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Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 2017)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessFeature PaperEditorial Poetry’s Execution: Contemporary Writings on the Poetics of Computation
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 41; doi:10.3390/h6020041
Received: 27 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
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Abstract
Introduction to Special Issue "Poetics of Computation". This editorial is intended to serve as the introductory text to the entire issue. It attempts to tie several of the featured articles together thematically and critically together, while illustrating several common arguments that continue to
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Introduction to Special Issue "Poetics of Computation". This editorial is intended to serve as the introductory text to the entire issue. It attempts to tie several of the featured articles together thematically and critically together, while illustrating several common arguments that continue to inform studies in language, coding and the literary arts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “I Do, I Don’t”: The Benefits and Perils of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage in the United States—One Year Later
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 12; doi:10.3390/h6020012
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 22 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
In 1970, a gay male couple applied for and was given a marriage license in Minnesota. The license was eventually rescinded by court order. Forty-five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, limiting the
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In 1970, a gay male couple applied for and was given a marriage license in Minnesota. The license was eventually rescinded by court order. Forty-five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, limiting the federal definition of marriage to consist of one man and one woman, was unconstitutional. The result was the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of establishing the right for same-sex couples to legally marry. It outlines the benefits and costs to LGBT communities one year after the establishment of same-sex marriage in the U.S. This paper explores the limits of utilizing a rights-based approach when advocating social change. The recommendation is for LGBT individuals, communities and allies to shift tactics to adopt a capabilities approach to organizing and mobilizing people, groups, and organizations around issues of injustice. A capabilities framework addresses the complexities of individual and community needs while providing a foundation for coalition building and lasting positive social change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “And in That Moment I Leapt upon His Shoulder”: Non-Human Intradiegetic Narrators in The Wind on the Moon
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 13; doi:10.3390/h6020013
Received: 9 January 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 26 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
Non-human narrators, by definition anthropomorphized, fill different functions in literature, and have different effects, not always positive for the species that is utilized, for example to voice a human political concern. However, many animal studies scholars agree that anthropomorphism, while inadequate, may be
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Non-human narrators, by definition anthropomorphized, fill different functions in literature, and have different effects, not always positive for the species that is utilized, for example to voice a human political concern. However, many animal studies scholars agree that anthropomorphism, while inadequate, may be the best way we have to get to know another species. Animal characters who tell their own, autobiographical, stories are particularly interesting in this regard. Eric Linklater’s children’s novel The Wind on the Moon (1944), raises posthumanist questions about human–animal differences, similarities and language, especially through its engagement of several non-human intradiegetic narrators. In a novel with surprisingly few other forms of characterization of the non-human characters, their own detailed narratives become a highly significant means of access to their species characteristics, their consciousness, and their needs. In an analysis of these embedded narratives using Genette’s theory of narrative levels and functions, as well as intersections of speech act theory and cognitive narratology, this article exposes an otherwise inaccessible dimension of characterization in Linklater’s novel. It argues that the embedded narratives, in contrast to crude anthropomorphism, are in fact what enables both a verbalization of the character narrators’ otherness, and a connection and comprehension between species. In other words, these non-human narratives constitute what might be called (with Garrard) examples of critical anthropomorphism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle Identity, Power, and the California Welfare-Rights Struggle, 1963–1975
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 14; doi:10.3390/h6020014
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 29 March 2017 / Published: 2 April 2017
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Abstract
This article explores the work of welfare-rights activists in 1960s and 70s California. These activists were mostly working-class black and some white mothers, and the majority of them were themselves welfare recipients. As welfare recipients, women of color, and working-class people, they faced
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This article explores the work of welfare-rights activists in 1960s and 70s California. These activists were mostly working-class black and some white mothers, and the majority of them were themselves welfare recipients. As welfare recipients, women of color, and working-class people, they faced a wave of policies and ideologies that stigmatized them, policed their behavior, and made receiving benefits increasingly difficult. These policies were but one element of a larger political crisis, wherein the California government stoked racialized and gendered fears in order to shrink the welfare state. Rather than simply acquiesce to this reality, welfare-rights groups in California refused to accept it. Though scholars have studied welfare-rights groups in Washington, D.C., Nevada, New York, and other US states, almost no attention has been given to groups in California. In this article I use state legislation, newspaper articles, organizational records, and archived interviews to illustrate how California’s welfare-rights movement challenged anti-welfare policy and ideology. I argue that they did more than simply reject punitive legislation. They emphasized childcare, rebuked middle-class complacency, questioned the primacy of the nuclear family, and dismissed gender roles. In the process, they raised crucial, enduring questions about the nature of economic-justice organizing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Moving Beyond Retribution: Alternatives to Punishment in a Society Dominated by the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 15; doi:10.3390/h6020015
Received: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 29 March 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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Abstract
There is a growing national trend in which children and adolescents are funneled out of the public school system and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems—where students are treated as criminals in the schools themselves and are expected to fall into this
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There is a growing national trend in which children and adolescents are funneled out of the public school system and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems—where students are treated as criminals in the schools themselves and are expected to fall into this pattern rather than even attempt to seek opportunities to fulfill the ever elusive “American Dream”. There is a blatant injustice happening in our schools, places that ironically should be considered safe havens, places for knowledge, and means of escape for children who have already been failed by the system and sequestered to under-resourced, overcrowded, and over-surveilled inner cities. Focusing on the damage the public education system has caused and the ways in which policies and practices have effectively made the school-to-prison pipeline a likely trajectory for many Black and Latinx students, we hope to convey the urgency of this crisis and expose the ways in which our youth are stifled, repeatedly, by this form of systematic injustice. We will describe models of restorative justice practices—both within and beyond the classroom—and hope to convey how no matter how well intentioned, they are not adequate solutions to a phenomenon tied to neoliberal ideologies. Thus, we ultimately aim to exemplify how a feminist approach to education would radically restructure the system as we know it, truly creating a path out of this crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Barking at Heaven’s Door: Pluto Mehra in the Hindi Film Dil Dhadakne Do
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 16; doi:10.3390/h6020016
Received: 15 December 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 April 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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Abstract
In this article, I discuss the representation of pets in the 2015 commercial Hindi comedy-drama (commonly known as Bollywood) Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD), which translates to Let the Heart Beat; this is the first ever case of a Hindi movie having a dog
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In this article, I discuss the representation of pets in the 2015 commercial Hindi comedy-drama (commonly known as Bollywood) Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD), which translates to Let the Heart Beat; this is the first ever case of a Hindi movie having a dog as a narrator. For centuries, Indian animal tales have had a habit of anthropomorphizing, but generally narratives about dogs uphold the basic prejudice that they are polluting and degraded animals. DDD introduces a dog named Pluto Mehra, not only as a pet, but as the fifth member of the Mehra family, with the role of the sutradhaar (storyteller, narrator) who recounts the story of a rich, dysfunctional family. Pluto knows the Mehras’ foibles and follies, and he is the only voice of reason among them. A generational shift in one’s outlook towards pets has taken place in the Indian middle classes: pets are no longer perceived as animals that must serve some purpose, but are actually considered to be equal members of the family, even becoming a statement of style for pet owners. I analyze this attitude reversal toward animals within the context of a globalized economy and consumerist ideology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Toward the Eco-Narrative: Rethinking the Role of Conflict in Storytelling
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 17; doi:10.3390/h6020017
Received: 16 January 2017 / Revised: 21 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Offered as a response to the increasingly popular call within the eco-humanities for stories that will help humankind adapt to catastrophic planetary conditions, this article proposes “the eco-narrative”—an approach to storytelling that strives to compose with, not for, its nonhuman characters. An extension
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Offered as a response to the increasingly popular call within the eco-humanities for stories that will help humankind adapt to catastrophic planetary conditions, this article proposes “the eco-narrative”—an approach to storytelling that strives to compose with, not for, its nonhuman characters. An extension of eco-critical projects that analyze stories for their depictions of nonhumanity, the theoretical research herein brings ecological analysis of narrative to the level of structure. In particular, it problematizes the dominant plot model of conflict/climax/resolution, suggesting that stories motivated by conflict reinforce dualistic and anthropocentric habits for approaching the animal other. Evaluating two narratives concerning the human practice of killing animals—the Pew Commission’s report on Industrial Farm Animal Production and Annette Watson and Orville H. Huntington’s “They’re here—I can feel them”—the article observes how the former’s efforts at animal rights advocacy are undermined by its very storytelling framework. Celebrating the latter story’s more playful approach to narrative instead, the article ultimately suggests that a theory of “infinite play,” as developed by James P. Carse, can be used to re-envision the dominant plot model. A template for cooperation in the absence of known outcome, infinite play thus becomes the basis for the eco-narrative—a storytelling framework flexible enough to cocreate with nonhumanity, even during an environmental moment characterized by crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Animal Poetry and Empathy
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 18; doi:10.3390/h6020018
Received: 24 January 2017 / Revised: 29 March 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
This article discusses how our ideas of empathy are influenced by the dichotomy of mind versus body, also known as Cartesian dualism. Within the aesthetic field, this dichotomy is seen when researchers define narrative empathy as imaginatively reconstructing the fictional character’s thoughts and
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This article discusses how our ideas of empathy are influenced by the dichotomy of mind versus body, also known as Cartesian dualism. Within the aesthetic field, this dichotomy is seen when researchers define narrative empathy as imaginatively reconstructing the fictional character’s thoughts and feelings. Conversely, the empathy aroused by a non-narrative work of art is seen as an unconscious bodily mirroring of movements, postures or moods. Thinking dualistically does not only have consequences for what we consider human nature; it also affects our view on animals. To show the untenability of dualistic thinking, this article focuses on the animal poetry genre. Using the ideas of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I analyze two animal poems: “Inventing a Horse” by Meghan O’Rourke and “Spermaceti” by Les Murray. The analysis of these two poems suggests that the presiding ideas about aesthetic empathy and empathy in general need re-evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Narrative Transformed: The Fragments around Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 19; doi:10.3390/h6020019
Received: 7 February 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, in which the ape-turned-human Rotpeter provides a narrative account of his life, has been scrutinized with regard to its allegorical, scientific, and historical implications. This article shifts the focus toward the narrative set-up by closely reading
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Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, in which the ape-turned-human Rotpeter provides a narrative account of his life, has been scrutinized with regard to its allegorical, scientific, and historical implications. This article shifts the focus toward the narrative set-up by closely reading the transformation that can be traced in the sequence of several narrative attempts found in Kafka’s manuscripts. Analyzing the fragments around this topic, I show how Kafka probes different angles—from a meeting between a first-person narrator and Rotpeter’s impresario and a dialogue between the narrator and Rotpeter, via the well-known “Report” itself, on to a letter by one of Rotpeter’s former teachers—that reveal a narrative transformation equally important as the metamorphosis from animal to human. The focus on the narrative constellations and on the lesser-known constitutive margins of the “Report” help to better understand, moreover, the complex relationship between immediacy and mediation, the ethnological concern of speech for the self and the unknown animal other, and poetological questions of production, representation, and reception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Investing in College Education: Debtors, Bettors, Lenders, Brokers
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 20; doi:10.3390/h6020020
Received: 18 January 2017 / Revised: 14 March 2017 / Accepted: 31 March 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Federal and private lenders have issued college student loans, now rising above $1.3 trillion nationwide and, to gain revenues for continued lending, sell them to securitizers who in turn bundle them into asset-backed securities. This paper argues that the magnitude of debt, high
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Federal and private lenders have issued college student loans, now rising above $1.3 trillion nationwide and, to gain revenues for continued lending, sell them to securitizers who in turn bundle them into asset-backed securities. This paper argues that the magnitude of debt, high rates of default and forgiveness, and uncertain long-term repayment by borrowers facing lackluster job opportunities replicate the techniques of neoliberal financialization (subprime mortgages, securitization, overstocked housing market) that triggered the 2008 economic meltdown. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Saving the Humanities from the Neoliberal University)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Troubadours & Troublemakers: Stirring the Network in Transmission & Anti-Transmission
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 21; doi:10.3390/h6020021
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 4 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
With reference to concepts developed in Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics, our objective is to locate trouble (and “trouble”) in and around song, while attending to media forms, transmission processes, and embodied figures that carry trouble through song. These figures include trouble singer,
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With reference to concepts developed in Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics, our objective is to locate trouble (and “trouble”) in and around song, while attending to media forms, transmission processes, and embodied figures that carry trouble through song. These figures include trouble singer, troubadour and DJ, where the latter combines the roles of media curator, Mixmaster and MC. An exploration of and through these interrelated figures serves to elaborate a theory of transmission and anti-transmission of trouble. In all cases we are concerned with the technology of trouble, as well as modes and techniques for its transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “Modern Nature”: Derek Jarman’s Garden
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 22; doi:10.3390/h6020022
Received: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 12 April 2017
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Abstract
The queer filmmaker, artist, activist, and gardener, Derek Jarman, when diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, turned to what may seem like an unlikely form of political and aesthetic expression. His eventually world-famous garden allowed him symbolically and aesthetically to address the political issues
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The queer filmmaker, artist, activist, and gardener, Derek Jarman, when diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, turned to what may seem like an unlikely form of political and aesthetic expression. His eventually world-famous garden allowed him symbolically and aesthetically to address the political issues with which he had always passionately concerned himself: environmental degradation, nuclear expansion, homophobia, consumer culture, and AIDS. Each of these issues entailed a crisis of political response in the late twentieth century, and in the garden, Jarman addresses this crisis on a number of levels, but always as elements of a terminal condition without any prospect of a “cure.” Using literary analysis to examine the garden and Jarman’s writing about it, in addition to a cultural studies perspective to place these topics in a broad context, this essay undertakes a study of the garden’s codes and effects. Consulting Sarah Ensor and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, both of whom describe terminality as a temporality with its own powers and ways of being, I focus on Jarman’s efforts in what he acknowledges as a damaged, post-natural landscape. Rather than seeing crisis only as a moment of emergency, Jarman imagines other more reflective responses to crisis that, I argue, complement more interventionist approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Literary Autozoographies: Contextualizing Species Life in German Animal Autobiography
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 23; doi:10.3390/h6020023
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 13 April 2017
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Abstract
What does it mean to take animal autobiography seriously and how can we account for the representation of life-narrating animals? The article investigates animal autobiographies as ‘literary autozoographies’, drawing attention to both the generic contexts and the epistemological premises of these texts. Adopting
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What does it mean to take animal autobiography seriously and how can we account for the representation of life-narrating animals? The article investigates animal autobiographies as ‘literary autozoographies’, drawing attention to both the generic contexts and the epistemological premises of these texts. Adopting a double-bind approach stemming from autobiographical research as well as cultural animal studies, the article focuses on early nineteenth-century equine autozoographies from the German-speaking tradition. These texts are discussed exemplarily in relation to the parameters of fictional autobiographies, before they are contextualized with historical discourses regarding horses in natural history and so-called ‘horse-science’. Due to the fact that the poetics and aesthetics of the genre are modeled on the templates of factual autobiographies, the article argues that literary autozoographies can be read as fictional autobiographies as well as meta-auto/biographical discourse undermining autobiographical conventions. Furthermore, it shows that literary autozoography and zoology share a common historical and ideological epistemology accounting for the representation of animals in both fields. Literary autozoographies thus participate in the negotiation and production of species-specific knowledge. Reading Life of the Mecklenburg Mare Amante (1804), Life of a Job Horse (1807) and Life of a Worn-Out Hack (1819) alongside equine-centric discourses around 1800, the article demonstrates in what ways these texts can be regarded as part of a regime of knowledge attributing emotions and cognitive capacities to horses, while simultaneously arguing for humane treatment on the basis of interspecies homologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Case Study of I’ll Be Fine
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/h6020025
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
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Abstract
This case study of I’ll Be Fine describes my creation of a passively interactive, “playable” movie for networked screens, and outlines reasons why this story is an instance of a new genre of storytelling that might be called “playable narrative”. Although the piece
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This case study of I’ll Be Fine describes my creation of a passively interactive, “playable” movie for networked screens, and outlines reasons why this story is an instance of a new genre of storytelling that might be called “playable narrative”. Although the piece is interactive, and while it seems to satisfy certain features of the activity of play, I’ll Be Fine does not offer opportunities for strategy, competition, or closure, and does not proceed towards goals or outcomes, but seeks to construct meaning cinematically, proceeding sequentially across planes or layers, and using a spatial design much like the cinematic compositional scheme of background, middle ground, and foreground. While a general model for the spatial construction of playable movies is outside the scope of this writing, the following description of my design concepts are meant to delineate certain aspects of working with spatiality and playability while constructing an interactive story. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle An Unheard, Inhuman Music: Narrative Voice and the Question of the Animal in Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk”
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/h6020026
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
In The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida wonders whether it would be possible to think of the discourse of the animal in musical terms, and if so, whether one could change the key, or the tone of the music, by inserting
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In The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida wonders whether it would be possible to think of the discourse of the animal in musical terms, and if so, whether one could change the key, or the tone of the music, by inserting a “flat”—a “blue note” in other words. The task would be to render audible “an unheard language or music” that would be “somewhat inhuman” but a language nonetheless. This essay pursues this intriguing proposition by means of a reading Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk,” paying careful attention to the controversy regarding the status of Josephine’s vocalizations, which, moreover, is mirrored in the scientific discourse surrounding the ultrasonic songs of mice. What is at stake in rendering this inhuman music audible? And furthermore, how might we relate this debate to questions of narrative and above all to the concept of narrative “voice”? I explore these and related questions via a series of theoretical waypoints, including Paul Sheehan, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Nancy, with a view to establishing some of the critical parameters of an “animal narratology,” and of zoopoetics more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Programming’s Turn: Computation and Poetics
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/h6020027
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 5 May 2017
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Abstract
Digital media and culture scholars routinely distinguish code from any common cultural understanding of media in order to underscore its wholly unique function as an epistemological tool. Where media emphasizes a hermeneutical relationship to knowledge as a mode of interpretation based on its
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Digital media and culture scholars routinely distinguish code from any common cultural understanding of media in order to underscore its wholly unique function as an epistemological tool. Where media emphasizes a hermeneutical relationship to knowledge as a mode of interpretation based on its graphic or symbolic representation, the idea of code in many ways invokes a far more complex and dynamic sense of how we determine meaning using symbols or signs in language in terms of producing actual programmable events. In the digital universe, computation, in terms of pre-coded rules, patterns and procedures, continues to showcase all objects and events, along with various corresponding behaviours or viabilities. This paper looks first at a range of contemporary philosophers, like Don Ihde, Katherine Hayles, David Berry and Bruno Latour, in order to build a theoretical foundation for understanding some of the changes in epistemology brought by digital technology and computational reason. Philosophies of computation, I argue, inevitably strive to outline a post-human culture and way of thinking about the world. Although the theoretical weaving of coding with human life follows in part from many earlier modern philosophical discussions on the role language plays in our thinking and sense of selfhood, we can see in computation a very specific reconceptualization of reasoning itself, producing, in turn, a host of new intellectual conflicts concerning human agency and our cognitive faculties. The paper then moves to explore two cultural examples of these conflicts, looking first at the practice of “live coding,” a unique, performative event where programmers demonstrate coding before a live audience. Whether on a physical stage in front of an actual audience or simply on screen as a live telecast, such performances combine with coding the distinct habits of gesture and voice in an improvised narrative. One single such show by live coder Sean Colombo is presented here in an exemplary reading of this relatively new media genre. A second, equally significant exploration of similar social and cultural conflicts associated with computation’s expansion into everyday living can be seen in the work of the digital literary artist, Ian Hatcher. Ian Hatcher’s consistently disturbing video enhanced performances evoke both the structure and overall ambience of a live coding event where he enacts the role of the coder/performer in a process of perpetual conflict with the text appearing on screen. While for many, the live coder can be heralded as a kind of exemplary humanist figure in computation, as these performances show, the more material, writerly aspects of coding must inevitably succumb to the cultural logic of the code’s literal execution to produce a distinctly post-humanist approach to writing and art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “Against the Dog Only a Dog”. Talking Canines Civilizing Cynicism in Cervantes’ “coloquio de los perros” (With Tentative Remarks on the Discourse and Method of Animal Studies)
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/h6020028
Received: 1 January 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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Abstract
Deriving its designation from the Greek word for ‘dog’, cynicism is likely the only philosophical ‘interest group’ with a diachronically dependable affinity for various animals—particularly those of the canine kind. While dogs have met with differing value judgments, chiefly along a perceived human–animal
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Deriving its designation from the Greek word for ‘dog’, cynicism is likely the only philosophical ‘interest group’ with a diachronically dependable affinity for various animals—particularly those of the canine kind. While dogs have met with differing value judgments, chiefly along a perceived human–animal divide, it is specifically discourses with cynical affinities that render problematic this transitional field. The Cervantine “coloquio de los perros” has received scholarly attention for its (caninely) picaresque themes, its “cynomorphic” (Ziolkowski) narratological technique, its socio-historically informative accounts relating to Early Modern Europe and the Iberian peninsula, including its ‘zoopoetically’ (Derrida) relevant portrayal of dogs (see e.g., Alves, Beusterien, Martín); nor did the dialog’s mention of cynical snarling go unnoticed. The essay at hand commences with a chapter on questions of method pertaining to ‘animal narration’: with recourse to Montaigne, Descartes, and Derrida, this first part serves to situate the ensuing close readings with respect to the field of Animal Studies. The analysis of the Cervantine texts synergizes thematic and narratological aspects at the discourse historical level; it commences with a brief synopsis of the respective novellas in part 2; Section 3, Section 4 and Section 5 supply a description of the rhetorical modes of crafting plausibility in the framework narrative (“The Deceitful Marriage”), of pertinent (Scriptural) intertexts for the “Colloquy”. Parts 6–7 demonstrate that the choice of canine interlocutors as narrating agencies—and specifically in their capacity as dogs—is discursively motivated: no other animal than this animal, and precisely as animal, would here serve the discursive purpose that is concurrently present with the literal plane; for this dialogic novella partakes of a (predominantly Stoicizing) tradition attempting to resocialize the Cynics, which commences already with the appearance of the Ancient arch-Cynic ‘Diogenes’ on the scene. At the discursive level, a diachronic contextualization evinces that the Cervantine text takes up and outperforms those rhetorical techniques of reintegration by melding Christian, Platonic, Stoicizing elements with such as are reminiscent of Diogenical ones. Reallocating Blumenberg’s reading of a notorious Goethean dictum, this essay submits the formula ‘against the Dog only a dog’ as a concise précis of the Cervantine method at the discursive level, attained to via a decidedly pluralized rhetorical sermocination featuring, at a literal level, specifically canine narrators in a dialogic setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Question of Life and Death: The Aesopic Animal Fables on Why Not to Kill
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/h6020029
Received: 12 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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Abstract
This article deals with Greek animal fables, traditionally attributed to a former slave, Aesop, who lived during the sixth century BCE. As a genre, the Aesopic fables, or the Aesopica, has had a significant impact on the Western fable tradition and modern
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This article deals with Greek animal fables, traditionally attributed to a former slave, Aesop, who lived during the sixth century BCE. As a genre, the Aesopic fables, or the Aesopica, has had a significant impact on the Western fable tradition and modern Western children’s literature. The Aesopica owes much to the Mesopotamian fables and has parallels in other Near Eastern cultures. Modern research has concentrated on tracing the oriental roots of the fable tradition and the dating of the different parts of the Aesopica, as well as defining the fable as a genre. The traditional reading of fables has, however, excluded animals qua animals, supposing that fables are mainly allegories of the human condition. The moral of the story (included in the epimythia or promythia) certainly guides one to read the stories anthropocentrically, but the original fables did not necessarily include this positioning element. Many fables address the situation when a prey animal, like a lamb, negotiates with a predator animal, like a wolf, by giving reasons why she should not be killed. In this article, I will concentrate on these fables and analyse them from the point of view of their structure and content. Comparing these fables with some animal similes in Homer’s Iliad, I suggest that these fables deal not only with the ethical problem of ‘might makes right’ as a human condition, but also the broader philosophical question of killing other living creatures and the problem of cruelty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Times of Crisis, Seeds of Modernity: Women and Popular Revolts in Modern Spain
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 30; doi:10.3390/h6020030
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 30 April 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 14 May 2017
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Abstract
In the 18th century, nations began acknowledging the presence of those who belonged to inferior classes and regarding them as the constitutive political subject of the modern state. Paradoxically, even as these marginal individuals were turned into central figures of the state’s political
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In the 18th century, nations began acknowledging the presence of those who belonged to inferior classes and regarding them as the constitutive political subject of the modern state. Paradoxically, even as these marginal individuals were turned into central figures of the state’s political apparatus, they plunged the notion of sovereignty into crisis as they questioned the status quo and embodied an alternative to institutional power. In this light, the present essay explores the idea of crisis and modernity in the Spanish context from a historical, spatial, and gendered perspective. Women occupy a central space as a minority collective at the margins of the citizenry. But with their action and participation in mutinies, wars and revolutions—all landmarks of state crisis—they make themselves visible and open new spaces of agency from which to disrupt and renew traditional norms. By analyzing 18th- and 19th-century newspaper articles, literary works, and a number of visual representations by Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, this essay will examine the power of art to reveal how crises allow women to emerge as political subjects and to rewrite a narrative of modernity in which they take the leading role in propelling social change, influencing projects of political citizenship, and shaping a modern nation that needs to tend to all its members, making evident that crisis, while a break in the established order, is also a liberating step towards emancipation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle ‘In The Empire of the Senses’ and the Narrative Horizons of Comics
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/h6020031
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 14 May 2017
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Abstract
With their 1980s independent comics series The Puma Blues, writer Stephen Murphy and artist Michael Zulli presented a foreboding scifi vision of ecological catastrophe in a near-future USA, where mutated manta rays fly the skies, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam
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With their 1980s independent comics series The Puma Blues, writer Stephen Murphy and artist Michael Zulli presented a foreboding scifi vision of ecological catastrophe in a near-future USA, where mutated manta rays fly the skies, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the desert sands of the southwest and imminent nuclear devastation looms. Yet for all its pessimism, the series (in 2015 expanded, completed and reissued through Dover Press) has rightly earned critical accolades for Zulli’s extraordinary nature drawing, in particular of animals. The chapter “In the Empire of the Senses” puts Zulli’s stunning nature work most fully on display, utilizing comics techniques such as line work, framing, panel progression and sound effects to create the illusion of a puma’s nighttime hunt, often from its perception-rich point of view. Throughout the series, animal and non-human experience/umwelt receives a degree of attention rarely seen in comics, a genre more popularly known for superheroes and anthropomorphized “funny animal” stories. Through a close reading of “In the Empire of the Senses,” the paper explores Murphy and Zulli’s bid to depict animal ontology through comics’ unique capacities, contrasting their approach with that of cinema, viz. Bill Viola’s avant garde ethnographic documentary I Do Not What It Is I Am Like (1986). My analysis has implications for narratology, the potential of comics’ representational strategies and for the depiction of non-human experience more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle U.S. Higher Education and the Crisis of Care
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 32; doi:10.3390/h6020032
Received: 5 March 2017 / Revised: 3 May 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 16 May 2017
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Abstract
This essay situates the fate of the humanities within the broad perspective of the geopolitical economy of neoliberal capitalism. This article adapts Nancy Fraser’s historical analysis of the three phases of the “crisis of care” to understand our latest phase (1975–2017) of the
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This essay situates the fate of the humanities within the broad perspective of the geopolitical economy of neoliberal capitalism. This article adapts Nancy Fraser’s historical analysis of the three phases of the “crisis of care” to understand our latest phase (1975–2017) of the capitalist world system. With respect to higher education, the shift towards privatization has had devastating effects, especially for the humanities and social sciences. By reconsidering the public and social benefits of higher education, we can restore the educational core of the humanities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Saving the Humanities from the Neoliberal University)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Occupy the Emotional Stock Exchange, Resisting the Quantifying of Affection in Social Media
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 33; doi:10.3390/h6020033
Received: 16 January 2017 / Revised: 8 May 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 26 May 2017
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Abstract
By using a carnivalesque strategy, netprovs discussed in this article introduced a disruption innovation into the social advertising market, a new source of value: creative satire. By playing multiple characters or forcibly separating the real person from the avatar they revealed the myth
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By using a carnivalesque strategy, netprovs discussed in this article introduced a disruption innovation into the social advertising market, a new source of value: creative satire. By playing multiple characters or forcibly separating the real person from the avatar they revealed the myth of the consistent online identity. By encouraging users to look on the other side of the mirror they sought to increase awareness of the real “why” these tools exist. Users were introduced to skepticism of online affection and of projected affection in general. Most importantly they promoted an alternative value network: a culture of contentment and satisfaction — satisfaction in play, in creativity. They created a value network of inner rewards, redeemable in the moment, good forever, producing a real community in which players demonstrate with intentionality genuine attention and approval in the improv manner, by saying “yes, and,” by elaborating others’ fictional themes and moments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Crisis, Change, and the Humanities: Parameters of Discussion
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 35; doi:10.3390/h6020035
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 19 May 2017 / Accepted: 30 May 2017 / Published: 1 June 2017
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Abstract
Dynamic metacritical, systemic, paradigmatic thinking about our times is a direct outcome of the work of the humanistic disciplines, for they provide us with the language to understand the operative and abusive functioning of power and inequality. The humanities also teach us that
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Dynamic metacritical, systemic, paradigmatic thinking about our times is a direct outcome of the work of the humanistic disciplines, for they provide us with the language to understand the operative and abusive functioning of power and inequality. The humanities also teach us that we internalize these systemic operations as new contradictory “locations”, as new experiences of space and identity, that destabilize and make more difficult our need to feel anchored in our social realities. This prefatory essay outlines a pertinent paradigmatic framing of our neoliberal context and reclaims higher education’s key role in the development of democratic traditions of civic engagement. It offers a hopeful regeneration of our times of crisis through the work of the humanities and highlights the long tradition of cultural critique already in place in gender-sensitive disciplines that opt for a reimagining of the future grounded on social change and justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Crisis and Consumption: ‘Saving’ the Poor and the Seductions of Capitalism
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 36; doi:10.3390/h6020036
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 26 May 2017 / Accepted: 27 May 2017 / Published: 2 June 2017
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Abstract
This article examines the crisis of capitalist seduction through the lens of online shopping platforms that raise funds for international assistance organizations and development celebrity advertising. Consumer-based giving has altered the commodity fetish into cliché, subsequently masking the capitalist produced crisis of endemic
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This article examines the crisis of capitalist seduction through the lens of online shopping platforms that raise funds for international assistance organizations and development celebrity advertising. Consumer-based giving has altered the commodity fetish into cliché, subsequently masking the capitalist produced crisis of endemic poverty and global inequality. Celebrity supported consumer-based giving and product advertising are used to illustrate the seductions of capitalism. This article argues that international assistance organizations are embedded in the substance and lifeblood of capitalisms’ dependence on inequality and poverty to generate profits/wealth. Consumer driven assistance remains a pervasive crisis hidden by seductive shopping platforms camouflaged as compassion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Eloquent Alogia: Animal Narrators in Ancient Greek Literature
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 37; doi:10.3390/h6020037
Received: 21 January 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 27 May 2017 / Published: 3 June 2017
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Abstract
Classical Greek literature presents a variety of speaking animals. These are not, of course, the actual voices of animals but human projections. In a culture that aligns verbal mastery with social standing, verbal animals present a conundrum that speaks to an anxiety about
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Classical Greek literature presents a variety of speaking animals. These are not, of course, the actual voices of animals but human projections. In a culture that aligns verbal mastery with social standing, verbal animals present a conundrum that speaks to an anxiety about human communication. I argue that the earliest examples of speaking animals, in Homer, Hesiod and Archilochus, show a fundamental connection with Golden Age tales. Later authors, such as Plutarch and Lucian, look back on such cases from a perspective that does not easily accept notions of divine causation that would permit such fanciful modes of communication. I argue that Plutarch uses a talking pig to challenge philosophical categories, and that Lucian transforms a sham-philosopher of a talking-cock to undermine the very pretense of philosophical virtue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “Sot’s Skull Subsiding, Sweet Nothingness Betide Me”: Suttree and Sartrean Bad Faith
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 38; doi:10.3390/h6020038
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 29 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 5 June 2017
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Abstract
Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree is a literary representation of existentialism. The eponymous protagonist seeks his meaning and purpose in a universe that offers none. Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism proposes that people must fill the blank slate of the self and establish their own values through
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Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree is a literary representation of existentialism. The eponymous protagonist seeks his meaning and purpose in a universe that offers none. Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism proposes that people must fill the blank slate of the self and establish their own values through their actions. However, instead of establishing his values according to his constantly becoming self, Suttree restrictively bases his values on his material, monetary, functional and social existence. Sartre’s theory of bad faith provides a means to understand Suttree’s identity conflict and argues that the individual should identify not with any particular state of being, but rather with the constant process of becoming. Bad faith is a mode of self-deception in which one believes he is something he is not, or believes he is not something that he is. Suttree’s many forms of bad faith—material, monetary, functional, and social—hinder his ability to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life and embrace his responsibility to create himself. Of all the forms of bad faith Suttree suffers, perhaps the most detrimental to his project of self-creation is his failure to let go of the past. His obsession with past failures and deaths impedes his progress to a new, productive self. By transcending his oppressive past and realizing that he is a combination of his constituent parts and never solely one of them, Suttree understands his responsibility to embrace his past and propel himself into new identities in the constant quest of becoming. Suttree exemplifies a responsible embrace of the project of self-creation in the midst of materialism and nihilism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters Between Philosophy and Literature II)
Open AccessArticle Socialization in the Neoliberal Academy of STEM Scholars: A Case Study of Negotiating Dispositions in an International Graduate Student in Entomology
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 39; doi:10.3390/h6020039
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 7 June 2017 / Published: 10 June 2017
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Abstract
This article examines how neoliberal orders of discourse shape the dispositions to academic literacies of an international graduate student in entomology. As this ideology of market logic consolidates its hegemony in universities of excellence and US culture at large, academic socialization and disciplinary
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This article examines how neoliberal orders of discourse shape the dispositions to academic literacies of an international graduate student in entomology. As this ideology of market logic consolidates its hegemony in universities of excellence and US culture at large, academic socialization and disciplinary activities increasingly aim to create scholarly dispositions and subjectivities that align with it. Such processes are further complicated by the backgrounds of international graduate students—an ever-larger proportion of graduate students in STEM who often hail from educational cultures significantly different from the U.S. Our analysis of an international graduate student’s literacy practices in terms of motivations and outcomes shows that his literacies echo the dispositions pushed by neoliberal ideologies, but are not over-determined by them. Rather, as our case study illustrates, his socialization is a layered process, with ambiguous implications and strategic calculations making up literacies and disciplinary outcomes. We believe closely mapping such tensions in literacies and socialization processes increases humanities scholars’ awareness both of the potential contradictions of educating international graduate students into the neoliberal model and of how the university can still be used to develop the dispositions needed to renegotiate the neoliberal order of discourse for more ethical and empowering purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Saving the Humanities from the Neoliberal University)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Searching for a Common Place: Thoughts on Crisis, Marginality, and Social Change
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 40; doi:10.3390/h6020040
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 10 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 June 2017 / Published: 14 June 2017
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Abstract
This essay describes our neoliberal moment of crisis as a displacement of meaning regarding the more established notions of margin-center. Our times paradoxically ‘unite’ in that we are unwittingly governed by a financial logic that privileges personal gain over collective well-being. With this
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This essay describes our neoliberal moment of crisis as a displacement of meaning regarding the more established notions of margin-center. Our times paradoxically ‘unite’ in that we are unwittingly governed by a financial logic that privileges personal gain over collective well-being. With this in mind, the essay will discuss strategies for examining oppression and imagining progress that is multidimensional and intersectional and thinks about the contestatory power in political and intellectual discourses that are linked to a multi-layered, feminist-gendered perspective in order to point to avenues that might lead to incisive political transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Beelines: Joyce’s Apian Aesthetics
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 42; doi:10.3390/h6020042
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 31 May 2017 / Accepted: 14 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
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Abstract
This article examines the presence of apian life in James Joyce’s body of work in light of Maurice Maeterlinck’s discovery at the turn of the twentieth-century that honeybees communicate using a complex system of language. In December 1903, Joyce offered to translate Maeterlinck’s
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This article examines the presence of apian life in James Joyce’s body of work in light of Maurice Maeterlinck’s discovery at the turn of the twentieth-century that honeybees communicate using a complex system of language. In December 1903, Joyce offered to translate Maeterlinck’s book-length study La Vie Des Abeille (The Life of the Bee) (1901) for the Irish Bee-Keeper, and the pages of the journal later resurface on a book-cart in Ulysses. Beginning with a discussion of the ‘economy of bee life’ in Stephen Hero, this article explores Joyce’s career-long fascination with nonhuman modes of communication, tracing his fascination with apian intelligence through close readings of Bloom’s bee-sting in Ulysses, as well as through the swarm of references that appear in Finnegans Wake. Finally, it argues that bees offer new ways of reading Joyce’s work, opening up new lines of connection between the fields of literary criticism and apiculture, and drawing the reader’s attention to the peripheral hum or murmur at the edges of human speech. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Joyce, Animals and the Nonhuman)

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Open AccessFeature PaperEssay Writing Language: Composition, the Academy, and Work
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 11; doi:10.3390/h6020011
Received: 4 December 2016 / Revised: 4 March 2017 / Accepted: 27 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
This paper argues that while college composition courses are commonly charged with remediating students by providing them with the literacy skills they lack, they may instead be redefined as providing the occasion for rewriting language and knowledge. By bringing to the fore the
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This paper argues that while college composition courses are commonly charged with remediating students by providing them with the literacy skills they lack, they may instead be redefined as providing the occasion for rewriting language and knowledge. By bringing to the fore the dependence of language and knowledge on the labor of writing, a pedagogy of recursion, mediation, and translation of knowledge through writing and revision counters neoliberalism’s commodification of knowledge and language, and offers an alternative justification for continuing education as the occasion for students to remediate language and knowledge through writing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Saving the Humanities from the Neoliberal University)
Open AccessFeature PaperEssay Action, Passion, Crises
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 24; doi:10.3390/h6020024
Received: 17 February 2017 / Accepted: 12 April 2017 / Published: 18 April 2017
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Abstract
The title of this speech is taken from a remark of the renowned Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr: “When we were young our hearts were touched with fire...[and as]...life is action and passion, it is required of [one] that [one] should share the
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The title of this speech is taken from a remark of the renowned Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr: “When we were young our hearts were touched with fire...[and as]...life is action and passion, it is required of [one] that [one] should share the passion and action of [one’s] time, at the peril of being judged not to have lived [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessFeature PaperEssay One Message Leading to Another
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 34; doi:10.3390/h6020034
Received: 15 February 2017 / Accepted: 19 May 2017 / Published: 26 May 2017
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender in Times of Crisis: A Multidisciplinary Conversation)
Open AccessConcept Paper Proto-Acting as a New Concept: Personal Mimicry and the Origins of Role Playing
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 43; doi:10.3390/h6020043
Received: 4 May 2017 / Revised: 15 June 2017 / Accepted: 16 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017
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Abstract
Proto-acting is introduced here as a new concept that refers to a set of processes that are intermediate between everyday role playing (in the Erving Goffman sense) and dramatic acting. Its most characteristic process is the voluntary act of personal mimicry, which can
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Proto-acting is introduced here as a new concept that refers to a set of processes that are intermediate between everyday role playing (in the Erving Goffman sense) and dramatic acting. Its most characteristic process is the voluntary act of personal mimicry, which can occur in everyday contexts, such as quoting someone during conversation, or in performance contexts, such as impressionism. Proto-acting involves character portrayal, but on a much simpler and more transient scale than in dramatic acting, where a person may portray a character for an extended period of time during a stage performance. For example, this might involve impersonating the characters while reading a bedtime story to a child, or children themselves portraying characters while engaging in pretend play. Other key features of proto-acting are that it tends to be driven by gesture, have minimal scripting, and involve short bouts of alternation between the self and characters. Proto-acting, as based on personal mimicry, might provide a cognitive foundation for dramatic acting in human development. Moreover, proto-acting itself might be underlain evolutionarily by the process of pantomime, which often involves intentional mimicry of the actions of other people. Hence, the proto-acting concept is able to shed light on processes relevant to cognition, development, the performing arts, and human evolution. Full article
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