Traditionalism limits The Shape of Water

[photo: Ben Kanter] Guillermo Del Toro’s The shape of water is a film meant to be loved. A captured sea creature is placed in a laboratory; facing destruction and caught between the coldly calculating politics of American and Soviet interests, it is saved by a young woman, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), whose empathy turns to romantic […]

What do we write to convey?

Academic writing can seem freighted with agendas other than communicating sense, even as academics split over whether inaccessible writing conveys brilliance or simply that ideas and readings have not been fully digested. Increasingly, I incline towards the latter. Or at least I know that is what causes me to write in overly-referential, condensed ways, drawing […]

Green-lighting the government’s will, or how a referendum might actually support democracy

  A fight has been raging since Brexit over whether the people’s will has expressed itself; and if it has, what did it say? Now in the face of a high court judgment placing parliament very clearly before the royal prerogative, the right-wing media insist the people have already spoken. Like the tablets brought down from […]

Being trashed: the gendered politics of academic play

  I’ve been thinking quite a lot about play recently, particularly whether play can help us reimagine and refashion what statehood could mean within progressive polities. Typically, left engagements with the state gravitate towards critique or reform – both carry an attitude of instrumental, goal-oriented, serious action. Play, from this perspective, seems a ludicrous way […]

Who we are or what we could become? Musing on a remark of Judith Butler’s

How should queer politics respond to the attachment some people feel to a stable gender identity? This is the question Judith Butler poses in discussion with Sara Ahmed in the current issue of Sexualities. Butler asks: “If ‘queer’ means that we are generally people whose gender and sexuality is ‘unfixed’ then what room is there in […]