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Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 4 (December 2019) – 33 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This article explores the development of Katherine Mansfield’s poetry writing throughout her life [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Anthropocenic Limitations to Climate Engineering
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040186 - 17 Dec 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 761
Abstract
The development of climate engineering research has historically depended on mostly western, holistic perceptions of climate and climate change. Determinations of climate and climate change as a global system have played a defining role in the development of climate engineering. As a result, [...] Read more.
The development of climate engineering research has historically depended on mostly western, holistic perceptions of climate and climate change. Determinations of climate and climate change as a global system have played a defining role in the development of climate engineering. As a result, climate engineering research in general, and solar radiation management (SRM) in particular, is primarily engaged in research of quantified, whole-Earth solutions. I argue that in the potential act of solar radiation management, a view of climate change that relies on the holistic western science of the climatic system is enshrined. This view, dependent on a deliberative intentionality that seems connected to anthropocenic notions of responsibility and control, profoundly influences the assumptions and research methods connected to climate engineering. While this may not necessarily be to the detriment of climate engineering proposals—in fact, it may be the only workable conception of SRM—it is a conceptual limit to the enterprise that has to be acknowledged. Additionally, in terms of governance, reliability, and cultural acceptance, this limit could be a fundamental objection to future experimentation (or implementation). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change)
Open AccessCreative
Ethics and Time: After the Anthropocene
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040185 - 13 Dec 2019
Viewed by 802
Abstract
This “treatise” on ethics and literary practice is a self-reflective piece that argues and enacts ethical criticism through poetic form as well as content. That is, I deliberately employ poetry not only as a literary genre but also as rhetorical arguments—investigative, demonstrative, and [...] Read more.
This “treatise” on ethics and literary practice is a self-reflective piece that argues and enacts ethical criticism through poetic form as well as content. That is, I deliberately employ poetry not only as a literary genre but also as rhetorical arguments—investigative, demonstrative, and evidentiary—and as forms of ethical action. The two previously unpublished poems here are drawn from a larger, lyrical discourse sequence tentatively entitled “Heidegger, Ethics, and Time: After the Anthropocene.” The “poetic arguments,” then, concern the possible interrelations and effects of time and ethics within the philosophical context of post-human “being” collectively, and also of personal death as a shared event. There are a couple of famous theories of time and ethics that ebb and flow within the different formal abridgements of time in these two poems. One set of theories is expounded in Martin Heidegger’s major work, Being and Time, as well as many of his other treatises on language, poetry, and ethics. Another set of theories is founded in Emmanuel Levinas’ work on time and alterity. But unlike these philosophies, the two poems here deal in detail with (1) the potential particularities of lived sensation and feeling (2) as they might be experienced by sentient and non-sentient ‘being’ (3) that survive death—of our species (poem II) and/or individual death (poem III). However, rather than simply rehearsing philosophy or recasting it into poetic form, these two poems argue for and against the notion that time is a physical and thus materially moral absolute, necessary for any (conscious) life to exist at all; and these two poems also argue physically, through their structure and style. They argue that physical dimension of time is not only a material force that is “unkind to material things” (aging, decay), as articulated in the content of one poem for example, but also a moral force that is revealed and played against in the constricted temporal motion and music of the poems (i.e., their forms, and variations within). In addition to philosophical arguments that poetry by its nature deliberately leaves ambiguous (indeterminate, but also will-free), the aural, temporal forms of the poems themselves flow in or move through but also reshape time. A simple instance of this is the way meter and rhyme are activated by time, yet also transform time, pushing back against its otherwise unmarked inexorable ineffable… The temporal properties of poetic forms in conjunction with content therefore constitute “lyrical ethics” in literary practice. Thinking (and putting aside as well) Heidegger and Levinas, these poems as temporal forms may physically shift, even if only momentarily, the relation of the listener or reader to Being/Death, or Alterity/Other. For example, the enhanced villanelle and modified Spenserian stanza offered here each shapes time differently, and thus differently shapes the intuitive, affective, cognitive responses of readers. With its cyclical repetition of lines, usually over five tercets and a quatrain, the villanelle with every advancing stanza physically ‘throws’ time (the concept and the line) back on itself (or perhaps is “thrown forward” [Geworfen]). In contrast, the pattern of the Spenserian nine-line stanza allows time to hover around a still but outward-expanding point (like a partial mini-[uni]verse) before drifting to the next stanza (especially here, where the final rhyme at the end of each stanza is much delayed.). Within and without the context of Heidegger and Levinas, I assert that these structural features are ethical statements in literary practice. The choice of these traditional forms of poetry in itself is an ethical statement. Stylistically as well as thematically, these two poems argue “all sides” of ethical positions in relation to the end of being human. Perhaps more importantly, these two poems explore the inevitably human experience of philosophically different ethical positions on death “post anthropocentrically”—what might come in the rhetorical after we can never know except poetically. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
“From Scotland to the World”: The Poetry of Hope Mirrlees, Helen Adam, Muriel Spark, and Veronica Forrest-Thomson
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040184 - 10 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The four poets that provide the material for this chapter did not know each other and they probably did not know each other’s work. However, they had important formative experiences in common: They were all educated in Scotland and they all left Scotland [...] Read more.
The four poets that provide the material for this chapter did not know each other and they probably did not know each other’s work. However, they had important formative experiences in common: They were all educated in Scotland and they all left Scotland after that early education. Yet, they all retained special, although different, ties to that country, to its history, and its writing. They were all “modern” in their poetry, sometimes bizarrely so: Of each of them it could be said, “There was no one like her.” This strangeness they also share, as they share a willingness, even desire, to shock, a muddling of contemporary and archaic, of real and legendary. Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s “Hold on to your seat-belt Persephone” is an indicative phrase. I aim to show that these serially inimitable modern writers have complicated and intertwined Scottish and international connections. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sexuality and Healing in the African Diaspora: A Transnational Approach to Toni Morrison and Gyasi
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040183 - 10 Dec 2019
Viewed by 833
Abstract
This article examines the literary production of two writers from the African diaspora, specifically African American Toni Morrison’s A Mercy (2008), and Ghanaian-American Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016), to explore their significance as counter-narratives that defy the “official” historiography of enslavement times in order [...] Read more.
This article examines the literary production of two writers from the African diaspora, specifically African American Toni Morrison’s A Mercy (2008), and Ghanaian-American Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016), to explore their significance as counter-narratives that defy the “official” historiography of enslavement times in order to set the records straight, as it were. By highlighting these women writers’ project of resistance against normative definitions of black bodies, it is my contention that these works effectively mobilize notions of race, gender, and sexuality. Revisiting the harmful and denigrating legacy of stereotypical designation of enslaved women, these writers make significant political and literary interventions to facilitate the recovery, wholeness, and sanctity of the violated and abjected black body. In their attempt to counter ongoing processes of commodification, exploitation, fetishization, and sexualization, I argue that these writers chronicle new forms of identity and agency that promote individual and generational healing and care as forms of protest and resistance against toxic definitions of hegemonic gender and sexuality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unsilencing Black Sexuality in the African Diaspora)
Open AccessArticle
Persuasion without Words: Confucian Persuasion and the Supernatural
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040182 - 04 Dec 2019
Viewed by 1532
Abstract
This article revisits the nonverbal rhetorical tradition in Confucianism and examines how Confucianism actualized the tradition through its careful consideration of supernatural forces. In Confucianism, genuine persuasion produces actual change and transformation of one’s course of action, not merely verbal conviction. Speech only [...] Read more.
This article revisits the nonverbal rhetorical tradition in Confucianism and examines how Confucianism actualized the tradition through its careful consideration of supernatural forces. In Confucianism, genuine persuasion produces actual change and transformation of one’s course of action, not merely verbal conviction. Speech only is not enough to genuinely persuade others. A speaker must transform others by his exemplary acts in the rites and holy ceremonies where supernatural forces and the notion of the afterlife hold a significant place. While Confucius was not interested in discussing the existence of demons and ghosts or their actual function in society, he recognized that their supposed and assumed existence in holy rites would provide society with an opportunity for genuine persuasion, which leads people to actual changes and reforms in their political and moral life. Discussing the nonverbal mode of persuasion in Confucianism may enhance contemporary democracy in two aspects. First, nonverbal persuasion recognizes those who may have difficulty in actively participating in verbal communication, such as the disabled, immigrants, foreigners, and politically and socially marginalized people, in political discourses. Second, the positive role of civic religion in contemporary societies may be discovered. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Representation of the Self and Disease: Writing, Photography and Video in Hervé Guibert
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040181 - 03 Dec 2019
Viewed by 902
Abstract
Hervé Guibert (1955–1991), a French writer and photographer, began developing a double artistic practice in 1977. In 1988, he discovers he has HIV and his literary and photographic works begin to reflect each other in an attempt to tell the story of a [...] Read more.
Hervé Guibert (1955–1991), a French writer and photographer, began developing a double artistic practice in 1977. In 1988, he discovers he has HIV and his literary and photographic works begin to reflect each other in an attempt to tell the story of a disease whose progression proves uncontrollable and ultimately fatal. Hervé Guibert then undertakes an intensive self-examination of his body and of the changes imposed on it by the disease, using both writing and images (photography and video). At the same time, he carries out a theoretical reflection on the limits of the image and on the limits of writing, both complementing each other in an attempt to convey the experience of disease. His work thus offers a valuable ground for exploring the relationship between literature, photography and the story of disease and, most of all, the need to resort to these two modes of expression in order to communicate the intimate experience of illness. In Hervé Guibert, this experience can be understood through the tension between unveiling and exposing oneself. While the former is creative, the latter seems to be the result of the illness loss of control. This article aims to analyze this dialectical tension in light of three artistic mediums used by Guibert. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Tourism and Taxonomy: Marianne Moore and Natasha Trethewey in Jefferson’s Virginia
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040180 - 24 Nov 2019
Viewed by 598
Abstract
In the poetry of modernist Marianne Moore and contemporary American poet Natasha Trethewey, we find tours of historic places that are associated with the country’s founding history. How does the activity of the tour contemplate the ways in which historical knowledge takes shape [...] Read more.
In the poetry of modernist Marianne Moore and contemporary American poet Natasha Trethewey, we find tours of historic places that are associated with the country’s founding history. How does the activity of the tour contemplate the ways in which historical knowledge takes shape and around what priorities and ideals? Exploring this question, these poems stage touristic encounters that serve not only to document the places visited but to question the frames by which a site is “seen” in relation to—often in support of—selected versions of American history. The impact of systems of classification and categorization that are common to the development of taxonomic thought, embraced by Thomas Jefferson and other early Americans, comes under inspection in these touristic poems. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Peace with Pirates? Maghrebi Maritime Combat, Diplomacy, and Trade in English Periodical News, 1622–1714
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040179 - 20 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Commonly represented in contemporary texts and modern historiographical accounts as a dangerous and alien region, characterised by piracy and barbarism, the history of the early modern Maghreb and the cultural impact it had on British society is one highly limited by indirect sources, [...] Read more.
Commonly represented in contemporary texts and modern historiographical accounts as a dangerous and alien region, characterised by piracy and barbarism, the history of the early modern Maghreb and the cultural impact it had on British society is one highly limited by indirect sources, cultural, political, and religious biases, and the distorting influence of Orientalist and colonial historiography. Historians have drawn on a wide range of popular media and government-held archival material, each with its own limitations, but one important corpus has been neglected. Drawn from up-to-date and trusted sources and distributed to vast audiences from a wide range of social groups, periodical news publications provide a vast and fruitful body of sources for evaluating popular and elite English viewpoints on Maghrebi piracy. This paper draws upon a corpus of 3385 news items comprising over 360,000 words relating to the Maghreb and its people, drawn from Stuart and Republican English news publications, with a view towards examining the discourse and reality around Maghrebi maritime combat, diplomact and trade in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England. To what extent did maritime combat dominate coverage of the Maghreb, over other social, political and military events? Why did news writers use the word ‘pirate’ so infrequently to describe Maghrebi ships? Was Maghrebi piracy chaotic and unfettered, or did peace treaties and consular presence lead to stable trade relations? Were Maghrebi economies seen to be fundamentally built on naval predation, or was real benefit available from peaceful engagement with the Maghrebi states? Examining these and other questions from English news coverage, this paper argues that the material in English periodical news is generally consistent with what we know of the military, diplomatic and economic conditions of the time, surprisingly neutral in tone with a possible emphasis on positive stories when dealing with British–Maghrebi relations, and increasingly after the Restoration played a significant role in influencing British popular discourse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
“It Isn’t Race or Nation Governs Movement”: New Writers’ Press and the Transnational Scope of Irish Experimental Poetry in the 1960s and 1970s
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040178 - 20 Nov 2019
Viewed by 773
Abstract
In this paper, I seek to contribute to the resurrection from critical obscurity of an overlooked tradition in contemporary Irish poetry: namely, that of small-press poetic experimentalism. Taking as a case study the Dublin-based New Writers’ Press (NWP, established 1967), I will interrogate [...] Read more.
In this paper, I seek to contribute to the resurrection from critical obscurity of an overlooked tradition in contemporary Irish poetry: namely, that of small-press poetic experimentalism. Taking as a case study the Dublin-based New Writers’ Press (NWP, established 1967), I will interrogate the absence of virtually any mention of small Irish experimental presses in critical narratives of late modernist poetry of the British Isles in the 1960s and 1970s. By using an array of insights gleaned from the many letters, typescripts and other ephemera in the NWP archive housed at the National Library of Ireland, such absences in scholarship are explored in the context of what the press’ founding editors faced in navigating the small Irish poetry market of the mid-twentieth century. Through this archival lens, the reasons why a cohesive avant-garde network of British and Irish poetic experimentalists never materialised are analysed, and an argument for how Irish poetic experiments of the last half century have not received anywhere near the same degree of critical attention as those of their British counterparts will emerge. In the first half of this paper, I focus on the Irish commercial poetry scene in the 1950s and 1960s, ultimately illustrating how narrow and competitive it was in comparison to the British market, as well as the peculiar individual context of an Irish campus magazine, Trinity College’s Icarus (1950-). This will in turn suggest that the absence of presses such as NWP from critical accounts of late modernist poetic experimentalism may well be due to editorial decisions made by those Irish presses themselves. In the second half of this paper, I foreground some important archival evidence to review a number of instances in NWP’s history in which it comes close to forging alliances with presses within the more cohesive British experimental scene, though it never manages to do so. Drawing on this evidence, I present an archival basis for counterarguments to the possible conclusion that the responsibility for the general absence of Irish presses from narratives of small-press experimentalism lies with those Irish presses themselves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern and Contemporary Irish Writing)
Open AccessArticle
“It’s Just a Matter of Form”: Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Experiments with Masculinity
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040177 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 729
Abstract
Edna St. Vincent Millay occupies an uncomfortable position in relation to modernism. In the majority of criticism, her work is considered the antithesis to modernist experimentation: as representative of the ‘rearguard’ that rejected vers libre in favour of fixed poetic forms. Indeed, most [...] Read more.
Edna St. Vincent Millay occupies an uncomfortable position in relation to modernism. In the majority of criticism, her work is considered the antithesis to modernist experimentation: as representative of the ‘rearguard’ that rejected vers libre in favour of fixed poetic forms. Indeed, most critics concur that whilst Millay’s subject matter may have been modern and daring—voicing women’s sexual independence, for instance—her form was decidedly traditional. Millay also troubles notions of modernist impersonality by writing seemingly autobiographical lyrics that showcase feminine emotions. In this paper, I aim to challenge this view of Millay by focussing on the two avant-garde works that mark the outset and the zenith of her career: Aria da Capo (1921) and Conversation at Midnight (1937). These works are both formally innovative, blurring the boundaries between poetry and drama, causing Edmund Wilson to complain that Millay had “gone to pieces”. Moreover, both works engage in performances of masculinity, with women all but absent. Aria da Capo, first performed by the Provincetown Players in 1919, dramatizes the conflict between two shepherds as an allegory for the First World War. Conversation ventriloquises an all-male dinner party, ranging through the political issues of the Depression era and foreshadowing the war to come. I use both works to argue that Millay has a more interesting relationship to masculinity and modernism than has been hitherto captured by critics. Millay voices men in innovative ways, radically challenging constructions of both gender and poetic form in the process. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Neorealism, Contingency, and the Linguistic Turn
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040176 - 08 Nov 2019
Viewed by 692
Abstract
Since the publication of Roman Jakobson’s famous 1956 essay “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances”, we have tended to read the relationship between metaphor and metonymy as a dialectical one. The essay argues that this approach stands in need [...] Read more.
Since the publication of Roman Jakobson’s famous 1956 essay “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances”, we have tended to read the relationship between metaphor and metonymy as a dialectical one. The essay argues that this approach stands in need of revision, since metonymy, as a trope—and as a trope, moreover, of contingency—undermines the dialectical relationship between the syntagmatic and the paradigmatic axes. This has far-reaching implications, specifically for the assessment of literature and its ethics. Since metaphor functions structurally analogous to dialectics itself, metonymy and its role in realism and neorealism might offer us a way to think an “ethics of contingency” that acknowledges the role of contingency, rather that suppressing it and its role in preventing closure through sublation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
“Bury Your Heart”: Charlotte Mew and the Limits of Empathy
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040175 - 08 Nov 2019
Viewed by 616
Abstract
Charlotte Mew’s strikingly original and passionate poetry remains under-examined by modernist critics, yet it holds great importance in presenting an alternative version of modernism that foregrounds issues surrounding gender, sexuality and otherness. Mew’s work explores key modernist themes such as alienation, fragmentation and [...] Read more.
Charlotte Mew’s strikingly original and passionate poetry remains under-examined by modernist critics, yet it holds great importance in presenting an alternative version of modernism that foregrounds issues surrounding gender, sexuality and otherness. Mew’s work explores key modernist themes such as alienation, fragmentation and psychological disruption from the perspectives of those on the margins of society, and in doing so challenges narrow definitions of the movement by highlighting the multiplicity and plurality of voices and concerns within it. Whilst Mew’s decentred position often informs painful reflections on shame, exclusion and powerlessness, the culmination of so many marginalised voices in the poems and Mew’s overriding compassion for the vulnerable creates a powerful challenge to the centre that contests traditional accounts of modernism as defined by white, European men. This article will explore how female experience informs Mew’s exploration of empathy between the marginalised and how personal experience of gender-based oppression inspires compassion for other vulnerable groups who suffer under similar power dynamics or social prejudices. It will consider how female experience shapes both the content of the poems and her choice of poetic forms that allow for concealment of self against the fear of exposure. It will also draw upon contemporary feminist readings of modernist literature and emotion to examine the ways in which gender informs Charlotte Mew’s treatment of key modernist themes and how this challenges conventional understanding of the movement. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Intertextuality, Christianity and Death: Major Themes in the Poetry of Stevie Smith
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040174 - 01 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Stevie Smith, one of the most productive of twentieth-century poets, is too often remembered simply as the coiner of the four-word punch line of a single short poem. This paper argues that her claim to be seen as a great writer depends on [...] Read more.
Stevie Smith, one of the most productive of twentieth-century poets, is too often remembered simply as the coiner of the four-word punch line of a single short poem. This paper argues that her claim to be seen as a great writer depends on the major themes which—in addition to “death by water”—she shares with T.S. Eliot: Anglicanism and the modern reworking of classical literature, with a strong, and in her case sometimes autobiographical, emphasis on female protagonists. Where the female figures in Eliot’s The Waste Land are seen as parodic and diminished contemporary versions of their classical originals, Smith enters and reimagines her classical sources, testing the strength of the narrative material which binds Phèdre, Antigone, Persephone and Helen of Troy to their fates. In contrast to Eliot’s adult conversion to Anglo-Catholicism, Smith became a convert to agnosticism, engaging in a passionate poetic argument with the faith of her childhood, which led her to challenge Eliot himself. She brings both of these themes together in the most personal of her poems, which celebrate, and ultimately invoke, Thanatos, “the only god/Who comes as a servant”, and who puts a merciful end to all stories by “scattering... the human pattern altogether”. Full article
Open AccessArticle
‘Once Upon a Time in Marseille’: Displacement and the Fairy Tale in Anna Seghers’ Transit
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040173 - 01 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Written in 1941, while she was living in exile in Mexico, and published in 1944 in Mexico and the United States, Anna Seghers’ novel Transit replicates on a formal level an experience of displacement, statelessness, and exile. In the following analysis, I examine [...] Read more.
Written in 1941, while she was living in exile in Mexico, and published in 1944 in Mexico and the United States, Anna Seghers’ novel Transit replicates on a formal level an experience of displacement, statelessness, and exile. In the following analysis, I examine Transit as a text of forced migration. Several features of the novel attempt to produce an experience of displacement: the narrative situation, the incorporation of descriptions that place the events of World War II into a longer history of forced migration, and the use of references to the genre of the fairy tale. The descriptions that engage with past forced migration and displacement attempt to universalize the historical specificities of the time period, whereas the references to fairy tales generate a sense of timelessness associated with this genre. Through these strategies, Seghers’ novel itself attempts to displace time. Seghers situates Transit within a long history of forced migration and exile, in which the categories that are often used to define and divide populations—such as nationality, ethnicity, and religion—are in flux. By emphasizing the role of mistaken identity, Seghers destabilizes the concept of immutable identities in a period of upheaval and transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Revisiting German Jewish Writing & Culture, 1945-1975)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
How Can You Not Shout, Now That the Whispering Is Done? Accounts of the Enemy in US, Hmong, and Vietnamese Soldiers’ Literary Reflections on the War
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040172 - 01 Nov 2019
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Abstract
As typified in the Christmas Truce, soldiers commiserate as they see themselves in the enemy and experience empathy. Commiseration is the first step in breaking down the rhetorical construction of enemyship that acts upon soldiers and which prevents reconciliation and healing. This essay [...] Read more.
As typified in the Christmas Truce, soldiers commiserate as they see themselves in the enemy and experience empathy. Commiseration is the first step in breaking down the rhetorical construction of enemyship that acts upon soldiers and which prevents reconciliation and healing. This essay proceeds in three steps. We will identify first the diverse forms of enemyship held by the American, by the North Vietnamese, and by the Hmong soldiers, reading political discourse, poetry, and fiction to uncover the rhetorical constructions of the enemy. We will talk about both an American account and a North Vietnamese account of commiseration, when a soldier looks at the enemy with compassion rooted in identification. Commiseration is fleeting; reconciliation and healing must follow, and so finally, we will look at some of the moments of reconciliation, after the war, in which Vietnamese, Hmong and American soldiers (and their children and grandchildren) find healing. Full article
Open AccessComment
Response to Jewell, Evan. (Re)moving the Masses: Colonisation as Domestic Displacement in the Roman Republic. Humanities 2019, 8, 66
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040171 - 24 Oct 2019
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Abstract
This response engages with Evan Jewell’s article on ‘Colonisation as Domestic Displacement in the Roman Republic’. It supports his argument about the relationship between the conduct of politics in the ancient world and the use of aquatic metaphors to target specific groups for [...] Read more.
This response engages with Evan Jewell’s article on ‘Colonisation as Domestic Displacement in the Roman Republic’. It supports his argument about the relationship between the conduct of politics in the ancient world and the use of aquatic metaphors to target specific groups for displacement, adding that similar relationships unfolded in more recent times. His emphasis on ‘domestic displacement’ also resonates with twentieth-century projects that displaced people in large numbers in pursuit of what has come to be called ‘development’. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Islamic Ethos: Examining Sources of Authority
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040170 - 24 Oct 2019
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Abstract
This paper investigates the construction of Islamic ethos in the early Islamic period, highlighting what constitutes the guiding principles of its authority. As a religion that is currently subject to many ugly charges, a careful examination of its core historic values provides a [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the construction of Islamic ethos in the early Islamic period, highlighting what constitutes the guiding principles of its authority. As a religion that is currently subject to many ugly charges, a careful examination of its core historic values provides a counternarrative to the distorted ideology perpetuated by extremists such as The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as to the Islamophobic and anti-Muslim racist discourse circulating in the West. The counternarrative presented here serves scholars of ethos whose expertise lies elsewhere than in religious studies. While providing this historical narrative, I highlight how Islamic ethos is derived from multiple sources of religious and cultural/communal authority, mainly from The Qur’an (the holy book of Muslims); the Sunnah (the Prophet Muḥammad’s example, deeds, and customs); and ijtihad (the interpretations and deductions of Muslim religious leaders). Tracing the construction of Islamic ethos through the creation of the Muslim community (Ummah) in 622 CE and the establishment of the Caliphate in 632 CE reveals guiding principles of conduct that are, in contrast to the discourses mentioned above, realistic, practical, and adaptable to current global needs and exigencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric)
Open AccessArticle
“Always Trembling on the Brink of Poetry”: Katherine Mansfield, Poet
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040169 - 23 Oct 2019
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Abstract
Today, Katherine Mansfield is well known as one of the most exciting and cutting-edge exponents of the modernist short story. Little critical attention, however, has been paid to her poetry, which seems a strange omission, given how much verse she wrote during the [...] Read more.
Today, Katherine Mansfield is well known as one of the most exciting and cutting-edge exponents of the modernist short story. Little critical attention, however, has been paid to her poetry, which seems a strange omission, given how much verse she wrote during the course of her life, starting as a very young schoolgirl, right up until the last months prior to her death in 1923. Even Mansfield devotees are not really familiar with any poems beyond the five or six that have most frequently been anthologised since her death, and few editions of her poetry have ever been published. Mansfield’s husband, John Middleton Murry, edited a slim volume, Poems, in 1923, within a few months of her death, followed by a slightly extended edition in 1930, and Vincent O’Sullivan edited another small selection, also titled Poems, in 1988. Unsurprisingly, therefore, critics and biographers have paid little attention to her poetry, tending to imply that it is a minor feature of her art, both in quantity and, more damagingly, in quality. This situation was addressed in 2016, when EUP published a complete and fully annotated edition of Mansfield’s poems, edited by myself and Claire Davison, incorporating all my recent manuscript discoveries, including a collection of 36 poems—The Earth Child—sent unsuccessfully by Mansfield to a London publisher in 1910. This discovery in 2015 revealed how, at the very moment when Mansfield was starting to have stories accepted for commercial publication, she was also taking herself seriously as a poet. Indeed, had the collection been published, perhaps Mansfield might now be celebrated as much for her poetry as for her short stories. Therefore, this article explores the development of Mansfield’s poetic writing throughout her life and makes the case for her reassessment as an innovative poet and not just as a ground-breaking short story writer. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Zwischen allen Stühlen”: Reflections on Judaism in Germany in Victor Klemperer’s Post-Holocaust Diaries
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040168 - 23 Oct 2019
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Abstract
This article focuses as a case study on Victor Klemperer’s diaristic representation of German-Jewish identity and culture after 1945 in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR. The contribution shows how Klemperer’s professional and social situation remained very uncomfortable even in East Germany. [...] Read more.
This article focuses as a case study on Victor Klemperer’s diaristic representation of German-Jewish identity and culture after 1945 in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR. The contribution shows how Klemperer’s professional and social situation remained very uncomfortable even in East Germany. For the diarist, the communist code ‘antifascist/fascist’, just like the code ‘German/un-German’ before it, was tantamount to concealing Jewish origin. His post-Holocaust journals provide an immediate insider’s view of Jewish life in Germany after the Holocaust from the perspective of a victim of active persecution. Against this backdrop, the contribution examines how the author’s original German nationalism gradually makes way, caught between contradictory impulses of assimilation and decreed Jewish identity, for a much more complex understanding of his own cultural identity. Klemperer’s diaries highlight a number of tensions that ultimately reflect on the disjunction between living and writing: The divide between a single and changing self lies at the heart of his diaries after 1945, which depict an astute, complex psychogram of the assimilated German-Jewish bourgeoisie that survived the Holocaust and tried to continue living in communist Germany. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Revisiting German Jewish Writing & Culture, 1945-1975)
Open AccessArticle
Gwendolyn Brooks and the Legacies of Architectural Modernity
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Humanities 2019, 8(4), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040167 - 22 Oct 2019
Viewed by 751
Abstract
This essay reads the work of poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, in terms of its critical engagement with the architectural modernity of her home city, Chicago. Taking her poetry from A Street in Bronzeville (1945) through to the 1968 collection, In the Mecca, as [...] Read more.
This essay reads the work of poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, in terms of its critical engagement with the architectural modernity of her home city, Chicago. Taking her poetry from A Street in Bronzeville (1945) through to the 1968 collection, In the Mecca, as a primary focus, the essay traces the significance of Chicago style architecture on Brooks’ aesthetic. It was in Chicago that some of the first tall office buildings were designed; it was here that structural steel and glass were first used to distinctive architectural effect, and it was here, in 1893, that the World’s Columbian Exposition was held—an event that, for better or worse, was to shape American architecture well into the twentieth century. Brooks’ poetry is alert to this history, attuned to contemporary debates about urban design and sensitive to architectural experience and affect. This context informs and shapes her work in often unexpected ways. Her approach is often oblique (registered in metaphor, style, and voice) but nevertheless incisive in its rendering of the relationship between architecture, modernity and power. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Afropolitan Sexual and Gender Identities in Colonial Senegal
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040166 - 19 Oct 2019
Viewed by 853
Abstract
Drawing from Achille Mbembe’s theorization of Afropolitanism as an opportunity for modern Africans “to experience several worlds” and develop flux, hybrid, and constantly mobile identities (“Afropolitanism” 29), this essay attempts to make an intervention into the ways in which this phenomenon appeared in [...] Read more.
Drawing from Achille Mbembe’s theorization of Afropolitanism as an opportunity for modern Africans “to experience several worlds” and develop flux, hybrid, and constantly mobile identities (“Afropolitanism” 29), this essay attempts to make an intervention into the ways in which this phenomenon appeared in colonial Senegalese culture. A neglected site of Afropolitanism was the colonial metropolis of Dakar which reflected subversive homosexual or transgender identities during the 1940s and 50s. Focusing on key writings such as Armand Corre’s book, L’ethnographie criminelle d’après les observations et les statistiques judiciaires recueillies dans les colonies françaises [criminal ethnography based on judiciary observations and statistics gathered from French colonies] (1894) and Michael Davidson’s travelogue, “Dakar” (1970), this essay wants to uncover a part of the silenced and neglected history of sexual and gender variances in colonial Senegalese culture. In these texts, one finds salient examples of Afropolitanism which were deployed as tools of resistance against homophobia and transphobia and as means of affirming erotic, sensual, and transgressive identities. In the end, colonial Senegalese culture transcended gender and sexual binaries in order to provide space for recognizing and examining Afropolitan sensibilities that have thus far been neglected in African studies scholarship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unsilencing Black Sexuality in the African Diaspora)
Open AccessArticle
Theorizing Conscious Black Asexuality through Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk about Love
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040165 - 18 Oct 2019
Viewed by 896
Abstract
Asexuality is often defined as some degree of being void of sexual attraction, interest, or desire. Black asexual people have been made invisible, silent, or pathologized in most fiction, scholarly literature, and mainstream LGBTQ movements. Claire Kann’s 2018 young adult romance novel, Let’s [...] Read more.
Asexuality is often defined as some degree of being void of sexual attraction, interest, or desire. Black asexual people have been made invisible, silent, or pathologized in most fiction, scholarly literature, and mainstream LGBTQ movements. Claire Kann’s 2018 young adult romance novel, Let’s Talk About Love, explores Black asexuality at the intersection of race and (a)sexuality. Through the story of the Black, bi-romantic, asexual, 19 year-old college student Alice Johnston, this text illuminates the diversity of Black sexuality in the Black Diaspora. Using a Black feminist sociological literary analysis to complete a close reading of the novel, I interrogate what Let’s Talk about Love offers for defining a Black asexual politic. To consider Black asexual politics beyond the controlling images of the asexual Mammy figure, and not merely in juxtaposition to the hypersexual Jezebel, calls us to instead center agency and self-definition. This project seeks to answer what Conscious Black Asexuality is, why it is a necessary concept for asexuality studies and the Diaspora, where we locate Black asexuality in Black history, and how Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann presents a depiction of Black agentic queerness that reclaims agency and intimacy within one’s sexual politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unsilencing Black Sexuality in the African Diaspora)
Open AccessArticle
Attention, Representation, and Unsettlement in Katherena Vermette’s The Break, or, Teaching and (Re)Learning the Ethics of Reading
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040164 - 16 Oct 2019
Viewed by 625
Abstract
Theories of literary ethics often emphasize either content or the structural relationship between text and reader, and they tend to bracket pedagogy. This essay advocates instead for an approach that sees literary representation and readerly attention as interanimating and that considers teaching an [...] Read more.
Theories of literary ethics often emphasize either content or the structural relationship between text and reader, and they tend to bracket pedagogy. This essay advocates instead for an approach that sees literary representation and readerly attention as interanimating and that considers teaching an important aspect of an ethics of reading. To support these positions, I turn to Katherena Vermette’s 2016 novel The Break, which both represents the urgent injustice of sexualized violence against Indigenous women and girls and also metafictionally comments on the ethics of witnessing. Describing how I read with my students the novel’s insistent thematization of face-to-face encounters and practices of attention as an invitation to read with Emmanuel Levinas and Simone Weil, I explicate the text’s self-aware commentary on both the need for readers to resist self-enlargement in their encounters with others’ stories and also the danger of generalizing readerly responsibility or losing sight of the material realities the text represents. I source these challenges both in the novel and in my students’ multiple particularities as readers facing the textual other. Ultimately, the essay argues for a more careful attention to which works we bring into our theorizing of literary ethics, and which theoretical frames we bring into classroom conversations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
To Dwell in Grace: Physical and Spiritual Situatedness in Marilynne Robinson’s Lila
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040163 - 16 Oct 2019
Viewed by 696
Abstract
This article explores Marilynne Robinson’s use of space in her 2014 novel Lila to illustrate a dynamic relationship between the religious and the secular. The titular character’s movement among a variety of physical spaces raises questions about the possibility of “dwelling” in the [...] Read more.
This article explores Marilynne Robinson’s use of space in her 2014 novel Lila to illustrate a dynamic relationship between the religious and the secular. The titular character’s movement among a variety of physical spaces raises questions about the possibility of “dwelling” in the sense of belonging to a place or community. Characters’ earthly situatedness points to larger questions of spiritual situatedness and identity. Robinson’s novel is posited as a valuable point of reference for postsecular studies, a critical perspective through which the role of the religious in literary studies is being redefined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology of Marilynne Robinson in a Postsecular Age)
Open AccessArticle
Living up to Her “Avant-Guardism”: H.D. and the Senescence of Classical Modernism
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040162 - 14 Oct 2019
Viewed by 611
Abstract
In a journal entry from 1957, H.D. writes that Adorno’s description of the aging of modernist music might easily apply to the fate of her own work in the post-war period: “Among other fascinating things, he [Adorno] says that Bartók ‘could not quite [...] Read more.
In a journal entry from 1957, H.D. writes that Adorno’s description of the aging of modernist music might easily apply to the fate of her own work in the post-war period: “Among other fascinating things, he [Adorno] says that Bartók ‘could not quite live up to his own avant-guardism’ [sic] […]. I felt the phrase applied, in a way, to myself and my Helen sequence” (H.D. 2015, p. 40). H.D.’s remark refers to her long poem, Helen in Egypt (1960), which, with its engagement with classical sources and epic themes, seemed to some to be a throwback to an earlier modernist period in which Pound, Joyce, Eliot and H.D. herself had looked to ancient models as a means of reinvigorating modern literature. What did it mean for H.D. to feel that her work had outlived its time, to be a first-generation modernist still writing in that mode after many of her peers and their achievements had passed into history? This article explores H.D.’s sense that her practice was at odds with contemporary demands for poetry to answer to immediate historical concerns. It also considers her case against the critics in letters, notes and in Helen in Egypt which contains its own defense of the relevance of classical modernism to the post-war present day. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Re-Framing Hottentot: Liberating Black Female Sexuality from the Mammy/Hottentot Bind
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040161 - 14 Oct 2019
Viewed by 1269
Abstract
Taking up Michele Wallace’s call to interrogate popular cultural forms and unravel their relationship with the political discourse of the time, this paper begins by examining the popular discourse about Black female sexuality in the USA. White, cis-hetero-patriarchal cultural and visual imagination still [...] Read more.
Taking up Michele Wallace’s call to interrogate popular cultural forms and unravel their relationship with the political discourse of the time, this paper begins by examining the popular discourse about Black female sexuality in the USA. White, cis-hetero-patriarchal cultural and visual imagination still represents Black women either as asexual and maternal mammies or as the deviant ‘Other’ that is as Venus Hottentots or ‘hypersexual’ Jezebels. Maternal and sexual scripts were first naturalized by popular and scientific discourse(s), and then covertly deployed by the dominant white hetero-patriarchal set up to mask the exploitation of Black women, and constrict the opportunities of growth that were available to them even after the emancipation. This paper analyzes how Black women writers like Elizabeth Alexander and Alice Walker, and visual artists such as Renee Cox develop an oppositional gaze, to use hooks’s phrase, and ‘re-frame’ the Venus Hottentot from their radical and subversive points of view. Building on theoretical insights of Gina Dent, Cornel West, and Audre Lorde, this paper engages with the oft-neglected relationship between pleasure, desire, identity, and Black female sexuality. Thus, Black female sexuality that has been expunged and/or termed ‘deviant’ actually becomes a source of empowerment for Black women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unsilencing Black Sexuality in the African Diaspora)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Affect and Porosity: Ethics and Literature between Teresa Brennan and Hélène Cixous
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040160 - 11 Oct 2019
Viewed by 609
Abstract
In her posthumously published work The Transmission of Affect, Teresa Brennan challenges the modern ego’s understanding of itself as self-contained. This illusion, she argues, is supported by what she refers to as the “foundational fantasy”. In explaining what this means, Brennan rejects [...] Read more.
In her posthumously published work The Transmission of Affect, Teresa Brennan challenges the modern ego’s understanding of itself as self-contained. This illusion, she argues, is supported by what she refers to as the “foundational fantasy”. In explaining what this means, Brennan rejects a bounded sense of the self, arguing that affect (both positive and negative) circulates energetically between subjects. In patriarchal cultures, mothers (and “feminine beings”) act as repositories of projected fear, typically carrying the greater burden of the negative affects—anger, aggression, and envy. Importantly, Brennan’s work brings the question of intersubjective boundaries to the fore, arguing that these are open, and that any account of ethical relations between self and other needs to acknowledge this. Drawing on pre-modern sources, she develops a new theory of intersubjective and energetic affectivity and, in a positive vein, offers love—in the form of attention and discernment—as the positive gift of affect that can potentially circulate between bodies, infusing intersubjective relations with life. Brennan’s work on the transmission of affect offers a bold and very political philosophical intervention into early twenty-first century ethical accounts. Her exploration of the intricacies of our relational entanglements with others and the material world challenges our understanding of what it means to be a self in relation to others. In effect, her account of the transmission of affect highlights the other’s vulnerability to my affect, to my hostile projections, even as it accounts for the flow of affect in both directions. In a slightly different way, Hélène Cixous offers us an account of our relations with others that focusses on the self’s openness to the force of the other, the self’s vulnerability to the dangerous other. Here, the other is the focus of a potential threat, a potential undoing of the self. For Cixous, writing is the place of witness to the unfolding of this vulnerability or porosity between two (entre deux). While this essay focuses on Brennan’s philosophical account, and the potentially paradoxical nature of her work to produce a theory of affect, it offers a brief discussion of the ways in which Cixous’s focus on literature and writing provide a different frame for appreciating the challenge that Brennan’s work makes. It explores the important ways in which Cixous extends Brennan’s philosophical concerns to the domains of literature and writing. Throughout her work, Brennan calls for us to invent or reinvent a vocabulary for the exploration of discernment, the protective attitude of thoughtfulness that opens us to the other. Cixous’s work, I argue, embodies this call in hopeful and optimistic ways. As such, it allows us to think of literature and writing as privileged sites for the exploration of our complex intersubjective relations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Mediating Climate, Mediating Scale
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040159 - 11 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1272
Abstract
Climate communication is seemingly stuck in a double bind. The problem of global warming requires inherently trans-scalar modes of engagement, encompassing times and spaces that exceed local frames of experience and meaning. Climate media must therefore negotiate representational extremes that risk overwhelming their [...] Read more.
Climate communication is seemingly stuck in a double bind. The problem of global warming requires inherently trans-scalar modes of engagement, encompassing times and spaces that exceed local frames of experience and meaning. Climate media must therefore negotiate representational extremes that risk overwhelming their audience with the immensity of the problem or rendering it falsely manageable at a local scale. The task of visualizing climate is thus often torn between scales germane to the problem and scales germane to individuals. In this paper I examine how this scalar divide has been negotiated visually, focusing in particular on Ed Hawkins’ 2016 viral climate spiral. To many, the graphic represents a promising union of political and scientific communication in the public sphere. However, formal analysis of the gif’s reception suggest that the spiral was also a site of anxiety and negative emotion for many viewers. I take these conflicting interpretations as cause to rethink current assumptions about best practices and desirable outcomes for scalar mediations of climate and their capacities to mobilize a wide range of reactions and interpretations—some more legibly political and some more complicatedly affective, yet all nevertheless integral to the work of building a holistic response to the climate crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change)
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Open AccessComment
Anthropocene Shiftings: Response to Perego, E. and Scopacasa, R. The Agency of the Displaced? Roman Expansion, Environmental Forces, and the Occupation of Marginal Landscapes in Ancient Italy. Humanities 2018, 7, 116
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040158 - 10 Oct 2019
Viewed by 670
Abstract
In this response to Elisa Perego and Rafael Scopacasa’s article, I reflect on connections across time and space from an Anthropocenic perspective that is, by urgent necessity, open to the unexpected. In Ancient Italy, and contemporary Tuvalu and Brazil, it is possible to [...] Read more.
In this response to Elisa Perego and Rafael Scopacasa’s article, I reflect on connections across time and space from an Anthropocenic perspective that is, by urgent necessity, open to the unexpected. In Ancient Italy, and contemporary Tuvalu and Brazil, it is possible to find similarly unexpected ends being achieved among populations that move, whose lives are lived on ground that cannot be assumed to be inert: earth has agency, and over time, it shifts, or is flooded, or buries things. When non-elites are moving into marginal places where life is tough, where earthly agency cannot be ignored, such people are also finding themselves at the centre of major turning points in history. Mobility and survival in marginal places can offer a way to live a less colonized life. Full article
Open AccessArticle
In Search of the Iraqi Other: Iraqi Fiction in Diaspora and the Discursive Reenactment of Ethno-Religious Identities
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040157 - 06 Oct 2019
Viewed by 725
Abstract
In Iraqi fiction, the prerogative to narrate the experience of marginal identities, particularly ethno-religious ones, appeared only in the post-occupation era. Traditionally, secular Iraqi discourse struggled to openly address “sectarianism” due to the prevalent notion that sectarian identities are mutually exclusive and oppositional [...] Read more.
In Iraqi fiction, the prerogative to narrate the experience of marginal identities, particularly ethno-religious ones, appeared only in the post-occupation era. Traditionally, secular Iraqi discourse struggled to openly address “sectarianism” due to the prevalent notion that sectarian identities are mutually exclusive and oppositional to national identity. It is distinctly in post-2003 Iraq—more precisely, since the sectarian violence of 2006–2007 began to cut across class, civil society, and urban identities—that works which consciously refuse to depict normative Iraqi identities with their mainstream formulations became noticeable. We witness this development first in the Western diaspora, where Iraqi novels exhibit a fascination with the ethno-religious culture of the Iraqi margins or subalterns and impart a message of pluralistic secularism. This paper investigates the origins of the taboo that proscribed articulations of ethno-religious subjectivities in 20th-century Iraqi fiction, and then culls examples of recent diasporic Iraqi novels in which these subjectivities are encoded and amplified in distinct ways. In the diasporic novel, I argue, modern Iraqi intellectuals attain the conceptual and political distance necessary for contending retrospectively with their formative socialization experiences in Iraq. Through a new medium of marginalization—the diasporic experience of the authors themselves—they are equipped with a newfound desire to unmask subcultures in Iraq and to write more effectively about marginal aspects of Iraqi identity inside and outside the country. These new diasporic writings showcase processes of ethnic and religious socialization in the Iraqi public sphere. The result is the deconstruction of mainstream Iraqi identity narratives and the instrumentalization of marginal identities in a nonviolent struggle against sectarian violence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arab Diaspora Literature Then and Now)
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