Post-PhD Precarity: A Rant

As those of you who follow me on Twitter may know, I recently passed my viva voce examination with minor corrections.  I completed these corrections a couple of weeks ago and, all being well, I should be submitting the final revised version of my thesis this week.  Since reaching this milestone, I have been asked a series of similar questions by several (uncountable) people including ‘So what are you doing now?’ and ‘Any luck on the job front?’.  These questions are difficult to answer.

In terms of what I’m doing now, I explain that despite being “finished” with the thesis, I’m not really finished.  I’m keen to publish the material I’ve produced throughout my doctoral research and I’m busy working away on various different projects connected to this goal.  I’ve got a couple of articles on the go – one on childhood temporalities, earlier versions of which you can read here and here, and one on seascapes and immigration, partly inspired by an earlier post on immigration and death which you can read here.  I’m also working simultaneously on a postdoctoral research application and a book project that will develop one of the chapters of my thesis on performance in post-Franco Spanish cinema, which I’ve previously written about on this blog (see here).

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The Politics of Performance in Noviembre (Achero Mañas, 2003)

Figure 1: The Gun as Performance Prop (Noviembre, 2003)
Figure 1: The Gun as Performance Prop (Noviembre, 2003)

Screams and gasps accompany a dark, black and white image of a gun fading into focus.  A shot is fired and a paper explosion escapes from the barrel of the gun, which is not a lethal weapon but rather a prop in an artistic performance (Figure 1).  This is the opening image of Noviembre (2003), a relatively little-known and under-studied Spanish film directed by Achero Mañas.  (The film is available to view here).  Though extremely brief, this pre-credits scene microcosmically embodies the key themes and ideas of the film as a whole, which include the intermingling of performance and everyday life as well as the relationship between representation and reality.  Noviembre is one of the films I am currently working on as part of a book proposal based on one of my thesis chapters and this post constitutes a starting point for me to think about the film in more detail.  In what follows, I address the legacy of performance to which Noviembre alludes as well as the film’s reflection on the politics of spectatorship.  Beyond this post, I am interested in further unpacking the ethics of spectatorship, and its therapeutic potential, in this film and I am keen to analyse the sequences involving death in this regard.  Please feel free to leave feedback through the comments function below if you have any thoughts you would like to share on these or other related matters; you’ll also find me on Twitter (@FionaFNoble).  More than a film, Noviembre is an artistic manifesto that produces a potent political statement about the radical potential of the arts, not just in the context of twenty-first century Spain but also more broadly in our contemporary globalised world.

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