rss_2.0Prague Journal of English Studies FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Prague Journal of English Studies Journal of English Studies 's Cover Salt of the Earth or the Murderess? The Problem of Femininity in the Novels of Agatha Christie<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Agatha Christie’s outlook on gender, as depicted in her novels, has been described as conservative or even criticised as anti-feminist. However, more recently, a growing number of feminist scholars (Alison Light, Susan Rowland, Merja Makinen) have begun to oppose this view and instead argue that Christie’s approach to the various social phenomena depicted in her novels, including gender, is more nuanced and ambiguous than previously assumed. This paper explores the role of domesticity in general, and of food, eating and cooking in particular, in constructing such ambiguous portrayal of femininity in three of Agatha Christie’s detective novels: Cards on the Table (1936), The Hollow (1946), and 4.50 from Paddington (1957). The novels depict three groups of female characters possessing varying degrees of power and independence: the salt of the earth, i.e., the conservative homemaker, the eccentric, and the murderess. It is the aim of this paper to demonstrate that, paradoxically, it is o en through these female characters’ roles within the domestic setting and their engagement with food that they are able to overcome the limitations imposed on them by patriarchal society and achieve a certain level of autonomy within it.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Understanding the Function of Empathy through Laila Halaby’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Arab American fiction has received great attention in the post-9/11 period. This ethnic literature has been put under a critical lens due to the aspects that shape it and the issues discussed in it. One of the main objectives of Arab American fiction is to bridge cultural differences and appeal to its readers, both Arabs and non-Arabs. This particular objective is achieved by the authors’ willingness to trigger empathetic engagement with their characters. As such, this paper looks at how Laila Halaby’s West of the Jordan (2003) functions in accordance with the poetics of empathy. In other words, the aim of this paper is to show how fiction appeals to its readers through empathy and how empathetic engagement sustains the characters-readers connection, taking West of the Jordan as a literary example. This paper suggests that empathy in fiction is multi-layered and serves different purposes. The arguments are based on a conceptual framework supported by scholarly perspectives of prominent critics and theorists such as Chielozona Eze, Heather Hoyt, and Suzanne Keen, to name just a few.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Peter Ackroyd’s Distorted Psychogeography<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper focuses on Peter Ackroyd’s unique type of psychogeographical writing. Therefore, apart from an overall elaboration on his works about London, it addresses his historiographic metafictional novels Hawksmoor (1985) and The House of Doctor Dee (1993). These esoteric novels provide insight into Ackroyd’s writing about the city in different time periods and make it possible to delve deeper into what this paper argues is his distinctive manner of implementing the notions of psychogeography. At the same time, it draws parallels from classical and contemporary psychogeography where appropriate and highlight his utilisation of it. The main aim of this paper is to reveal the ways in which Peter Ackroyd uses walking in the city to reflect its manipulative power over his characters which results in the transformation of their identities.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Disrupted Parenthood in Caryl Phillips’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In his debut novel The Final Passage, first published in 1985, Caryl Phillips (dis)connects the English and the Caribbean spaces simultaneously imposing this inbetweenness onto his continuously misplaced characters. This paper explores the novel through the lens of disrupted parenthood, demonstrating that the ties between the family members mirror the inability of the protagonists to belong or to sustain relationships. By applying a postcolonial framework and including both canonical and recent texts produced in the field, this paper analyses how racial labels and assumptions weaken fragile bonds and further displace the characters as it also attempts to fill a gap since aspects of distress and breakdown are often neglected in literary criticism. Finally, given the background of the West Indies, the paper incorporates social and anthropological works dedicated to the region and connects Phillips’s narrative to the stories of migrants in contemporary Britain.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Discourse, Cultural Capital and Power Relations in Julian Barnes’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The objective of this paper is to examine in which way the use of the oral and written discourse in Julian Barnes’s novel The Sense of an Ending (2011) reflects, on the one hand, a social hierarchy based on classificatory cultural, intellectual, and educational competencies and resources and, on the other, dominance strategies and power relations developed among the principal actors. It will be investigated how trivial discussions and letters exchanged between friends are deployed in order to sustain or eliminate control over the other(s) and indicate status positions. The proposed methodological framework of analysis is founded on Bourdieu’s approach to cultural capital, according to which cultural preferences are markers of social stratification, while highbrow aesthetic judgment is both a means to, and a stake in, upward social mobility. Foucault’s theory of a “decentralised” and ubiquitous power, dispersed at all levels and defined as an action directed to other people’s actions, will also be applied.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00“Passing a looped and knotted string between their hands”. The Bible, the Women’s Liberation Movement and Women’s Bonds in Michèle Roberts’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper claims that through a feminist rewriting of the Bible, Michèle Roberts’s novel The Wild Girl (1984) articulates the ambivalences and insecurities that emerged in the British Women’s Liberation movement after its initial period of great energy, hopefulness and enthusiasm of the 1970s. By rewriting the biblical insistence on female rivalry and competition, and revising biblical “gynotypes” and “fragmented women”, the novel not only exposes the patriarchal discourses of the Bible, but also critically revisits the WLM’s utopian visions of unity, and re-imagines the ways in which women can cooperate while preserving their differences. When juxtaposed with more recent women’s rewritings, often driven by (and catering to) market economy and consumer culture, Roberts’s novel is a useful remainder of the still consequential need to “look back in order to move forward” (Plate 406). The novel’s small-scale, grass-roots level sisterhood, never altogether free from tensions, is a quietly optimistic vision of women’s bonds, a “secret gospel” proclaiming the good news about the precarious and changeable relationship among women, and about the need of its incessant reworking.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Strategies of Cognitive Estrangement in Kim Stanley Robinson’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper seeks to analyse the strategies of cognitive estrangement employed by the science fiction writer and literary scholar Kim Stanley Robinson in his New York 2140 (2017). I argue that the novel was written as a call to action to mitigate the effects of climate change, and rather than being merely a description of a particular vision of the future, provides a comment on the current ecological crisis, mechanisms of history, and human agency. Robinson’s unusual position at the intersection of the field of literary production and literature studies allowed him to apply the ideas developed for the analysis of the genre of science fiction in his creative work. The three main thematic areas in the novel are ecology, politics, and history. In each of these, allusions to the present, the past, and literary tradition, characterisation, and narrative structure are used as a means to convey the author’s message and sensitise the reader to issues connected with ecology and social justice, painting a realistic, yet hopeful vision where human civilisation carries on despite the consequences of global warming.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-10-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Rebekah Hyneman’s : A Tale of (In)temperance and (Im)morality<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The intent of this paper is to examine the use, by nineteenth-century American authors, of the temperance novel, a popular literary sub-genre in antebellum America, as a literary means for presenting the widespread controversy in the nation as regards the achievements of temperance societies. Moreover, my goal is to show that the popularity of temperance novels, in spite of their didactic and moralistic nature, displays the public’s readiness to consume temperance literature, thus reciprocating the attempt of writers to promote social ideals and heal social ills. Finally, since Rebekah Hyneman, a convert to Judaism, is the only Jewish-American writer who wrote a temperance novel, and is one among a small number of female writers who used this genre, it is interesting to examine if and how her double “Otherness” (being a Jew and a female novelist) distinguishes her from her literary Christian male and/or female counterparts. Hyneman’s novel Leaves of the Upas Tree: A Story for Every Household (1854–55) serves as a case in point of a temperance novel that demonstrates how a dysfunctional American family operates as a microcosm and how temperance and other charitable societies fail to cope with individuals’ tribulations. More importantly, the novel aims to attest that a familial defective unit, affected by excessive drinking, breeds a ruthless societal macrocosm, lacking compassion, empathy, and social and communal support. The merciless, xenophobic and anti-Semitic community depicted in the novel serves as a prism through which the author presents much more acute plagues afflicting America.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00“Confused Anarchy and the late civil broils”: The Politics of Genre in Milton’s<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The writing of history was seminal to Milton’s conception of himself as a humanist and is a key to our understanding of his literary career. Yet, Milton’s Brief History of Moscovia and The History of Britain occupy a unique position in the way in which they are poised between the humanist notion of history as counsel and history as an assertion of “republican” values. However, situating Milton in a climate of republicanism has othen been problematic and challenging. Like writers of humanist historical narratives, Milton’s primary aim was to guide the English people in their current political crisis by making the past an analogue of the present. I wish to contend that he approaches his intention generically: by a manipulative use of the genres of history and chorography, Milton is able to straddle the earlier notion of history with the later notions of “republicanism” that permeated the political climate of England in the aftermath of the Civil War. In an inversion of Shklovsky’s notion of “form shaping content”, Milton’s reliance on genre as a vehicle for articulating his political and ideological stance, ultimately results in content shaping form.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00The Trauma of Loss as a Turning Point in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Works<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The aim of this paper is to look into how Elizabeth Gaskell reflects trauma in her literary works and what she may have been trying to teach her audience through them. As a social and realist writer, she used narrative as a means to denounce the evils of her time, many of which give rise to social traumas. However, this paper will focus on more personal traumas, particularly the trauma of loss, and also how Gaskell handles these traumatic experiences in her writings. With this purpose in mind, it is important to consider Gaskell’s own experience, how she overcame her own traumatic losses and how she used fiction both to reflect her experience and as a form of therapy. At the end of this paper, we will establish how Gaskell uses traumatic losses as turning points throughout her literary works.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00Representation of Rhetorical Presence in Virginia Woolf’s “Madame de Sévigné”<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>This paper seeks to represent rhetorical presence in “Madame de Sevigne”, an essay by Virginia Woolf that reviews Sevigne’s collection of letters. In general, Woolf’s essays that appraise an author and her/his work are organised into several sections that correspond to the traditional rhetorical levels of inventio, dispositio and elocutio. The synergy of arguments and figures that are found at each of these levels are first-order effects which can create rhetorical presence, defined as a strategy that relies on the selection of certain elements and how they are presented to the audience. Presence of this kind involves a second-order effect which transmits the persuasive and expressive value of the essay if several conditions pertaining to the values of the audience and Woolf’s expertise in writing are attained. “Madame de Sevigne” is persuasive in that it tries to increase readers’ admiration towards the letter writer and thus affects the readers in a positive way. This admiration is achieved by means of Woolf’s specific use of language, which amplifies Sevigne’s figure and grants expressive prominence to the text.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00The Seriality of Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel – a Transmedial Maze<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>This paper investigates three different medial instances of the Overlook Hotel, a space originally hailing from Stephen King’s The Shining. Based on close readings of King’s novel, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation and a level in the action RPG Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines by Troika Games, the following text argues that the Overlook is a serial figure founded on the concept of malignant space in possession of a potent, and often overwhelming, story of violence that despite attempts at its repression cannot be silenced, as in the tradition of the Gothic ghost story. This basic formula is then traced through different media – the novel, film, and video game – where it is seen as gradually shifting its focus from the fictional characters to the recipient, which represents the intersection between the particular affordances of the respective media and the figure of a spatially-bound aggressive storyteller.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00When “We Believe that ...”: The Role of Collective “we” in the Dialogic Negotiation in Hard News Discourse<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The present paper examines the occurrence of collective self expressed by the first person plural “we” in British broadsheet hard news reports. Given that “we” typically embraces “I” and the “non-I”, and is viewed in contradistinction to “others”, it is subjective and dialogic (inter-subjective) in nature (Baumgarten et al.; Benveniste). This study, grounded in Systemic Functional Linguistics and the theory of engagement, examines the coupling, i.e., co-occurrence, of one dialogic signal “we” with other dialogic meanings (entertain, proclaim and disclaim) used for the dialogic negotiation of content and writer-reader engagement (Martin, “Beyond Exchange”; Martin and White). Couplings are interpreted from the point of view of the overall rhetorical strategy they are put to, referred to as syndromes of meaning (Zappavigna et al., “Syndromes”; Zappavigna et al., “The Coupling”). The rhetorical functions of syndromes reflect the basic dialogic meanings of the examined engagement categories such as a tentative suggestion of an opinion (entertain), a strong statement of an opinion (proclaim) and a rejection of a dispreferred opinion (disclaim). Finer variations within the individual rhetorical strategies are related to the difference in the source of dialogic positioning (an individual versus collective voice) and the referential scope of the pronoun (a precisely defined reference versus reference with a more general and diffused scope).</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00Strangers in Togetherville – Women, Physics and Popular Culture<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>By drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s cultural theory this paper aims to show how contemporary popular culture tells the stories of scientifically talented women of the past. In the course of my argument, I refer to books and films set in the past and focus on the women-and-science motif. Firstly, the stories of individual female scientists living long ago are analysed (Mileva Einstein, Joan Clarke), then, the collective female protagonists – wives of scientists living together in “togethervilles” (Los Alamos, Atomic City), and women scientists pictured in speculative fiction – are discussed. The cliches used in these texts – lonely forgotten geniuses, female worthies taken advantage of, ostracised women accused of not being feminine enough and devoted wives who help their men and their countries in World Wars I and II or the Cold War – reflect ideologies that Western culture used to believe in. Conversely, the two original presentations of past female scientists that I found both come from speculative fiction concerned with science and heavily influenced by the ideologies of science: science and pacifism, science and a sense of guilt, and science as a weapon in the quest for democracy and freedom.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00The Use of Discourse Markers in Academic Writing by In-Service Primary School Teachers of English<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>This paper presents and discusses a computer-assisted study that seeks to investigate the use of discourse markers (“DMs”) in academic writing in English as a Foreign Language (“EFL”) by a group of in-service primary school teachers (“participants”). The aim of the study is to establish whether or not there would be differences in the use of DMs in the corpus of academic writing in EFL in literature and linguistics written by the participants, who concurrently with teaching EFL at a range of primary schools are enrolled in an in-service tertiary course in English. The corpus of the study consists of the participants’ i) reflective essays in English linguistics and children’s literature in English, respectively, and ii) analytic explanatory essays in English linguistics and children’s literature, respectively. The corpus of the participants’ essays was analysed quantitatively in order to identify the frequency of DMs per 1,000 words. The results of the quantitative data analysis indicated that the participants’ use of DMs seemed to be, primarily, determined by i) genre conventions of academic writing in English associated with reflective essays and analytic explanatory essays and ii) the participants’ individual preferences. These findings are further presented and discussed in the paper.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00The Power of Recipes: Culinary Practice as a Strategy to Deconstruct Arab-American Identity in Diana Abu-Jaber’s Crescent<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Crescent (2003) is an example of the kind of Arab-American literature that has emerged noticeably in the early years of the 21st century. It signifies a hypothesis that culinary practice is an essential cultural component for diasporic figures to define their identities, especially in a multi-cultural society. These figures embrace such component to strategically define themselves and assert their belonging and affiliation to their original homelands. This paper, as such, examines the extent to which Arab-American characters in the novel, namely Sirine and Han, consider culinary practice as a key tool to understanding their identity, locate themselves in a multi-cultural society, and re-discover their true belonging. The study of this novel shows that culinary practices, as indicated in the narratives, deconstruct Arab-American identity through various dimensions, including memory, nostalgia, hybridity, and essentialism. In addition to employing critical and analytical approaches to the novel, this paper relies on a socio-cultural conceptual framework based on perspectives of prominent critics and theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Brinda Mehta, Dallen Timothy, and Stuart Hall, to name a few.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-10-02T00:00:00.000+00:00Valuable And Vulnerable — The City In Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love And Saturday Direct Speech: Reporting Clauses In A Contrastive Study“There Is Great Unrest”: Some Reflections On Emotion And Memory In Julian Barnes’S Nothing To Be Frightened Of And The Sense Of An Ending Aspects Of Elf Interaction: A Discussion Of A Conversational Encounter From The Voice Corpus