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Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 1 (March 2017)

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Open AccessArticle “How to Pronounce Meme.” Three YouTube Channels
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010010
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
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Abstract
Internet anomalies produce data and images beyond any authorship or source. They seem to compute and display the depths and potentials of the net “as such.” Explanations and theories surround and attempt to account for anomalies, from ARGs to NSA recruiting tools. Examining
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Internet anomalies produce data and images beyond any authorship or source. They seem to compute and display the depths and potentials of the net “as such.” Explanations and theories surround and attempt to account for anomalies, from ARGs to NSA recruiting tools. Examining three such anomalous YouTube channels, this essay does not propose a solution but rather maintains the anomalous as the constituent aesthetic and community of the net. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessArticle The New Commodity: Technicity and Poetic Form
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010009
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 3 March 2017 / Accepted: 10 March 2017 / Published: 18 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of the key strands of early thinking by the Language Poets, notably Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews and Steve McCaffery, was that the poem—particularly the mainstream, American lyric in thrall to the Imagist tradition—should be understood as partaking in the commodity system, either
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One of the key strands of early thinking by the Language Poets, notably Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews and Steve McCaffery, was that the poem—particularly the mainstream, American lyric in thrall to the Imagist tradition—should be understood as partaking in the commodity system, either in its capacity of presenting the world itself as consumable or as a commodity itself. Strategies to retool the poem included an exaggerated de-naturalization of language (akin to Brecht’s Verfremdung Effekt), the permanent deferral of epiphany as “pay off” (i.e., writing as ongoing phenomenological investigation), and, most extremely, the poem as engaged in a “general” as opposed to a “closed” economy—as pure expenditure, linguistic waste, in George Bataille’s sense. These practices, however, while they might have, in theory, “de-commodified” the poem (the evidence weighs against it, but it’s quite impossible to prove), have nonetheless confirmed the centrality of the early notion by William Carlos Williams that a poem is a “machine,” an autonomous producer of meanings, and to that extent an object. The French philosopher Gilbert Simondon argues in his theory of technicity that something human lies at the heart of the technical object and that its technical essence, like any player in the Darwinian evolution, has its own evolutionary journey through time. In Bernard Stiegler’s succinct formulation, “[a]s a ‘process of exteriorization,’ technics is the pursuit of life by means other than life.” This confluence of ideas suggests a possibility: that the technical elements of poems—what might have formerly been understood as stylistic tics, characteristic methods, visual and prosodic features—are themselves engaged in a quest for “life,” and that poems are in fact always already objects, existing outside of the system of commodities if only by virtue of obtaining an ontological status both: (1) irreducible to an over-determined system of exchanges (an unreachable “essence” in Graham Harman’s “object-oriented ontology”), and (2) autonomous from the life, actions and intentions of the poem him/herself. To that degree, the focus of early Language poetry on configuring the poem against the system of commodities overstepped its reach by attempting to “de-objectify” the poem, to dissolve it among systems of relation. Poems are less human to the degree that they are not proxies for the poet him/herself or total subjects to the “social,” but more human to the degree that they contain—as a steam engine, a diode or a Swiss watch—a technical essence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessArticle Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010008
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 11 March 2017
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Abstract
‘Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art’ proposes an analytic and theoretical framework for computational aesthetic practices in terms of ‘reconfiguration’ and its derivatives, ‘reconfigurationism’ and ‘reconfigurationist’. Digitization of the media of aesthetic practices has rendered these practices subject to software architectures derived from
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‘Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art’ proposes an analytic and theoretical framework for computational aesthetic practices in terms of ‘reconfiguration’ and its derivatives, ‘reconfigurationism’ and ‘reconfigurationist’. Digitization of the media of aesthetic practices has rendered these practices subject to software architectures derived from computational applications that, for the most part, have had little regard for aesthetics as such. The ‘images’ of contemporary aesthetic practices are often ‘symbolic images’ in the terms of the essay. They are co-produced by networked computation and digitized—symbolized—representations of media, all within new formations of (‘Big’) software architectures that are, typically, beyond the artists’ generative, poetic control. Aesthetic practice is configured by software and digitalization. To bring art and aesthetics back into a generative relation with this potentially constrictive not to say totalizing situation, artists must reconfigure. This is an intervention that computation traditionally and productively allows, even in the era of Big Software. Reconfigurationism is demonstrated, specifically, in the field of language art and is also proposed as a poetics, characteristic of a wide range of contemporary aesthetic practice in all media where computation is at play. ‘Reconfiguration’ and ‘reconfigurationism’ distinguishes itself from theories of a ‘New Aesthetic’ and pretends a more insightful and critically generative analysis. The essay’s ‘symbolic image’ bears a relation to Vilém Flusser’s ‘technical image’ but has a clearer relation both to language and to computation, since Flusser’s term is overweening with regard to (the end of the history of) language and overdetermined by its links to apparatus as opposed to the generalized abstractions of computation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessArticle IBM Poetry: Exploring Restriction in Computer Poems
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010007
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract
In the 1960s, many years prior to the advent of personal computers and mainstream cultural accessibility to them, Emmett Williams devised a method that he felt reflected the expressive potential of algorithmic processes within a printed page’s confines. Williams’ “IBM” method serves as
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In the 1960s, many years prior to the advent of personal computers and mainstream cultural accessibility to them, Emmett Williams devised a method that he felt reflected the expressive potential of algorithmic processes within a printed page’s confines. Williams’ “IBM” method serves as a “muse’s assistant,” in which a user-contrived vocabulary is employed to construct poems in which letters of words in one line are used to create subsequent lines. This article introduces the imposed conditions of Williams’ invention, comparing and placing them within a range of digital writings that appear during subsequent decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessArticle Unreliability and the Animal Narrator in Richard Adams’s The Plague Dogs
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010006
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract
Richard Adams’s talking animal story The Plague Dogs (1978), with its deeply genre-atypical mode of narration, offers a multiplicity of avenues to explore the literary animal as animal. The story draws much of its power from the psychological complexity and related unreliability of
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Richard Adams’s talking animal story The Plague Dogs (1978), with its deeply genre-atypical mode of narration, offers a multiplicity of avenues to explore the literary animal as animal. The story draws much of its power from the psychological complexity and related unreliability of both canine narrators, two research lab escapees gone feral. Both the terrier Snitter and the black mongrel Rowf are mentally ill and experience a highly subjective, part-fantastic world. In episodes of zero focalization, a sarcastic voice comments on the plot from the off, aggressively attacking a thoroughly anthropocentric superstructure the protagonists themselves are oblivious of, and presenting all that is normally constructed as “rational” in the implied reader’s world as a carnivalesque farce. Combining these equally unreliable narratives, The Plague Dogs creates a unique mixture of what Phelan (2007) calls “estranging” and “bonding” unreliability and brings to light the devastating consequences of anthropocentrism. The Plague Dogs not only defamiliarizes a genre usually committed to conventional means of storytelling, but the dominant Western conception of the status of animals in the world, showing that once we start to read the animal as animal, this sets into motion an avalanche of other concepts in need of re-reading, among them the very ones making up the fundamental pillars of Western societies’ anthropocentric self-conception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessEditorial Introduction: Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of “Posts”—Rethinking the Human/Race
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010005
Received: 2 March 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract
This Special Issue of Humanities comes at a time when the viability of the humanities are challenged on numerous fronts. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle Genealogies and Challenges of Transcultural Studies
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010004
Received: 21 November 2016 / Revised: 15 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
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Abstract
My introductory essay discusses some of transculturalism’s enduring conceptual challenges from the perspective of the history of German cultural and political theory. I am particularly interested in the discursive space between Immanuel Kant’s individualism and Johann Gottfried Herder’s and Moses Mendelssohn’s concepts of
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My introductory essay discusses some of transculturalism’s enduring conceptual challenges from the perspective of the history of German cultural and political theory. I am particularly interested in the discursive space between Immanuel Kant’s individualism and Johann Gottfried Herder’s and Moses Mendelssohn’s concepts of cultural identity. My hope is that such a discussion can enrich some of our current questions, such as: Have culture studies placed too much emphasis on difference, rather than on commonality? Can a renewed interest in the cosmopolitan individual surpass the privileged position of academic or upper-class internationalism? Can concepts of transculturality avoid the pitfalls of homogenizing politics or overstretched individualism? After mentioning a few challenges to current conceptions of transculturalism that may arise in the wake of recent developments in the natural sciences, I end my remarks with a brief example of a possible intersection of literary studies and science. The essay engages three topics: (a) the question of culture; (b) transcultural participation; and (c) transcultural empathy and the sciences. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle An Animal-Centered Perspective on Colonial Oppression: Animal Representations and the Narrating Ox in Uwe Timm’s ‘‘Morenga’’ (1978)
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010003
Received: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 4 February 2017 / Published: 10 February 2017
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Abstract
As a result of its topic and its narrative style, Uwe Timm’s novel ‘Morenga’ (1978) marks an important step in the development of postcolonial German literature. The main theme of the book is the bloody suppression of the Herero and the Nama uprisings
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As a result of its topic and its narrative style, Uwe Timm’s novel ‘Morenga’ (1978) marks an important step in the development of postcolonial German literature. The main theme of the book is the bloody suppression of the Herero and the Nama uprisings through the German army in South-West Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. With recourse to historical and fictional documents and by using different narrative perspectives, the text achieves a plurality of voices and thereby destabilizes a one-dimensional view on colonialism. The present article discusses the functions of the nonhuman animals appearing in ‘Morenga’. It is assumed that the animal representations are an essential part of the plot and underscore the criticism of colonial rule in a narrative manner too. The novel contains several descriptions of suffering animals and links them to the harm of the Herero and the Nama in order to point out the ruthlessness of the colonists. Moreover, the book features a story-telling ox, which initiates a reflection process about possible ways of narrating colonial history. The talking ox adds a specific animal-centered perspective on colonial oppression and raises questions about emancipation, self-determination, and the agency of the nonhuman ‘other’ Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Function of HumAnimAllegory
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010002
Received: 27 July 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 22 January 2017
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Abstract
This article presents a critical reading of the function of the animal-human allegory or the “humanimallegory” in both the animated films Animal Farm and Chicken Run. Based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name, Animal Farm provides an allegorical representation of
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This article presents a critical reading of the function of the animal-human allegory or the “humanimallegory” in both the animated films Animal Farm and Chicken Run. Based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name, Animal Farm provides an allegorical representation of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism in the Soviet Union by relaying Orwell’s story of a revolution led by a group of farm animals and its aftermath. Animal Farm ultimately reduces its fictional animal characters to simple metaphors for real human subjects, thus serving the most common function of the animal-human allegory in literature as well as film. In contrast, improvising on the many prisoner-of-war films that were produced during the first few decades following World War II, Chicken Run tells the story of a group of chickens who attempt to escape from an egg farm. Chicken Run complicates the function of the animal-human allegory, though, by resisting the allegorical reduction of its fictional animal characters to simple metaphors for real human subjects. By presenting a critical reading of these two different films, this article suggests that the literary concept of allegory itself remains circumscribed within the philosophical tradition of humanism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Humanities in 2016
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010001
Received: 10 January 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2017 / Published: 10 January 2017
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Abstract
The editors of Humanities would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
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