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Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 2 (June 2021) – 16 articles

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Open AccessArticle
McClure, Beuys, Kulik, and the Flux of Pink Indians
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020074 - 05 May 2021
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Abstract
Looking at different disciplines in the humanities as water-tight compartments is doing a great disservice to knowledge; a comparative angle can do much to solve the situation. History shows how literature and the visual arts have been prone to mutual contagion. This essay [...] Read more.
Looking at different disciplines in the humanities as water-tight compartments is doing a great disservice to knowledge; a comparative angle can do much to solve the situation. History shows how literature and the visual arts have been prone to mutual contagion. This essay will briefly examine a few examples of how performance art was approached by the literary realm during the second half of the 20th century compared to how it was done within the visual arts, and more specifically, regarding non-human creatures. To achieve this purpose, a performance carried out by writer Michael McClure during the 1960s will be collated with two further actions by visual artists who were prominent during the 1970s and 1990s, respectively. The three actions involved animals or pondered on how humans relate to animals and their environment. They differently addressed issues that are still being discussed today and questioned the status quo through their approaches towards animality. A comparative methodology will be used to assess these works under the light of recent publications. Discrepancies in these artworks from the ecocritical ethics and aesthetics viewpoint show a whole different perspective to the topics discussed and provide a worthy contribution to a comparative assessment of performance art. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Recentring Peripheral Queerness and Marginal Art in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020073 - 05 May 2021
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Abstract
This essay examines the ways in which Céline Sciamma’s 2019 film Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) looks to centralise onscreen homosexual experience through engagement with, and queering of, eighteenth-century art practices and the [...] Read more.
This essay examines the ways in which Céline Sciamma’s 2019 film Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) looks to centralise onscreen homosexual experience through engagement with, and queering of, eighteenth-century art practices and the discourse surrounding them. From its reception of Ovid’s Metamorphoses to ideas espoused by the eighteenth-century art critic and philosopher Denis Diderot, Portrait looks to traditionally peripheral spaces, or edgelands, and the visual and embodied consequences of transcending them. Engaging closely with eighteenth-century processes of artmaking, the film transforms sketches on paper, paint applied to canvas and wood, miniatures held close to the body and erotica annotated in the margins into queer-coded sites used to reflect and document the developing relationship at its heart. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Queer Culture and Literature in Eighteenth-Century Studies)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Futurity as an Effect of Playing Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020072 - 27 Apr 2021
Viewed by 204
Abstract
Futurity denotes the quality or state of being in the future. This article explores futurity as an effect of response, as an aesthetic experience of playing a narrative video game. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the ways in [...] Read more.
Futurity denotes the quality or state of being in the future. This article explores futurity as an effect of response, as an aesthetic experience of playing a narrative video game. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the ways in which video games are engaged in ecocriticism as an aspect of cultural work invested in the future. In the presented reading of the 2017 video game Horizon: Zero Dawn, it is argued that the combination of the affect creating process of play, in combination with a posthumanist and postnatural plot, creates an experience of futurity, which challenges generic notions of linear temporal progress and of the conventional telos of dystopian fiction in a digital medium. The experience of the narrative video game Horizon Zero Dawn is presented as an example of an aesthetic experience that affords futurity as an effect of playing, interlinked with a reflection on the shape of the future in a posthumanist narrative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Film, Television, and Media Studies in the Humanities)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Gender and Migrant Roles in Italian Neorealist and New Migrant Films: Cinema as an Apparatus of Reconfiguration of National Identity and ‘Otherness’
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020071 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 369
Abstract
The article examines an ensemble of gender and migrant roles in post-war Neorealist and New Migrant Italian films. Its main objective is to analyze gender and placemaking practices in an ensemble of films, addressing these practices on a symbolic level. The main argument [...] Read more.
The article examines an ensemble of gender and migrant roles in post-war Neorealist and New Migrant Italian films. Its main objective is to analyze gender and placemaking practices in an ensemble of films, addressing these practices on a symbolic level. The main argument of the article is that the way gender and migrant roles were conceived in the Italian Neorealist and New Migrant Cinema was based on the intention to challenge certain stereotypes characterizing the understanding of national identity and ‘otherness’. The article presents how the roles of borgatari and women function as devices of reconceptualization of Italy’s identity, providing a fertile terrain for problematizing the relationship between migration studies, urban studies and gender studies. Special attention is paid to how migrants are related to the reconceptualization of Italy’s national narrations. The Neorealist model is understood here as a precursor of the narrative strategies that one encounters in numerous films belonging to the New Migrant cinema in Italy. The article also explores how certain aspects of more contemporary studies of migrant cinema in Italy could illuminate our understanding of Neorealist cinema and its relation to national narratives. To connect gender representation and migrant roles in Italian cinema, the article focuses on the analysis of the status of certain roles of women, paying particular attention to Anna Magnagi’s roles. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Storytelling through Popular Music: Social Memory, Reconciliation, and Intergenerational Healing in Oromia/Ethiopia
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020070 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 362
Abstract
Drawing on a popular music video titled ‘Beelbaa’ by a young Oromo artist, Jambo Jote, this article discusses the moments and contexts that compel young people to speak up in subtle and poetic ways. By interpreting the content of the lyrics, doing a [...] Read more.
Drawing on a popular music video titled ‘Beelbaa’ by a young Oromo artist, Jambo Jote, this article discusses the moments and contexts that compel young people to speak up in subtle and poetic ways. By interpreting the content of the lyrics, doing a visual analysis of the music video, and connecting both to contemporary discourses, it explores how researching social memory through music can be used as a lens to understand Ethiopian society, politics, and history. The article draws attention to alternative spaces of resistance as well as sites of intergenerational connections such as lyrics, music videos, songs, and online discussions. I argue that storytelling through music not only bridges differences on problematic and sometimes highly polarized discourses engendered by selective remembering and forgetting of national history, but that it is also indispensable for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. Tuning into young people’s music can touch us in ways that are real, immediate, and therapeutic, making it possible for our collective wounds to heal. I further demonstrate that as musical storytelling appeals to multiple generations, it can facilitate mediation, truce, and intergenerational understanding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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Open AccessArticle
The Mystery of “Collaboration” in Henry James
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020069 - 13 Apr 2021
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Abstract
This article argues for the importance of collaboration as a species of literary relation in Henry James’s work. Collaboration was increasingly popular towards the end of the nineteenth century, and yet, James’s interest in and occasional practice of this compositional mode has been [...] Read more.
This article argues for the importance of collaboration as a species of literary relation in Henry James’s work. Collaboration was increasingly popular towards the end of the nineteenth century, and yet, James’s interest in and occasional practice of this compositional mode has been largely overlooked. This is partly due to James’s own ambivalent and contested relationship with multiple authorship, most obviously in his contribution to The Whole Family. However, James’s frequent identification of collaboration as a “mystery” indicates the extent to which it exerted a considerable influence over his imagination and thinking, and its association with some of his most formative moments of novelistic and vocational self-awareness. “Collaboration” is also a literary subject in its own right, most obviously in James’s 1892 story of that name, and the depiction of the practice as a unifying, if occasionally divisive, ideal offers a complex and often enigmatic vision of sociable reciprocity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James)
Open AccessArticle
“Is Cleopatra Black?”: Examining Whiteness and the American New Woman
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020068 - 09 Apr 2021
Viewed by 298
Abstract
In the 1920s and 1930s, conceptions of the “New Woman” and Egyptomania shaped American culture. Employing methods of critical race art history and material culture studies, I focus on a 1925 Callot Soeurs dress and silk pajamas (c. 1920–1929), taking into consideration both [...] Read more.
In the 1920s and 1930s, conceptions of the “New Woman” and Egyptomania shaped American culture. Employing methods of critical race art history and material culture studies, I focus on a 1925 Callot Soeurs dress and silk pajamas (c. 1920–1929), taking into consideration both the semiotic qualities of Egyptian motifs as they circulated in early twentieth century American visual culture as well as the sensuous material aspects of the garments. Through primary sources like cosmetic advertisements, fashion magazines, and costume manuals, I contextualize the figure of Cleopatra as a symbol of white beauty and power in this period. Weighing both visual and material aspects, I argue that the repeated act of wearing these garments by white-presenting women placed them in a performative valence, where the wearer ironically became a white woman through her appropriation of Cleopatra and Egyptian motifs. Further, these motifs conferred modernity, cosmopolitanism, class status and an acceptable sexuality upon the wearer. As such, I address how material objects shape subjectivity, simultaneously reflecting and producing racialized and gendered discourses. By focusing on white womanhood, I draw upon critical studies of whiteness in order to disrupt its invisible normative status. This essay traces its operational logic and aids in dismantling the pervasive power of white supremacy that continues to circulate today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Race and the Material Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
‘Muzak for Frogs’—Representations of ‘Nature’ in Decoder (1984)
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020067 - 09 Apr 2021
Viewed by 235
Abstract
This paper examines the various representations of ‘nature’ present in Decoder (1984), a German experimental cyberpunk film that was inspired by William S. Burroughs’ thoughts on utilising tapes as revolutionary weapons. Though Decoder is not a film one would easily associate with labels, [...] Read more.
This paper examines the various representations of ‘nature’ present in Decoder (1984), a German experimental cyberpunk film that was inspired by William S. Burroughs’ thoughts on utilising tapes as revolutionary weapons. Though Decoder is not a film one would easily associate with labels, such as ‘green’ or ‘environmental’, signs and images that represent or refer to ‘nature’ and non-human life are not omitted. Through a close reading of the film, the paper first explores the ways in which these representations convey and evoke certain meanings and associations and then elucidates the themes at play in the context of these representations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Gendered and Racial Injustices in American Food Systems and Cultures
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020066 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 364
Abstract
Multiple factors create food injustices in the United States. They occur in different societal sectors and traverse multiple scales, from the constrained choices of the industrialized food system to legal and corporate structures that replicate entrenched racial and gender inequalities, to cultural expectations [...] Read more.
Multiple factors create food injustices in the United States. They occur in different societal sectors and traverse multiple scales, from the constrained choices of the industrialized food system to legal and corporate structures that replicate entrenched racial and gender inequalities, to cultural expectations around food preparation and consumption. Such injustices further harm already disadvantaged groups, especially women and racial minorities, while also exacerbating environmental deterioration. This article consists of five sections that employ complementary approaches in the humanities, design studies, and science and technology studies. The authors explore cases that represent structural injustices in the current American food system, including: the racialized and gendered effects of food systems and cultures on both men and women; the misguided and de-territorialized global branding of the Mediterranean Diet as a universal ideal; the role of food safety regulations around microbes in reinforcing racialized food injustices; and the benefits of considering the American food system and all of its parts as designed artifacts that can be redesigned. The article concludes by discussing how achieving food justice can simultaneously promote sustainable food production and consumption practices—a process that, like the article itself, invites scholars and practitioners to actively design our food system in ways that empower different stakeholders and emphasize the importance of collaboration and interconnection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Post-Utopia: The Long View
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020065 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 258
Abstract
The present article is divided into three parts. The first discusses the nature of utopias and their hypothetical anti-type, dystopias, and also disaster scenarios that are sometimes assimilated to dystopias, with reference also to the idea of post-utopia. An argument is made for [...] Read more.
The present article is divided into three parts. The first discusses the nature of utopias and their hypothetical anti-type, dystopias, and also disaster scenarios that are sometimes assimilated to dystopias, with reference also to the idea of post-utopia. An argument is made for the continuity of the utopian impulse, even in an age when brutal wars and forms of oppression have caused many to lose faith in any form of collectivity. Representations of social breakdown and its apparent opposite, totalitarian rigidity, tend to privilege the very individualism that the utopian vision aspires to overcome. The second part looks at examples of each of these types drawn from classical Greek and Roman literature, with a view to seeing how utopias were conceived at a time before the emergence of the modern ideology of the pre-social self. Finally, the third part examines several stories from the collection A People’s Future of the United States which imagine life in the near future. While most illustrate the failure of confidence in the social that has encouraged the intuition that a utopian future is passé, one, it is suggested, reconceives the relation between the individual and the social in a way that points to the renewed possibility of the utopian. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Post-Utopia in Speculative Fiction: The End of the Future?)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Jew Uncut: Circumcising Holocaust Representation in Europa Europa
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020064 - 07 Apr 2021
Viewed by 292
Abstract
Film adaptations invariably yield insights into their written source material, at least to the extent that they elect to translate or omit what may be deemed the literature’s essential components. This is certainly the case for director Agnieszka Holland’s 1990 film, Europa Europa [...] Read more.
Film adaptations invariably yield insights into their written source material, at least to the extent that they elect to translate or omit what may be deemed the literature’s essential components. This is certainly the case for director Agnieszka Holland’s 1990 film, Europa Europa, which adapts Solomon Perel’s account of surviving the Shoah. By drawing on discourse in Holocaust studies and adaptation studies, and by examining the film adaptation’s points of alignment with what Perel records in his memoir, I argue that Europa Europa resists the dominant trend of de-Judaizing the Shoah in artistic representation. Europa Europa privileges explicitly Jewish content and an unmistakably Jewish point of view by focusing on the theme of circumcision. In doing so, the film succeeds in highlighting how the Shoah was, at its core, a campaign to annihilate not just the Jewish people, but also the longstanding principle of the Jewish covenant with the Eternal, as embodied by circumcision. Through its cutting and reshaping of the memoir’s details, Holland’s film seeks to establish a covenant with the viewer to bear witness to the Jewish spirit of the survivor’s testimony. The film presents a model for representing the Holocaust in art, a model that masterfully defies the de-Judaization of society that the Nazis envisioned and tried to make real. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Literary Response to the Holocaust)
Open AccessArticle
“Die Grenzen des Sagbaren”: H. G. Adler (on) Writing Literature after the Holocaust
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020063 - 31 Mar 2021
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Abstract
Taking the next step in our understanding of the testimony of Holocaust literature involves taking a step back to recuperate a theoretical approach that does not cede all human attempts at knowledge to skepticism. At odds with Theodor Adorno about the possibility of [...] Read more.
Taking the next step in our understanding of the testimony of Holocaust literature involves taking a step back to recuperate a theoretical approach that does not cede all human attempts at knowledge to skepticism. At odds with Theodor Adorno about the possibility of writing poetry after Auschwitz, Adler, a survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, transformed his experiences into fiction. In his novel, Eine Reise, published in 1962, and in his 1965 essay on “Die Grenzen des Sagbaren,” or the limits of the sayable, Adler addresses these dilemmas. While Adorno collapses traditions of value into barbarity, Adler struggles to maintain, describe and explain the possibility of human resistance to evil. I examine Adler’s nuanced use of language in these two works and show that the rage and epistemological uncertainty that dominate the post-Holocaust world do not necessarily lead to the destruction of all traditional forms of meaning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Literary Response to the Holocaust)
Open AccessArticle
The 1930s Horror Adventure Film on Location in Jamaica: ‘Jungle Gods’, ‘Voodoo Drums’ and ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ in the ‘Secret Places of Paradise Island’
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020062 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 319
Abstract
In this article, I consider the representation of African-Caribbean religions in the early horror adventure film from a postcolonial perspective. I do so by zooming in on Ouanga (1935), Obeah (1935), and Devil’s Daughter (1939), three low-budget horror productions filmed on location in [...] Read more.
In this article, I consider the representation of African-Caribbean religions in the early horror adventure film from a postcolonial perspective. I do so by zooming in on Ouanga (1935), Obeah (1935), and Devil’s Daughter (1939), three low-budget horror productions filmed on location in Jamaica during the 1930s (and the only films shot on the island throughout that decade). First, I discuss the emergence of depictions of African-Caribbean religious practices of voodoo and obeah in popular Euro-American literature, and show how the zombie figure entered Euro-American empire cinema in the 1930s as a colonial expression of tropical savagery and jungle terror. Then, combining historical newspaper research with content analyses of these films, I present my exploration into the three low-budget horror films in two parts. The first part contains a discussion of Ouanga, the first sound film ever made in Jamaica and allegedly the first zombie film ever shot on location in the Caribbean. In this early horror adventure, which was made in the final year of the U.S. occupation of Haiti, zombies were portrayed as products of evil supernatural powers to be oppressed by colonial rule. In the second part, I review Obeah and The Devil’s Daughter, two horror adventure movies that merely portrayed African-Caribbean religion as primitive superstition. While Obeah was disturbingly set on a tropical island in the South Seas infested by voodoo practices and native cannibals, The Devil’s Daughter was authorized by the British Board of Censors to show black populations in Jamaica and elsewhere in the colonial world that African-Caribbean religions were both fraudulent and dangerous. Taking into account both the production and content of these movies, I show that these 1930s horror adventure films shot on location in Jamaica were rooted in a long colonial tradition of demonizing and terrorizing African-Caribbean religions—a tradition that lasts until today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Postcolonial Literature, Art, and Music)
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Open AccessArticle
An “Entirely Personal” Success: Intertextuality and Self-Reflexive Ironies in Henry James’s “Pandora”
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020061 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 246
Abstract
Henry James’s self-allusions in “Pandora” have been read as a rewriting of his former treatment of the “American Girl abroad” in the comic mode. The hints at “a Tauchnitz novel by an American author” (90) establish an ironical reversal of the failures of [...] Read more.
Henry James’s self-allusions in “Pandora” have been read as a rewriting of his former treatment of the “American Girl abroad” in the comic mode. The hints at “a Tauchnitz novel by an American author” (90) establish an ironical reversal of the failures of understanding which had led to tragedy in “Daisy Miller.” Yet the ironies in “Pandora” are multi-layered, often self-reflexive, and can be further interpreted in the light of James’s controversial adaptation of his famous novella for the stage. In this framework, well-known Jamesian topoi appear both as a (self-)parody and a metaliterary dialogue James engages with his readers and critics. The author’s personal implication in this “American” story is further testified by his Notebooks, in which James states his intention to write about his friends Henry and “Clover” Adams. Indeed, “Pandora”’s multi-layered intertextuality includes undeclared references to Adams’s anonymously published novel, Democracy, a semi-satirical account of U.S. political life. My article focuses on the web of intertextual relations woven in this short story with a view to reflecting on James’s ideas concerning the politics of authorship, readership, literary success, and the fate of the American Girl. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James)
Open AccessArticle
The International Dimension of “The Death of the Lion”
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020060 - 26 Mar 2021
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Abstract
This essay reconsiders some critically established ‘germs’ for Henry James’s “The Death of the Lion” (1894), traced back to the 1893 demise of Guy de Maupassant and to the latter’s only visit to England in the summer of 1886. On that occasion, Maupassant [...] Read more.
This essay reconsiders some critically established ‘germs’ for Henry James’s “The Death of the Lion” (1894), traced back to the 1893 demise of Guy de Maupassant and to the latter’s only visit to England in the summer of 1886. On that occasion, Maupassant was ‘chaperoned’ by his American friend Blanche Roosevelt, a well-known literary journalist in the London and Paris circles. The unexplored connection with Roosevelt invites a new reading which gives prominence to the American woman character in the tale (Fanny Hurter) and unveils an international subtheme within it. In light of such a reading, as well as of authoritative studies which have analyzed “The Death of the Lion” against the rise of modern literary journalism, I will also re-examine the role of the first-person narrator, an unnamed ‘repented’ literary journalist, in thwarting the possible relation between Neil Paraday and his American admirer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James)
Open AccessArticle
Representations of Shylock in Arnold Wesker’s The Merchant, Howard Jacobson’s Shylock Is My Name and Clive Sinclair’s Shylock Must Die
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020059 - 25 Mar 2021
Viewed by 361
Abstract
Given the centrality of Shakespeare to the Western canon and, more specifically, to the idea of a national English literary tradition, and given that Shylock is one of his most (in)famous creations, it is hardly surprising that he has proved irresistible to a [...] Read more.
Given the centrality of Shakespeare to the Western canon and, more specifically, to the idea of a national English literary tradition, and given that Shylock is one of his most (in)famous creations, it is hardly surprising that he has proved irresistible to a number of Anglo-Jewish authors. Attempts to rehabilitate Shylock and/or to reimagine his fate are not a recent phenomenon. In the post-war era, however, the task of revisiting Shakespeare’s play took on a new urgency, particularly for Jewish writers. In this essay I look at the ways in which three contemporary British Jewish authors—Arnold Wesker, Howard Jacobson and Clive Sinclair—have revisited The Merchant of Venice, focusing on the figure of Shylock as an exemplar of what Bryan Cheyette has described as “the protean instability of ‘the Jew’ as a signifier”. Wesker, Jacobson and Sinclair approach Shakespeare’s play and its most memorable character in very different ways but they share a sense that Shylock symbolically transgresses boundaries of time and space—history and geography—and is a mercurial, paradoxical figure: villain and (anti-)hero; victim and perpetrator; scapegoat and scourge. Wesker’s play is more didactic than the fiction of Jacobson and Sinclair but ultimately his Shylock eludes the historicist parameters that he attempts to impose on him, while the Shylocks of Shylock is My Name and Shylock Must Die transcend their literary-historical origins, becoming slippery, self-reflexive, protean figures who talk back to Shakespeare, while at the same time speaking to the concerns of contemporary culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary British-Jewish Literature, 1970–2020)
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