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Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2 (June 2016)

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Open AccessArticle
“I Felt Like My Life Had Been Given to Me to Start Over”: Alice Kaplan’s Language Memoir, French Lessons
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020047 - 20 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1317
Abstract
Alice Kaplan’s memoir French Lessons (1993) is a story that deals as much with the issue of language learning as with that of cultural belonging(s). This “language memoir,” as it is typical of this sub-genre, is an intimate tale of the transition between [...] Read more.
Alice Kaplan’s memoir French Lessons (1993) is a story that deals as much with the issue of language learning as with that of cultural belonging(s). This “language memoir,” as it is typical of this sub-genre, is an intimate tale of the transition between languages and cultures. French Lessons recounts her evolving relationship with French language and culture in various phases of her life: starting from childhood, continuing through her graduate student years at Yale and finally as professor of French at Duke. Soon, however, in this unconventional Bildung, the second language turns out to be a verbal safe-house, an instant refuge when her first language and culture happen to be too uncomfortable. Ultimately, French provides a psychic space and a hiding place. Ultimately, however, as Derrida has shown, we are alienated from both the first and the second; we find ourselves to be more comfortable in one than in the other. This essay will analyze such processes with special attention to the part played by the body in Kaplan’s building as a student and eventually as a teacher. The analysis will be linked with the text’s peculiar narrative style: fast-paced, with simple, concise sentences, nevertheless extremely effective and moving. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020046 - 18 Jun 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1546
Abstract
This article, “Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity,” argues that the successes and failures of 21st-century satire reveal the myth of post-raciality while simultaneously dismissing racial essentialism. I focus on three critical moments: the commercial success of Mat Johnson’s Loving Day, [...] Read more.
This article, “Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity,” argues that the successes and failures of 21st-century satire reveal the myth of post-raciality while simultaneously dismissing racial essentialism. I focus on three critical moments: the commercial success of Mat Johnson’s Loving Day, a text and forthcoming television show that examines the shifting self-identities of mixed-race individuals; the inability of a potential love interest on the television series, Louie, to accept a black woman as the ex-wife of the titular protagonist’s phenotypically white daughters; and Barack Obama’s self-designation as “black” on the census shortly after his election. I argue that the widespread reach of these instances, coupled with audience engagement and response, underscores the ways that the public realm frames a contemporary understanding of race as both meaningful and absurd. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Joachim Heinrich Campe’s Robinson the Younger: Universal Moral Foundations and Intercultural Relations
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020045 - 13 Jun 2016
Viewed by 3983
Abstract
In his adaptation of Robinson Crusoe, Campe sets out to examine the legitimacy of his contemporary social reality (in Europe in the broadest sense) by tracing its origin back to the most basic roots conceivable. The experimental character of his book is [...] Read more.
In his adaptation of Robinson Crusoe, Campe sets out to examine the legitimacy of his contemporary social reality (in Europe in the broadest sense) by tracing its origin back to the most basic roots conceivable. The experimental character of his book is emphasised and—to an extent—explicitly introduced through the frame narrative which constitutes Campe’s most important addition to Defoe’s story: Here the emergence of the rules and routines are extensively mooted by the father (who relates Robinson’s story as a framed narrative) and his children who still have to internalise, grasp, and situate the moral rules around them and frequently offer divergent perspectives in the process. The frame narrative connects the moral “ontogeny” of the children to the “phylogenetics” of civilisation and suggests that both can be superimposed on one another. I will work with concepts that focus on the differentiation between “innate” moral characteristics and their social transformation on a cognitive, evolutionary level, from which Campe clearly deviates. However, his short-circuiting of the individual and the phylogeny leads to very similar specifications as laid out by, for instance, Moral Foundations Theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Extracting the Past from the Present: Exotic Prizes, Empty Wilderness, and Commercial Conquest in Two Oil Company Advertisements, 1925–2012
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020044 - 13 Jun 2016
Viewed by 2540
Abstract
This article undertakes a comparative analysis of two oil company advertisements—British Petroleum’s (BP) “Persian Series”, published in London in 1925, and Cenovus Energy’s “Canadian Ideas at Work”, published across Canada in 2012. These advertisements are separated by eighty-seven years, and were produced in [...] Read more.
This article undertakes a comparative analysis of two oil company advertisements—British Petroleum’s (BP) “Persian Series”, published in London in 1925, and Cenovus Energy’s “Canadian Ideas at Work”, published across Canada in 2012. These advertisements are separated by eighty-seven years, and were produced in different countries, by different companies, and for different audiences. Yet, a closer reading of these documents reveals that they are two sides of the same coin: both narrate the extraction of oil as a great game of commercial conquest, whereby exotic prizes trapped beneath wild and empty landscapes are unlocked by oil companies. How could two advertisements that appear so radically distant feel so close? In what ways do the oil cultures of the past inflect those of the present? This article engages with such questions by critically deconstructing and comparing the imagined worlds of oil presented in BP and Cenovus’ advertisements, tracing the ways in which the resource is represented through the binaries of ancient and modern, empty and urban, wild and civilized. By configuring oil as a constellation of ideas rather than a system of things, this investigation reveals how the colonial legacies of the past continue to seep through the oil cultures of the present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
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Open AccessArticle
“They All Lived Happily Ever After. Obviously.”: Realism and Utopia in Game of Thrones-Based Alternate Universe Fairy Tale Fan Fiction
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020043 - 09 Jun 2016
Viewed by 2595
Abstract
Fan fiction alternate universe stories (AUs) that combine Game of Thrones characters and settings with fairy tale elements construct a dialogue between realism and wonder. Realism performs a number of functions in various genres, but becomes a particularly tricky concept to tie down [...] Read more.
Fan fiction alternate universe stories (AUs) that combine Game of Thrones characters and settings with fairy tale elements construct a dialogue between realism and wonder. Realism performs a number of functions in various genres, but becomes a particularly tricky concept to tie down in fantasy. Deployments of realism in “quality TV” series like Game of Thrones often reinforce social stigmatization of feminine genres like the romance, melodrama, and fairy tale. The happily-ever-after ending receives significant feminist criticism partly because it falls within a larger framework of utopian politics and poetics, which are frequently accused of essentialism and authoritarianism. However, because fan fiction cultures place all stories in dialogue with numerous other equally plausible versions, the fairy tale happy ending can serve unexpected purposes. By examining several case studies in fairy tale AU fan fiction based on Game of Thrones characters, situations, and settings, this paper demonstrates the genre’s ability to construct surprising critiques of real social and historical situations through strategic deployment of impossible wishes made manifest through the magic of fan creativity. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Re-discovering Alessandro Spina’s Transculture/ality in The Young Maronite
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020042 - 09 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1313
Abstract
Alessandro Spina, Basili Shafik Khouzam, was born in Benghazi in 1927 into a family of Maronites from Aleppo and spent most of his life between Libya and Italy, speaking several languages and writing in Italian. He may be described as the “unsung” [...] Read more.
Alessandro Spina, Basili Shafik Khouzam, was born in Benghazi in 1927 into a family of Maronites from Aleppo and spent most of his life between Libya and Italy, speaking several languages and writing in Italian. He may be described as the “unsung” writer of Italian colonial and post-colonial past in North Africa. Spina’s oeuvre—collected in an omnibus edition, I confini dell’ombra. In terra d’oltremare (Morcelliana)—charts the history of Libya from 1911, when Italy invaded the Ottoman province, to 1966, when the country witnessed the economic boom sparked by the petrodollars. The cycle was awarded the Premio Bagutta, Italy’s highest literary accolade. In 2015, Darf Press published in English the first instalment of Spina’s opus with the title The Confines of the Shadows. In Lands Overseas. Spina always refused to be pigeonholed in some literary category and to be labeled as a colonial or postcolonial author. As a matter of fact, his works go beyond the spatial and imaginary boundaries of a given state or genre, emphasizing instead the mixing and collision of languages, cultures, identities, and forms of writing. Reading and re-discovering Spina in a transcultural mode brings to light the striking newness of his literary efforts, in which transnational lived life, creative imagination, and transcultural sensibility are inextricably interlaced. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“I Am the Wolf: Queering ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Snow White and Rose Red’ in the Television Show Once Upon a Time
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020041 - 08 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1981
Abstract
In season one, episode 15 of the television show Once Upon a Time, viewers are given a glimpse into the history of Ruby/Red, the series’ version of Red Riding Hood. The episode reveals that, contrary to most oral and written versions of [...] Read more.
In season one, episode 15 of the television show Once Upon a Time, viewers are given a glimpse into the history of Ruby/Red, the series’ version of Red Riding Hood. The episode reveals that, contrary to most oral and written versions of the ATU 333 tale, Red herself is the wolf: a werewolf who must wear an enchanted red cloak in order to keep from turning into a monster. The episode also features the beginnings of the close friendship between Red and Snow White. The sisterly bond that quickly forms between the two women, combined with the striking images of their respective red and white cloaks, easily calls to mind a less familiar fairy tale not explicitly referenced in the series: “Snow White and Rose Red” (ATU 426). Taking queer readings of this text as starting points, I argue that this allusion complicates the bond between the two women, opening up space for a compelling reading of Red’s werewolf nature as a coded depiction of her then latent but later confirmed bisexuality. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Baba Yaga, Monsters of the Week, and Pop Culture’s Formation of Wonder and Families through Monstrosity
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020040 - 03 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1774
Abstract
This paper considers transforming forms and their purposes in the popular culture trope of the televised Monster of the Week (MOTW). In the rare televised appearances outside of Slavic nations, Baba Yaga tends to show up in MOTW episodes. While some MOTW are [...] Read more.
This paper considers transforming forms and their purposes in the popular culture trope of the televised Monster of the Week (MOTW). In the rare televised appearances outside of Slavic nations, Baba Yaga tends to show up in MOTW episodes. While some MOTW are contemporary inventions, many, like Baba Yaga, are mythological and fantastic creatures from folk narratives. Employing the concept of the folkloresque, we explore how contemporary audiovisual tropes gain integrity and traction by indexing traditional knowledge and belief systems. In the process, we examine key affordances of these forms involving the possibilities of wonder and the portability of tradition. Using digital humanities methods, we built a “monster typology” by scraping lists of folk creatures, mythological beasts, and other supernatural beings from online information sources, and we used topic modeling to investigate central concerns of MOTW series. Our findings indicate connections in these shows between crime, violence, family, and loss. The trope formulates wonder and families through folk narrative and monster forms and functions. We recognize Baba Yaga’s role as villain in these episodes and acknowledge that these series also shift between episodic and serial narrative arcs involving close relationships between characters and among viewers and fans. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Birth of Homo Colossus: Energy Consumption and Pre-Familiarization in Joel Barlow’s Vision of Columbus
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020039 - 03 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1470
Abstract
Although Raymond De Young points out the current response to energy descent he terms localization “is not globalization in reverse”, the writers of modernity’s energy ramp-up used many of the same techniques De Young proposes for adapting to the downslope of M. King [...] Read more.
Although Raymond De Young points out the current response to energy descent he terms localization “is not globalization in reverse”, the writers of modernity’s energy ramp-up used many of the same techniques De Young proposes for adapting to the downslope of M. King Hubbert’s fossil-fuels peak. Among these is pre-familiarization, the construction of mental models that “help people to feel at home in a place they have not yet inhabited.” Long before William Catton’s depiction of the West’s outsized energy user as Homo colossus, for example, Joel Barlow provided early national Americans with a reflection of themselves as gigantic consumers of the continent’s bounty in his 1787 Vision of Columbus. In the epic poem, Barlow puts in place foundational elements of the myth of progress that will develop with an increasingly extravagant energy consumption: a refutation of the classical republican model of history as cyclical; a conflation of the process of resource extraction with that of production; a characterization of this “production” as the natural trait of the knowledgeable, moral Western subject; the pairing of this characterization with a racialized discourse; and an assertion of climate melioration that anticipates by two centuries the counter-arguments of anthropogenic climate-change denialists. The poem invites its reader to inhabit the skin of a lofty and distanced observer of natural life, drawing on the earlier century’s infatuation with the prospect view, to help the reader become “pre-familiarized” with an idea of him- or herself fitting an economic model of endless growth. In the work, therefore, might be found not only the blueprints for an as-yet inchoate Anthropocene, but also the design of a new humanity to go along with it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
Open AccessArticle
The Arts of Energy: Between Hoping for the Stars and Despairing in the Detritus
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020038 - 03 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1728
Abstract
Fossil fueled energy production and consumption are the basis of global industrialised societies, with the deleterious biophysical effects of such production and consumption also forming the basis of the advent of Anthropocene. In the context of science and environmental policy, hope denotes rapid [...] Read more.
Fossil fueled energy production and consumption are the basis of global industrialised societies, with the deleterious biophysical effects of such production and consumption also forming the basis of the advent of Anthropocene. In the context of science and environmental policy, hope denotes rapid decarbonisation across the globe. Meanwhile, in art and the humanities, the study of such energy and decarbonisation remains nascent and nebulous. To account for these discrepancies, this article outlines the scale of the biophysical challenges by first establishing the relationship between outspoken climate scientists and international organisations determining climate and energy policy. This relationship—between marginalised and mainstream—is used to frame the analogous challenges for two cultural fields that have recently emerged in direct response: energy humanities and the arts of energy. The discussion centers on the challenge common to all fields—between the outspoken marginal and the orthodox mainstream—to speculate on how the arts of energy may recalibrate a context-contingent hope for energy futures, drawing on case studies of ISEA Bright Future and Facing Futures Free From Fear, two installations simultaneously staged by the author in 2013 about the relationship between energy and climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
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Open AccessArticle
Energy Ontologies: Wind, Biomass, and Fossil Transportation
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020037 - 03 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1369
Abstract
This article uses literary sources to draw ontological distinctions among three distinct energy sources: wind power, biomass, and fossil fuels. The primary aim is to demonstrate how radically our fossil fuel regime has changed human ontology in the last two centuries during which [...] Read more.
This article uses literary sources to draw ontological distinctions among three distinct energy sources: wind power, biomass, and fossil fuels. The primary aim is to demonstrate how radically our fossil fuel regime has changed human ontology in the last two centuries during which we have entered the Anthropocene. Because this radical transformation contains myriad elements, this article will focus on transportation: the speed, quality, and quantity of travel permitted by successive energy sources. To consider the comparative literatures of energy as they relate to transportation, we will begin with wind, then consider muscle-driven biomass giving way to coal locomotion, and conclude with the highest octane fuel, petroleum. The central interest is in how the fuel depicted in literature illuminates historical moments in which the interfaces between self, society, and nature are configured by specific energy regimes. By using literature as a source text, we may arrive at an emotionally and philosophically more robust synthesis of energy history than the social and natural sciences, relying upon objective accounts and statistics, are able to provide. By re-reading literature through the lens of the Anthropocene, we gain perspective on how earlier insights into the relationship between energy and experience can inform our explorations of today’s ontological reality. Energy literature instructs us out of the fossil fuel mindset of world domination and back to a physical realm in which we are small actors in a world guided by capricious forces. Such a reality requires hard muscular work and emotional immersion to restore an ethic of care and sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
Open AccessArticle
Petromyopia: Oil and the Energy Humanities
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020036 - 03 Jun 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2080
Abstract
Oil is currently over-represented in the energy humanities, a state of affairs I describe as petromyopia. While oil constitutes a vital source of energy in the modern world, focusing too heavily on petroleum can distract scholars from giving proper attention to other aspects [...] Read more.
Oil is currently over-represented in the energy humanities, a state of affairs I describe as petromyopia. While oil constitutes a vital source of energy in the modern world, focusing too heavily on petroleum can distract scholars from giving proper attention to other aspects of the social and cultural dimensions of energy. The goal of this article is to encourage those in the energy humanities to cast a broader net in their analyses and recognize the full diversity of energy systems in their scholarship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
Open AccessArticle
Greening the Screen: An Environmental Challenge
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020035 - 03 Jun 2016
Viewed by 1576
Abstract
Environmental themes and representations on screen are examined as a part of environmental social studies and can be considered a way of creating awareness of environmental issues. However, how often do we consider the environmental impact of a film or television shoot as [...] Read more.
Environmental themes and representations on screen are examined as a part of environmental social studies and can be considered a way of creating awareness of environmental issues. However, how often do we consider the environmental impact of a film or television shoot as an industrial process? In this article, I examine the sustainability practices in the motion picture industry and challenges to that by focusing on the British film and television industry as a case study. Using the interviews with industry representatives and some case studies, I discuss the possibilities of creating a change in behavior in the film industry, not only in terms of embedding green measures but also reconstituting industrial mechanisms on behalf of environmental sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
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Open AccessArticle
The Magic and Science of Grimm: A Television Fairy Tale for Modern Americans
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020034 - 27 May 2016
Viewed by 1710
Abstract
The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Grimm uses fairy tales and an altered history to explore modern issues in American society such as environmental concerns, individuality, and social and cultural change through magic and magic-tinged science. Worldwide chaos and strife are easily explained as [...] Read more.
The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Grimm uses fairy tales and an altered history to explore modern issues in American society such as environmental concerns, individuality, and social and cultural change through magic and magic-tinged science. Worldwide chaos and strife are easily explained as part of the Grimm universe (Grimmverse) through Wesen (humanoid creatures who share characteristics with animals such as appearance and behavior), leading to a more united view of humanity and equality of human experience. Evil is often more scientifically explained, and what may appear random within our reality becomes part of a pattern in Grimm. Grimm gives its American audience a form of societal unity through historic folklore and a fictional explanation for the struggles Americans perceive to be happening within their own society as well as in other parts of the world. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Between Earth and Sky: Transcendence, Reality, and the Fairy Tale in Pan’s Labyrinth
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020033 - 25 May 2016
Viewed by 1866
Abstract
Though it is now a decade since its release, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) remains a work of filmic art which plays upon our deep-rooted and mercurial relationship with fairy tales and folklore. By turns beautiful and grotesque, Pan’s Labyrinth is a [...] Read more.
Though it is now a decade since its release, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) remains a work of filmic art which plays upon our deep-rooted and mercurial relationship with fairy tales and folklore. By turns beautiful and grotesque, Pan’s Labyrinth is a complex portrait of the clash between Ofelia’s fairy tale world and that of the brutal adults around her. This article will provide an analysis of the juxtaposition of the film’s imagery of closed/open circles, their respective realms, and how Ofelia moves between the two. I will argue that these aspects create an unusual relationship between the fairy tale universe and the physical one, characterized by simultaneous displacement and interdependency. Ofelia acts as a mediatrix of these spheres, conforming to neither the imposed rules of her historical reality nor the expected structural rules of fairy tales, and this refusal ultimately allows her transcendence from the circumscribed realm of the liminal into Victor Turner’s “liminoid” space, escaping the trap of binarism. Full article
Open AccessArticle
We All Live in Fabletown: Bill Willingham’s Fables—A Fairy-Tale Epic for the 21st Century
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020032 - 19 May 2016
Viewed by 2437
Abstract
Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series and its spin-offs have spanned fourteen years and reinforce that fairy-tale characters are culturally meaningful, adaptable, subversive, and pervasive. Willingham uses fairy-tale pastiche and syncreticism based on the ethos of comic book crossovers in his redeployment of [...] Read more.
Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series and its spin-offs have spanned fourteen years and reinforce that fairy-tale characters are culturally meaningful, adaptable, subversive, and pervasive. Willingham uses fairy-tale pastiche and syncreticism based on the ethos of comic book crossovers in his redeployment of previous approaches to fairy-tale characters. Fables characters are richer for every perspective that Willingham deploys, from the Brothers Grimm to Disneyesque aesthetics and more erotic, violent, and horrific incarnations. Willingham’s approach to these fairy-tale narratives is synthetic, idiosyncratic, and libertarian. This tension between Willingham’s subordination of fairy-tale characters to his overarching libertarian ideological narrative and the traditional folkloric identities drives the storytelling momentum of the Fables universe. Willingham’s portrayal of Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf turned private eye), Snow White (“Fairest of Them All”, Director of Operations of Fabletown, and avenger against pedophilic dwarves), Rose Red (Snow’s divergent, wild, and jealous sister), and Jack (narcissistic trickster) challenges contemporary assumptions about gender, heroism, narrative genres, and the very conception of a fairy tale. Emerging from negotiations with tradition and innovation are fairy-tale characters who defy constraints of folk and storybook narrative, mythology, and metafiction. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Crisis in the Humanities—What Would Shakespeare do?
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020031 - 18 May 2016
Viewed by 1648
Abstract
In this essay, I turn to Shakespeare for advice about how to alleviate the crisis in the humanities. University faculty and PhD students develop what I’ve called a dispositional immobility, a disposition to do what they do only in an academic setting. I [...] Read more.
In this essay, I turn to Shakespeare for advice about how to alleviate the crisis in the humanities. University faculty and PhD students develop what I’ve called a dispositional immobility, a disposition to do what they do only in an academic setting. I think humanities faculty and doctoral students can learn from Shakespeare a good deal about how to mobilize themselves and what they do as well as a lot about how to change the institution of the humanities, especially by following his practice of institution blending. Shakespeare, I will argue, can teach us how to move. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Humanities in a Utilitarian Age)
Open AccessArticle
The Transnational Turn in African Literature of French Expression: Imagining Other Utopic Spaces in the Globalized Age
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020030 - 18 May 2016
Viewed by 1606
Abstract
This article focuses on African literature published since 2000 by authors of French expression. While contemporary authors’ subjects are varied—ranging from climate change, human rights, to ethnic cleansing—they also imagine new “what ifs” and other utopic spaces and places that extend beyond postcolonial, [...] Read more.
This article focuses on African literature published since 2000 by authors of French expression. While contemporary authors’ subjects are varied—ranging from climate change, human rights, to ethnic cleansing—they also imagine new “what ifs” and other utopic spaces and places that extend beyond postcolonial, Africa-as-victim paradigms. Literarily, authors such as Abdelaziz Belkhodja (Tunisia) and Abdourahman A. Waberi (Djibouti) have effectuated a transnational turn. In this literary transnational turn, Africa is open to new interpretations by the African author that are very different from the more essentialist-based, literary-philosophical movements such as Negritude and pan-Africanism; cornerstones of the postcolonial literary frameworks of the past. Belkhodja and Waberi offer original narratives for Africa that, while describing their countries as utopias, also traverse the very dystopic realities of our time. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Don Draper Thinks Your Ad Is Cliché: Fairy Tale Iconography in TV Commercials
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020029 - 06 May 2016
Viewed by 2534
Abstract
When examining the history of fairy tale iconography in advertising, folklore scholar Donald Haase’s fairy tale encyclopedia compared the Pied Piper of Hamelin to a symbol of advertising who could “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting [...] Read more.
When examining the history of fairy tale iconography in advertising, folklore scholar Donald Haase’s fairy tale encyclopedia compared the Pied Piper of Hamelin to a symbol of advertising who could “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting his charming and manipulative music.” In contrast, a 2012 episode of Mad Men, advertising luminary Don Draper shoots down a shoe commercial pitch featuring Cinderella, calling the idea “cliché”. The temptation for advertisers to rely on fairy tale figures and iconography continues today and many ignore Don’s aversion for cliché because it still gets the job done. However, there are some ads featuring fairy tales which avoid cliché and are truly innovative for their time. I’ll examine how, and for whom, these fairy tale figures have been adapted decade by decade in order to examine popular culture’s commercialized and hypnotic relationship with fairy tales in the most direct format available: television commercials. Full article
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Open AccessEssay
Transcultural Space and the Writer
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020028 - 05 May 2016
Viewed by 1485
Abstract
(1) As a long time writer, I always found, even before I began to publish, that my work was difficult to categorise, even while categories seemed essential for publication, reception and visibility. (2) In this personal essay, I apply the notion of the [...] Read more.
(1) As a long time writer, I always found, even before I began to publish, that my work was difficult to categorise, even while categories seemed essential for publication, reception and visibility. (2) In this personal essay, I apply the notion of the transcultural to a short writing [auto]biography. The methodology adopted for this purpose is a form of autoethnography: “a form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experience and connects this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings”1 to explore how my immigrant background and transcultural lived experience is reflected in my creative writing, and to give an account of how my literary output has been placed in various but always restrictive pre-existing categories. I am also encouraged by Mikhail Epstein’s proposed “scriptorics”, the study of the one who writes Each section of the essay is divided into two: the first sections provide a succinct version of the issues in a developing writer’s life, framed by the need for the practice and production to “belong” somewhere; the second sections take them to a posited “Transcultural Space” where the work seems more authentically to have originated and in which it seems to be more perceptively read. (3) The result is not so much a conventional academic article as a fiction writer’s reflection on her work in the embrace of an inclusive and meaning-making realm. Full article
Open AccessArticle
How Novelle May Have Shaped Visual Imaginations
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020027 - 05 May 2016
Viewed by 1422
Abstract
Artists figure fairly frequently in novelle, so it is not unreasonable to suppose that they may have taken more than a passing interest in the genre. Although much scholarly effort has been dedicated to the task of exploring how Horace’s adage “ [...] Read more.
Artists figure fairly frequently in novelle, so it is not unreasonable to suppose that they may have taken more than a passing interest in the genre. Although much scholarly effort has been dedicated to the task of exploring how Horace’s adage “ut pictura poësis” affected the course of the visual arts during the Italian Renaissance and vast scholarly effort has been assigned to the study of Boccaccio’s literary efforts (much more so than the efforts of his successors), relatively little effort has been spent on the dauntingly interdisciplinary task of estimating how the development of prose literary imagination may have affected habits of perception and may also have augmented the project of integrating quotidian observations into pictorial compositions. In contrast to these issues of “realism”, the essay also addresses questions of how the literary conventions of novelle, although they may have been created in deliberate defiance of current social norms, may eventually have helped to shift those norms. More specifically, the gender norms of the novelle offer intriguing precedents for characterizations that we find in the visual arts, from Botticelli to Leonardo to Michelangelo, ones that rarely match what we know of societal expectations of the day. The argument, though necessarily speculative, is addressed as much to the question of how readers and viewers might have had their thinking shaped by their combined aesthetic experiences as by the more traditional question of identifying artists’ sources. Did theorizing about style, or simply thinking about what made for vividness or impressiveness, shift readily between the verbal and the visual, and perhaps more easily then than now? Can we create a history of art that seeks evidence from the whole literary record rather than consistently prioritizing poetry and the “poetic”? Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Paolo Mantegazza as Didatic Gastronome: Food, Art, Science and the New Italian Nation
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020026 - 04 May 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1338
Abstract
It is in Risorgimento Italy that there is an incessant quest for a definition of what it means to be Italian amongst a reality of economic paucity and clear social divisiveness. During this tenuous yet crucial epoch, there is a cohesive attempt to [...] Read more.
It is in Risorgimento Italy that there is an incessant quest for a definition of what it means to be Italian amongst a reality of economic paucity and clear social divisiveness. During this tenuous yet crucial epoch, there is a cohesive attempt to define Italian taste with an ideological terminology previously absent from sensorial and aesthetic discourse. A fundamental purveyor of this novel approach is the self-defined “poligamo delle scienze,” Paolo Mantegazza. To the plurality of roles attributed to the medic (anthropologist, pathologist, senator, writer, etc.), there is one yet to be explored—Mantegazza as didactic gastronome. In the attempt to combat what he considers the anti-hygienic conditions plaguing the nation, the medic inaugurates a pedagogic process that would ideally lead to the formation of the Italian citizen. With the goal of creating a stronger and more capable Italian populace, the author goes to great lengths to provide guidelines for maximizing nourishment through the humblest of foods. Ultimately, Mantegazza’s pedagogic gourmandism is integral in the propagation of a social model of comportment that defines the Positivist framework of biological and nationalistic renewal and to a new vision of taste. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Transculturalism and the Meaning of Life
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020025 - 26 Apr 2016
Viewed by 2030
Abstract
I begin by introducing the standoff between the transculturalist aim of moving beyond cultural inheritances, and the worry that this project is itself a product of cultural inheritances. I argue that this is rooted in concerns about the meaning of life, and in [...] Read more.
I begin by introducing the standoff between the transculturalist aim of moving beyond cultural inheritances, and the worry that this project is itself a product of cultural inheritances. I argue that this is rooted in concerns about the meaning of life, and in particular, the prospect of nihilism. I then distinguish two diametrically opposed humanistic responses to nihilism, post-Nietzschean rejections of objective truth, and the moral objectivism favoured by some analytic philosophers, claiming that both attempt, in different ways, to break down the distinction between description and evaluation. I argue that the evaluative sense of a “meaningful life” favoured by moral objectivists cannot track objective meaningfulness in human lives, and that there are manifest dangers to treating social meaning judgements as a secular substitute for the meaning of life. I then conclude that the problems of the post-Nietzscheans and moral objectivists can be avoided, and the transculturalist standoff alleviated, if we recognise that nihilism is descriptive, and maintain a principled distinction between description and evaluation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Meaning of Literature and Literature as Meaning—A Productive Challenge of Modern Times from the Middle Ages
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020024 - 22 Apr 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1323
Abstract
The marriage of literature and science might not be possible strictly speaking, but a marriage of humanities with philosophy, psychology, religion, ethics, ecology, and social studies, for instance, might well work, as a close analysis of some medieval narratives will illustrate. This paper [...] Read more.
The marriage of literature and science might not be possible strictly speaking, but a marriage of humanities with philosophy, psychology, religion, ethics, ecology, and social studies, for instance, might well work, as a close analysis of some medieval narratives will illustrate. This paper intends to demonstrate once again what the humanities could truly mean, insofar as the discussion will not only lay bare textual elements or philological concerns, but it will also indicate how much relevant literature helps us to address crucial questions of religious, ethical, social, moral, and philosophical kinds, building powerful bridges between the past and the present. In order to test this premise even in extreme situations, here a number of medieval texts will be introduced and analyzed as to their timeless message and hence their extremely important function of creating meaning for readers/listeners both from the Middle Ages and today. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Foodways, Campervans and the Terms of Mobility: Transnational Belonging, Home, and Heritage in the Narrative of “Sud Italia”
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020023 - 21 Apr 2016
Viewed by 1407
Abstract
International popular culture continues to remediate and perpetuate the link between food and ideas of Italian identity. A range of analytical approaches have become concerned with food and drink in Italian culture: the importance of food industries in patterns of Italian migration and [...] Read more.
International popular culture continues to remediate and perpetuate the link between food and ideas of Italian identity. A range of analytical approaches have become concerned with food and drink in Italian culture: the importance of food industries in patterns of Italian migration and Italy’s economy, the recurrence of the Mediterranean diet in public health debates, the emotive value attached to foodways, and their role in constructing subjectivity are all recognized as fertile terrain for research. Nevertheless, a lack of audience-reception research on the social and cultural uses of both food and food-related media has been identified. Responding to this inviting opening, the following article is based on data collated between October 2014 and January 2016 as part of the ongoing “Transnationalizing Modern Languages” project. Focusing on London as a particular axis of both contemporary and historic Italian migration to England and the UK, my research utilizes selected small-medium food enterprises in the UK capital, and the personal narratives of migration they form part of, to reflect simultaneously upon the contemporary appeal of foodways read as Italian in Britain and the practical implications of meanings ascribed to foodways by subjects identifying as Italian. Positing the intersection between public and private represented in these food narratives as one of the most productive sites for reflection upon more general social development and experience, I offer a critical reading of “Sud Italia”, a mobile pizzeria in which the contradictory dynamics of subjectivity/objectivity and mobility/fixity are symbolised. Drawing on participatory ethnography, the article seeks to contribute further understanding to the multifaceted concepts of “belonging”, “home” and “heritage” by grounding their relevance in practical, day-to-day realities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Sociocultural and Economic Evolution of Mansaf in Hartha, Northern Jordan
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020022 - 21 Apr 2016
Viewed by 3122
Abstract
Food and cooking techniques play key roles in preserving cultural sustainability and individual identity. Everything people eat becomes a part of not only their biological being, but also represents and identifies a part of a community’s sociocultural fabric. Using the loom approach, a [...] Read more.
Food and cooking techniques play key roles in preserving cultural sustainability and individual identity. Everything people eat becomes a part of not only their biological being, but also represents and identifies a part of a community’s sociocultural fabric. Using the loom approach, a new model to heritage interpretation, this paper intends to examine the sociocultural and economic dynamics during the preparation, cooking, and eating of mansaf—Jordan’s national dish—throughout its history. To reconstruct the heritage of mansaf and present it as a complete picture, both the tangible heritage, such as cooking equipment, whether modern or traditional, and the intangible heritage, such as the cooking techniques and associated traditions and activities, were analyzed. Mansaf has changed greatly over the past decades; however, living memory does not extend much beyond the 1940s within the informants to further examine mansaf’s changes in the case study of the village of Hartha, Northwest Jordan. Mansaf still remains an important signifier of major occasions, a tie to local heritage, and part of local and national identities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Watson’s Human Caring Theory: Pertinent Transpersonal and Humanities Concepts for Educators
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020021 - 16 Apr 2016
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 9806
Abstract
Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring and the caring moment are based in part in the concepts of transpersonal psychology. This paper will provide a historical background around transpersonal psychology and how it relates to Watson’s human caring moment. The purpose of explicating [...] Read more.
Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring and the caring moment are based in part in the concepts of transpersonal psychology. This paper will provide a historical background around transpersonal psychology and how it relates to Watson’s human caring moment. The purpose of explicating these humanities-based concepts is to support nurses and nurse educators in creating a deeper understanding of Watson’s caring-healing moment as a time-space continuum, where the nurse’s caring supports a mutually created environment for healing. The article provides useful background information, as well as outlining simple steps to revising nursing curricula so that they become supportive of nursing students’ growth as transpersonal-caring beings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities in Health Professions Education and Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Becoming the Labyrinth: Negotiating Magical Space and Identity in Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020020 - 06 Apr 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3450
Abstract
In the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, middle-school girls receive the power and responsibility to fight witches in exchange for making a wish. The series has connections to many different genres and narrative traditions within the realm of folkloristics. [...] Read more.
In the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, middle-school girls receive the power and responsibility to fight witches in exchange for making a wish. The series has connections to many different genres and narrative traditions within the realm of folkloristics. However, the folkloric genre most relevant to the ethos and aesthetics of Madoka is that of the fairy tale. Drawing on Bill Ellis’s concept of “fairy-telling” and scholarship on new media composition, in this paper we seek to investigate labyrinths as acts of embodied composing—not lairs of evil or destruction but rather creative material memory work that negotiates grief and despair. Many of the series’ action sequences unfold in “labyrinths,” the magical spaces controlled by witches. By composing a labyrinth, witches can simultaneously reshape their environment and create a powerful statement about identity through personalized performance in narrative spaces that they control. In particular, we argue that both the frameworks of “fairy tale” and “new media” give us useful analytical resources for beginning to make sense of the intricately complex phenomenon of Madoka’s labyrinths. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Spectacular Death”—Proposing a New Fifth Phase to Philippe Ariès’s Admirable History of Death
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020019 - 29 Mar 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2223
Abstract
This article revisits, reviews and revises the much cited and magisterial description of successive historical death mentalities from the Middle Ages to modern society as proposed several decades ago by French historian Philippe Ariès. The article first outlines Ariès’s position starting out with [...] Read more.
This article revisits, reviews and revises the much cited and magisterial description of successive historical death mentalities from the Middle Ages to modern society as proposed several decades ago by French historian Philippe Ariès. The article first outlines Ariès’s position starting out with the medieval “tamed death,” then moves on to point to several inherent limitations in his history-writing, before suggesting a revision and update of it. Whereas Ariès ended his history-writing with modern “forbidden death,” the author suggests that contemporary death mentality in Western society rather be labelled “spectacular death” in which death, dying and mourning have increasingly become spectacles. Moreover, the author proposes that what is currently happening in contemporary Western society can be interpreted as an expression of a “partial re-reversal” of “forbidden death” to some of the characteristic features of previous historical death mentalities, which—coupled with contemporary scientific and technological possibilities—creates several paradoxical tendencies making death linger uneasily between liberation and denial as well as between autonomy and control. Full article
Open AccessConcept Paper
The Near-Death Experience: A Reality Check?
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020018 - 28 Mar 2016
Viewed by 2011
Abstract
This paper critically reviews assertions that near-death and out-of-body experiences (ND/OBE) offer proof of extra-corporeal existence when the brain is supposedly “dead”. While this field has almost moved away from mere anecdotal recording, the current trend is focussed on demonstrating existence without functional [...] Read more.
This paper critically reviews assertions that near-death and out-of-body experiences (ND/OBE) offer proof of extra-corporeal existence when the brain is supposedly “dead”. While this field has almost moved away from mere anecdotal recording, the current trend is focussed on demonstrating existence without functional brains. These endeavours have fallen far short of anticipated results—that cardiac patients would report on strategically-placed markers around acute resuscitation units. Two problems arise: a failure to produce corroborative empirical evidence for extra-corporeal cognition (a) when the brain is “dead”, (or “clinically dead”, so-called) and (b) how the memory required for recall could paradoxically be set down at that critical time-point. The view advanced here is that ND/OBE occur as subjects’ states are returning to complete resumption of conscious-awareness and which, from several published accounts, is particularly abrupt but which nevertheless accounts perfectly for memory—and recall. Similar transcendental adventures accompanying returns to conscious-awareness occur with other preceding states of reduced consciousness. Most recollections are intensely geo-physical, anthropomorphic, banal and illogical: their dream-like fantasy provides nothing revelatory about life without a brain, or importantly, about other supposed cosmic contexts. Additionally, it is proposed that since prevalence rates are so extremely low (<1% globally), the few subjects undergoing ND/OBE may have predisposed brains, genetically, structurally or resulting from previous psychological stress. In a somewhat similar vein to post-traumatic stress disorder, subjects with predisposed brains exhibit markedly changed post-experiential phenotypes, so that the ND/OBE itself could be viewed as a transient, accompanying epiphenomenon. Full article
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