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“The distance does not hinder the ties that bind and bring us together”: Interview with the Ambassador of Canada H.E. Ayesha Patricia Rekhi

in Current Issue/Interviews/Views

by Lenka Vestenická, Kristína Šefčíková

Lenka Vestenická with H.E. Ayesha Patricia Rekhi. Photo by Karel Němeček. 

H.E. Ayesha Patricia Rekhi has been the Canadian Ambassador to the Czech Republic since 2019. Before settling in Prague, her rich diplomatic career led her to serve at Canadian missions in Hong Kong, New Delhi, Hanoi, and Bangkok. Ambassador Rekhi focuses on supporting and giving a voice to marginalized groups and advocating for women’s rights. Therefore, this interview touches upon topics such as inclusivity, feminist foreign policy, women in diplomacy, and Canada’s Indigenous population. On a lighter note, we also talked about hockey, trick-or-treating for the Baťa family in Toronto and beautiful places to visit in Canada and the Czech Republic.

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Smiling through the Ups and Downs. Mayra Lopez-Garcia: the 100-mile Trail Runner

in Current Issue/Interviews/Views

by Bryan Felber

Mayra relieved to have just completed the Western States 100-mile race. © Hilary Ann

It’s pitch-black on a lonely section of the Western States Trail – a century-old dusty path that winds through the unrelenting Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Much of the trail that stretches from Utah to California is only accessible by horse, helicopter, or foot. For 34-year-old Mayra Lopez-Garcia, she’s opted for the last form of transportation – the never-failing heal-toe express. Only problem is, as she summits a peak to reach a pit stop at mile 80 of her 100-mile ultramarathon, the wheels of her carriage – her feet – are “completely trashed.”

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Lessons from Wife Swap

in Current Issue/Views

by Jana Záhoráková

This article will analyse how identity building of the participants in the reality show Wife Swap is maximised to create confrontation between them. The show originated in the United Kingdom and then transferred rather successfully to the United States as well as many other countries. I will first show research from four academic sources about the intervening ways in which this is done through linguistic phenomena. I conclude with a discussion from a sociological perspective.

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Gender Roles in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

in Current Issue/Reviews/Views

by Arya Dixit

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (dir. Jacques Demy), was met with mixed reviews when the film premiered in 1964, during the French New Wave movement, but has steadily grown in both popularity and appreciation for its timeless, artistic vision. In Umbrellas, Demy infuses his cinematography with a fairy-tale-like quality. The musical numbers, bold use of colors, and choreographed movements make the visuals and storytelling dream-like. Fairy tales come with stereotypes: the audience expects happy endings, an other-worldly, pure romance, a knight in shining armor who wins over the girl he loves, and the girl who slowly grows to love him back. Similarly, in Hollywood cinema, as Backes states: “everything was larger than life. From the large scale sets, soaring visuals, and grandiose love that always ended with everything in its place”. Demy manages to break almost all of these preconceived notions of fairy-tale (and Hollywood rom-com) cinema and brings to light the inherent class structures, gender roles and expectations, and the reality of romance without losing the brilliancy and charm of a dreamy world. He carefully uses settings, colors, and dialogue to work together and illustrate the complexities of society, especially when gender norms come into play.

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Happily Ever After?

in Current Issue/Reviews/Views

by Alena Gašparovičová

And they lived happily ever after is undoubtedly a well-known phrase that can be found at the end of many a romantic fairy tale. It rounds up the story and suggests that after a period full of struggle, the protagonist(s) are finally getting to a period of peace, prosperity and marital bliss. 

Shared by Willgard under Pixabay License via pixabay.com

The conception that marriage is a state of ideal bliss that is perpetuated in romantic fairy tales is not without issues. The phrase and they lived happily ever after suggests that with marriage, all the problems that the protagonists have faced in the course of the story will come to an end, and no new problems will arise up until they die. The aim of this paper is to discuss the theme of marriage in Naomi Novik’s novel Spinning Silver, focusing on the main female protagonist, Miryem, to show how the author demonstrates that marriage does not necessarily mean that one will live happily ever after. 

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Overview of University Students’ Mental Health

in Current Issue/Views

by Linda Krajčovičová

The topic of mental health has enjoyed a significant rise in popularity in recent years, which is slowly resulting in people’s improved and more profound understanding of the matter. Struggles with mental wellbeing are experienced by people from various spheres of life, at various ages, and to various degrees, and university students are no exception. Despite the impression that young people are generally “healthier” than the older generations, being young poses its own threats which can have a huge impact on people’s mental health. This article looks primarily at the United States and the Czech Republic, and compares the state and the development of university students’ mental health in recent years. It also tries to see whether the role universities in these two countries play in helping students who struggle mentally is sufficient or not. 

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Havel Underground: A synthesis of artistic freedom and socio-political responsibility

in Current Issue/Views

by Matthew Somerville

The literary scholar, René Wellek, hypothesized that in the history of the Czech nation, only rarely has artistic creativeness coincided with periods of “intellectual advance and political good fortune” (29-30). For Wellek, there appears in Czechoslovakia a deep antagonism between the mind and soul, between contemplation and external business (30). There is merit in Wellek’s claim; for, the artist, if they are to remain true to their art, laments living in the head and only wishes to be left in peace to make art for art’s sake. Save for those times when a euphoric atmosphere overflows in a heady wave of anticipation and hope, when the nation calls forth the civic duty of the artist to shepherd the flock toward a new tomorrow, and excepting those times when the artist is co-opted, corrupted, or coerced into propagandizing political ideology, the artistic soul typically refrains, hides out of sight, or up and flees. Václav Havel often expressed the desire to be left alone to write in peace and quiet; yet, he was moved by what he considered a destiny of responsibility to speak for those who were unable to speak for themselves. Havel’s rise to the presidency in 1990 heralds one of those rare moments in Czech history where a synthesis of artistic expression and political good fortune is evident; a synthesis perceived not only in Havel’s symbolic turn from dissident playwright to political essayist, but in a humanist politics that seeks primarily to defend the rights of the individual. Whether or not the regime was destined to fall as it ultimately did in 1989, Havel’s directorship as one of the founding members and authors behind Charter 77 played a key role in the transition to democratic freedom. His rise to the presidency was activated through his engagement with the counter-culture movement and inspired by the underground movement’s refusal to live within a lie, and their initiative to free themselves by their own efforts, regardless of the personal sacrifices required.

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Water Problem in the United States

in Views

by Linda Krajčovičová

Olya Kobruseva, Pexels, CC BY 4.0

 

Although access to drinking water is virtually unlimited for the majority of people, a significant part of the world’s population is not so lucky. The misleading consensus that the lack of safe drinking water is exclusively the problem of developing countries has been present in western societies for many years, and it can be argued that such conviction has made these societies quite careless and negligent. This article focuses on one of the most progressive countries of the world – the United States of America, and shows examples of the problems that such an attitude can lead to.  Keep Reading

Emotion: A Gateway to Intercultural Ethics

in Views

by Salim Mustafa

The philosophical and sociological literature shows that there are three major approaches to intercultural ethics. Absolutist approaches try to impose an absolutist view on other cultures; these approaches are impractical as there is no wide agreement as to what is absolutely religiously authoritative, natural, historical or reasonable. Further, the problem worsens when absolutists try to claim their own culture and values are “universal”. It favours a unilinear model of cultural and ethical development. This is one of the major problems of absolutists approaches as it presumes all cultures pass along a single ray of development and meet on an absolute set up of norms and values. The next conception, i.e., cultural relativism, holds that different cultures have their own beliefs and norms which are incommensurable and, therefore, it is not possible to formulate any ethical principles that are acceptable and valid across all the cultures. It holds that different cultures follow a multi-linear and separate model of ethical conduct and development which cannot be united (Evanoff 3). But, all these approaches are insufficient in dealing with cultural differences and in establishing a cross cultural ethical principle. There are loopholes in each of these theories as shown above; their principles turn out to be incompatible with cultural plurality and universal ethical standards. When particulars are considered, universal ethics becomes impossible and when absolute criteria are formulated the diversity is ignored. Hence, these approaches fail to promote an ethics valid across cultures which do not ignore but respect diversity. Keep Reading

Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion: Female Sexuality in Hip-Hop in the 21st century

in Views

by Jana Záhoráková

This article analyses sexually explicit lyrics.

This article will look at how the depiction of women in hip-hop has transformed over the years. First, in the historical origins of hip-hop, the misogynistic portrayals in songs and music videos by male artists were abundant. Later on, the 1990s belonged to female rappers like Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, or Queen Latifah and now it is not only people who listened to rap from its infancy, but the whole world that engages in this culture. I will focus on two songs: “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj and “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. I will first introduce each singer, then analyse the lyrics in these two songs. I will then focus on each song’s reception and the controversies they caused. Keep Reading

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