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Mike Leigh may well be Britain's greatest living film director; his worldview has permeated our national consciousness. This book gives detailed readings of the nine feature films he has made for the cinema, as well as an overview of his work for television. Written with the co-operation of Leigh himself, it challenges the critical privileging of realism in histories of British cinema, placing the emphasis instead on the importance of comedy and humour: of jokes and their functions; of laughter as a survival mechanism; and of characterisations and situations that disrupt our preconceptions of ‘realism’. Striving for the all-important quality of truth in everything he does, Leigh has consistently shown how ordinary lives are too complex to fit snugly into the conventions of narrative art. From the bittersweet observation of Life is Sweet or Secrets and Lies, to the blistering satire of Naked and the manifest compassion of Vera Drake, he has demonstrated a matchless ability to perceive life's funny side as well as its tragedies.

Realizing an everyday Islamic identity
Ali Mozaffari
Nigel Westbrook

The search for a culturally appropriate housing model continued in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution and was circumscribed by an intense ideological rhetoric of Islamism. This rhetoric was propped up with nostalgic references to an Islamic tradition and with the desire to assert an authentic identity and reimagine heritage. Beyond the revolutionary rhetoric, however, the practical solutions proposed for housing reveal a remarkable continuity with the pre-Revolution period, and in some instances, a direct link to Shushtar Now. This chapter refers to the earliest post-Revolution collection of public housing competitions conducted by the Ministry of Housing between June and November 1985 and published in 1989. It analyses some of the competition entries and refers to interviews conducted during fieldwork to examine the strands of pre- and post-Revolution continuity. This examination shows that the same traditional motifs that informed discourses of identity and authenticity before the Revolution continued to operate with more official force after 1979. The intention was clear: to produce an Islamic citizen through social engineering. This is apparent in the jury statements. For architects involved, however, pandering to such rhetoric was not always a matter of conviction, but at times, a practical survival mechanism.

The Serbian retreat, 1915
Angela K. Smith

Those women, who did not remain behind with the wounded, were forced to flee along with the defeated Serbian armies and thousands of Serbian refugees. Their path took them across the mountains of Serbia, Montenegro and Albania just as the winter set in, with the noise of the guns always behind them. This was an extraordinary journey and some fascinating accounts of it survive. This chapter explores the experience of the retreat from a gendered perspective, with a particular focus on the ways in which the women involved used their ‘femininity’ to survive and to help others to get through. It examines the everyday, the ordinary, the domestic, and the ways in which women used these aspects of life as a survival mechanism peculiar to their own gendered experience. This chapter focuses on the charismatic leader, Mabel St Clair Stobart, drawing on her autobiographical writings, analyzing her conscious self-presentation, and the ways in which she choose to perform the roles of Commandant, Major, Lady and Mother simultaneously. The chapter builds on the ideas in 'Role Call' and considers the significance of gender in the way women chose to deal with the experience of the retreat.

in British women of the Eastern Front
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Geoff Baker

, his papers show that his actions, his beliefs and the environment in which he lived were frequently at odds with one another. What is striking about Blundell is the skill with which he avoided possible conflict between these different areas of his life. Not only did he create a series of survival mechanisms which enabled him to evade the full effects of the penal laws but he used his commonplace books as a forum in which to hide, from others and possibly himself, the extent of his reservations about Protestantism in general and the activities of the Protestant regimes

in Reading and politics in early modern England
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John M. MacKenzie

survey ships of the same class. Such a sense of exultation, experienced by the most restrained of personalities, was surely also a survival mechanism in the face of considerable privation. Huxley describes a similar combination of conditions and emotions when he served on the Rattlesnake . 29 It was a short step to the belief that science was capable of unlocking redemptive and regenerative forces on a

in Imperialism and the natural world
Why some of us push our bodies to extremes

This book is about people willing to do the sorts of things that most others couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't. While there are all sorts of reasons why people consume substances, the author notes that there are those who treat drug-taking like an Olympic sport, exploring their capacity to really push their bodies, and frankly, wanting to be the best at it. Extreme athletes, death-defiers and those who perform incredible stunts of endurance have been celebrated throughout history. The most successful athletes can compartmentalise, storing away worry and pain in a part of their brain so it does not interfere with their performance. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) play, the endogenous opioid system responds to the pain, releasing opioid peptides. It seems some of us are more wired than others to activate those ancient biological systems, be it through being caned in a dungeon during a lunchbreak or climbing a sheer rock wall at the weekend. Back in 1990, sociologist Stephen Lyng coined the term 'edgework', now frequently used in BDSM circles, as 'voluntary pursuit of activities that involve a high potential for death, physical injury, or spiritual harm'.

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‘You’ve gotta laugh’
Tony Whitehead

Bleak Moments and All or Nothing, laughter and a sense of humour are seen as valid, indeed vital, responses to life. ‘You’ve gotta laugh’ is a phrase that recurs many times in Leigh’s work – though it is significant that it is usually said by characters who are not joking at the time; who have either not much to laugh about (such as Brenda Blethyn’s Cynthia in Secrets and Lies), or no discernible sense of humour at all (like Timothy Spall’s Aubrey in Life Is Sweet (1990)). Throughout Leigh’s work, laughter is a survival mechanism, and shared laughter is the key to a

in Mike Leigh
Bisexual camp in The Stranger’s Child
Joseph Ronan

to, and method for coping with and critiquing, the straight culture that oppresses it. It is ‘a survival mechanism, a form of queer resistance in a world where the systems surrounding gender and sexuality are rigidly policed’.28 But mainstream gay culture, in its reliance on the fixing of an authentic identity, polices its own rigid systems which work to erase bisexuality. What I identify as bisexual camp therefore operates as a site of specifically bisexual resistance to this monosexist gay culture. According to Jonathan Dollimore, camp ‘negotiates some of the

in Alan Hollinghurst
Life Is Sweet
Tony Whitehead

seem out of place. Nor does it when she returns home to Andy, who is also very drunk after an evening in the pub, talking football and putting the world to rights with Patsy. He is at first discovered asleep in the caravan, allegedly ‘tidying up’, and when she gets him inside she has to prevent him from raiding the fridge for more lager, bundle him upstairs and order him to ‘get in that toilet and do a wee’ as though he were a naughty boy. Just as her sense of humour may occasionally grate but is nevertheless obviously part of her survival mechanism, her addressing

in Mike Leigh
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A History of the World in 10½ Chapters
Peter Childs

become Irish for a few hours without realizing it’, never speaks to him again. Only the chapter’s third-person narrator knows and tells ‘the truth’, reminding the reader of the artifice that is omniscient narration. In the fourth chapter, ‘The survivor’, Kath Ferris considers official accounts of the past to be a male bastion of dates and battles against which she posits the belief that history – memory and truth – is in the mind. 7 Kath believes she is constructing a thought-dialogue as a survival mechanism while she drifts the ocean

in Julian Barnes