For the “Inspired by…” event, GEMS has invited students to reflect on what or who inspires them in their research for their master’s thesis. The event will take place on the 25th of April, starting at 2pm, in the “Loveling” library lab of the Faculty Library (Rozier 44). Students will give twenty-minute presentations, after which there will be time for questions. This will be followed by a reception, starting around 5pm.
Here’s an overview of the presenters and their abstracts:
Cato Rooryck – Questions of Reconciliation and Indigeneity in Contemporary Australian Adaptations of Macbeth and The Tempest Responding to recent debates about the contemporary relevance of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as concerns about decolonizing the Western canon more broadly, my thesis will look at how contemporary Indigenous theatre practitioners in Australia engage with Macbeth and The Tempest. In doing so, it builds on the work of scholars such as Elizabeth Schafer (2003) and Emma Cox (2004, 2011), who have pointed to convergences between Shakespeare and Indigeneity in Australia – a phenomenon which international scholarship has failed to pay due attention to. More specifically, I will look at the role of the witches in Macbeth and Caliban and Ariel in The Tempest – which both pose a challenge for contemporary directors – in the negotiations of Indigenous identities in recent Australian adaptations. In my presentation, I will reflect on some insights and passages by Indigenous(-Australian) scholars and writers that have inspired me to combine my interest in Shakespeare, which goes back to my bachelor paper, with my interest in Indigenous studies, philosophies, and cultures. I will consider how my introduction to Aboriginal literature and scholarship by authors such as Kim Scott has challenged me to further my thinking about Shakespearean drama (and its role as the showpiece of the Western literary tradition – and its long history of exclusion) and its contemporary relevance. In particular, I will also discuss Kylie Bracknell’s Hecate (2020) – “the first adaptation of a complete Shakespearean work presented entirely in one Aboriginal language of Australia” (Bracknell et al. 2021), which was the first Aboriginal Shakespeare adaptation I encountered and is central to my thesis.
Amber Kempynck – Warning: Complex Female Protagonist. Redefining Unlikability and Passivity as Feminist Resistance and Female Agency in Millennial Women’s Writing In contemporary women’s writing, there is an influx of complex, “unlikable” female protagonists. This gives rise to two discourses: one about the genre these novels have established, namely “millennial fiction”, and another about the feminist thought they convey, called dissociative feminism. These discourses maintain that the female protagonists are unjustifiably passive and that their behavior is “damaging to the entire feminist movement” (Peyser). This thesis examines these discourses and shows through the analysis of four contemporary novels – Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends (2017), Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018), Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts (2020), and Lisa Taddeo’s Animal (2021) – that the female protagonists do have reasons for their nihilistic attitudes and are not passive but act with agency. In addition, the novels send a feminist message, as they resist normative femininity, highlight the female experience, and discuss taboo subjects related to womanhood.
Elisabeth Goemaere – Postcolonial Studies and Medieval Anglo-Irish Literature ““Do They Not Still Acknowledge That Submission?”: Figurations of the Irish ‘Other’ in Early-Colonial British Literature. My MA thesis explores the use of ethnic and gendered stereotypes in English literature during two significant periods of Ireland’s early history as a colony: the arrival of the Normans (c. 1169) and the Elizabethan Conquest (c. 1534-1603). The thesis examines how British writers used stereotypes to justify the Anglo-Norman civilising mission, and to metaphorically express both Anglo-Norman and Irish colonisation-related distress. Gender anxieties are prevalent in these texts, and sexual differences occur as a metaphor for political, ethnic, and religious distinctions. The thesis uses medieval accounts of Ireland to explore how Irish inhabitants were demonised through tropes of savagery, monstrosity, and sexual deviance. My study aims to contribute to our understanding of conquest, identity, and societal change in the Middle Ages and suggests that questioning medieval figurations of the Irish Other leads to a more accurate portrayal of one of Britain’s first colonies. Inspiration: postcolonial studies. Overall, my analysis focuses on rhetorical devices that reflected upon and actively shaped medieval Britain, such as debasing the other, (re)negotiating one’s own identity, and affirming or adopting the white man’s burden. These mechanisms have often been considered in postcolonial studies, which is my main framework. The Anglo-Irish contact can be regarded in colonial terms, and the resulting tensions can hence be understood through concepts as Homi Bhabha’s mimicry and hybridity, Franz Fanon’s take on alienation, and Achille Mbembe’s necropolitics. Mainly this study field has prompted me to rethink my own (limited) knowledge of medieval Britain and its reflection in contemporary literature.”
Milan Francis – Decolonizing colonial history: The Túpac Amaru Revolution and the Silencing of indigenous culture A recent restoration of a Christ painting “El Señor de los Temblores” revealed its original content: an indigenous noblewoman proudly dressed in traditional Incaic dress. The painting dates to the late 18th century and was overpainted in the aftermath of the Túpac Amaru Revolution (1780-83), the largest indigenous revolution in Andean colonial history, hiding its ‘potentially subversive’ message. The original content, its erasure, and its recent restoration tell the story of power and production of colonial history. This story also represents the process of Silencing that has characterized historiography on the Atlantic Age of Revolutions since its inception. Inspired by Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s now classic study on the Haitian Revolution, which demonstrated how the Silencing of this other non-European revolution did not reflect its unimportance or irrelevance, but rather, a denial of its radical implications. Likewise, the Silencing of of the Túpac Amaru Revolution is no coincidence, and can be traced back to the cultural genocide imposed on indigenous people after it was defeated: prohibiting indigenous clothing, language, traditions and art. If this prohibition tells us anything, it is the importance of material and visual culture in the study of this indigenous revolution, and indigenous culture more broadly. By incorporating decolonial theory, this thesis will attempt to study this indigenous revolution on its own terms: by complementing written sources with a focus on visual culture and public spectacle. By integrating indigenous forms of knowledge, this project will explore the possibility of (anti-)colonial history beyond its Silencing of indigenous culture.
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