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Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 2 (June 2021) – 26 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The prophets of the Tanakh, crying out on behalf of the widow and the orphan, testify to what Levinas calls the Otherwise than being. In the modern world, the holy fool, a sort of successor to the prophet, protests the reification of flesh-and-blood existents into Existence by testifying to this selfsame Otherwise. They do so through a self-emptying, a being-for-the-other, that works to their own detriment, even death. Examples of the holy fool include Dostoevsky’s Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov and Grossman’s Ikonnikov in Life and Fate. Though Dostoevsky predates the Shoah, his effect on Levinas also links him to Grossman. Both men, along with Levinas, could be described as advocates of an ethic of holy folly, which presupposes a God who is not the pinnacle of Being but the Otherwise than being. View this paper.
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Article
God Below: A Faith Born in Hell—Life and Fate and the Otherwise Than Being
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020084 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 574
Abstract
This essay examines the idea of kenosis and holy folly in the years before, during, and after the Holocaust. The primary focus will be Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, though it also will touch upon Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons and the ethics of [...] Read more.
This essay examines the idea of kenosis and holy folly in the years before, during, and after the Holocaust. The primary focus will be Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, though it also will touch upon Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons and the ethics of the Lithuanian-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, speaking to their intersecting ideas. Dostoevsky, true enough, predates the Shoah, whereas Grossman was a Soviet Jew who served as a journalist (most famously at the Battle of Stalingrad), and Levinas was a soldier in the French army, captured by the Nazis and placed in a POW camp. Each of these writers wrestles with the problem of evil in various ways, Dostoevsky and Levinas as theists—one Christian, the other Jewish—and Grossman as an atheist; yet, despite their differences, there are ever deeper resonances in that all are drawn to the idea of kenosis and the holy fool, and each writer employs variations of this idea in their respective answers to the problem of evil. Each argues, more or less, that evil arises in totalizing utopian thought which reifies individual humans to abstractions—to The Human, and goodness to The Good. Each looks to kenosis as the “antidote” to this utopian reification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Literary Response to the Holocaust)
Article
Cringe Histories: Harold Pinter and the Steptoes
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020083 - 16 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1133
Abstract
This article argues that cringe humour in British television had begun at least by the early 1960s and derived from a theatre history in which conventions of Naturalism were modified by emergent British writers working with European avant-garde motifs. The article makes the [...] Read more.
This article argues that cringe humour in British television had begun at least by the early 1960s and derived from a theatre history in which conventions of Naturalism were modified by emergent British writers working with European avant-garde motifs. The article makes the case by analysing the importance of cringe to the BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son, tracing its form and themes back to the ‘comedy of menace’ and ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ emblematised by the early work of playwright Harold Pinter. The article links the play that made Pinter’s reputation, The Birthday Party, to dramatic tropes and social commentary identified in Steptoe and Son and in other British sitcoms with cringe elements. The analysis not only discusses relationships between the different dramatic works on stage and screen but also pursues some of the other connections between sitcom and Pinter’s drama via networks of actors and contemporaneous discourses of critical commentary. It assesses the political stakes of cringe as a comic form, particularly the failure of cringe to impel political activism, and places this in the context of the repeated broadcast of Pinter’s plays and episodes of Steptoe and Son over an extended period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media and Politics in the Age of Cringe)
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Article
Messages in Bottles: An Archive of Black Iraqi Identity in Diaa Jubaili’s al-Biṭrīq al-Aswad
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020082 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1047
Abstract
The novel al-Biṭrīq al-Aswad [The Black Penguin] by the Iraqi author Diaa Jubaili is a rare example of a contemporary Arabic novel that centers the experiences of Iraq’s Black population, most of whom live near Basra in Iraq’s south. The [...] Read more.
The novel al-Biṭrīq al-Aswad [The Black Penguin] by the Iraqi author Diaa Jubaili is a rare example of a contemporary Arabic novel that centers the experiences of Iraq’s Black population, most of whom live near Basra in Iraq’s south. The novel’s mixed-race narrator recounts his life story in the form of letters addressed to international figures, highlighting the life of his family on the margins of Iraqi society and his later involvement with the real-life civil rights group, the Movement of Free Iraqis. This article draws on Stuart Hall’s dual conception of cultural identity in diaspora to frame the characters’ search for a Black Iraqi identity as a dynamic engagement with memory, one that represents a counternarrative in the face of legacies of African slavery and legal discrimination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Racism in Arabic Literature)
Article
Making Whiteness Visible and Felt in Fairview
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020081 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1066
Abstract
In this article I analyse how Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview makes white audience members feel white. As a play that exposes whiteness and calls white people to account for their racism, Fairview speaks to contemporary global antiracist activism efforts. Therefore, I begin [...] Read more.
In this article I analyse how Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview makes white audience members feel white. As a play that exposes whiteness and calls white people to account for their racism, Fairview speaks to contemporary global antiracist activism efforts. Therefore, I begin by situating Fairview in the transatlantic cultural and political context of Black Lives Matter. I then discuss the theatrical devices Drury employs in Fairview in order to make whiteness felt before going on to analyse a range of white audience responses to the production at London’s Young Vic Theatre in 2019/2020. I reflect on these responses in relation to how white people react to accusations of white privilege and power in the public sphere and identify shared strategies for sustaining whiteness. In conclusion, I consider Fairview as a model of affective antiracist activism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
Article
Tom Stoppard: European Phantom Pain and the Theatre of Faux Biography
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020080 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1127
Abstract
The paper reads Stoppard’s work in the 21st century as further testimony of the gradual politicisation of his work that began in the 1970s under the influence of Czech dissidents, and particularly as a result of his visits to Russia and Prague in [...] Read more.
The paper reads Stoppard’s work in the 21st century as further testimony of the gradual politicisation of his work that began in the 1970s under the influence of Czech dissidents, and particularly as a result of his visits to Russia and Prague in 1977. It also provides evidence that Stoppard, since the 1990s, had begun to target emotional responses from his audience to redress the intellectual cool that seems to have shaped his earlier, “absurdist” phase. This turn towards emotionalism, the increasingly elegiac obsession with doubles, unrequited lives, and memory are linked to a set of biographical turning points: the death of his mother and the investigation into his Czech-Jewish family roots, which laid bare the foundations of the Stoppardian art. Examining this kind of “phantom pain” in two of his 21st-century plays, Rock’n’Roll (2006) and Leopoldstadt (2019), the essay argues that Stoppard’s work in the 21st century was increasingly coloured by his biography and Jewishness—bringing to the fore an important engagement with European history that helped Stoppard become aware of some blind spots in his attitudes towards Englishness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary British-Jewish Literature, 1970–2020)
Editorial
Editorial Special Issue: “Nordic and European Modernisms”
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020079 - 27 May 2021
Viewed by 872
Abstract
This Special Issue of Humanities explores the growth and development of Nordic modernisms in a European context [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nordic and European Modernisms)
Article
Material Overconsumption as Ecological Polemics in Allen Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode” and Gary Snyder’s “Smokey the Bear Sutra”: Re-Envisioning Beat Critiques of Anthropocentric Materialism
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020078 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 725
Abstract
Beat poetry, since its origination in the American milieu in the 1950s until its further maturation in the late 1960s and 1970s, has embodied ecological visions. Allen Ginsberg’s and Gary Snyder’s Buddhist poetics of the emptiness of material phenomena evoke one’s awareness ofthe [...] Read more.
Beat poetry, since its origination in the American milieu in the 1950s until its further maturation in the late 1960s and 1970s, has embodied ecological visions. Allen Ginsberg’s and Gary Snyder’s Buddhist poetics of the emptiness of material phenomena evoke one’s awareness ofthe true nature of material goods. This ecological awarenessenlightensanyoneto not overconsume the goods in fulfilling his/her daily necessities. In this recent era, Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode” and Snyder’s “Smokey the Bear Sutra” memorialize this Beat green poetics against anthropocentric materialism and its potential detrimental impacts on the natural environment. These poems view human’s material attachment as a recurring melancholia even in today’s digital technology era. Their ecological criticisms through the Buddhist poetics pave the way for anyone to cherish rather than objectify any material thing in living the biotic community. Full article
Article
Lake Qooqa as a Narrative: Finding Meanings in Social Memory (A Narrative Inquiry)
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020077 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1400
Abstract
Lake Qooqa in Oromia/Ethiopia started out as a man-made lake back in the 1960s, formed by the damming of the Awash River and other rivers for a practical function, i.e., for hydroelectric power. The lake flooded over the surrounding picturesque landscape, shattered sacred [...] Read more.
Lake Qooqa in Oromia/Ethiopia started out as a man-made lake back in the 1960s, formed by the damming of the Awash River and other rivers for a practical function, i.e., for hydroelectric power. The lake flooded over the surrounding picturesque landscape, shattered sacred sites and the livelihoods of the Siiba Oromo, and damaged the ecosystem in the area, which was later resuscitated to have an aesthetic function for tourists. Available sources showed that people used the lake for irrigation, washing, fishing, and drinking, while tanneries, flower farms, and manufacturing facilities for soap and plastic products were set up along the banks without enough environmental impact assessment and virtually with no regulations on how to get rid of their effluents, which contained dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead, and cadmium, giving the lake a blue and green color locally called bulee; hence, the name the “Green Lake”. In the present study, following a string of “narrative turns” in other disciplinary fields of humanities and social sciences (folklore, history, and anthropology), I use social memory and life hi/story narratives from Amudde, Arsi, Oromia/Ethiopia, to consider a few methodological and theoretical questions of folkloric and ecological nature in doing a narrative study: What is social memory? What does social memory reveal about the people and the environment in which they live? Is a personal narrative story folklore? Where do stories come from? What should the researcher do with the stories s/he collected? Hence, this study aims to tackle two objectives: first, using social memory data as a means to connect social identity and historical memory set in a social context in which people shape their group identity and debate conflicting views of the past, I explore the Green Lake as a narrative, which is, in its current situation, a prototypical image of degradation and anthropogenic impacts, and trace trajectories and meanings of social memory about the shared past, i.e., the historical grief of loss that people in the study area carry in their memory pool. Second, toward this end, I use people’s stories from the research site, particularly Amina’s story about the loss of seven members of her family from complications related to drinking the polluted water, as evidence to show, sharing Sandra Dolby Stahl’s claim, that the narrative of personal experience belongs in folklore studies to the established genre of the family story. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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Article
Modernism—Borders and Crises
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020076 - 17 May 2021
Viewed by 760
Abstract
This article discusses the concept of modernism, as reflected for instance in attempts to find a manageable narrative frame for the history of literary modernism. The article argues that this attempt is complicated by modernism as an unruly and complex trend that manifests [...] Read more.
This article discusses the concept of modernism, as reflected for instance in attempts to find a manageable narrative frame for the history of literary modernism. The article argues that this attempt is complicated by modernism as an unruly and complex trend that manifests itself in different ways, and at different moments, as it enters into a complex dialogue with other trends within various linguistic communities. These different times and places of modernism also turn out to interact with one another through translations and other forms of reception that sometimes entail renewed modernist creativity. Discussing these significant aspects of modernism, the article also considers the problems critics of modernism face as they attempt to come up with a narrative framework for the history of modernism and its ongoing relationship with realism. A key point argued in the article is that to come to terms with both these trends we need to appreciate the ways in which modernism is linked to historical crises and traumas of our time, including the first and the second world wars. Paying particular attention to the interplay of Nordic and European modernisms, the article discusses how aspects of modernism have manifested themselves in Iceland, a Nordic island which may seem doubly removed from the European centres of modernism in cities such as London and Paris. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nordic and European Modernisms)
Article
Shaping Landscapes: Thinking On the Interactions between People and Nature in Inter- and Postdisciplinary Narratives
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020075 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 857
Abstract
This article addresses broad and plural concepts of landscape, considering its diversity of meanings and uses, which go far beyond its environmental and geographical connotations. It discusses the relationship between humanity and the rest of the natural world as a global process that [...] Read more.
This article addresses broad and plural concepts of landscape, considering its diversity of meanings and uses, which go far beyond its environmental and geographical connotations. It discusses the relationship between humanity and the rest of the natural world as a global process that combines physical and cultural aspects, and it seeks to highlight the contribution of environmental humanities to the understanding of these. Given the multiple conceptual interpretations and meanings of landscapes, we argue that current research trends are good examples of what we can consider as postdisciplinary approaches, challenging both disciplinary and interdisciplinary models of analysis. In this context, we use the recent pandemic scenarios as an example. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peoples, Nature and Environments: Shaping Landscapes)
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Article
McClure, Beuys, Kulik, and the Flux of Pink Indians
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020074 - 05 May 2021
Viewed by 584
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
Article
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
Viewed by 2991
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)
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Article
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 818
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)
Article
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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1294
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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Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2436
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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Article
The Mystery of “Collaboration” in Henry James
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020069 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 821
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)
Article
“Is Cleopatra Black?”: Examining Whiteness and the American New Woman
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020068 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1048
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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‘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 665
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
Article
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 1483
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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Article
Post-Utopia: The Long View
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020065 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 817
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?)
Article
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 1553
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)
Article
“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
Viewed by 650
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)
Article
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 1096
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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Article
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 618
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)
Article
The International Dimension of “The Death of the Lion”
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020060 - 26 Mar 2021
Viewed by 869
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)
Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 968
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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