Welcome to the new instalment of Estro, as an Editorial team we are proud of the multidisciplinary nature of the journal which has provided a diverse yet unified issue. Filled with insightful articles provided by the students of the University of Essex, both undergraduate and post graduate; we are thrilled to offer a plethora of subjects ranging across the University’s departments which truly demonstrate the scope and flair of the students. We start this issue with an excellent creative writing piece by Lydia Graystone, a promising young writer who has provided a fantastic short story Wife Swap . This work updates the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale with a modern twist inspired by J. D. Salinger’s short story ‘A Perfect Day for Banana Fish’. Funny, moving and grotesque, Graystone offers a delightfully rotten, reality television watching mother-in-law, an ineffectual and emasculated husband; and a flawed and damaged heroine. Graystone’s linguistic ability is a delight to read and we hope you enjoy the prose.
The next three articles are united under the umbrella of subjectivity, starting with Robert Panners’s article ‘The eyes are a window into the soul: A consideration of point-of-view with reference to Rear Window’ which explores the extent and effects of audience manipulation trough the use of the cinematic point of view shot. Panners investigates how point of view is evidenced in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Rear Window, and both questions and utilises the debate of how the female on film is often the subject of ‘the look’ as defined by Laura Mulvey. Panners’s is a particularly relevant article when considering the current debate surrounding the portrayal of women in the media and how this portrayal affects the behaviour of young people.
The subjectivity of the viewer and the positioning of women on screen create women as an ‘Other’, this positioning of the other is explored in Harriet Jackson’s article ‘Subject Relations theory and the Dialectics of Difference: the Necessity of an Interpersonal Psychoanalytic ‘Language of Subjectivity?’ Jackson explores how subjectivity has been psychoanalytically theorised through language. Using Christopher Bollas’s theory of Subject Relations, Jackson argues that there is a need to ‘construct and symbolically represent the Other in the dialectics of Difference’ which creates a situation in which power dynamics and underlying prejudices of language can be excavated to explore the unconscious processes by which the Subject is constituted through relationality. This exploration provides some necessary tools for understanding how the Other is experienced, understood and (at times) reified. A complex yet insightful article, Jackson provides a thoughtful overview of the theory of Subject Relations before raising a series of important questions concerning how this theory can be developed in connection with clinical practice.
This emphasis upon practical application is very clearly observed in John Stevens’ research on ‘Education social networks’. Stevens compares staff and student email networks in the University and concludes that not only are the networks structured in different ways but that the motivations for using this method of communication differ. Elaborating these differences empirically lays important groundwork for considering how new technologies (and the inevitable changes in how we interact with those in our social networks) will shape subjectivity through shifting the inter-subjective connections between the Subject and the Other.
Modernity and reactions to modernity shape the next two articles, Tom Blowers article ‘Peter the Great and the Westernisation of Russia?’ examines the extent to which Peter the Great was responsible for the Westernisation of Russia and in doing so speaks to the broader notions of national consciousness and identity. This consideration of historical westernisation provides an insight into the modernity of the age. Blowers outlines a series of competing tensions which situates Russia at the threshold of geographical (Europe and Asia) and ideological (Despotism and Enlightenment) tensions; tensions often at the heart of modernity of all ages. Russia’s economic and political modernisation was, in part, motivated by Peter’s own dynamic relation with Britain and France, through the Grand Embassy to Europe (1697-8), and his own country.
The second article which deals with modernity does so from the position of the present modernity. Richard Wade’s ‘ A post-great recession mandate for the Bank of England’ explores related economic and political changes in a contemporary setting and outlines potential responses to the recent crisis. Wade presents a convincing argument for the continued, but cautious, use inflation targeting in order to manage economic growth in the future. Wade argues that the recent economic problems are not the fault of this policy but that ‘a certain amount of hubris’ may have led to carelessness. This mandate calls for further consideration of the ways in which economic and political discourse bring people into new type of relationship. In short, these changes connect notions of multiple modernities with varied subjectivities.
The last two pieces for consideration are united under the subject of art. Frederick Slater’s article ‘What do Olmec were-jaguars and jaguar babies tell us about Olmec religion?’ explores the importance of the figure of the jaguar in the artworks of the ancient South American Olmec people and how the exploration of such artworks provides an insight into the lives, social structures and beliefs of these somewhat elusive peoples. At a time when funding for the arts is dwindling, this piece reminds us of the importance of art to all societies, past, present and future.
That only leaves it for us to thank all those who have contributed to this issue of the journal, without all your hard work it would not have been possible, with a particular thank you to all the reviewers, whose efforts gain them neither money nor glory but our gratitude.
©Aaron Reeves and Lucy Cook. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY).