Humanities2016, 5(3), 71; doi:10.3390/h5030071 (registering DOI) - published 25 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This essay offers an intervention in biopolitical theory—using the term “vulnerable life” to recalibrate discussions of how life is valued and violence is justified in the contemporary bioinsecurity regime. It reads the discursive structures that dehumanize and pathologize figures in U.S. zombie narratives against the discursive structures present in contemporary legal narratives and media reports on the killing of black Americans. Through this unsettling paralleling of structures, the essay suggests how the current ubiquity of zombies and the profusion of racial tension in the U.S. are related. In the process, the essay emphasizes the highly racialized nature of the zombie itself—which has never been the empty signifier it is often read as—and drives home just how dangerous the proliferation of postracial and posthuman discourses can be if they serve to elide historical limitations about the highly political determinations of just who is quite human.
Humanities2016, 5(3), 70; doi:10.3390/h5030070 - published 24 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This discussion introduces ideas of emotion and affect for a volume of articles demonstrating the scope of approaches used in their study within the humanities and creative arts. The volume offers multiple perspectives on emotion and affect within 20th-century and 21st-century texts, arts and organisations and their histories. The discussion explains how emotion encompasses the emotions, emotional feeling, sensation and mood and how these can be analysed particularly in relation to literature, art and performance. It briefly summarises concepts of affect theory within recent approaches before introducing the articles.
Humanities2016, 5(3), 69; doi:10.3390/h5030069 - published 19 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The othering of whole groups of people in a biopolitical discourse during the Third Reich has caused many to re-assess ethics that is based on specific categories. Adorno and Horkheimer reckoned with both Enlightenment as well as classical “humanist” discourses to question whether they imply structures that lead to fascism. In the wake of these arguments, classical humanist (or sometimes also called anthropocentric) ethics have also been criticized by philosophers such as Agamben, Derrida, and Wolfe. It is thus time to work on posthuman(ist) ethics that avoids the traps of a narrow human ethics and that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The short stories by postwar German author Wolfdietrich Schnurre, written in the wake of the Holocaust, reckon with a purely human-centered worldview and draw a bleak picture of an anthropocentrically structured and valued world. Under the surface that portrays a speciesist world, Schnurre employs a network of sub-discourses to “cave out” carno-phallogocentric discourses and point towards a different, post-human ethics. This paper examines how anthropocentric discourses of power lead to inhumane violence and how a different approach to the Other, based on empathy and shared vulnerability, might just move us beyond it.
Humanities2016, 5(3), 68; doi:10.3390/h5030068 - published 18 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The article has two primary objectives: it presents an analysis of the representation of animals in selected Italian literary works; and it utilizes that analysis as an example of how to incorporate the visual arts in teaching literature in the undergraduate classroom. The literary works discussed include Dante’s Inferno and the myth of Romulus and Remus as preparation for Boccaccio’s Decameron, specifically novelle IX.7 and V.8, with a thematic focus on portrayals of canines. The article argues that the use of artwork from the medieval and Renaissance periods, such as statuary, illustrated manuscripts, images in bestiaries, and works by Botticelli and other well-known artists, can be used to complement and reinforce interpretations of the texts, and are a powerful and effective tool in the learning process.
Humanities2016, 5(3), 67; doi:10.3390/h5030067 - published 9 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article compares Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1974) to the book of Job. Both stories feature characters who can be read as innocent victims, but whereas the suffering in Le Guin’s tale benefits many, Job is the victim of useless suffering. Exploring this difference, I draw on George Bataille’s theory of sacrifice as useless expenditure, and developed his concept of the “will to chance” in my reading of how each set of characters responds to the complex moral impasses faced. In the end, I read both stories as being about the struggle to create a viable, meaningful life in a world that is unpredictable and structurally unjust.
Humanities2016, 5(3), 66; doi:10.3390/h5030066 - published 2 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article considers the relationship between what would generally be viewed as a postmodern perspective and the rise and multiple use of the prefix “post” by those arguing that we are finally beyond certain oppressive political, cultural and social issues, and dynamics, such as the racist and sexist ideologies that have historically permeated and plagued our nation’s institutions, including higher education. Many of those who champion the prefix “post” assert that they offer us a narrative, description and framework of a post-racial and post-feminist era that they want us to acknowledge and embrace. I, however, claim that such a utilization and imposition (as opposed to the more generous sounding “offer”) of the various “posts” that we have been presented with are, more often than not, precisely little more than reactionary moves to reestablish and reaffirm the very type of thinking and structure that we have allegedly moved beyond.