability to “pass” for white.  It is a story deeply indebted to the history of the American Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, and its philosophical preoccupations, providing poignant commentary on the trope of “lighting out,” a term taken from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, meaning going west, shedding history, and switching identities. While, during my undergraduate education, I studied a number of texts that addressed these genres and themes, Caucasia highlights the racialisation of the traditional American Bildungsroman and the American identity that it constructs in a way that none of the other texts I studied did.

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Interview with Professor Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o

Interview by Tanuj Raut

Edited by Rianna Walcott

Art by Maïa Walcott https://maiawalcott98.wixsite.com/mysite

I think that Greek mythology should be taught comparatively with African, Norse, Scandinavian, Icelandic and Asian mythologies. They are all very exciting and it is not necessary to put them in a hierarchical relationship to each other. Let them network.

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Launch Night Excerpts

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi https://www.priyankameenakshi.com/

We celebrated Project Myopia with a beautiful launch event towards the end of semester 2. It was a night of music and poetry, as well as an opportunity for some of our contributors to elaborate on their essays and ideas. Our performers touched on a wide range of serious issues: from the exclusion of racial minorities’ contribution to the canon of literature, to the oppressive nature of zero-hour contracts that prevent tutors from being able to fully engage in helping all students get ahead, let alone those from a minority background who need assistance most. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who performed and shared their experiences, and we also have to thank everyone who attended and helped us drink the wine we provided! Project Myopia aims to bring marginalized people together and amplify their voices, and our launch felt like a perfect culmination of our semester’s work: people came together and shared their experiences of an academic world we need to change.

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‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ by Mary Wollstonecraft, and ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ by Sojourner Truth

Mattia Ventre

Edited by Toby Sharpe

Art by Alice Markey

Two figures spring to mind as the key voices of feminism and women’s rights in modern history that every student should discover: Mary Wollstonecraft, and Sojourner Truth. In my experience, however, a undergraduate student would struggle to hear about these women fully in class, let alone appreciate the impact of their ideas on our society. Women’s experiences have been erased from our curricula, and great thought from women is denigrated even today.

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Quicksand

Sarah Thomson

Edited by Rianna Walcott

Art by Jazmine Sheckleford www.facebook.com/jasmineillustrations13

Despite taking courses titled ‘International Modernism’, ‘World Gothic’ and ‘Comparative Feminist Drama’, it wasn’t until enrolling in a ‘Black American Fiction’ seminar in the final semester of my degree that I was first assigned a text written by a woman of colour, Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929). Although I initially I felt guilt that I’d apparently chosen classes with so little diversity, I soon realised that Passing would have made a fitting addition to a range of courses I’d studied previously. A concise but complex novel, Passing packs articulate discussions of class, gender, sexuality and race into just over 100 pages. It’s an injustice to the quality of Larsen’s prose to see it pigeonholed into the category of ‘black’ fiction, rather than used to enhance a course on something else entirely. The fact that it took enrolling in a seminar built around race before it was addressed in one of my classrooms speaks to the prevailing issue of the erasure of minority voices in academe.

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Iona Glen

Edited by Karli Wessale

Art by Anonymous

There is always the other side, always (Rhys 106)

Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys is a dark, compelling novel that charts the backstory of the infamous ‘madwoman in the attic’ of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), exploring themes of colonialism, gender, and power. Rhys wrote the novel in response to Brontë’s oblique representation of the Caribbean and Mr Rochester’s first wife, investigating processes of oppression through the character of Antoinette Mason, renamed Bertha by her husband as a means of controlling her identity. In Rhys’ version of the story, Antoinette’s marriage to an unnamed Englishman in the 1830s unravels dramatically following revelations of her mother’s alleged promiscuity and mental disintegration. She becomes Brontë’s ‘intemperate and unchaste’ creation who thwarts Jane’s marriage to Rochester, spiralling into madness and, eventually, arson and suicide (Brontë 270).

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Letters I Never Sent To You

Frederick Alexander

Edited by Toby Sharpe

Art: ‘Want and Need’ by Olivia Twist http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

I would like to introduce Paula Varjack’s Letters I Never Sent To You as a text that may be used in an academic curriculum. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, I became involved with the Scottish and UK live literature performance network. Through this scene, I became aware of Varjack’s theatre work, in particular her solo performance ‘Show Me The Money,’ a piece of documentary theatre that explores the economics of artistry under austerity. I was excited for the release in 2015 of her debut collection, Letters I Never Sent To You, especially in the context of her previous work.

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Kerry James Marshall: A New Old Master

Emma Nance 

Art: ‘Asleep’, by Horace Pippin

Editing by Rianna Walcott

We are unable to embed the work of Kerry James Marshall here for copyright reasons. To view the works of art discussed in this review, please click the links provided.

Update 6/11/17: The Seattle Art Museum is scheduled to exhibit Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas. At Artsy you can find more information about Kerry Marshall, including a biography, over 60 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Marshall exhibition listings.

A riot of domestic hues. We take in the boxy blue couch, the yellow table with the half-eaten meal, the worn, braided rug, the music swirling above the heads of the lovers. We can vaguely make out the tune if we strain and cock our heads, but the song is not meant for us. We are intruding on their private space, and yet she is accustomed to this interruption, so she lets her eyes slide to the left and relaxes into her partner’s body. Faceless and steady, he imperceptibly sways her hips to the rhythm. She exudes subdued serenity. Finally. Alone together. We quietly slip out and leave them to their slow dance. 

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/kerry-james-marshall-slow-dance

Slow Dance, 1992-1993, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry 

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“The Danger of a Single Story”: A Speech By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for TED Talks

Maggie Hunt

Editing by Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo

Art: ‘Aunty’ by Olivia Twist

http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

In “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns against the misunderstanding of others, noting how generations of misrepresentation and stereotypes have dominated mainstream Western society. A consciousness of this issue is crucial to contextualising literature, media and their transmission in academia and in life. This TED Talk is a lesson in challenging these ‘single stories,’ and Adichie’s experiences of and insight into the subject illustrate the problems single stories create.

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Chewing Gum

Maygan Eugenie Forbes
Editing by Rianna Walcott

Art: ‘Relax Yourself’ by Olivia Twist

http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

The first episode of Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum opens with Tracey staring longingly at the crotch of her righteous boyfriend whilst he prays away impure thoughts, a scene frequently intercut with a frenzied montage of Tracey in orgasmic throes with her lover. She is swiftly brought out of her fevered daydream and shoved back down to Earth, when her celibate partner ends the prayer with a clipped “Amen”.  As she is leaving her boyfriend’s house, Tracey turns to the camera and says, “sometimes he lets me stay and watch him sleep, I could never do that though because when I sleep I get wet dreams.”

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