Tag Archives: University of Toronto Quarterly

  • Rethinking Cultural Legacies: Interrupting Social & Sexual Norms through Iraq War Literature

    Written by guest blogger, Daniel McKay.

    Still from Full Metal Jacket, see details in text

    Take a look at the picture above, a portrayal of South Vietnam in 1968. It's a still from Stanley Kubrick's film Full Metal Jacket (1987), in which a Vietnamese prostitute (played by British-Chinese actress Papillon Soo Soo) solicits the U.S. Marines Joker (played by the American actor Matthew Modine) and Rafterman (played by the Canadian actor Kevyn Major Howard). How problematic is this image? Let me count the ways. As a derivative of casting decisions that collapse the difference between Asians living in Asian countries and, say, British-Born Chinese? Check. As a portrayal of relations between overseas servicemen and local women that reduces the latter to sex objects? Check. As an example of a racialised 'gaze' that sees 'Asian' women as hypersexual? Check. The list goes on. As against that, however, there remains the disquieting fact that the war in Vietnam did bring servicemen and prostitutes together in large numbers. So is the image historically inaccurate? Alas, no. By the end of the war, the issues, so to speak, were readily apparent. South Vietnam had so many children of mixed-race parentage that evacuating them became part of a military operation in itself.

    Fast-forward to the Iraq War and no similar operation has been necessary. On the contrary, the presumption among many civilians is that U.S.-led coalition forces brought about or inhabited a culture that denied them sexual encounters with local women. Iraqis would not ‘love them long time.’ Furthermore, women of East or Southeast Asian descent are no longer expected, by that fact alone, to be foreign rather than domestic. Take the following advertisement, for example, which was commissioned by Apple Inc. during the Iraq War:

    After watching this a good few times, I decided that there was more going on here than schmaltzy marketing. While it would be presuming too much to assume that images such as Stanley Kubrick's are no longer being produced in dominant entertainment media, a shift, at least, appears to have taken place. This led me to enquire into the ways in which today's writers of Iraq War literature have rethought the old stereotypes of East and Southeast Asian women. Of course, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are located in those regions, but that's precisely the point. Might the most recent wars have provided an occasion to rethink the cultural legacies of older ones?

    Assuming that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were interruptions in the social and sexual norms that American servicemen had come to expect, I'm interested in how fiction writers, in turn, have seized the opportunity to break free of those norms when it comes to the craft of storytelling. My chosen sources, Phil Klay's short Story "In Vietnam they had Whores" (2014) and Atticus Lish's novel Preparation for the Next Life (2015) come from two of the best-known Iraq War writers today. Both are U.S. Marine Corps veterans and both feature increasingly in discussions of the new canon of writing that is emerging on the Iraq War and its associated episodes.


    Daniel McKay is an Associate Professor at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. His article “Pivot to Asia: Iraq War Literature and Asian/American Women” can be found in the latest issue of University of Toronto Quarterly. Read it online here (open access for a limited time).

  • Making of a Monster (Studies Article)

    Written by guest blogger, Christopher McGunnigle.

    Comic page - Tales to Astonish 17Image courtesy of Marvel.

    Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, even Thor: a secret behind these household superheroes is that, once upon a time, they were all monsters. The Marvel superhero, ever the outsider filled with doubt and heroic flaws, was built from the mold of an earlier age known as the Monster Era.

    My article on “Marvel Monsters and Their Transition into the Superhero Genre” came about, honestly, from a formulaic approach. Coming from a generalist doctoral program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I studied in numerous fields, including rhetoric, graphic narrative (i.e. comic books), and linguistics. When coming up with ideas for conferences or articles, I apply the formula (one of my scholarly fields) + (another scholarly field).

    While browsing through the Penn State Call for Papers website, I was excited by a call for an MLA panel on Monster Studies that would later become my article. The topic easily fit into my creative formula: (comic books) + (monsters) = the Marvel Monsters of the 1950s and 60s!

    Of course, my creative formula required more specification to avoid being too broad. As a rhetorician, I look into the heart of what makes a topic popular – its rhetorical appeal. As a graphic narrative scholar, I focus on visual and verbal rhetorical appeal. As a linguist, I developed a knack for finding patterns in massive amounts of data. My topic further solidified into a rhetorical analysis of the visual and verbal characteristics of the Marvel Monster – what traits of the medium and genre made the Marvel Monster so popular and influenced the formation of the new Marvel superheroes that followed the Monster Era.

    Comic page - Tales to Astonish 20Image courtesy of Marvel.

    But it was not enough to merely note that Marvel Monsters came in certain colors or shapes or had certain types of names – what about these colors and shapes and names was monstrous? I still needed more of the MONSTER in my research.

    My glue came from Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s theses on Monster Theory, which discuss the ambiguity and re-iteration of the monster figure. Multimedia rhetoric thrives on ambiguity of content to promote transmissive value, while the superhero comic book sustains itself throughout decades of storylines through constant re-iteration of content. From there, everything fell into place!

    We are always looking for the monster, whether in the closet or under the bed, but despite this search, academia has only begun to touch upon the monster’s many appearances – both where it appears and what it looks like. As the foundations of Monster Studies are being set, its future promises to find the monster in new locations and in new fields – in the social sciences, in computer and information technology, in business, in the hard sciences and who knows where else. With each new field, we will find a new interpretation and version of the monster.

    Christopher McGunnigle is a professor at Northampton Community College. His article “The Difference between Heroes and Monsters: Marvel Monsters and Their Transition into the Superhero Genre” can be found in the special Monster Studies issue of University of Toronto Quarterly. Read it online here (open access for a limited time).

  • Indulgence, Scandal, and Feminist Indignation: Katherine Turner on what draws her to Daphne du Maurier

    Written by guest blogger Katherine Turner.

    Cover of Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier

    I first became aware of Mary Anne Clarke when I was asked to edit a group of scandalous memoirs by 18th-century and Regency women (Women's Court and Society Memoirs, published in 2010 by Pickering and Chatto, now Routledge). Although writing the voluminous footnotes proved to be a grim task, I became fascinated by how these women mixed up the popular genres of memoir, scandal narrative and political satire to vindicate themselves to a reading public hungry for tales of misbehavior in high places. One of the texts I edited was The Rival Princes, an exposé published in 1810 by the courtesan Mary Anne Clarke of her role in a national scandal which had almost brought down the government in 1809 when it was revealed that she had used her adulterous relationship with the Duke of York to acquire promotions for cronies of hers in the army, the church, the East India Company, and even the House of Commons. When the scandal broke, Clarke was the star witness in a protracted Parliamentary trial which was reported in gleeful detail in the newspapers. The case also inspired many satirical cartoons which reached every corner of Britain, their saucy images of the Duke of York and his mistress in bed together doing yet further damage to the shaky reputation of the British royal family. Many of the cartoons, some by the Regency's finest satirical artists such as Cruikshank and Rowlandson, can be viewed via the British Museum's excellent website; simply search the collections (for 'images only') using the term "Mary Anne Clarke," and a whopping 189 items appear. (The British Museum's copyright regulations prohibit electronic transmission, so alas I am unable to reproduce them here.)

    In tandem with my historical research into the scandal, I soon discovered that Clarke was the great-great-grandmother of Daphne du Maurier, and that in 1954 du Maurier published a fictionalized biography of Clarke, entitled Mary Anne. Happy to have an excuse to escape from historical footnotes, I indulged myself for a few months by reading through most of du Maurier's fictional oeuvre. Like many of du Maurier's readers, I was drawn in by her tight plotting, evocative sense of place, and complex (even villainous) female characters, and by the subtexts of feminist indignation which run through many of her novels. Virago have recently reissued many of the novels with pithy introductions by contemporary women writers and critics, and if you don't know them already, then I urge you to rush out right now and get copies. They make excellent reading for the holiday season, whether you're in search of tense psychological drama (Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel) or more bodice-ripping historical yarns (Jamaica Inn).

    Mary Anne, as my recent article in UTQ observes, is a bit of an anomaly for du Maurier; since it was grounded in so much historical reality, du Maurier had less imaginative freedom than when writing her other works, and she clearly found the translation of her historical ancestor into a novelistic character to be quite a challenge. But in many ways this is one of her greatest achievements; not only does du Maurier bring to life a complex and colorful period in English history, which captured the public imagination in ways similar to cases such as the OJ Simpson trial or the Clinton impeachment; she also uses the novel to meditate upon her own literary ancestry, and to trace her own creative energies back to this indomitable woman. Mary Anne Clarke comes across as both heroine and victim, and the way in which she exposes the powerful men who exploited and ultimately abandoned her continues to resonate today.

    Katherine Turner's article "Daphne du Maurier's Mary Anne: Rewriting the Regency Romance as Feminist History" can be found in the latest issue of University of Toronto Quarterly. Read it online here: http://bit.ly/utq864.

  • Press News: January 30, 2014

    The Journals Division has published an array of new material since our last update in December. New editions include

    We also have advanced online articles from

    After much hard work and dedication, UTP Journals is proud to announce the completion of The Champlain Digital Collection. There are 113 volumes of beautiful, completely searchable PDFs, as well as four volumes of epubs, available to members and those who purchase a print copy of those volumes.

    In addition, we also have four volumes of Champlain up for sale on Amazon:

    Check out The Champlain Society's new Findings/Trouvailles post—“The History of Mr Radison’s Transactions”: William Yonge’s Letter, 1692.

    Follow us on Twitter @utpjournals and Like us on Facebook to receive daily updates on all journal activity!

  • How did your last envelope taste?

    While doing the necessary preparations to get the full archive of the University of Toronto Quarterly up online, we came across some fabulous old advertisements that we found particularly amusing.

    Check this one out:

    Our favourite part of this advertisement is Deckletone Stationary's claim to provide "pleasant tasting" envelopes. Wonder if they came in different flavours? This gem was found in the front matter of volume 18, issue 2, which was published in 1949.

    Have you come across a great, historical advertisement that speaks to its context and setting? Email or tweet us (@utpjournals) the image and we'll post it on our blog!

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