Issue 25, Volume 1 (June 2017): Rise and Fall
Image by Eloise Coveny. See below for her artist’s statement.
For the 25th issue of eSharp we wanted to create a platform for lively debate prompted by the turbulence of this year’s capricious social, political and cultural climate. The theme of ‘Rise and Fall’ became an invitation for postgraduate students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to engage with the narratives of the day and those that have landed us where we now are. As an interdisciplinary journal with contributors from across the globe, eSharp allows for a welcome variety in approaches and perspectives on the affairs that shape our current environment.
Each article navigates the theme in a unique way to reflect ebbs and flows in movements, conflicts, resistance and decay. In ‘Dystopian (Non)Fiction?’ Kate Marx discusses the decline of nonhuman life in the literary worlds of McCarthy and Shteyngart, reflecting on their uncomfortably possible prophetic qualities. Counter to such dystopian warning, Matthew Hedrick’s ‘Subjugation of the Possible’ offers a vision of hope through a ‘revolution of consciousness’. He challenges us to re-evaluate the falling away of the enlightenment project, and create new collective narratives that can effect real systemic and institutional change.
Returning to literature, though through a different lens, Gemma Elliott’s study of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage novel sequence provides not a global, but a more personal perspective in the rise and decline of an author’s profile and critical reputation, which is paralleled in the undulations of style within the sequence itself.
In ‘The Mellow High and the Psychedelic War’, the personal and the political combine as Debayudh Chatterjee investigates the growing use of drugs among Vietnam veterans, approached through the memoirs of veterans themselves. The paper explores Foucauldian resistance to power over the body achievable through the dissident imbibing of illicit substances. Foucault’s work again finds resonance in ‘Advocating Occupation: Outsourcing Zionist Propaganda in the UK’, in which Jane Jackman tackles a surge in support of grassroots political movements attempting to sculpt foreign policy. The trend is discussed within the framework of the relationship between discourse and power.
The nature of power, now in terms of civil rights and liberty, is broached in Laura Fearnley’s ‘Deliberative Democracy: A Post-modern Utopia?’, which charts the decline of classical utopian political theory and the subsequent rise of post-modern utopianism and interest in the concept of deliberative democracy.
Normahfuzah Ahmad’s ‘The Decline of Conventional News Media and Challenges of Immersing in New Technology’ takes a critical look at the growth of digital news platforms, and consequent changes in news production and consumption. The importance of ‘user generated content’ in this new landscape becomes apparent, and poses challenges both to content and journalistic quality. The vagaries of news reporting that has waxed and waned in its sympathies towards migrants provides the context for Sam Parker’s study of refugee life, ‘Falling Behind’. His article also brings home again one of the issues that engendered the choice of this issue’s theme: a decline in regard for civil rights. Highlighting a fall in public and political sympathy towards asylum seekers, the development of a hostile environment is tracked through an interrogation of recent government policies and reflected through interviews with refugees and asylum seekers living in Wales.
The breadth of subjects covered in this issue of eSharp synthesizes a compelling analysis of social, political and cultural trends, and indeed the relationships between them, highlighting the value of interdisciplinary collaborations. This September will see Volume II of ‘Rise and Fall’ continue the conversation.
Lead Editors: Clare Brown and Rebecca Whiting
Editorial Board: Rachel Fletcher, Marine Furet, Kevin Gallagher, Saskia McCracken, Hannah Pyle, Pernille Ravn, Sarah Spence, and Emma Ward.
Dystopian (Non)Fiction? Shteyngart, McCarthy and the Fall of the Animal Kingdom
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The subjugation of the possible
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‘Creating unnecessary difficulties’: The Rise and Fall of Dorothy Richardson’s Critical Success
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The mellow high and the psychedelic war: The Rise of Marijuana, the (Counter)-Culture of Dissidence, and the Fall of the American Army in the Vietnam War
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Advocating Occupation: Outsourcing Zionist Propaganda in the UK
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Deliberative Democracy: A Post-modern Utopia?
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The decline of conventional news media and challenges of immersing in new technology
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Falling Behind: The Decline of the Rights of Asylum Seekers in the UK and Its Impact on Their Day-to-day Lives
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The views expressed in the articles belong to their authors alone. They do not reflect the position of eSharp, the University of Glasgow, or its College of Arts.
Copyright © in all contributions resides with the contributors.
Artist: Eloise Coveny
A practice-led researcher of critical theory, Eloise’s artistic practice combines the uses of documentary mediums that record image and sound to explore ontologies and poetics of time. These temporal nuances emerge from uncanny forces that she seeks to activate as she produces, collects and curates artefacts—in the form of objects, images and sounds—to compose spatial allegories. These installations work to speak across tensions at play to kindle personal narratives that in turn deconstruct ‘official’ narratives of history. Here Eloise draws on technology and the literary/art works of Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, Mariana Castillo Deball and Patrick Keiller.
The theme ‘Rise and Fall’ reflects those transitional spaces throughout Glasgow city that are sites of construction, destruction, decay or stasis. These artworks aim to privilege voices that have been lost through official histories and the oppressive course of history for the working class. Walter Benjamin’s text “Destructive Character” presents us with a series of traits belonging to the essential destroyer of things, and thus a restorer of open space allowing new paths to form that lead us through the rubble.
‘The destructive character sees nothing permanent. But for this very reason he/she sees ways everywhere. Where others encounter walls or mountains, there, too, he/she sees a way.’ (Benjamin)
Published June 2017
Cover artwork by Eloise Coveny