BSJ

The Butler Scholarly Journal

Category: Literature

  1. ‘How do Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments reflect the relationship between America and Canada?’

    Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments (TT)(2018) has a curious relationship with its prequel, The Handmaid’s Tale (THT)(1985). TT seemingly expands on the world of Gilead by focusing on three very different narrative voices. However, this is not a ‘sequel’ in the expected sense of following on directly from THT. The 2018 novel does not give any clear details on the fate of Offred, the central protagonist of THT. Instead, it modifies our perspective on Gilead via narratorial multiplicity. This makes for a stark contrast to the rather isolated perspective of Offred in THT. Atwood is therefore able to provide a closer…

  2. ‘A commentary on sight, knowledge and identity in Ovid’s tale of Actaeon in the Metamorphoses.’

    As she splashed his hair with revengeful drops, She spoke the spine-chilling words which warned of impending disaster: ‘Now you may tell the story of seeing Diana naked – If story-telling is in your power!’ No more was needed. The head she had sprinkled sprouted the horns of a lusty stag; The neck expanded, the ears were narrowed to pointed tips; She changed his hands into hooves and his arms into long and slender Forelegs; she covered his frame in a pelt of dappled buckskin; Last, she injected panic. The son of Autonoe bolted, Surprising himself with his speed as…

  3. Silence, Speechlessness, and Freedom in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s  The Scarlet Letter (1850) is a portrait of life in 17th Century Puritan New England. This follows Hester Prynne, who has borne a child through an affair, and explores her struggle to find peace and freedom despite the hardships she faces as a result of Puritan law and expectations. ‘Silence and speechlessness’ is intrinsically linked to constraints placed upon inhabitants of New England. Conversely, deliberate silences, choices of speech and other forms of expression are associated with being outside the geographical and social boundaries of the Puritan town, and are used by Hawthorne to explore the possibility of…

  4. The Harlem Renaissance poets and identity

    The Harlem Renaissance was a time of flourishing cultural, artistic and social development in Harlem, New York, during the 1920s. The neighbourhood of Harlem was claimed to encapsulate a productive sense of living together and creativity. There is some confusion about a clear definition for the movement as it derived from overlapping phenomena. The term ‘Negro Renaissance’ arose in the early to mid-1920s to signify a general cultural awakening and moment of recognition.[1] However, there is a distinction between the sense of a ‘Black Renaissance’ and ‘Harlem Vogue’: the emancipation and revolution of black creativity versus the interest of white…

  5. ‘Lifting the gauze’: How Walt Whitman connects with Americans in Song of Myself

    Almost two centuries after his birth, Walt Whitman remains one of America’s most respected and well-loved poets. But why is it that we continue to feel such a connection to this 19th-century man and the words he wrote? The ideas of connection and unity are ones I will explore in relation to Whitman’s work. Whitman’s treatment of the concept of the soul is particularly important in addressing boundaries, or lack of them, within ‘Song of Myself’. The poet perceives little distinction between his own soul and those of others, particularly in the line “Clear and sweet is my soul, and…

  6. Bodily Experience in D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

    Bodily experience often seems difficult to adequately portray in literature, given its subjectivity. However, D. H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lovers arguably attempts to forge a style of writing centred on sensation. Despite exploring abstract notions of spirituality and the unconscious, Lawrence grounds his narrative in the experience of the body in a way that may be linked to his status as a ‘Modern’ writer. We may consider Hugh Stevens’ question of Lawrence’s novels: ‘can fiction be modernist when it aims to help us to recapture a premodern…relationship with nature and with our own bodies, and dissolve boundaries between the…

  7. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: A response to Gove’s English syllabus reforms

    Michael Gove recently caused somewhat of a furore with the announcement of his plans to remove American Literature from the GCSE English Literature syllabus, discarding John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in favour of Austen and Dickens. One fellow English Literature student wailed, ‘Now kids will never know about Atticus Finch, and that is just wrong!’ Much as their melodramatic anguish made me laugh, I could neither refute that their point was valid nor that I was equally infuriated by Gove’s decision. That is not to say that Charles Dickens is anything short…

  8. Slaughterhouse-Five: A Crisis of Representation?

    Literature can be something we use for pleasure and escapism. We find narratives comforting because they convey meaning onto events which may otherwise seem illogical and upsetting; stories may use certain common tropes to settle the reader with something familiar and often offer some form of satisfying closure when they come to an end. What we sometimes forget is that literature can also be the site of cultural, societal, and political criticism in ways which may be jarring and unsettling. Literature which seeks to really make us think often consciously breaks away from typical narrative forms in order to challenge…

  9. Interview: The Lion and the Lamb

    John Henry Clay is a novelist and lecturer in medieval history at Durham University. The Butler Scholarly Journal caught up with him to discuss his highly acclaimed debut novel, The Lion and the Lamb (July 2013). The Butler Scholarly Journal: What drew you to mid-4th century Roman Britain as a setting for your first novel, The Lion and the Lamb? John Henry Clay: I first came across the period as an archaeology undergraduate, and something about it caught my imagination. It was the ‘Golden Age’ of Roman Britain, a world of palatial country villas and bustling cities, with a highly…

  10. Time Documentary

    This is the first documentary produced by the Butler Scholarly Journal on the topic of ‘Time’. What is time? When did time begin? Is time travel possible? These questions are discussed by Matt Armitage and Jack Bryan in terms of physics, by Hannah Buckley in terms of philosophy, and Ruby Lawrence in terms of English Literature. Produced by Carmen Horrocks Edited by Bryn Coombe