After more than one year since the launch of Stet, we are very proud to present to you Issue 2. Our decision to select the theme of metamorphosis – one of the most pervasive themes in literature – seems all the more prescient at a time of upheaval within the academy and in the wake of the cultural and economic transformations taking place around the world. Our cultural awareness and anxieties in this state of flux are heightened as we currently are witnessing the collapse of economies, financial markets, dictatorships and regimes. The whole world appears engaged in a collective movement of change. These essays, if anything, remind us of the importance of English Literature in representing these changes.
In tune with the theme of change, Stet implemented two new features this year. First, we are very grateful to have a contribution from esteemed writer and King’s College London’s own professor Andrew O’Hagan. We are greatly honoured to feature ‘On Hating Football’, from his recent collection of essays The Atlantic Ocean, in which he engagingly discusses his fraught relationship with football, a relationship which took a dramatic turn at his tenth birthday party in 1978. Also, this year we decided to open the submission pool to the world. We received tens of submissions from schools across the United Kingdom and beyond.
The essays, despite being diverse in their content, share something beyond the over-riding theme of metamorphosis. Danielle Yardy, Carrie Bell and Sasha Garwood have presented the body as a metaphorical vessel for change. Danielle Yardy presents us with the Old English Soul and Body poems and explores their themes of the disintegration of the human body in death. Carrie Bell expands the notion of metamorphosis in the visual image of the body as seen through the advent of photography in early Victorian times, particularly as represented in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex novels. Also in tune with the body politic, Sasha Garwood’s postmodern assessment of lesbian BDSM fiction from writer and activist Pat Califia seeks to understand the relationship between sexual pleasure and its limits, particularly through food. Rachele Dini and Emma Poltrack, on the other hand, have taken the imaginative realm of change as their object. Rachele Dini explores metamorphosis in the imaginative space through a contemplation of Walter Benjamin’s writings on lived and imagined memory. Emma Poltrack provides an exciting discussion of the supernatural beliefs informing transmutation in the presence of alcoholic consumption in Shakespeare’s Othello. Although two of our authors have tackled Keats and his influence on the poetic genre, they diverge greatly. Octavia Cox explores Keats’s artistic metamorphosis as a trailblazer in expanding the scope and possibilities of literary expectations within the poetic genre. Meanwhile, Eleanor Spencer is concerned with the notion of textual ‘bequeathals’ (as defined by Keats) between the past and present and specifically the ghost of Keats in the work of contemporary poet Anne Stevenson. Finally, we have a group of essays that look at the way in which specific authors have treated and interpreted change. Melissa Dickson interweaves the intricate narratives of the Arabian Nights stories to present an argument about how the process of cultural adaption and transformation influences the concept of narrative space. Change is also explored as a construct of nationality in Pheobe Phillips’ interpretation of Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion and the main character’s transient occupation in various cultural spaces. Each of these essays – though unique in content and context – masterfully explores the phenomena of metamorphosis of the body, the soul, the nation and all the various entities that influence our experiences in the humanities.
There are many people we would like to thank for their assistance with the compilation and production of this issue. First, we’d like to extend our utmost gratitude to Hannah August and Camilla Mount for their continual support, dedication and guidance during the process of producing Stet, Issue 2. Your commitment to the success of this journal is unparalleled and we truly are grateful for the opportunity to have led a wonderful team of authors, editors, reviewers and web and production teams. In that vein, we’d also like to thank all of the wonderful students, researchers and lecturers that volunteered their time to work anonymously as copy-editors and peer-reviewers. We are very grateful for your time.
We truly hope you enjoy and appreciate these essays as much as we did.
Chisomo, Sophie, Jordan (editors | Stet, Issue 2)