My current research project focuses on post WWII representations of war and specifically the dynamics of enchantment and disenchantment in American war literature and popular culture through three major narrative modes: melodrama, adventure and horror.
Working title: The Re-Enchantment of War: How Genre Shapes the Way We Think about Military Death in Post-WWII American Culture
I am also co-editing the following books and special issues:
- International Gothic in the Neo-Liberal Age. Co-edited with Linnie Blake. Under contract with Manchester University Press. CFP Neoliberal Gothic
2. Gothic Matters, special issue of Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Culture and Theory (to be published in October 2016)
3. “Revisiting Adventure”: Special Issue of the Journal of Popular Culture (2018)
With Johan Höglund (Associate Professor, Linnaeus University)
The adventure genre/mode has become increasingly central to contemporary popular culture. Dating back to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and developing significantly during the nineteenth century, the adventure mode shapes blockbuster Hollywood movies such as The Hobbit and American Sniper, acclaimed novels such as Karl Marlantes Matterhorn (2010) and computer game franchises such as Uncharted (2007-2016). In particular, the post-9/11 war and action film and first person shooter games make extensive use of adventure tropes, aesthetics and narrative trajectories.
Up to now, scholarship on adventure narrative has largely focused on British fiction, often stopping before WWII. This special issue would like to build upon this rich scholarly tradition, which includes work by John Cawelti, Edward Said, Martin Green, John MacKenzie, Elaine Showalter, Graham Dawson, and Amy Kaplan. The work of these and other scholars emphasizes they way in which adventure is one of the oldest narrative forms, but also tightly interwoven with the modern projects of nation building and imperialism, and whose soldier hero protagonist is a repository of an idealized masculinity intimately tied to this myth (Dawson). We think that these observations are crucial when exploring the contemporary adventure narrative in its various forms, but we also intend to expand the historical and theoretical horizon that has limited previous studies.
In particular, we would like to redress the fact that adventure is largely un-theorized as a contemporary narrative and cultural form, one uniquely invested in the representation of violence as pleasure. We are interested in examining adventure in its ideological, aesthetic and affective aspects, focusing on its cultural work, as theorized for melodrama by scholars like Jane Tompkins and Linda Williams. We also equally interested in applying new paradigms to the conceptualization of adventure as a form that articulates emotional, aesthetic and ideological effects, such as Caroline Levine’s Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network, which examines the intersections and encounters of different forms when they meet, arguing that forms can be “at once containing, plural, overlapping, portable and situated” (Levine 11). The theoretical and heuristic stakes of terms such as “genre,” “form,” “mode,” and “formula” (Cawelti) would be a point of departure, but the main focus of the volume would be on how adventure as a form has changed and adapted to the twenty-first century.
Our issue would thus consider the contribution of new interactive media forms such as computer games and gaming consoles (e.g. the Wii), it would consider gender positions and forms of sexuality absent from earlier adventure narrative, and it would explore the racial and ethnic dynamics specific to the contemporary global context. Masculinity has always been a key feature of the adventure narrative, and we would like to examine the way the form has reacted to changes in gender politics since feminism (and its backlash and postfeminist variations) reconfigured the cultural landscape. Adventure has also been closely tied to the British cultural and imperial project. We would examine how the form operates in a contemporary global context, with texts produced in the U.S. and exported abroad as well as transnational forms of adventure that adapt its themes and key features to specific cultural contexts.
Essays addressing this theme could include topics such as:
Adventure and race
Adventure and masculinity
Adventure and the (post)colonial
Adventure and female heroes (e.g. Buffy, Xena, Lara Croft, Katniss Everdeen)
Adventure tropes in war and action film
Adventure tropes in recruitment material
Adventure in first-person shooters and other games
Adventure in relation to men’s magazines
Adventure in children’s and young adult television & film
Adventure in relation to nationalism
Adventure and spectacles of violence
Adventure and global reception of US action films
Global adventure narratives (e.g. French, Russian war adventure cinema)
Adventure and the dismantling of global US hegemony
Adventure and US empire