All Features

Men of Letters: 100 Years of Hugh Trevor-Roper

by Minoo Dinshaw

The Oxford Examination Schools see a lot of action beside their official purpose. Here Christopher Ricks has displayed his agility and Geoffrey Hill his ferocity, during their respective reigns as Professor of Poetry. More recently the admirers of Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), Lord Dacre of Glanton and onetime Regius Professor of History, gathered here on a chilly January morning a few days before the centenary of his birth. Trevor-Roper’s literary executor, Blair Worden, welcomed the company – enough to fill the South School’s broad expanse – and said he believed ‘Hugh would be pleased, and indeed surprised.’ He also congratulated us on our range of ages. This range was technically rather than visibly wide; the glossy manes of a few young Prize Fellows of All Souls peeked out from the silver sea. [read full essay]

To Illuminate a Nocturne: The Life and Work of Martin Lewis

by DC Pae

As the final curtain fell on the glory days of printmaking, a new star of the ‘American Scene’ was in the ascent; the age of Edward Hopper would establish itself in popular consciousness - a shift that was to etch itself upon the psyche of modern art-history in a way that lithography no longer could. By the time of his death in 1962, Martin Lewis was all but forgotten by a world that had once embraced and celebrated the mastery of his craft. [read full essay]

Goodbye, Chauvinism: A First World War Primer

by James Heartfield

With the UK government gearing up to mark the forthcoming 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Conservative education secretary Michael Gove caused a minor media storm by claiming that anti-war accounts of the conflict were an insult to those who served in it, calling for a more ’patriotic’ version to be taught instead. He was roundly slapped down. As James Heartfield explains, Gove’s sentimentalism is entirely misplaced. [read full essay]

Imitation Modernism: An Interview with Perry Meisel

by Katie Da Cunha Lewin

Perry Meisel is a professor of English at New York University. He has written and lectured for over 40 years and is a prominent thinker in critical theory. Primarily researching structuralism, his work tackles a disparate range of subjects, from pop culture and Henry James, to rock & roll and the popular television show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. His most recent book is The Myth of Popular Culture: From Dante to Dylan. [read full interview]

It Is What It Isn't! A Defence of Dialectic

by John P. Clark

There is no philosophical concept more commonly misused, misinterpreted or misunderstood than that of dialectic. At the same time, there are few that can match its significance. Dialectics sit at the heart of Hegelianism, they are the pivot around which Marxism turns and their roots stretch back to the first principles of Buddhist and Daoist thought. John P. Clark writes an articulate defence of the form, explaining its nuances and arguing that only through a truly dialectical social theory can we hope to challenge the contradictions of late capitalism. [read full essay]

Small is Beautiful: In Defence of Independent Publishing

by Robin Baird-Smith

The figures would suggest the book industry is doing well, but that seems to be mainly down to sales of cookbooks and ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. Lively, independent presses are still out there, but they are increasingly few and far between. From the initial influx of American capital in the 1970s to today’s myriad mergers and ‘fusions' Robin Baird-Smith reflects on how 40 years of brazen commercialism has squeezed independent publishers almost entirely out of the picture. [read full essay]

Confessions of a Lapsed Leavisite

by David Stubbs

The influential academic and literary critic FR Leavis has cast a long shadow over English literature. Looking back over his own student years, David Stubbs recalls being wowed by Leavis's brilliance and passion, while also being exasperated by his withering disdain for the popular culture of the post-war era. [read full essay]

The Brixton Bard: An Interview with Alex Wheatle

by Farzana Rahman

Alex Wheatle’s novels explore the themes of racism, poverty, youth unemployment and discrimination with confidence and nuance. His most recent novel, Brenton Brown, was published by Arcadia in 2011. Frazana Rahman asked Alex to discuss some of his thoughts on ‘black British writing'. [read full interview]

Things to Make and Use: On Beauty, Design and Work

by Jeffrey Petts

Visiting London’s annual Design Festival, Jeffrey Petts contrasts the utopian aspirations of 21st-century design and architecture – from bathroom taps and 3D printers to the city’s new tall buildings – with an ‘arts and crafts’ view of 'soul-making' work, an idea reinvigorated for urban living in a recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. [read full essay]

Subversive At All Times: An Interview with Emma Wright

by Tom Cutterham

Emma Wright quit her day-job in publishing to start a poetry press, The Emma Press, which published its first volume, The Flower and the Plough, earlier this year. With an Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse launched on 26 September, Wright's project is picking up steam. We spoke to her about ambitions, aesthetics, and the elusive ground of the 'mildly erotic.' [read full interview]