Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Culture & Literature

Are Tote Bags Still Cool?
Culture, Culture & Literature, Literature, Visual Arts

Are Tote Bags Still Cool?

By Daniel Pepin A cloth sack with straps and a print. That’s all a tote bag is. And yet, it is so much more. Getting across campus without seeing at least one tote bag is impossible. A bold Brick Lane Bookshop tote here and a sleek London Review of Books one there; a rare sighting of the coveted Shakespeare and Co. bag straight from Kilometre Zero Paris – they tend to permeate our surroundings. Each tote comes equipped with its own prestige stamped on the front or hiding in the small pocket stitched into pricier models. At once, it is a fashion and intellectual statement. But are they still cool? You would be hard-pressed to find an established independent bookshop without a tote bag of their very own, which is their genius. Picture a trip to your favourite bookstore - a hidden gem may...
Words from the Wild: The Nature of Poetry – An Interview with Briony Hughes
Culture, Culture & Literature, Literature, Visual Arts

Words from the Wild: The Nature of Poetry – An Interview with Briony Hughes

By Charisse Hau Words from the Wild: The Nature of Poetry is an exhibition exploring different forms of poetry in response to the natural world. The exhibition has been curated by Royal Holloway and TECHNE researchers Caroline Harris, Briony Hughes, and Gareth Hughes, in collaboration with the Royal Holloway Culture Team. In exploring the interplays between materiality and ecopoetry, I had the chance to talk to one of the curators, Briony Hughes, who is also a visiting tutor in English and Creative Writing, and PhD candidate. There are so many intersections between material, and poetry. Why and how is that used in this exhibition? “All of the poets in the space agree that a shift in climate necessitates a shift in how we approach poetic writing, and in particular, a shift in p...
A Closer Look at Alex Scott’s Inspirational Memoir, ‘How (Not) To Be Strong’
Culture & Literature, Literature, Sports & Socs

A Closer Look at Alex Scott’s Inspirational Memoir, ‘How (Not) To Be Strong’

By Beth McCowen *Content Warning - discussion of domestic abuse* Now a highly-respected pundit, and ambassador for the domestic abuse charity Refuge, Alex Scott MBE became the best right-back of her time during an illustrious career as a high-level football player. The former Arsenal and England captain’s memoir was published in 2022.  ‘How (Not) To Be Strong’ details not only Scott’s football journey, but also the story of her life so far. She may have gone from strength to strength as a player, and then as a broadcaster, but that is not to say it was easy. Scott describes some of the difficulties that came with growing up with a father who was an alcoholic, and became abusive. One part of the book which really struck a chord with me, was when Scott explains that her decis...
Beyond Space and Time
Culture & Literature, Opinion

Beyond Space and Time

By Adisa Manole November is the month that many Eastern European countries remember the loved ones who have departed from this life. Consequently, I decided that this was the right time to tell the tale of my great-grandfather. He served in the Second World War when Romania joined the Soviet Union's Operation Barbarossa. Even though I have never met my great-grandfather, my father always told me that I had the same spark in my eyes as he did. I always needed clarification on what he meant when he said that. How could this heroic figure compare to this scared young woman?  When my great-grandfather, Vasile Gheorghe (also known as Răduță), was sent to serve on the battlefields of Europe, he was in his late twenties, had just got married to my great-grandmother, and they had just ...
Bag Salad and Box Office
Culture & Literature, Literature, Theatre & Performance

Bag Salad and Box Office

By Daniel Pepin Do you like contemporary fiction? The kind of fiction that makes you squirm? Boundary pushing, unsettling, compulsive, a little bit sexy? Then chances are you have read or at least heard of Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – if you have not then please do so, for the above reasons. Clark’s debut novel was an instant cult classic, epitomising the manic and obsessive world of the internet era – criticising and dissecting modern gender conflict, classism, and performative art. The razor blade sharp book follows Irina, a Northern fetish photographer as she humiliates and captures explicit photos of young men and boys while surviving off a heady mix of coke, ket, Tesco bag salad, and La Mer. The playbook opens with ‘this is the story as Irina tells it. She is an artist, a monster, a...
From Adolescence to Adulthood: an ode to Sally Rooney’s Normal People
Culture & Literature, Literature

From Adolescence to Adulthood: an ode to Sally Rooney’s Normal People

By Madeline Sidgwick “I found it all moving and emotionally wrecking, in the best way.” James Poniewozik perfectly articulates my feelings upon discovering Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel Normal People. I came across Normal People after reading Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends, which I consumed in two sittings, and was hoping to have the same gut-wrenching connection to the characters - I was more than pleasantly surprised. The bildungsroman arc follows Marianne and Connell from their final years of high school, through university, and into adulthood, both individually and within their ever-fluctuating relationship. Rooney perfectly depicts the anxieties, changes (both positive and negative), and frustrations of this period of life. The character-driven plot allows readers no...
How do you answer a question without questioning your answer?
Creative Writing, Lifestyle, Literature

How do you answer a question without questioning your answer?

By Anna Diedrichsen How do you write a love poem without confessing too much?  Do you only write down half of what you think?  Do you write like instead of love hoping they’ll understand either way? Do you dial down on the pink  and instead use a dark grey? How do you speak without sharing too much? Do you ask questions, trying not to care? Do you let your sight wander, avoiding their eyes? Do you wait until someone asks you to share and then only tell them quiet white lies? How do you live without wanting to move on up?  Do you stare out the same window every day  waiting for the view to change?  Do you long for salt but wish your...
Move on Up
Creative Writing, Literature

Move on Up

An Anagram Poem By Jemimah Hawkes Perhaps the best plan  would be to shove you   with no more politeness than a lain-down rake.   But I allow myself no  such luxury. You and yours stretch to eons of space and time.   I am not infinite, no.   I am not forever, no  always lurks in me.   But I am so much movement and shadow you don’t know what to make of me.   I am venal and cardinal, I am  an anomaly in your taxonomy.  I move in circles all my own.   Perhaps we should put it to you,   fame-claiming, politicking, marvellous men.   Perhaps we should ask you   to move on up,  make space   and se...
It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
Culture & Literature, Opinion

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

By Olivia Taylor We are led to believe that everything that starts eventually has to end. Last year as a part of my compulsory ‘Thinking as a Critic’ English module we briefly discussed teleology, specifically looking at its relation to literature. In a philosophical sense, teleology essentially describes the purpose of something by its finality rather than how it came to be, and so when this theory is applied to literature, often it becomes apparent that continuity cannot always be as rewarding as closure may be. The state of closure brings about a sense of completeness, it yields satisfaction. When it got to the point of writing our final assignment for this particular module, I was drawn back to our previous studies of closure with a question titled, ‘For what reason, if any, is clo...
How Did Life End Up With Us?
Culture & Literature, Literature, Opinion

How Did Life End Up With Us?

By Felix Poreé and Olivia Taylor Introduced as the first book of a quartet titled "The Secrets of Life: From Big Bang to Trump", SS O'Connor's How Did Life End Up With Us? presents itself as an attempt to answer the most pertinent of questions surrounding the laws of life, from the start of the Big Bang all the way to the ‘decisions’ that organisms make that ultimately determine their chances of survival. One anticipates that such questions would require substantial scientific research, and although O’Connor admits he is not a scientist, his undertaking, given to the reader in a conversational writing style, is divided into specific chapters that aim to cover such topics as natural selection, gene mutations, and evolutionary change, down to parasitism, mutualism, and altruism. O’Con...