Special Issue "Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative and Film"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Film, Television, and Media Studies in the Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Dolores Herrero
Website
Guest Editor
DEPARTAMENTO DE FILOLOGÍA INGLESA Y ALEMANA, UNIVERSITY OF ZARAGOZA, C/ SAN JUAN BOSCO 7, 3ª planta, 50009 ZARAGOZA, SPAIN
Interests: postcolonial literature and cinema; Australian literature; Indian literature; Dalit literature; trauma fiction; refugee narratives; Muslim feminisms
Dr. Pilar Royo-Grasa
Website
Guest Editor
DEPARTAMENTO DE FILOLOGÍA INGLESA Y ALEMANA, UNIVERSITY OF ZARAGOZA, C/ SAN JUAN BOSCO 7, 3ª planta, 50009 ZARAGOZA, SPAIN
Interests: postcolonial literature; Australian fiction; trauma fiction; human rights and refugee narratives; transnational and cosmopolitan studies.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Not even during the Cold War were books about the apocalypse and its aftermath so popular. This is what has led many critics to conclude that we are living in a post-apocalyptic Golden Age. As is well known, post-apocalyptic books first became very popular during the 1950s, when people worried about communism and nuclear war; around 1980, when it was mainly plague and danger from space that aroused people’s fears; and from 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks of September 11 against the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, until the present moment, still suffering from the consequences of the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ ensuing in the wake of this traumatic event. The main reason this third phase has been labelled as ‘Golden Age’ is that people now are worried about almost everything: war, viruses, fundamentalisms of all kinds, ecological global disasters, genetically modified humans, computers that can no longer be kept under control, global warming, etc. As a result, apocalypse books have become especially popular all over the world, also among youngsters. In this respect, Australian fiction is a very special case in point. Although the apocalypse has always been a long-lasting trope in human culture, Australia has often been chosen as the location for narratives about the end of the world in science fiction and speculative works, which range from precolonial apocalyptic maps (terra australis incognita: Australia as both utopia —as portrayed by European idealistic visions of colonial potential—and dystopia—as the outcome of the realities of the outback and the relatively few sheltered ports, which triggered fears of invasion from without and indigenous rebellion from within), to major literary works from the last few decades. By inviting scholars from the fields of literature and cinema, and by applying multiple frameworks, methodological approaches and critical lenses, this monograph seeks to expose how this celebrated dystopian Australian tradition is presently delving into worrying global issues, such as ever-increasing industrial damage, precarious working and living conditions, the rise of populisms of all sorts, ecological disasters of unprecedented dimensions that can make life on the planet eventually impossible and, last but not least, the global refugee crisis and its concomitant undeterred flows of people forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of the consequences of climate change, persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations of all sorts. The main contribution of this monograph will therefore be to bring together genres that have often been studied separately. In other words, this volume will attempt to straddle fantastic literature and cinema, which allegedly depict imaginary/escapist worlds and mimetic fiction and productions, whose main concern is to reflect the real world, thus making it clear that the present is already corroborating and bearing witness to a number of futuristic nightmares. 

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Planetary dystopias: climate change and environmental degradation
  • Refuge narratives in the South Pacific
  • Migration, refugees and xenophobia
  • Aboriginal/Indigenous dystopias/dystopian Aboriginality
  • Populism and the rise of radical movements
  • Populisms and fake news
  • The casualization of workforces and dystopian labor markets
  • New modes and formats in representing dystopia
  • Dystopia vs. Utopia
  • Dystopia and the (mass and social) media
  • Dystopia and education
  • Dystopia and dispossession
  • Dystopia and armed conflicts
  • Dystopian femininity and motherhood
  • Alternative futures, beyond dystopia

Dr. Dolores Herrero
Dr. Pilar Royo-Grasa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • dystopia
  • Australian narrative
  • Australian cinema
  • climate change
  • refugee crisis
  • populisms
  • fake news
  • Aboriginal/ Indigenous rights
  • women’s rights
  • armed conflicts

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
“At Home with Zoe”: Becoming Animal in Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030096 - 28 Aug 2020
Abstract
This paper focuses on Charlotte Wood’s 2015 dystopian novel The Natural Way of Things. Set in an unnamed place in the Australian outback, it recounts the story of 10 girls in their late teens and early twenties who are kept prisoners by [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on Charlotte Wood’s 2015 dystopian novel The Natural Way of Things. Set in an unnamed place in the Australian outback, it recounts the story of 10 girls in their late teens and early twenties who are kept prisoners by a mysterious corporate organisation for their sexual involvement with an array of powerful men. The novel’s title invites two main readings: the first, and perhaps more obvious, along gender lines; and the second, which will provide the backbone to my analysis, within the framework of the natural world, the animal kingdom in particular. The Natural Way of Things has been described as a study in contemporary misogyny and the workings of patriarchy. The ingrained sexism of society—the insidious, normalised violence against females, often blamed on them, glossing over male responsibility—is undoubtedly the central topic of Wood’s work. Without losing sight of gender issues, my approach to Wood’s novel is inspired by Rosi Braidotti’s posthuman theories on the continuum nature–culture and the primacy of zoe—“the non-human, vital force of life”—over bios, or life as “the prerogative of Anthropos” (Rosi Braidotti). According to Braidotti, the current challenges to anthropocentrism question the distinction between these two forms of life, highlighting instead the seamless connection between the natural world and culture and favouring a consideration of the subject as embodied, nomadic and relational. My reading of The Natural Way of Things in light of Braidotti’s insights will be supplemented by an analysis of the novel in the context of transmodernity, both a period term and a distinct way of being in the world theorised by critics such as Rosa M. Rodríguez Magda and Marc Luyckx, who emphasise the relational, interdependent nature of contemporary times from a more human-centred perspective. The Natural Way of Things is also a story of female empowerment. This is especially the case with Yolanda Kovacs and Verla Learmont, the two protagonist women, who step out of their roles as victims and stand up to their guards. My analysis of the novel will revolve around these two characters and their different reactions to confinement and degradation. I conclude that although a more zoe-centred conception of the human subject that acknowledges the human–animal continuum should definitely be welcomed, literally “becoming animal”, as Yolanda does, deprives one of meaningful human relationality, embodied in the novel in Verla’s memories of her caring, empathic relationship with her father. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative and Film)
Open AccessArticle
De Kretser’s Retelling of a Ghost Love Story
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030087 - 19 Aug 2020
Abstract
Australian author Michelle de Kretser addresses in her literary work ideas of home and belonging. In Springtime. A Ghost Story (2014) the author gives voice to an ambiguous and variable subject who coexists with her past, present and future, inhabiting a fluid trans-space [...] Read more.
Australian author Michelle de Kretser addresses in her literary work ideas of home and belonging. In Springtime. A Ghost Story (2014) the author gives voice to an ambiguous and variable subject who coexists with her past, present and future, inhabiting a fluid trans-space where love has a principal role. Frances, the main character in Springtime, sees ghosts who unconsciously allow her to voice her insecurities and doubts concerning her life existence. These phantoms contribute to the formation of Frances’ alternative conceptualization of subjectivity. At the same time, de Kretser offers in this dystopic novella a much-needed escape from binary definitions of inclusion/exclusion, offering palimpsests of the spaces that Frances inhabits—Melbourne, Sydney and Paris. This main character is a fluid flâneuse who tries to adjust to her glocality constituted and reconstituted by a discursive imaginary. In this article, I analyze how de Kretser subverts ghost story patterns, destabilizes binary thinking, and decentralizes the human subject offering the reader an alternative haunting love story with an open ending, where cities, ghosts, humans, dogs and nature become active characters who are-in-this-together-but-who-are-not-one-and-the-same. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative and Film)
Open AccessArticle
Native Apocalypse in Claire G. Coleman’s The Old Lie
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030069 - 28 Jul 2020
Abstract
Claire G. Coleman’s science fiction novel The Old Lie (2019) evokes the blemished chapters of Australia’s history as the basis of a dystopian futuristic Earth. By using the metaphor of a secular apocalypse (Weaver) wrapped in the form of a space opera, she [...] Read more.
Claire G. Coleman’s science fiction novel The Old Lie (2019) evokes the blemished chapters of Australia’s history as the basis of a dystopian futuristic Earth. By using the metaphor of a secular apocalypse (Weaver) wrapped in the form of a space opera, she interrogates historical colonialism on a much larger scale to bring to the fore the distinctive Indigenous experience of Australia’s terra nullius and its horrific offshoots: the Stolen Generations, nuclear tests on Aboriginal land and the treatment of Indigenous war veteran, but this time experienced by the people of the futuristic Earth. Following a brief introduction of the concept of the “Native Apocalypse” (Dillon) in the framework of Indigenous futurism, the paper discusses Coleman’s innovative use of space opera embedded in Wilfred Owen’s famous WWI poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”. The analysis focuses on four allegedly separate stories in the novel which eventually interweave into a single narrative about “the old lie”. In keeping with the twenty-first-century Indigenous futurism, Coleman’s novel does not provide easy answers. Instead, the end brings the reader to the beginning of the novel in the same state of disillusionment as Owen’s lyrical subject. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative and Film)
Open AccessArticle
Pregnancy, Childbirth and Nursing in Feminist Dystopia: Marianne de Pierres’s Transformation Space (2010)
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030058 - 07 Jul 2020
Abstract
Marianne de Pierres’s Transformation Space (2010) is a rare example of an Australian novel set in an apocalyptic and dystopic interstellar future where pregnancy, childbearing and nursing have a presence that is quite uncommon in Science Fiction (SF). Despite the fact that the [...] Read more.
Marianne de Pierres’s Transformation Space (2010) is a rare example of an Australian novel set in an apocalyptic and dystopic interstellar future where pregnancy, childbearing and nursing have a presence that is quite uncommon in Science Fiction (SF). Despite the fact that the genre of SF and that of space opera in particular have been traditionally quite male-oriented, in the last years feminist theories of several kinds have been an undeniable transformative influence. This article intends to analyse not only how these specifically female issues related to motherhood/mothering are presented in the novel, but also to explore their function and role. A close reading of these topics will show whether they endorse a solid feminist stance or are just colourful feminist details in a male-dominated space opera and, in turn, if they have a specifically narrative purpose in the context of the dystopic subgenre. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative and Film)
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