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Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 4 (December 2017)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle In Transit: Sebald, Trauma, and Cinema
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040101
Received: 13 October 2017 / Revised: 6 December 2017 / Accepted: 14 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
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Abstract
Because Sebald’s books are preoccupied with historical catastrophe, particularly the Holocaust, critical commentaries have often interpreted them in terms of the transmission of traumatic memory. But this stress on the temporal relay from past to present and future generations has drawn attention away
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Because Sebald’s books are preoccupied with historical catastrophe, particularly the Holocaust, critical commentaries have often interpreted them in terms of the transmission of traumatic memory. But this stress on the temporal relay from past to present and future generations has drawn attention away from the emphasis on space and travel in Sebald’s work. In order to address this gap in Sebald criticism, this essay discusses three films that adapt and respond to Sebald’s work: Patience (After Sebald) (directed by Grant Gee, 2012), Terezin (directed by Daniel Blaufuks, 2010) and Austerlitz (directed by Stan Neumann, 2015). Because of the cinema’s constant movement between images and places, these films allow us to see more clearly the aspects of Sebald’s writings concerned with traveling and making connections between different archival spaces. The journeys in Sebald’s books and in these films inspired by them go beyond human life worlds to include non-human creatures, and beyond the realms of the living to include those inhabited by the dead. This suspension of the boundary between life and death, along with the restless movement from place to place, creates a relationship to memory and history that cannot be limited to the model of traumatic transmission. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Black Star: Lived Paradoxes in the Poetry of Paul Celan
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040100
Received: 12 October 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 15 December 2017
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Abstract
Celan’s poetry is deemed universal and experimental, and its main characteristic is to “explore possibilities of sense-making.” His poetry is also acknowledged to be the apex of Jewish post-Holocaust poetry, contending with existentialist questions such as the existence God in the Holocaust and
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Celan’s poetry is deemed universal and experimental, and its main characteristic is to “explore possibilities of sense-making.” His poetry is also acknowledged to be the apex of Jewish post-Holocaust poetry, contending with existentialist questions such as the existence God in the Holocaust and the possibility of restoring Jewish identity. In this paper I will examine how Celan uses paradoxes in his poetry to create atheistic and skeptical expressions. The technique of paradox expresses the concurrent existence of two contradictory possibilities; the article will present three types of paradox typical of Celan’s poetry: (1) the affirmation and denial of the existence of God; (2) the mention of rituals from Jewish tradition, while voiding them of their conventional meaning; (3) the use of German, specifically, for the reconstitution of Jewish identity. My main argument is that paradox in Celan’s work creates a unique voice of atheism and skepticism, since it preserves the ideas that it rejects as a source for fashioning meaning. In order to explore how Celan constructs paradox, I will use Wittgenstein’s resolutions of the paradoxes that emerge from the use of language, and I will show how they illuminate Celan’s use of this technique. The article will examine three Wittgensteinian methods of resolving the paradoxes that Celan employs in his oeuvre: highlighting, containing, and dissolving. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Holocaust in Literature and Film)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Myth and One-Dimensionality
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040099
Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 11 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 14 December 2017
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Abstract
A striking difference between the folk-narrative genres of legend and folktale is how the human characters respond to supernatural, otherworldly, or uncanny beings such as ghosts, gods, dwarves, giants, trolls, talking animals, witches, and fairies. In legend the human actors respond with fear
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A striking difference between the folk-narrative genres of legend and folktale is how the human characters respond to supernatural, otherworldly, or uncanny beings such as ghosts, gods, dwarves, giants, trolls, talking animals, witches, and fairies. In legend the human actors respond with fear and awe, whereas in folktale they treat such beings as if they were ordinary and unremarkable. Since folktale humans treat all characters as belonging to a single realm, folklorists have described the world of the folktale as one-dimensional, in contrast to the two-dimensionality of the legend. The present investigation examines dimensionality in the third major genre of folk narrative: myth. Using the Greek and Hebrew myths of primordial paradise as sample narratives, the present essay finds—surprisingly—that the humans in these stories respond to the otherworldly one-dimensionally, as folktale characters do, and suggests an explanation for their behavior that is peculiar to the world of myth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Comparing Three Twentieth-Century Philosophical Antitheodicies
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040098
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 2 December 2017 / Accepted: 8 December 2017 / Published: 12 December 2017
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Abstract
This paper compares three twentieth-century examples of antitheodicist thought in the philosophy of religion (and, more generally, ethics): William James’s pragmatism, D.Z. Phillips’s Wittgensteinianism, and Emmanuel Levinas’s post-Holocaust ethical reflection on suffering. It is argued that all three—despite their enormous differences, given that
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This paper compares three twentieth-century examples of antitheodicist thought in the philosophy of religion (and, more generally, ethics): William James’s pragmatism, D.Z. Phillips’s Wittgensteinianism, and Emmanuel Levinas’s post-Holocaust ethical reflection on suffering. It is argued that all three—despite their enormous differences, given that the three thinkers discussed come from distinct philosophical traditions—share the fundamental antitheodicist argument according to which theodicies seeking to justify God’s reasons for allowing the world to contain horrible evil and suffering amount to morally problematic, or even immoral, failures to acknowledge other human beings and their meaningless suffering. Furthermore, it is suggested that this antitheodicist line of thought shared by all three is based on a Kantian transcendental analysis of the necessary conditions for the possibility of occupying a moral perspective on the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophy in the 1900s)
Open AccessArticle The Challenge of Oral Epic to Homeric Scholarship
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040097
Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 5 December 2017 / Accepted: 5 December 2017 / Published: 9 December 2017
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Abstract
The epic is an intriguing genre, claiming its place in both oral and written systems. Ever since the beginning of folklore studies epic has been in the centre of interest, and monumental attempts at describing its characteristics have been made, in which oral
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The epic is an intriguing genre, claiming its place in both oral and written systems. Ever since the beginning of folklore studies epic has been in the centre of interest, and monumental attempts at describing its characteristics have been made, in which oral literature was understood mainly as a primitive stage leading up to written literature. With the appearance in 1960 of A. B. Lord’s The Singer of Tales and the introduction of the oral-formulaic theory, the paradigm changed towards considering oral literature a special form of verbal art with its own rules. Fieldworkers have been eagerly studying oral epics all over the world. The growth of material caused that the problems of defining the genre also grew. However, after more than half a century of intensive implementation of the theory an internationally valid sociological model of oral epic is by now established and must be respected in cognate fields such as Homeric scholarship. Here the theory is both a help for readers to guard themselves against anachronistic interpretations and a necessary tool for constructing a social-historic context for the Iliad and the Odyssey. As an example, the hypothesis of a gradual crystallization of these two epics is discussed and rejected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Negotiating Proximity and Distance to Holocaust Memory through Narrativity and Photography in Monika Maron’s Pawels Briefe (Pavel’s Letters) (1999)
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040096
Received: 16 October 2017 / Revised: 30 November 2017 / Accepted: 3 December 2017 / Published: 6 December 2017
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Abstract
Germany’s unification in 1989 triggered a public and literary confrontation with WWII, the Holocaust and the East-West German past. The years following the “Wende” of 1989/90 witnessed an increase in autobiographical family novels that explore how historical events of the twentieth century impacted
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Germany’s unification in 1989 triggered a public and literary confrontation with WWII, the Holocaust and the East-West German past. The years following the “Wende” of 1989/90 witnessed an increase in autobiographical family novels that explore how historical events of the twentieth century impacted upon individual and family pasts and continue to do so. Monika Maron, in claiming Pawels Briefe (Pavel’s Letters) (1999) as a family story/history, rather than novel, raises questions about the ethics of intertwinement between autobiographical memory and family memory, specifically postmemory. By analyzing narrative and photographic engagement, I argue that Maron resists over-identification by engendering critical distance between family memory and autobiographical memory that are both situated in a particular moment of German national memory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Holocaust in Literature and Film)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle bricolage, poetics, spacing
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040095
Received: 20 October 2017 / Revised: 23 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
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Abstract
Contemporary concern for bricolage both transcends and supersedes de Certeau’s important intervention that resituated the term as actions undertaken in everyday life. In particular, he engaged the notion of bricolage in ways that presented tactics, evasions, resistances, ruses and even tricks in his
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Contemporary concern for bricolage both transcends and supersedes de Certeau’s important intervention that resituated the term as actions undertaken in everyday life. In particular, he engaged the notion of bricolage in ways that presented tactics, evasions, resistances, ruses and even tricks in his consideration of everyday life as practiced. Whilst these considerations may be read, as indeed he asserted, as ‘making do’, there are further possibilities of this term. For example, bricolage may be considered to ‘occur’. In this we may take the anthropologist Hallam and Ingold’s grasp of creativity as something in our bodily and mental response to situations, calm, anxious and otherwise; responding to the detail of a situation, a required or desired action. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Triangulating Trauma: Constellations of Memory, Representation, and Distortion in Elie Wiesel, Wolfgang Borchert, and W.G. Sebald
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040094
Received: 16 October 2017 / Revised: 18 November 2017 / Accepted: 19 November 2017 / Published: 24 November 2017
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Abstract
Even today, trauma theory remains indebted to Sigmund Freud’s notion of belatedness: a traumatic event is not fully experienced at the time of occurrence, due to its suddenness and the lack of preparedness on the part of the human subject. In Traumatic Realism
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Even today, trauma theory remains indebted to Sigmund Freud’s notion of belatedness: a traumatic event is not fully experienced at the time of occurrence, due to its suddenness and the lack of preparedness on the part of the human subject. In Traumatic Realism (2000), Michael Rothberg invokes the Benjaminian notion of the constellation of representation to address the shortcomings of any singular mode of trauma portrayal. Rothberg likens the realist, modernist, and postmodernist literary modes to the points of view of the survivor, the bystander, and the latecomer, respectively. I combine Rothberg’s typology with insights from trauma theory to analyze Elie Wiesel’s Night, Wolfgang Borchert’s The Man Outside, and W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants—three texts that represent Rothberg’s literary modes while at the same time problematizing genre. Dori Laub argues that distorted memory and untold stories are endemic to Holocaust representation. W.G. Sebald inscribes this distortion into his narratives, calling attention to but also repeating its effects. I argue that a perspective beginning with (but not limited to) a combined reading of these three texts yields a more complete understanding of trauma and the Holocaust than can be offered by any singular genre—even archives of documented testimonies, which, despite their necessary role, are unavoidably fraught with a problematics of memory itself. Full article
Open AccessArticle Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040093
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 14 November 2017 / Accepted: 14 November 2017 / Published: 21 November 2017
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Abstract
Working between the Amos Gitai film One Day You’ll Understand (2008) and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial against which it is set, the article explores how the trial marked a decisive turning point in France’s relationship to its wartime past. Of Barbie’s hundreds
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Working between the Amos Gitai film One Day You’ll Understand (2008) and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial against which it is set, the article explores how the trial marked a decisive turning point in France’s relationship to its wartime past. Of Barbie’s hundreds of crimes, including murder, torture, rape, and deportation, only those of the gravest nature, 41 separate counts of crimes against humanity, were pursued in the French court in Lyon. Not only did the trial raise crucial juridical questions involving the status of victims and the definition of crimes against humanity but, extending into the private sphere, it became the occasion for citizens to address heretofore silenced aspects of their own family histories and conduct trials of a more personal nature. Whereas the law in general seeks to contain historical trauma and to translate it into legal-conscious terminology, it is often the trauma that takes over, transforming the trial into “another scene” (Freud) in which an unmastered past is unwittingly repeated and unconsciously acted out. Such failures of translation, far from being simply legal shortcomings, open a space between grief and grievance, one through which it is possible to explore both how family secrets are disowned from one generation to the next, and how deeply flawed legal proceedings such as the Barbie trial may “release accumulated social toxins” (Kaplan) and thereby expose unaddressed dimensions of French postwar (and -colonial) history. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religion and the Environment: Twenty-First Century American Evangelicalism and the Anthropocene
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040092
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 16 November 2017
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Abstract
This paper provides an overview of the emergence of religion and the environment as an area of academic research and an assessment of the potential role religion can play in addressing anthropogenic climate change. Focusing on the United States of America the study
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This paper provides an overview of the emergence of religion and the environment as an area of academic research and an assessment of the potential role religion can play in addressing anthropogenic climate change. Focusing on the United States of America the study traces the dynamics of anthropogenic climate change denial and offers an overview of the complex and far-reaching evangelical endeavours that seek to limit solutions and approaches to address global change issues. While much research has explored the positive role religion can play in addressing climate change, little research explores the lengths to which American evangelicals have sought to stymie climate change activism within their ranks and the potential political impact of their endeavours. As such the paper fits neatly with the theme of “Humanities for the Environment” special edition and has the capacity to contribute new insights on the impact of religion and the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Connecting Environmental Humanities: Developing Interdisciplinary Collaborative Method
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040091
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 9 November 2017 / Accepted: 11 November 2017 / Published: 15 November 2017
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Abstract
There is now a consensus that the potential contribution of the humanities to wider environmental debate is significant, although how to develop it effectively is still unclear. This paper therefore focusses on realizing the potential of the environmental humanities through building interdisciplinary collaboration.
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There is now a consensus that the potential contribution of the humanities to wider environmental debate is significant, although how to develop it effectively is still unclear. This paper therefore focusses on realizing the potential of the environmental humanities through building interdisciplinary collaboration. A four-stage research model is outlined for areas where there is limited humanities scholarship, based on ongoing experience of the humanities in action in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network in the Arts and Humanities, Connecting with a low-carbon Scotland. The model has two key objectives: (1) to enable humanities disciplines to articulate their own contributions to pre-identified environmental research issues; and (2) to develop interdisciplinary humanities collaboration on these issues. It can be adapted to develop understanding in local, national and international contexts, depending on the number of scholars involved and the available resources. The knowledge which emerges can facilitate further interdisciplinary working between the humanities, STEM subjects and social sciences, and be of value to environmental policy-makers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle World-Hating: Apocalypse and Trauma in We Need to Talk about Kevin
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040090
Received: 19 September 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 13 November 2017
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Abstract
Lynne Ramsay’s 2011 film We Need to Talk about Kevin alternates between two narrative times, one occurring before its protagonist Eva’s son commits a terrible crime, and one after. The film invites us to read the crime as a traumatic event in Eva’s
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Lynne Ramsay’s 2011 film We Need to Talk about Kevin alternates between two narrative times, one occurring before its protagonist Eva’s son commits a terrible crime, and one after. The film invites us to read the crime as a traumatic event in Eva’s life, an event of such terrible force that it transforms Eva’s identity. This essay uses Jacob Taubes’s understanding of Gnosticism to suggest that this event does not transform who Eva is, but rather how she knows. Like a Gnostic believer, Eva comes to understanding the fundamental ontological evil of community life. Eva’s ‘trauma,’ her alienation from the world she occupies, predates Kevin’s crime, but the aftermath of that crime reveals her alienation to her. The worldview thus presented by the film casts some light on how art house films are marketed. Like many middlebrow products, art house films present marketers with the challenge of concealing the fact that the commodity they are selling is indeed a commodity. This ambivalent distrust of the marketplace is a softened repetition of the Gnostic’s anticosmism, and We Need to Talk About Kevin both performs and thematizes a displacement from the world that is primary, not contingent upon any traumatic event. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Whiteout: Animal Traces in Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040089
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 8 November 2017 / Published: 11 November 2017
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Abstract
Literary animal studies are confronted with a systematic question: How can writing, as a human-made sign system, represent the nonhuman animal as an autonomous agent without falling back into the pitfalls of anthropomorphism? Against the backdrop of this problem, this paper asks how
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Literary animal studies are confronted with a systematic question: How can writing, as a human-made sign system, represent the nonhuman animal as an autonomous agent without falling back into the pitfalls of anthropomorphism? Against the backdrop of this problem, this paper asks how the medium of film allows for a different representation of the animal and analyzes two of Werner Herzog’s later documentary films. Although the depiction of animals and landscapes has always played a significant part in Herzog’s films, critical assessments of his work—including those of Herzog himself—tended to view the role of nature imagery as purely allegorical: it expresses the inner nature, the inner landscapes of the film’s human protagonists. This paper tries to open up a different view. It argues that both Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World develop an aesthetic that depicts nonhuman nature as an autonomous and lively presence. In the close proximity amongst camera, human, and nonhuman agents, a clear distinction between nature and culture is increasingly blurred. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Trauma, Postmemory, and Empathy: The Migrant Crisis and the German Past in Jenny Erpenbeck’s Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone]
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040088
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 6 November 2017 / Accepted: 7 November 2017 / Published: 11 November 2017
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Abstract
The novel Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone] by the celebrated German writer Jenny Erpenbeck was published at the height of the European refugee crisis. The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired Berlin classics professor, who becomes intrigued by
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The novel Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone] by the celebrated German writer Jenny Erpenbeck was published at the height of the European refugee crisis. The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired Berlin classics professor, who becomes intrigued by the Oranienplatz refugee protest camp. He initially approaches the refugee crisis as a new research project, methodically searching for secondary literature, composing questionnaires and conducting interviews with asylum seekers, but eventually he begins to develop friendships with some of them. Throughout the novel, Richard, who fled from the approaching Red Army with his mother as a baby and then lived in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) until reunification, notices similarities between the traumatic experiences of the Oranienplatz protesters and the trauma in his personal history, German collective history, and ancient and medieval literature. This article focuses on trauma and empathy in Gehen, ging, gegangen, exploring how the parallels drawn between the varied fates of the asylum seekers and the stories of exile and displacement in the literary canon, and German historical experiences of displacement and loss of home, establish points of empathic connection between Richard and the refugees, and attempt to establish the same between the reader and the refugees. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Learning from Loss: Eroding Coastal Heritage in Scotland
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040087
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 31 October 2017 / Accepted: 2 November 2017 / Published: 9 November 2017
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Abstract
Heritage sites are constantly changing due to natural processes, and this change can happen fastest at the coast. Much legislation has been enacted to protect sites of historic interest, but these do not protect sites from natural processes. Change is already happening, and
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Heritage sites are constantly changing due to natural processes, and this change can happen fastest at the coast. Much legislation has been enacted to protect sites of historic interest, but these do not protect sites from natural processes. Change is already happening, and climate change predictions suggest that the pace will accelerate in the future. Instead of seeing the potential destruction of heritage sites as a disaster, we should embrace the opportunity that they can provide for us to learn about the past and to plan for the future. Heritage laws often enshrine a policy of preservation in situ, meaning that our most spectacular sites are preserved in a state of equilibrium, with a default position of no permitted intervention. However, the options for threatened coastal sites mirror those of shoreline management plans, which usually recommend either the construction of a coastal defence or, more likely, a strategy of managed retreat, where erosion is allowed to take its course after appropriate mitigations strategies have been enacted. Managed retreat can lead to a range of research projects, some of which would not normally be possible at similar, unthreatened and legally protected monuments. Such research also has the potential to involve members of the public, who can help in the discovery process, and cascade what they have learned through their communities. Information shared can be about the heritage site itself, including how communities in the past coped at times of climatic stress; and also about the processes that are now threatening the monument, thus helping teach about present day climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle One Voice Too Many: Echoes of Irony and Trauma in Oedipus the King
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040086
Received: 30 September 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 3 November 2017 / Published: 9 November 2017
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Abstract
Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has often inspired concurrent interpretations examining the tragic irony of the play and the traumatic neurosis of its protagonist. The Theban king epitomizes a man who knows everything but himself, and Sophocles’ use of irony allows Oedipus to discover
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Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has often inspired concurrent interpretations examining the tragic irony of the play and the traumatic neurosis of its protagonist. The Theban king epitomizes a man who knows everything but himself, and Sophocles’ use of irony allows Oedipus to discover the truth in a manner that Freud viewed in The Interpretation of Dreams as “comparable to the work of a psychoanalysis.” Psychoanalytical readings of Oedipus at times depend greatly on his role as a doubled figure, but this article specifically investigates his doubled voice in order to demonstrate the interrelated, chiasmic relationship between Oedipus’ trauma and the trope of irony. It argues, in fact, that irony serves as the language, so to speak, of the traumatic experiences haunting the king and his city, but it also posits that this doubled voice compounds the irony of the play and its hero. In other words, in addition to the Sophoclean irony that dominates the work, the doubling of the king’s voice reveals a modified form of Socratic irony that contributes to the tragedy’s power. Consequently, even after the king’s recognition of the truth ultimately resolves the work’s tragic irony, Oedipus remains divided by a state of simultaneous knowledge and ignorance. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Genealogy of an Image, or, What Does Literature (Not) Have To Do with the History of Computing? : Tracing the Sources and Reception of Gulliver’s “Knowledge Engine”
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040085
Received: 25 July 2017 / Revised: 23 October 2017 / Accepted: 28 October 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
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Abstract
The illustration of the “knowledge engine” included in early editions of Gulliver’s Travels is an engraving of a sketch from the notebook of Lemuel Gulliver. In other words, it is a purely fictional object. Yet, Swift's fictional invention and its graphic representations have
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The illustration of the “knowledge engine” included in early editions of Gulliver’s Travels is an engraving of a sketch from the notebook of Lemuel Gulliver. In other words, it is a purely fictional object. Yet, Swift's fictional invention and its graphic representations have become part of the documented historical lineage of computing machines. Furthermore, one of Swift’s purposes for inventing the “knowledge engine” was to satirize the scientific and technical cultures that now claim it as part of their history. As one piece of the elaborate discursive and material code of Gullivers Travels, “the knowledge engine,” its sources, and its reception offer some unique insights into the relationships that exist amongst factual and fictional narratives, scientific and humanistic discourse, words and images, and print and digital technologies. Although numerous scientific and philosophical texts have been cited as possible sources informing Swift’s satirical invention, this article considers a lesser known one, John Peter’s 1677 pamphlet Artificial Versifying, or the Schoolboys Recreation, which is itself a print-based textual machine for generating lines of Latin hexameter verse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessArticle The University, Neoliberalism, and the Humanities: A History
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040083
Received: 18 July 2017 / Revised: 26 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
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Abstract
Neoliberalism has since the 1970s had a significant negative impact on higher education in the U.S., but this ideology and political program is not solely to blame for the current situation of the humanities or the university. The American university was never the
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Neoliberalism has since the 1970s had a significant negative impact on higher education in the U.S., but this ideology and political program is not solely to blame for the current situation of the humanities or the university. The American university was never the autonomous institution imagined by German idealists, but it was rather always strongly connected to both the state and civil society. Many of the cultural currents and social forces that have led to the reduction in public spending on higher education and to lower enrollments in the humanities long antedate neoliberalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Saving the Humanities from the Neoliberal University)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Transformative Environmental Constitutionalism’s Response to the Setting Aside of South Africa’s Moratorium on Rhino Horn Trade
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040084
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 4 November 2017 / Accepted: 5 November 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
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Abstract
South Africa’s rhino population is under threat of extinction due to poaching for purposes of illegal international trade of rhino horn. The South African government has thus far been unable to regulate rhino poaching effectively. One of the legal responses was to introduce
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South Africa’s rhino population is under threat of extinction due to poaching for purposes of illegal international trade of rhino horn. The South African government has thus far been unable to regulate rhino poaching effectively. One of the legal responses was to introduce a moratorium on local trade of rhino horn. However, in 2015 the High Court set aside the moratorium. Subsequent appeals against the High Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court were dismissed without a hearing. The anthropocentric approach to the protection of biodiversity under South African environmental law is reflected upon in this article. It is argued that the High Court adopted an unapologetic and uncritical anthropocentric approach to the issues before it. A legal theory of transformative environmental constitutionalism is proposed as a means to infuse litigation about global environmental problems with substantive environmental considerations, such as precaution, prevention and equity. These principles could facilitate a more ecocentric orientation towards the application of environmental laws. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessArticle Seeing Beings: “Dog” Looks Back at “God”: Unfixing Canis familiaris in Kornél Mundruczó’s Film Fehér isten/White God (2014)
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040082
Received: 6 July 2017 / Revised: 1 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
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Abstract
Kornél Mundruczó’s film Fehér isten/White God (2014) portrays the human decreed options of mixed breed, abandoned dogs in the streets of Budapest in order to encourage its viewers to rethink their relationship with dogs particularly and animals in general in their own lives.
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Kornél Mundruczó’s film Fehér isten/White God (2014) portrays the human decreed options of mixed breed, abandoned dogs in the streets of Budapest in order to encourage its viewers to rethink their relationship with dogs particularly and animals in general in their own lives. By defamiliarizing the familiar ways humans gaze at dogs, White God models the empathetic gaze between species as a potential way out of the dead end of indifference and the impasse of anthropocentric sympathy toward less hierarchical, co-created urban animal publics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Societal, Policy and Academic ‘Visions’ for the Future of the Marine Environment and Its Management, Exemplified in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040081
Received: 16 August 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
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Abstract
Interactions between environmental and social change are complex and require deep insights into human perceptions, values, motivations and choices. Humanities disciplines can bring these insights to the study of marine social–ecological systems in the context of global environmental challenges. Such systems can be
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Interactions between environmental and social change are complex and require deep insights into human perceptions, values, motivations and choices. Humanities disciplines can bring these insights to the study of marine social–ecological systems in the context of global environmental challenges. Such systems can be defined on a range of scales, but the cases most easily studied include those of small islands and their communities. This paper presents findings from three studies in the Western and Northern isles of Scotland, concentrating on some of the processes involved in social sustainability that contribute on the one hand to protecting what a community has, and on the other hand allowing a community to evolve so as to adapt to new conditions. It relates the several sorts of transformations involved, to the role and impact of external institutions such as those of governance of the natural environment, the energy market, and academic research, which together make up the environment of the transformation. By examining the world-views of different groups of actors, this paper illustrates that an understanding of the mental constructs underlying these world-views can help marine governance through integrating different ways of knowing. This paper identifies where it would be useful to employ a transdisciplinary ‘translator’ or a ‘space’ for dialogue in order to capture the diverse ‘visions’ and perceptions that these groups have in relation to management of the marine environment, where there are synergies and where more should to be done to negotiate between competing values and needs. It illustrates the practical contributions to operational policy that can emerge through challenging the dominant management discourses for the marine environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Let Seizing Truths Lie: Witnessing “Factions” in Lauren Slater’s Lying
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040080
Received: 11 September 2017 / Revised: 18 October 2017 / Accepted: 24 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
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Abstract
In her memoir, Lying (2000), Lauren Slater fabricates most of her life narrative. Her text frustrates those who resent the combined fact and fiction—or “faction”—that she spins. This readerly response is understandable. Nevertheless, this article maintains that Slater lies in her memoir not
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In her memoir, Lying (2000), Lauren Slater fabricates most of her life narrative. Her text frustrates those who resent the combined fact and fiction—or “faction”—that she spins. This readerly response is understandable. Nevertheless, this article maintains that Slater lies in her memoir not to mislead readers but to witness traumas she struggles to access and articulate. Trauma and autobiographical theorists document the necessity of writing through—or “witnessing”—trauma to overcome it. When, however, a narrator is inhibited by what psychiatrists call “psychic constriction” (memory loss due to an inability to reconcile oneself with a painful past), she can become powerless to take the steps necessary to recover, as she cannot convey fully what she has suffered. Such is the case for Slater, who lies to witness ineffable traumas alongside her very inability to witness them. Lying also opens an important question about the reader’s role in traumatic witnessing: how does one respond to the traumatic testimony of an unreliable narrator? In answer, inasmuch as one may resist Slater’s memoir, one also has the ability to enter into and engage in her experience. In presenting this opportunity, Lying offers the writer-narrator and reader-respondent alike, a way to witness trauma together. Full article
Open AccessArticle Past-Forwarding Ancient Calamities. Pathways for Making Archaeology Relevant in Disaster Risk Reduction Research
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040079
Received: 13 August 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 26 October 2017
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Abstract
Despite the alleged mastery of humans over nature, contemporary societies are acutely vulnerable to natural hazards. In interaction with vulnerable communities, these transform into catastrophes. In a deep historical perspective, human communities of many different kinds have been affected by numerous kinds of
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Despite the alleged mastery of humans over nature, contemporary societies are acutely vulnerable to natural hazards. In interaction with vulnerable communities, these transform into catastrophes. In a deep historical perspective, human communities of many different kinds have been affected by numerous kinds of natural disasters that may provide useful data for scenario-based risk reduction measures vis-à-vis future calamities. The low frequency of high magnitude hazards necessitates a deep time perspective for understanding both the natural and human dimensions of such events in an evidence-based manner. This paper focusses on the eruption of the Laacher See volcano in western Germany about 13,000 years ago as an example of such a rare, but potentially highly devastating event. It merges Lee Clarke’s sociological argument for also thinking about such very rare events in disaster planning and David Staley’s notion of thinking historically about the future in order to ‘past-forward’ such information on past constellations of vulnerability and resilience. ‘Past-forwarding’ is here intended to signal the use of such deep historical information in concerns for contemporary and future resilience. This paper outlines two pathways for making archaeological information on past extreme environmental events relevant in disaster risk reduction: First, the combination of information from the geosciences and the humanities holds the potential to transform ancient hazards from matters of fact to matters of concern and, hence, to more effectively raise awareness of the issues concerned. Second, in addition to information on past calamities feeding into preparatory scenarios, I argue that the well-established outreach channels available to the humanities (museums, in particular) provide powerful platforms for communication to multiple publics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle More than Stories, More than Myths: Animal/Human/Nature(s) in Traditional Ecological Worldviews
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040078
Received: 25 July 2017 / Revised: 24 September 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
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Abstract
Reason and rationality, upon which modern, westernized, societies have been founded, have powerfully characterized the nature of human relations with other species and with the natural world. However, countless indigenous and traditional worldviews tell of a very different reality in which humans, conceived
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Reason and rationality, upon which modern, westernized, societies have been founded, have powerfully characterized the nature of human relations with other species and with the natural world. However, countless indigenous and traditional worldviews tell of a very different reality in which humans, conceived of as instinctual and intuitive, are a part of a complex web of ecological relationships. Other species, elements of the natural world, and people are active participants in relations overflowing with communications, interactions sometimes recorded in ethnographies, or as ‘myths’ and ‘stories’. The present article draws upon a range of traditions to explore the biases which shape how indigenous and traditional life-ways are represented in westernized contexts; the phenomenon of receiving direct insight or intuitive knowing from more-than-human worlds; and the numerous valuable understandings regarding the nature of the human being, other species, and how to live well, that are offered by a deeper comprehension of different worldviews. I also argue that the various capacities for instinctual and intuitive knowledge which accompanies these life-ways are endemic to the human species yet overlooked, the correction of which might work to usefully recalibrate our ethical relations with each other, and with other life on earth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Linking the Local and the Global. What Today’s Environmental Humanities Movement Can Learn from Their Predecessor’s Successful Leadership of the 1965–1975 War to Save the Great Barrier Reef
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040077
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 8 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
For a decade from 1965–1975, an Australian poet, Judith Wright, and a Reef artist, John Busst, played a major role in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland State Government had declared its intention of mining up to eighty percent of
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For a decade from 1965–1975, an Australian poet, Judith Wright, and a Reef artist, John Busst, played a major role in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland State Government had declared its intention of mining up to eighty percent of the Reef’s corals for oil, gas, fertiliser and cement. The campaign of resistance led by these two humanists, in alliance with a forester, Dr. Len Webb, contributed substantively to the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1975 and to then to the Reef’s World Heritage listing in 1983 as ‘the most impressive marine environment in the world’. This paper explains the challenges facing today’s environmental scholars and activists as they attempt to replicate the success of their 1970s predecessors in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef from even graver and more immediate threats to its survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle How Can Humanities Interventions Promote Progress in the Environmental Sciences?
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040076
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
Environmental humanists make compelling arguments about the importance of the environmental humanities (EH) for discovering new ways to conceptualize and address the urgent challenges of the environmental crisis now confronting the planet. Many environmental scientists in a variety of fields are also committed
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Environmental humanists make compelling arguments about the importance of the environmental humanities (EH) for discovering new ways to conceptualize and address the urgent challenges of the environmental crisis now confronting the planet. Many environmental scientists in a variety of fields are also committed to incorporating socio-cultural analyses in their work. Despite such intentions and rhetoric, however, and some humanists’ eagerness to incorporate science into their own work, “radical interdisciplinarity [across the humanities and sciences] is ... rare ... and does not have the impact one would hope for” (Holm et al. 2013, p. 32). This article discusses reasons for the gap between transdisciplinary intentions and the work being done in the environmental sciences. The article also describes a project designed to address that gap. Entitled “From Innovation to Progress: Addressing Hazards of the Sustainability Sciences”, the project encourages humanities interventions in problem definition, before any solution or action is chosen. Progress offers strategies for promoting expanded stakeholder engagement, enhancing understanding of power struggles and inequities that underlie problems and over-determine solutions, and designing multiple future scenarios based on alternative values, cultural practices and beliefs, and perspectives on power distribution and entitlement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Narrating Entanglement: Cixous’ “Stigmata, or Job the Dog”
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040075
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 26 September 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 15 October 2017
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Abstract
Cixous’ “Stigmata, or Job the Dog” sits at the intersection of animal studies, autobiography, narrative voice, and philosophy. In this essay, I focus on narrative voice and trace its shifts—from human to entangled to animal. At the heart of this essay rest questions
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Cixous’ “Stigmata, or Job the Dog” sits at the intersection of animal studies, autobiography, narrative voice, and philosophy. In this essay, I focus on narrative voice and trace its shifts—from human to entangled to animal. At the heart of this essay rest questions about what epistemological shifts are necessary vis-à-vis literature, such that an animal “voice” can be heard as a narrative voice. What would constitute a non-anthropocentric autobiography? What would constitute one narrated by, in this instance, an animal, specifically, a dog? In answering these questions, this essay at once grapples with philosophical-theoretical paradigms, with animal studies, with literary genre studies, and especially autobiography, and with narrative voice. I explore these questions with the aim of contributing to what Derrida has called zoopoetics and particularly to the study of non-anthropocentric autobiography. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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