Cultural Studies and Languages

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    Reviews of Books
    (2021) Harris, Sarah D.
    Book review of ‘Las crónicas de Oselito’ en ‘Frente Sur’, ‘Frente Extremeño’ y ‘Frente Rojo’. Edición crítica de Rafael Alarcón Sierra. Madrid: Guillermo Escolar. 2018. 238 pp.
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    The Skin I Live In: Hunger, Power, and the Monstrous Feminine
    (Monsters and the Monstrous. Inter-Disciplinary Press. ISBN: 978-1-84888-405-2., 2016) Harris, Sarah D.
    In his first film to premiere outside of his native Spain, international superstar director Pedro Almodóvar tackles the horror genre for the first time. The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) maintains a certain consistency with the director’s earlier films, especially in the theme of gender identity and melodrama. In this film, however, there be monsters. One dwells and schemes in some classic monstrous spaces: a dark cave and a private laboratory/fortress, where he builds Vera, a cyborg-like character whose seams remind us of Frankenstein’s monster, or of the Louise Bourgeois sculptures that fascinate her. The mad and wealthy doctor who designs Vera also keeps vigilant watch over her, tinkering with and gazing upon his masterpiece. This vigilance introduces a visual play on power through images of hunger and desire. Meanwhile, when another, less socially powerful, but more physically adept monster penetrates the fortress the two main characters have shared, the power dynamic shifts drastically. Looking at Vera, the intruder gushes, ‘It smells good. I’m hungry,’ and licks the screen of the security camera. This talk draws on notions of the monstrous feminine by Laura Mulvey, Barbara Creed, and Donna Haraway, to consider all three characters’ monstrosity through the hungers that drive them and their slippery power dynamic. Key Words: Film, horror, Spain, gender, hungry gaze, power, cyborg, scientist, animals, vagina dentata, revenge, Almodóvar, Creed, Haraway, Bourgeois, Mulvey, bioethics.
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    The Monster Within and Without: Spanish Comics, Monstrosity, Religion, and Alterity
    (Routledge, 2015) Harris, Sarah D.
    Stereotyping based on ethnic and racial difference has also led to a practice whereby artists represent, and viewers understand, the “Other” as monstrous in comics and cartoons. Building on the idea that comics rely on physical exaggeration, on Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s seven theses on monstrosity, and on Spain’s multicultural and multiethnic history, this chapter explores the depiction of monstrosity and alterity from two divergent moments in Spain. More specifically, it argues that two chosen examples represent the extremes of a range of practice in using stereotypes to depict monsters, from near absolute appropriation of monstrous characteristics, on the one hand, to unadulterated “othering” of the monstrous enemy on the other.
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    Quick Fixes
    (The Evelyn Waugh Society, 2006) Pitcher, Jonathan
    Book review of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs, by Marcus Boon. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. 339 pp.
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    Slogans and Attitudes
    (The Evelyn Waugh Society, 2009) Pitcher, Jonathan
    Book review of The Image of the English Gentleman in Twentieth-Century Literature: Englishness and Nostalgia by Christine Berberich. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. 218 pp.