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The Best of 2013

With the year drawing to its conclusion, it’s high time for an annual retrospective. Each of this year’s editors-in-chief has looked back at the articles which they published and chosen their favorite three. Here is the best of the Oxonian Review:

Angus Brown (chosen by Gabriel Roberts):

1. ‘Lance Armstrong Still Come Clean’, Issue 21.2

Responding to the revelation that Lance Armstrong had systematically cheated in the Tour de France, the cycling expert Jared Spier explains the full extent of Armstrong’s deception and argues that his true mendacity is yet to be revealed in full.

2. ‘Blow Up Media Studies’, Issue 21.3

In the recent debates about the value of the humanities, Toby Miller, Professor of Cultural Industries in the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management at City University in London, proposed that the humanities should be exploded and replaced by the egalitarian study of media and culture. Emma Park responds by arguing that media studies should be blown up instead.

3. ‘Pop Goes History’, Issue 21.4

Kevin Brazil reviews exhibitions at Tate Modern and Tate Britain in the spring of 2013 on Roy Lichtenstein and Kurt Schwitters. He concludes that we continue to need a history of pop art which places it on a level with, rather than defining it in opposition to, the fine art of earlier historical periods.

Rosie Lavan:

1. ‘Neutralising Orwell‘, Issue 22.4

In a brilliantly shrewd and exacting piece, Calum Mechie and Simon Morley exposed the mismatch between George Orwell’s convictions and the altogether glossier, safer, more ‘Establishment’ ambitions of the prize for political writing which bears his name.

2. Grace Egan, ‘The Gospel According to Hadley‘, Issue 22.5

In what we think may have been the first all-female authored issue of the OR, Grace Egan read Hadley Freeman’s pop-feminist tract Be Awesome (2013) very carefully. It would have been easy simply to sneer at the book, but Grace did something much cleverer, getting at some of the most difficult questions which surround attempts to speak for and about women.

3. Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, ‘My Mother the Philosopher‘, Issue 22.6

It is always a privilege for the OR to feature original writing, and I was particularly pleased to be able to include Yousif Qasmiyeh’s prose-poems, which negotiate the tender spaces between languages and loved ones, in our special issue on translation.

Dominic Davies:

1. ‘Drama, Conflict and Thwarted Desire‘, Issue 23.1

Described in 2003 as the “Best of Young British Novelists” by Granta magazine, Bangladeshi-born writer Monica Ali’s first novel, Brick Lane (2003), made the shortlist of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and has since gone on to write three more novels of critical acclaim. She here reveals some top tips for fiction writing, her thoughts on literature and politics, and her current work-in-progress.

2. ‘Seamus Heaney and Oxford‘, Issue 23.3

Published in memory of Seamus Heaney, who sadly died this year on 30 August, Rosie Lavan here unpicks the balances and bifurcations that recur and resound in his writing, but also those resonant ideas of reconciliation and unity.

3. ‘More than Something?‘, Issue 23.4

Chris Green reflects on the evolving role of the public intellectual, Slavoj Žižek, in a witty and thoughtful piece that resembles the Slovenian’s own humourous style. The review reflects, psychoanalytically (and in a lovely redeployment of Žižek’s own methodology), on the symbolic meaning with which the philospher’s most recent, and most hefty, contribution is invested.