Literature

Are We Living in a Dystopian Novel?

‘Dystopian’ is often defined as “relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.” To say that we are threatened by becoming this version of ‘dystopian’ would be to say that the society we live in now is not violent or full of injustice. But it is. So, under the vague dictionary definition, we are living in a dystopia. But the key word that jumps out in this definition is ‘imagined.’ For me, ‘dystopian’ conjures up images of a dark grey filter overlaying a desolated, toxic wasteland or slums full of leather-clad teenagers who team up against the gaudy, corrupt, and wealthy leaders. It’s specific, a reality that makes permanent the injustices already present in our world, taking away any possibility of progression or change. This imagined version of a dystopia isn’t quite our reality.

Is That a Snake in Your Pants, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me: Monstrous Metamorphoses and the Literature of Alienation

Human fascination with unnatural transformations is nothing new; humans have morphed into monsters all throughout literature, from werewolves to vampires, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve’s Beauty and the Beast. But perhaps the most famous treatment is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a compilation of mythical changes.

Looking Behind The Autobiography with St. Augustine and Ayad Akhtar

The portrait was once a primary tool for the shaping of public perception. You can argue with me about the competing roles of banquets, weddings, coronations, and edicts but the point is that a picture, an artwork, has a historical sticking power. Images, like the distinctive visage of Henry VIII (wide, smug, magnificent), echo across time. But fashions change and the inception of the photograph has somewhat depreciated the value of a painting. It is more and more common to see the autobiographies of politicians and celebrities published, almost as a formality of fame.

The Validity of Self-Help: Literature Like any Other

The Validity of Self-Help: Literature Like any Other

Toward the end of a several-day hiatus from writing, I visited a bookstore for the sole purpose of perusing. I was shocked to see that “self-help” had become a section of its own, donning a few eight-foot high columns. Authors promoted anything from traditional Buddhist concepts to successful wall-street financial maneuvers to better the reader’s everyday life. I picked up and flipped through The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, whom I was already somewhat familiar with, when it dawned on me. I just need to write this piece. I don’t need to actually give a “F*ck”. Motivated by a Nike-esque “just do it” mentality, I embraced the ethos of the self-help genre.

The Woman with the Cross Tattoo

The Woman with the Cross Tattoo

On my sixteenth birthday, I ask my mother if I can get a tattoo like hers on my wrist. Raising an eyebrow at me, she responds back, like she’s done, a thousand times before,

It’s not a tattoo, she says.

Racial Diversity in Literature – What it Means and Why We Need It

Racial Diversity in Literature – What it Means and Why We Need It

“What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me,” wrote Walter Dean Myers in a 2014 opinion piece for the New York Times, titled Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? He explains that when living through extremely difficult points of his life (including coping with the murder of his uncle, grief, and alcohol abuse by family members),reading books became a retreat from the world. He noted that the world he saw around him was not reflected in his reading material: “As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Ancient Texts and Modern Forgery

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Ancient Texts and Modern Forgery

For two thousand years, the Dead Sea Scrolls lay hidden. They were discovered in 1947 in the West Bank and became incredibly important artifacts for archaeologists and scholars as some of the oldest biblical texts ever discovered. Over the next several decades the various Scrolls were sold and scattered between various collectors and museums. One such museum, the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., proudly displayed sixteen fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, until this past March, when National Geographic reported that a team of researchers had found that all of the museum’s fragments were fakes. This conclusion has important ramifications not only for the museum, but also for researchers studying the Scrolls, and for the history of Judaism and Christianity.

Entity in the Nebula

Entity in the Nebula

Entity in the Nebula In the nebula There is starry matter, And in that matter There are phosphorescent eyes — And within the penetrating smoky-eyed visage                            There is an...

The Maybes

The Maybes

They were trying the traffic-light system again this year. The plan was to expedite the selection process; make it easier to get a hundred-and-fifty college kids to Japan. The folders were laid out across three plastic tables they’d carried up from the cafeteria. The YES folders were green and occupied three stacks. The NO folders were red. There were too many of them for proper piles, so they were simply dumped, en masse, in bins. Maybe she was right, he thought, and they should have just kept it digital, not bothered printing it all out. The process hadn’t really worked last year either and that year they had only needed a hundred interns. This year they would have one-fifty. Maybe one-fifty-five even.

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