Issue 11

Denise deCaires Narain : Introduction: special issue of FORUM on Identity

'Identity' is a word that we have learned - with good reason - to be wary of. Its suggestion of solidity and fixity makes it a dangerous and divisive concept that elides the flux and instability that characterizes selfhood. In academic discourses, identity has been theorized exhaustively and the idea of the subject as de-centred and constantly shifting is taken-for-granted. But still 'identity' won't go away.

Daniel Portland : Come, Armageddon! Come! Queer Nihilism and the Margin of the Urban

I begin this paper with an epigraph from Federico García Lorca that highlights the coupling of two of the subjects covered herein:


It doesn’t matter if every minute a newborn child waves the little branches of its veins, or if a newborn viper, uncoiling beneath the branches, calms the blood lust of those who watch the naked man. What matters is this: emptied space. (65)


Jayme Yahr : Appropriating Identity: William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, and Britain’s Myth of the Self-Made Man

Britain’s self-made man was defined by taste, money, influence, and most importantly, middle-class rank in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution. During the mid-1700s, a change began to take place between the social classes, stripping the aristocracy of their role as Britain’s foremost connoisseurs and trendsetters. The shift from aristocratic indulgences to those of the newly wealthy middle class stemmed from a number of factors. For one, the economy was changing during the 18th-century.

Meaghan Thurston : ‘At Home in Dust’: Francesca Woodman’s House Series, Revisited

A reassessment of Francesca Woodman’s work is due, particularly with respect to how her photographs contribute to theorizing “the space of the subject” (Kirby 11). Woodman’s House Series, which she completed in Rhode Island between 1975 and 1978, then a young student photographer of the Rhode Island School of Design, provides fertile ground to assess the importance of ‘space’ to Woodman’s work and its critical reception.

Travis Martin : The Sparrow’s Fall: Self’s Mergence with Identity in Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches

In This Republic of Suffering Drew Faust describes Civil War hospitals as “especially dangerous places…nurses—Louisa May Alcott prominent among them—regularly fell victim to typhoid, smallpox, and even heart failure brought on by the conditions and demands of their employment” (140). In the environment Faust describes, Louisa May Alcott “would have given much to have possessed the art of sketching, for many…faces became wonderfully interesting” (33).

Jonathan Lewis : Identity and Identification in Azouz Begag’s Le Gone du Chaâba and Béni ou le paradis privé

Man is human only to the extent to which he tries to impose his existence on another man in order to be recognised by him [...] It is on that other being, on recognition by that other being, that his own human worth and reality depend. (Fanon 216-17)

James Bailey : "What a story it could be": Identity and Narrative Strategy in Ali Smith’s Like

Remarking upon its dual narrative structure, muddled chronology and conflicting accounts of past events, Ali Smith described her debut novel Like as “a nasty warring book, a book of two sides” (qtd. in Murray 222). The connection made here between the “warring” nature of the novel and the opposing narratives that constitute its “two sides” is crucial, and reveals that the conflict described by Smith relates as much to Like’s fragmented structure as it does its content.

James Leveque : Surrealism and the ‘Fissured Subject’: Breton, Éluard, and Desnos

The idea of an unstable, divided, or decentred self precedes Surrealism, infusing much of the thought of its avant-garde forebears. Apollinaire’s poetry ‘begins from the premise of the dismemberment of Orpheus, from the fact of the existence of the only possible poetic voice as one which is disseminated throughout an experience which defies unification’ (Revie 185). Surrealism, for its part, applied ‘the fissured subject of psychoanalysis’ (Cohen 6) as early as 1919, when Breton and Soupault began the automatic writing experiments of The Magnetic Fields (1920).

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