Nick Jones: The Aesthetics of 3D Cinema

Cinema is undoubtedly one of the most significant cultural forms of our age. The first moving pictures were revolutionary when they were first broadcast to the world and the cinematic medium continues to develop in all sorts of radical and interesting ways. Television soon came to rival cinema in social and cultural import and film studios needed to find new technologies to pull in the crowds. 3-D films began to appear in the 1950s and have retained their popularity since, from their use in amusement park rides to the latest blockbuster 3D re-release. Yet their apparent novelty status belies the hidden history of 3D filmmaking; it could even be said that the history of cinema is arguably the history of 3D cinema.

This week on The Provocateur I’m joined by Nick Jones, lecturer in film, television & digital culture at the University of York, to discuss the aesthetics of 3D cinema. We talk about the history of 3D cinema before we jump into the theoretical and technical complexities of the 3D format. Along the way, we discuss films such as Dial M for MurderAvatar, Jurassic Park (in its 3D re-release) and even the Resident Evil franchise.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Further Reading:

Crary, J. Techniques of the Observer (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1990)

Elsaesser, T. “The ‘Return’ of 3-D: On Some of the Logics and Genealogies of the Image in the Twenty-First Century,” Critical Inquiry 39, no. 2 (2013): 217–246

Jones, N. “Variation within Stability: Digital 3D and Film Style,” Cinema Journal 55, no. 1 (2015): 52–73

Jones, N. “‘There never really is a stereoscopic image’: a closer look at 3-D media,” New Review of Film and Television Studies 13, no. 2 (2015): 170-188

Ross, M. 3D Cinema: Optical Illusions and Tactile Experiences (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Robin Hamon: Paradise Revisited: Ecocriticism and the Eden Narrative

The Biblical story of the Garden of Eden is one of the most central narratives in Western civilisation (if not the central narrative). As part of the account of creation contained in Genesis, it is a cornerstone of both the Jewish and Christian religious traditions. Moreover, it has exerted a powerful influence on secular culture, ranging from the seventeenth-century epic Paradise Lost to modern-day advertisements. Yet scholarly critics have tended to overlook the significance of natural resources and the environment in the Eden narrative, choosing instead to focus on the agency of the human characters. While ecocriticism is gaining ground as a popular approach in contemporary literary studies, Biblical scholars have generally paid little attention to it and how it can be usefully applied to their field.

Today on The Provocateur I talk to Robin Hamon, a PhD student at the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Bible Studies, to discuss the Eden narrative from an ecocritical perspective. We start by thinking about the origins of Biblical Studies and ecocriticism as separate disciplines, before looking in-depth at Genesis as an example of how the two fields can be fruitfully merged. We also touch on notions of paradise and wilderness and how these might have affected interpretations of the narrative, as well as the significance of trees in the text.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Primary text: Genesis 2:4b-3:24 (in the New Revised Standard version).

Secondary reading:

Glotfelty, C. and H. Fromm (eds.) (1996) The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

Hamon, R. B. (2018) ‘Garden and “Wilderness”: An Ecocritical Reading of Gen. 2:4b-3:24’, The Bible and Critical Theory, 14.1.

Habel, N. C. and S. Wurst (eds.) (2000) The Earth Story in Genesis (The Earth Bible, vol. 2). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Zevit, Z. (2013) What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden? London/New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Theo Gordon: Sex and Violence in the Art of the American AIDS Crisis (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In the second episode of our miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018 we turn our attention to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its artistic legacies. The AIDS outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s is often described as a moment of crisis and since we are arguably living through a moment of crisis in contemporary politics, the AIDS pandemic can be a useful way into thinking about the idea of ‘crisis’ and how art can respond to moments of political crisis. Moreover, if we want to take the idea of LGBT history seriously, we have to acknowledge the significance of HIV/AIDS in this history (although of course LGBT people were not the only ones affected by the disease).

Today on The Provocateur I talk to Theo Gordon, who has just finished his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, to discuss sex and violence in the art of the American AIDS crisis. We begin by the history of the AIDS pandemic and how the crisis is one of sexuality and aggression, before looking at the invisibility of women with AIDS and the significance of AIDS to cultural theory in the early 1990s. Towards the end of the programme we think about the recent upsurge of interest in the AIDS movement since 2010 and the relationship between siblinghood and AIDS activism/politics.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

ACT UP/NY Women & AIDS Book Group (1990) Women, AIDS & Activism, 2nd edn. Boston: South End Press.

Finklestein, A. (2017) After Silence: A History of AIDS Through Its Images. Oakland: University of California Press.

Schulman, S. and J. Hubbard (n.d.) The ACT UP Oral History Project (online).

White, E. (1997) The Farewell Symphony. London: Chatto & Windus.

Nick Mayhew: Russia’s Queer History (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In the first episode of The Provocateur‘s miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018, we travel to Russia to explore the country’s hidden history of sexuality. In contemporary Russia, the church and state have conspired to suggest that LGBT identities are not part of Russia’s supposedly ‘traditional’ culture. At best, they are seen as subversive and non-traditional; at worst, they are perceived as damaging Western imports, where progressive views on homosexuality are a form of moral neo-imperialism. These attitudes are most clearly expressed in the 2014 law forbidding the promotion of ‘gay propaganda’. However, new research is challenging the ‘otherness’ of Russian homosexuality, arguing that an undercurrent of same-sex desire has long been embedded in Russian culture.

To discuss the history of sexuality in medieval Russia, I’m joined today by Nick Mayhew, who has just finished his PhD in Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge. We open by talking about Nick’s initial interest in the subject, before moving on to discuss the kinds of same-sex relationships and identities that existed in pre-modern Russia and the medieval period in particular. We also touch on the difficulties Nick has faced in doing this kind of research in a society rife with state-sponsored homophobia.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Jason Rudy: Imagined Homelands: Australian Poetry in the 19th Century

Australia is a vast and diverse country, with a culture to match, but its literature has traditionally been underrepresented in academic institutions and it remains marginal to the literary canon. When Australian literature is studied, it typically tends to date from the mid-20th century onwards, not from before the country’s federation in 1901. However, in order to get a fuller sense of the modern Australian condition, it may be valuable – or indeed necessary – to turn to the culture of the pre-federation era, such as early Australian poetry. In the writings of Eliza Hamilton Dunlop, Henry Kendall and their contemporaries, we can trace themes which continue to preoccupy Australian writers and artists today, such as the tension between civilisation and wilderness, the horrors of colonialism and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, and the search for a uniquely Australian mode of cultural expression.

This week, The Provocateur is joined by Jason Rudy, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, to discuss the history of Australian poetry in the 19th century. We pick up some of the themes of his book Imagined Homelands, discuss a selection of the major writers of the pre-federation period and uncover what 19th-century Australian literature can offer to readers of contemporary writing.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Primary texts:

Eliza Hamilton Dunlop, “The Aboriginal Woman

Adam Lindsay Gordon, “From the Wreck

Charles Harpur, various poems

Henry Kendall, “The Wail in the Native Oak

Henry Lawson, various poems

Banjo Paterson, various poems

Secondary reading:

Ackland, M. (1994) That Shining Band: A Study of Australian Colonial Verse Tradition. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

Belich, J. (2009) Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

Huggan, G. (2007) Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McQueen, H. (1976) A New Britannia: An argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism, rev. ed. Sydney and Melbourne: Penguin.

Rudy, J. R. (2017) Imagined Homelands: British Poetry in the Colonies. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wright, J. (1965) Preoccupations in Australian Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Loic Bourdeau: Québec Pride (Canada 150 Miniseries)

Today’s installment of The Provocateur concludes our month-long Canada 150 miniseries with a trip to Québec. Québécois culture has a strong claim to being the foundation of modern Canadian society, since the first European settlers north of Florida were French explorers in what is now Canadian territory in the 16th and 17th centuries. Jacques Cartier first sighted the St Lawrence River in the 1530s; Samuel de Champlain, ‘The Father of New France’, founded what would become Québec City in 1608. As Québec society moved into the 20th and 21st centuries along with the rest of Canada, it had to engage with the questions of gender and sexuality that all liberal democracies have had to confront in recent decades.

In this episode I talk to Loic Bourdeau, assistant professor of French at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, to discuss gender and sexuality in Québécois literature and film. We first look at milestones in Québécois literary history, from the farm novel to the Quiet Revolution and beyond, before exploring the themes of independence and sovereignty, motherhood and sexuality. We also reflect on the future direction of Québec society and what that might mean for cultural developments.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Baillargeon, Denyse (2011) “Quebec Women of the Twentieth Century: Milestones in an Unfinished Journey”, Quebec Questions. Don Mills: Oxford UP, 2011. 231-247.

Barrette, Jean-Marc (1996) L’univers de Michel Tremblay. Montreal: U of Montreal Press.

Boucher-Marchand, Monique (1997) “Michel Tremblay et l’autobiographie du Nous.” La création biographique. Rennes: U of Rennes.

Bourdeau, Loic (2012) “F.O.L.L.E. société: déconstruction et reconstruction identitaire dans C.R.A.Z.Y.” Nouvelles Etudes Francophones. 27.1: 130-144.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1998) La domination masculine. Paris: Seuil.

Chapman, Rosemary (2013) What is Québécois Literature? Liverpool: Liverpool UP.

Dickinson, Peter (1999) Here is Queer: Nationalisms, Sexualities, and the Literatures of Canada. Toronto: U of Toronto Press.

Eribon, Didier (1999) Réflexions sur la question gay. Paris: Fayard.

Foucault, Michel (1976) Histoire de la sexualité. La volonté de savoir. Paris: Gallimard.

Green, Mary Jean (2011) Women and Narrative Identity. Rewriting the Quebec National Text. London: McGill UP.

Lacoursière, Jacques, Jean Provencher, and Denis Vaugeois (2011) Canada-Québec 1534-2010. Quebec: Septentrion.

Lamoureux, Diane (2011) “The Paradoxes of Quebec Feminism.” Quebec Questions. Don Mills: Oxford UP.

Lévesque, Andrée (1994) Making and Breaking the Rules: Women in Quebec, 1919-1939. Trans. Yvonne M. Klein. Toronto: U of Toronto Press.

Marshall, Bill (2001) Quebec National Cinema. London: McGill UP.

Muñoz, José Esteban (2009) Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York UP.

Richer, Jocelyne (2015) “Le CSF dit craindre un retour au foyer.” Ledevoir.ca. 29 Jan. 2015.

Schwartzwald, Robert (1993) “‘Symbolic’ Homosexuality, ‘False Feminine,’ and the Problematics of Identity in Québec.” Queer Politics and Social Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press.

Arthur Dudney: Languages of Everywhere and Nowhere: Persian as Premodern Lingua Franca

Home to more than a billion people, modern India is at once a thriving tourist destination, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a hive of social, religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity. Spend a few days in India and at various points you will probably encounter speakers of Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Bengali or perhaps even all of the above. Yet it would be practically unheard of to find a Persian speaker in India today, despite the rich cultural influence of Persian on the South Asian subcontinent. The forgotten story of Persianate India is part of a much bigger picture of the Persian-speaking world, which is far from being limited to just Iran. In its heyday, as the language of the Mughal Empire, Persian could be considered a lingua franca as much as Latin in the Renaissance or French in the 18th century. It united millions of people across a wide swathe of Central and South Asia, stretching from as far west as Turkey to as far east as the fringes of China.

On today’s episode of The Provocateur I talk to Arthur Dudney, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, to help me piece together the history of Persianate India. We start by talking about the idea of a ‘mother tongue’ and its relationship to the concept of a lingua franca, before exploring the context of Persian and its role in Mughal India. We also discuss the place of Persian in the wider history of lingua francas and the implications for the ways in which we might think about lingua francas and the politics of language today.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Dudney, A. (2015) ‘Introduction’ and ‘Chapter 1: Beginnings’, in Delhi: Pages from a Forgotten History. New Delhi: Hay House.

You can contact me for a PDF of the above; Indian listeners may wish to purchase a hard copy via Amazon.in or Flipkart.com.