Issue 28 Estrangement & Reconciliation

Editors Introduction

Estrangement & Reconcilliation

The theme for the 28th issue of eSharp was chosen in late 2019, against the backdrop of a fresh general election in the United Kingdom and the looming spectre of Brexit. The editorial board was also aware of the continuing issues of immigration around the world, especially the needs and experiences of refugees and asylum seekers.

In this context, we reached out for the ideas of 'Estrangement and Reconciliation' as a means of recognising the former as it was brought into sharp focus in the world around us, and perhaps hope that the latter could be achieved not only in our own small realities, but perhaps also in the world at large.  Little did we know how much more appropriate this theme would become, with the arrival of COVID-19 on the world stage in early 2020.

As cities around the world shut down in an attempt to protect their citizens from what continues to prove a dangerous and often lethal virus, our sense of estrangement from our own realities and loved ones has become heightened, and our yearning for the reconciliation that we are yet to experience seems only to grow.

In addition to affecting our personal lives, COVID-19 has further affected the ability of the editorial board to hold necessary meetings, as well as contributors’ access to research premises and vital sources housed in libraries and archives. This completed issue is a testament to our contributors’ dedication. 

This theme was further selected for its ability to encourage work from a wide field of disciplinary backgrounds and subject interests, which allows for many types of estrangement and reconciliation to be considered by the works included. We see this breadth of interpretation made manifest through explorations of international relations, minorities in society, the relationship between society and the environment, gender, and more.

In her article, ‘Estrangement and Reconciliation in the Culture Clashes of Science Fiction: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed’, Claire Y. Z. Tan contrasts the aforementioned texts’ different engagement with the concept of ‘cognitive estrangement’. As strategic representations of cultural clash, Tan argues that both novels demonstrate the importance of change and uncertainty in any process of reconciliation. Emily L. Pickard, author of ‘Yearning to Belong: Willa Muir’s Struggle with the Motherland’, explores the contrast between estrangement and reconciliation in the autobiographical and literary works of Willa Muir. Pickard focuses on Muir’s relationship with Scotland from a gender, cultural, and linguistic perspective, while also illustrating the role played by family, feminism, nationality, and the fluidity of home in contouring both the author’s place in Scottish Literature and in the wider European landscape of women’s writing.

Andrea Di Carlo’s article, ‘The Self-Analyst and the Doctor: Montaigne and Browne in Dialogue’, explores how the early modern writers Michel de Montaigne and Thomas Browne reconciled their beliefs and themselves with a world fraught with sociopolitical upheaval. In doing so, Carlo compares the two authors to Paul Ricœur’s ‘Masters of Suspicion’ and concludes that both Montaigne and Browne were able to reach reconciliation with their society through self-analysis and doubt.

In ‘The Great War and the Western Front: Lieux de Mémoire as Symbols for Reconciliation’, Sarah Fissmer analyses three sites in Northern France dedicated to the memory of the Great War. Fissmer concludes that the three chosen ‘lieux de mémoire’ show that national perspectives on the First World War do not necessarily have to insist on distinguishing attributes between countries. Instead they can be interwoven into a common narrative that emphasises the importance of peace, reconciliation and international cooperation in today’s world.

In his article, ‘Gender, Race, and Participatory Neomedievalism in Dungeons & Dragons’, Lars Johnson examines the convergence of the popular modern tabletop game and the concept of Participatory Neomedievalism. Johnson further uses this concept to discuss the eSharp Issue 28 Estrangement and Reconciliation ways in which players of Dungeons & Dragons, through their constant creation of neomedieval worlds, estrange themselves both from accurate portrayals of the medieval past as well as constructions and experiences of race and gender in the modern world.

In ‘The Male Gaze, Gender Dynamics and Narrative Control in Muriel Spark’s Reality and Dreams’, Steven Harvie focuses on the regularly overlooked Muriel Spark novel Reality and Dreams to examine how literature and cinema offer ways of seeing which can alienate us from ourselves and disturb our sense of reality. Through analysis which draws on Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze, Harvie finds Reality and Dreams has much to say to the contemporary #MeToo movement, suggesting that Spark’s style of ironic satire has the potential to dismantle patriarchal modes of looking and being looked at.

Theo Fenerty’s article, 'Masters and Sons: Reconciling the Family in There Will Be Blood, The Master and Phantom Thread', approaches the works of Paul Thomas Anderson through the lens of Trauma and Critical Adoption Studies. Fenerty explores the parallelisms, boundaries, and convergences between the biological and adoptive families portrayed in these films in an attempt to understand the experience of estrangement suffered by their members and to reflect on the (im)possibility of reconciliation.

In ‘The [E]strange Case of Han Kang’s Vegetarian and Her Discontents’, Sonashki Srivastava gives a detailed analysis of Kang’s novel in the context of both Korean religious history and the theoretical writing of American feminist and animal rights activist Carol J. Adams. Srivastava argues that Yeong-hye, the novel’s protagonist, experiences severe estrangement from her family and from mainstream patriarchal society after adopting vegetarianism, but has achieved reconciliation both with her sister In-hye and with the natural environment by the end of the novel. She discusses how both sisters experience utopian visions that are both rooted in Korean shamanism, and highly relevant to international debates on social and environmental justice.

The Editors

Download the full issue: eSharp Issue 28 Estrangement & Reconciliation (PDF, 2.8MB)

General Editor: Maria Ioana Marchidanu

Editorial Board: Molly Gilmour, Mariana Rios Maldonado, Carolyn J McNamara, Nat Paterson, Jessica Reid, John Taylor

Media Representative: Carolyn J McNamara


Contributors Page 01
Editors' Introduction Page 02
Estrangement and reconciliation in the culture clashes of science fiction: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed
Claire Y. Z. Tan
Page 04
Yearning to Belong: Willa Muir’s Struggle with the Motherland
Emily Pickard
Page 19
The Self-Analyst and the Doctor: Montaigne and Browne in Dialogue
Andrea Di Carlo
Page 35
The Great War and the Western Front: Lieux de Mémoire as Symbols for Reconciliation
Sarah Fissmer
Page 46
Gender, Race, and Participatory Neomedievalism in Dungeons & Dragons
Lars Johnson
Page 68
The Male Gaze, Gender Dynamics and Narrative Control in Muriel Spark’s Reality and Dreams
Steven Harvie
Page 80
Masters and Sons: Reconciling the Family in There Will Be Blood, The Master and Phantom Thread
Theo Fenerty
Page 96
The (E)strange Case of Han Kang’s Vegetarian and Her Discontents
Sonakshi Srivastava
Page 111