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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Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Ronan Karas

Edited by Karli Wessale

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

“Strange to be exiled from your own sex to borders that will never be home” (Feinberg, 19XX, pg. 11).

Leslie Feinberg’s words echo in my head. I think about how strange yet familiar the feeling is of finding a work of fiction that you relate to on such a deep and personal level. I’m a trans man and I first started transitioning two years ago, in which time I’ve searched libraries, websites, lists upon lists of queer authors and gender theorists, all in the search for an answer to a question I can’t quite put into words. I wanted to find an account of someone who felt like I did. When you’re straight and cisgender, your sexuality and gender are never called into question by the literature surrounding you, but when you’re trans or queer, your identity becomes academic. Something to be debated around a table of people who don’t identify as you do. As a friend put it: “Cis people have gender, trans people have gender identities.”

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Quicksand by Nella Larsen

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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Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story) – a film by Kaushik Ganguly

Ibtisam Ahmed

Edited by Avani Udgaonkar

Art: ‘377’ by Laila Borrie https://www.facebook.com/underthepeacocktree/

Film image at https://bppostscript.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dsc_007872.jpg

In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled that the colonial-era anti-homosexuality law, Section 377, was unconstitutional and, therefore, void. In 2013, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the High Court does not have constitutional jurisdiction and reinstated the law. The four-year period between these judicial decisions remains the only time in the history of the former British Raj (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as Sri Lanka under British Ceylonese jurisdiction) that openly queer sexuality was not punishable by law. The 2010 release of the Bengali film, Arekti Premer Golpo (Just another Love Story), the first ever post-377 film that explores these identities, provides an interesting examination of queerness from an Indian perspective that is not palatable apologia, misconceived and prejudicial humour, or radical subversion. Rather, it explores the various ways in which queerness can be experienced in the region in an organic and personal way – and I specifically say queerness instead of LGBTQIA because the acronym does not speak to the spirit of different sexualities and genders that make the community in India so vibrant, even in its oppression.

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Safia Munro

Edited by Cristina Dodson Castillón

Art by Holly Summerson hollysummerson.wix.com/arts

Mohsin Hamid has long been a prime example of an author who has managed to flawlessly bridge the ideological disconnect between the so-called ‘East’ and ‘West.’ His latest work, Exit West, could not have been published at a more pertinent time.  Global conflict, reactionary nationalism and a growing refugee crisis are central in guiding the text’s narrative. While the novel incorporates aspects of magical realism, through the piercing reality of the novel’s themes, Hamid fashions a dystopian reality that so vastly mirrors our own. The authenticity of Hamid’s work largely arises from the fact that Hamid tends to construct characters that are not constrained by involuntary factors such as gender, religion or nationality. Instead Hamid’s work is scattered with individuals that very much resemble the complex people we encounter in our everyday lives; conservatively dressed liberals, loving women who resist motherhood, high-lying drug addicts, atheists, theists and everything else in between.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Emily Miller

Edited by Carolina Palacios

Art by Cat Faulkner https://www.jellyarmchair.com/

“The situation’s a lot more nuanced than that!” shouts the series’ protagonist in the first season theme song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The Emmy, Golden Globe, and Critic’s Choice Award winning series focuses on highly successful and deeply unwell Rebecca Bunch, who, after running into Josh Chan, her ex-boyfriend from summer camp, decides to move across the country from New York City to West Covina, California, to pursue Josh again. Rebecca spends much of the first season attempting to both fit into Josh’s life and convince the people around her that there weren’t any ulterior motives in her moving to West Covina. Meanwhile, Josh struggles with his parents’ and girlfriend’s expectations of him, while trying to figure out Rebecca’s place in his life.

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On the Poetry of John Wieners

Dominic Hale

Edited by Avani Udgaonkar

Art by Figgy Guyver http://www.instagram.com/themineralfact/

In 2015, a new edition of John Wieners’ (1934-2002) selected poems was published by Seattle’s Wave Books in the US, and by Enitharmon Press in Europe. Supplication collects work from as far back as 1958 by one of the more inimitable, underrated, and devastating American poets of the last century, a writer who allies an almost anachronistic queer lyric abject to the hopeful projectivist experimentation of Charles Olson. Having studied at Black Mountain College and lived in Boston, New York, and San Francisco, Wieners is variously grouped with the Black Mountain, Beat and New York poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance, his writing often apparently overshadowed by better known figures such as Olson, Frank O’Hara, and Allen Ginsberg. This is a great shame. When set alongside a radical politics and praxis anathema to the neoliberal academy, and an experimentalism that repels classification, it’s evident why Wieners isn’t a widely taught writer. He ought to be, in my opinion, one of the most popular poets of the post-war period, and I’m profoundly grateful for his work’s courage, delicacy, and strength.

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‘Cashmere’ by the Swet Shop Boys

Ketaki Zodgekar

Edited by Karli Wessale

Art by Raj Dhunna http://rajdhunna.co.uk/

Cashmere is a rap album by the ‘Swet Shop Boys’: a duo comprised of Riz Ahmed, a British actor, known for his work in ‘Four Lions’ and Heems, an American rapper, known for being a member of ‘Das Racist’, both are of South Asian descent. The Swet Shop Boys rap about contemporary social and political issues which face the South Asian diaspora, sound tracked by traditional music from the Indian Subcontinent.

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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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Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Rae Glasman
Editing by Karli Wessale

Art by Cat Faulkner https://www.jellyarmchair.com/

I would like to advocate for the inclusion of the 2015 musical play Hamilton in the list of works available for study in the English Literature curriculum at the University of Edinburgh, particularly in contemporary theatre and American literature courses. Hamilton retells the life story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, in the form of a hip-hop and R&B-style musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the play’s creator, is an American composer of Puerto Rican heritage. He plays the title character in the New York production, whose cast is almost solely made up of actors of African American, Latin American or Asian American heritage.

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