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Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2 (June 2020) – 26 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The area in the picture is Kooyyee Faccee, located east of the capital, Finfinne, which was renamed [...] Read more.
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Open AccessCreative
Time
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020053 - 21 Jun 2020
Viewed by 198
Abstract
This time sequence opens with a soliloquy, or more precisely, a submission to time, in the form of personal lamentations, and is followed by irregular stanzas spanning unidentified episodes of journeying, the intention to do so, or total stasis. Throughout, time is continuously [...] Read more.
This time sequence opens with a soliloquy, or more precisely, a submission to time, in the form of personal lamentations, and is followed by irregular stanzas spanning unidentified episodes of journeying, the intention to do so, or total stasis. Throughout, time is continuously prodded by the intimate journey within one’s own time, by its linguistic and haptic promise, through the name and naming, the names passed on from parents to their child. In this sense, the poem queries the inward pact signed in journeying, between the son on the one hand, and the father and mother on the other, constituting the announcement of history through intersecting times of refugeeness, but equally in the context of humanity and inhumanity as a whole. As time is incessantly probed in this poem, so is journeying within it. In particular, time, as it branches out onto subjective (and non-subjective) times, is conveyed initially through the journeying from I/We to They in the poem, ushering in competing pronouns in an attempt to blur time itself and those inside and outside it. The premise of this poem, or body of poems, is not in any way to locate time with precision, physically or historically, but to repeat a question which seldom finds a place and time; that is, “where is time” to witness the future? Full article
Open AccessArticle
Intimacy and Resonance: Visions of Love in Hanns-Josef Ortheil’s Liebesnähe and Ronja von Rönne’s Wir kommen
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020052 - 19 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Since the millennium, representations of intimate relationships have become one of the major trends in contemporary German fiction. This article examines two novels, Hanns-Josef Ortheil’s Liebesnähe (Love’s Closeness, 2011) and Ronja von Rönne’s Wir kommen (We Are Coming, 2016) [...] Read more.
Since the millennium, representations of intimate relationships have become one of the major trends in contemporary German fiction. This article examines two novels, Hanns-Josef Ortheil’s Liebesnähe (Love’s Closeness, 2011) and Ronja von Rönne’s Wir kommen (We Are Coming, 2016) as examples of two oppositional modes of representation of modern love relationships. Starting from an exposition of the configuration of love in social theory (Niklas Luhmann, Eva Illouz) as a compensatory mechanism for the fragmentation of social roles in modernity, the article reviews two concepts that describe love from a perspective of plenitude, Hartmut Rosa’s “resonance” and Francois Jullien’s “intimacy”. Reading Ortheil’s and von Rönne’s novels against Rosa’s and Jullien’s concepts, the article argues that while von Rönne’s representation of intimate relations falls squarely within the social theoretical parameters outlined by Luhmann and Illouz, Ortheil’s novel presents a fictional alternative to the “unhappy consciousness” of modern love, echoing Rosa’s and Jullien’s ideas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aspects of Contemporary German Fiction)
Open AccessArticle
Defining and Defending the Middle Ages with C. S. Lewis
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020051 - 18 Jun 2020
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Abstract
The scholarly writings of C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) have both inspired the study of the Middle Ages and confirmed the relevance to the humanities that medieval literary texts can have for the present. He was aware that the straitjacket implied by periodisation can [...] Read more.
The scholarly writings of C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) have both inspired the study of the Middle Ages and confirmed the relevance to the humanities that medieval literary texts can have for the present. He was aware that the straitjacket implied by periodisation can blind us to the universal values presented in medieval literature. Qualitative assumptions made about the (usually undefined) Middle Ages include an alienating remoteness, and also a general ignorance, especially of science and technology. Lewis drew attention to the knowledge of astronomy, for example, and pointed out that medieval technical skills in architecture, agriculture and medicine are important for us to be aware about. Three medieval works illustrate this universality with respect to technical skills (the Völundarkviða); identity and the self (the Hildebrandslied); and the popular love-song (the courtly love-lyric). Lewis cautioned against pejorative terms like ‘Dark Ages’, noted problems of perspective in assessing all pre-modern literature, and showed that earlier works have a continuing value and relevance. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The New German Nature Lyric
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020050 - 04 Jun 2020
Viewed by 240
Abstract
Naturlyrik has long been a contested category in German poetry, but however politically suspect some may find ‘Gespräch(e) über Bäume’ (Brecht), they are vitally important in the era of anthropogenic environmental collapse. The current generation of German-language poets have sought new ways of [...] Read more.
Naturlyrik has long been a contested category in German poetry, but however politically suspect some may find ‘Gespräch(e) über Bäume’ (Brecht), they are vitally important in the era of anthropogenic environmental collapse. The current generation of German-language poets have sought new ways of writing about the natural world and environments; these differ from, and draw on, pre-twentieth-century Naturlyrik as well as the complex, often critical, representations of nature in poetry after the Second World War. Representations of gardens and other human-‘managed’ natural spaces, references to and rewritings of German literary tradition, and the exploration of non-human voices and subjects all serve as means of restoring subjective fullness and complexity to Naturlyrik. The questions of voice and form which are central to the idea of the lyric genre as a whole are implicated in the development of a contemporary nature poetry beyond both Brecht and Benn, and Anthropocene Naturlyrik is pushing German lyric poetry itself into a new phase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aspects of Contemporary German Fiction)
Open AccessArticle
Radical Togetherness: African-American Literature and Abolition Pedagogy at Parchman and Beyond
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020049 - 04 Jun 2020
Viewed by 297
Abstract
This article makes the case that the student-centered learning paradigm that I have aimed to establish at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary as a member of a college-in-prison program represents a prison abolition pedagogy that builds on Martin Luther King and Angela Y. Davis’s coalitional [...] Read more.
This article makes the case that the student-centered learning paradigm that I have aimed to establish at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary as a member of a college-in-prison program represents a prison abolition pedagogy that builds on Martin Luther King and Angela Y. Davis’s coalitional models of abolition work. Drawing from Davis’s abolition-framed conception of teaching in jails and prisons as expressed in her autobiography and her critical prison studies text Are Prisons Obsolete?, I argue that the learning environments that I create collaboratively with students at Parchman similarly respond to incarcerated students’ institution-specific concerns and African-American literary interests in ways that lessen, if only temporarily, the social isolation and educational deprivation that they routinely experience in Mississippi’s plantation-style state penitentiary. Moreover, I am interested in the far-reaching implications of what I have theorized elsewhere as “abolition pedagogy”—a way of teaching that exposes and opposes the educational deprivation, under-resourced and understaffed learning environments, and overtly militarized classrooms that precede and accompany too many incarcerations. As such, this article also focuses on my experience of teaching about imprisonment in African-American literature courses at the University of Mississippi at the same time that I have taught classes at Parchman that honor the African-American literary interests of imprisoned students there. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities in Prison)
Open AccessArticle
Counting Form: Gender and the Geometries of Address, in Frances Presley and Carol Watts
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020048 - 03 Jun 2020
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Abstract
This essay treats two innovative site-specific sequences produced by women in the first decade of the twenty first century. Both are explicitly interested in the relationship between geometry, writing (as material and political practice) and geo-cultural space, a relationship each finds inflected to [...] Read more.
This essay treats two innovative site-specific sequences produced by women in the first decade of the twenty first century. Both are explicitly interested in the relationship between geometry, writing (as material and political practice) and geo-cultural space, a relationship each finds inflected to some extent by gender emphases. Starting from the premise that any piece of writing is itself a place, the essay considers the self-conscious textualities of its primary texts—one concerned with Exmoor; the other with a sheep-farm in rural mid-Wales—in the light of their different, if similarly rural and relatively remote, contexts. Presley’s ‘Stone Settings’ explores the relationship between some of the quasi-geometrical Neolithic stone arrangements dotted across Exmoor, and the mediation of their apparently Euclidean sometimes barely visible forms in/as text. Watts’ work-in-progress Zeta Landscape mobilises in the ‘analytical’ or ‘projective’ (ie non-Euclidean) geometry of its title the complex weave of routine care-giving and accountancy charging the contemporary (Michel Foucault’s ‘distributive’) pastoral. Both sequences wryly suggest that poetic form can finally no more adequately figure place than the abstractions of mathematical discourse can utter the cultural ecology of any environment, however concrete-seeming. Aided by Jacques Derrida’s powerful essay ‘White Mythology’, the account comes to rest on the equally equivocal recognition of the in/effectuality of metaphor in any kind of address, critical or creative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modernist Women Poets: Generations, Geographies and Genders)
Open AccessArticle
Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047 - 29 May 2020
Viewed by 273
Abstract
This essay offers a first critical reading of American author Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s short story “The Warlock’s Shadow” (1886), asserting that the tale appropriates historical traumas in order to navigate, and transgress, boundaries of genre and gender. The strangeness of the [...] Read more.
This essay offers a first critical reading of American author Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s short story “The Warlock’s Shadow” (1886), asserting that the tale appropriates historical traumas in order to navigate, and transgress, boundaries of genre and gender. The strangeness of the text’s Central Californian setting, to the narrator, precipitates a series of Gothic metamorphoses, and “The Warlock’s Shadow” engages with this transformation via a concept that this essay defines as the “Californian Uncanny”. The latter framework is a result of the specific, layered indigenous and colonial identities of post-Gold Rush California coming into contact with the unstable subjectivities of the Gothic genre. “The Warlock’s Shadow” manifests the Californian Uncanny primarily through the relationship between the home, the environment, and the “unassimilable” inhabitant. Stevenson’s text illustrates, through these images, the ways in which late-nineteenth-century American Gothic fiction has allowed the white feminine subject to negotiate her own identity, complicating the binary distinctions between Self and Other which underpin American colonialism both internally and externally. The phenomenon of the Californian Uncanny in “The Warlock’s Shadow” reflects these gendered and geographical anxieties of American identity, confronting the ghosts of the nation’s westernmost region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessEditorial
From Postmodernism to Posthumanism: Theorizing Ethos in an Age of Pandemic
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020046 - 28 May 2020
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Abstract
This essay expands on the previous discussion, “Positioning Ethos” (Baumlin and Meyer 2018), which outlined a theory of ethos for the 21st century. There, my coauthor and I observed the dialectic between ethics and ethotics, grounding subjectivity within a sociology of rhetoric: Contemporary [...] Read more.
This essay expands on the previous discussion, “Positioning Ethos” (Baumlin and Meyer 2018), which outlined a theory of ethos for the 21st century. There, my coauthor and I observed the dialectic between ethics and ethotics, grounding subjectivity within a sociology of rhetoric: Contemporary ethos, thus, explores the physical embodiment (with its “markers of identity”), positionality, and “cultural dress” of speakers. There as here, we looked to Heidegger for an expanded definition, one reaching beyond a speaker’s self-image to bring all aspects of our lifeworld—cultural, technological, biological, planetary—into a dynamic unity. And, there as here, we observed the dialectic between speaker and audience: Within this transactional model, ethos marks the “space between” speaker and audience—a socially- and linguistically-constructed meeting ground (or, perhaps better, playground) where meanings can be negotiated. Crucial to this transactional model is the skeptron, as described by Bourdieu: To possess the skeptron is to claim the cultural authority, expertise, trust, and means to speak and to be heard—indeed, to be seen—in one’s speaking. To our previous essay’s ethics and ethotics, this present essay adds the dialectic arising between bios and technê. We “dwell” in memory, in language, in history, in culture: All speakers in all cultural moments can claim as much. But, writing in an age of postmodernism, we acknowledge the heightened roles of technology, “expert systems,” and urbanization in our lifeworld today. What we had described as the cultural “habitus” of ethos is here supplemented by an ethos of scientific technoculture; similarly, what we had described as the existentialist “embodied self” is here supplemented by the postmodern—indeed, posthuman—ethos of the cyborg, a biotechnic “assemblage” part cybernetic machine and part living organism, simultaneously personal and collective in identity. This posthuman con/fusion of bios and technê is not a transcendence of (human) nature; rather, it acknowledges our immersion within an interspecies biology while expanding our habitus from the polis to the planet. It’s these aspects of our lifeworld—insterspecies biology, bodily health as self-identity, postmodern technology, and urban lifestyle—that COVID-19 pressures and threatens today. In the current struggle between science-based medicine and conservative politics, the skeptron assumes life-and-death importance: Who speaks on behalf of medical science, the coronavirus victim, and community health? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric)
Open AccessArticle
A Woman by Nature? Darren Aronofsky’s mother! as American Ecofeminist Gothic
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020045 - 26 May 2020
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Abstract
In this essay, I discuss Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 feature film mother! in the context of an intersectional approach to ecofeminism and the American gothic genre. By exploring the histories of ecofeminism, the significances of the ecogothic, and the Puritan origins of American gothic [...] Read more.
In this essay, I discuss Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 feature film mother! in the context of an intersectional approach to ecofeminism and the American gothic genre. By exploring the histories of ecofeminism, the significances of the ecogothic, and the Puritan origins of American gothic fiction, I read the movie as a reiteration of both a global ecophobic and an American national narrative, whose biblical symbolism is rooted in the patriarchal logic of Christian theology, American history, female suffering, and environmental crisis. mother! emerges as an example of a distinctly American ecofeminist gothic through its focus on and subversion of the essentialist equation of women and nature as feminized others, by dipping into the archives of feminist literary criticism, and by raising ecocritical awareness of the dangers of climate change across socio-cultural and anthropocentric categories. Situating Aronofsky’s film within traditions of American gothic and ecofeminist literatures from colonial times to the present moment, I show how mother! moves beyond a maternalist fantasy rooted in the past and towards a critique of the androcentric ideologies at the core of the 21st-century Anthropocene. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessEditorial
Ghost Stories for Grown-Ups: Pictorial Matters in Times of War and Conflict
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020044 - 22 May 2020
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Abstract
This introduction takes as its central armature Karen Barad’s agential realism to provide a framework for understanding the essays brought together in this Special Issue under the rubric of pictures of conflict. The intention is to move the discussion with regard to picture [...] Read more.
This introduction takes as its central armature Karen Barad’s agential realism to provide a framework for understanding the essays brought together in this Special Issue under the rubric of pictures of conflict. The intention is to move the discussion with regard to picture making forward to more fully embrace the pictorial and the physical, the historical and institutional processes within apparatuses of picture-making. The attempt in ‘Ghost stories’ through the concept of a visual apparatus, is to shed new light and thinking on pictures as material objects; how they act and feed into our subjectivities, experiences and realities and to account for their currency, duration, affectivity and authority beyond transparent representation or symbolic meaning. In order to achieve this, Barad’s agential realism is inflected by insights from Malafouris’s (2013) material engagement theory; W.J.T. Mitchell’s (2005) image theory; Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk’s (2017) image operations; Mondzian’s (2005) understanding of the economy of the image, as well as the ontological concerns of new German art history and image science exemplified in the work of Hans Belting (1996, 2011) and Horst Bredekamp (2017), for example. In this framework, the worlds pictures create, and the subjectivities they produce, are not understood to precede the phenomena they depict. The picture, as the outcome of the apparatus which produces it, makes an ‘observational cut’ that simultaneously excludes and includes certain elements from its frame. As such, it has to be comprehended as party to processes which are both ethical and political. A fact which is particularly important during times of conflict and war. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pictures and Conflicts since 1945)
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Open AccessArticle
Creative Accounting: Alternative Facts in the History of the Pirate, John Gow
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020043 - 21 May 2020
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Abstract
The narratives in Captain Charles Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates (1724–1728) have often been regarded as reliable accounts of pirate activity between 1690 and 1726, in part because the book’s long-held attribution to Daniel Defoe has, until recently, granted it some measure [...] Read more.
The narratives in Captain Charles Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates (1724–1728) have often been regarded as reliable accounts of pirate activity between 1690 and 1726, in part because the book’s long-held attribution to Daniel Defoe has, until recently, granted it some measure of journalistic integrity. A closer examination of one of General History’s narratives, that of the Scottish pirate, John Gow, reveals a story filled with contradictions, loose ends, possible fabrications, and simple errors, to the point where a definitive account of Gow’s activities becomes almost impossible to determine. This paper compares the two Gow narratives found in the 1725 and 1728 editions of General History with naval reports, newspaper accounts, and pamphlet narratives, all of which offer vastly differing versions of Gow’s story. As the general outlines of the story become fixed in various tellings, we can see how the focus of these narratives shifts from being a simple record of criminal activity to a drama in which the pirate must satisfy the expectation of being hostis humani generis—the enemy of all humanity—to the point where violence, rape, murder, and other anti-social acts overshadow the maritime plundering of goods and money as the pirate’s chief defining characteristic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
Open AccessArticle
“Integration Ist Definitiv Nicht Unser Anliegen, Eher Schon Desintegration”. Postmigrant Renegotiations of Identity and Belonging in Contemporary Germany
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020042 - 19 May 2020
Viewed by 286
Abstract
This article examines the notion of “Desintegration” (de-integration), as introduced by German Jewish authors Max Czollek and Sasha Marianna Salzmann, against the backdrop of ongoing re-negotiations of identity, belonging, and “Heimat” (sense of home) in contemporary Germany. While many artistic contributions to the [...] Read more.
This article examines the notion of “Desintegration” (de-integration), as introduced by German Jewish authors Max Czollek and Sasha Marianna Salzmann, against the backdrop of ongoing re-negotiations of identity, belonging, and “Heimat” (sense of home) in contemporary Germany. While many artistic contributions to the debates around “Desintegration” have come from the realm of performance art, I will pay special attention to Salzmann’s prize-winning novel Außer Sich (Beyond Myself) (2017), as a literary approximation of the “Desintegration” paradigm, which showcases what I call a “non-authoritative” poetics of non-belonging. I will conclude by showing that the notion of “Desintegration” and its connection to a broader “postmigrant” trajectory enable novel perspectives on three of the central issues discussed in this article: the current location of German Jewish literature and culture; contemporary German-language contestations of “Heimat” and belonging; and the relationship between art and politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aspects of Contemporary German Fiction)
Open AccessArticle
The Value of Teaching Critical Race Theory in Prison Spaces: Centering Students’ Voices in Pedagogy
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020041 - 18 May 2020
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Abstract
This paper seeks to address the value of a humanities-based education, specifically focusing on a critical race theory course taught within a prison classroom. The perspectives shared are from three incarcerated students as well as their course instructor regarding the continued debate over [...] Read more.
This paper seeks to address the value of a humanities-based education, specifically focusing on a critical race theory course taught within a prison classroom. The perspectives shared are from three incarcerated students as well as their course instructor regarding the continued debate over whether vocational or academic courses are more beneficial in prison spaces. The case for vocational training has always been supported. Yet, the value of academic courses for incarcerated students, particularly within the humanities, is still questioned. Thus, this paper nuances and explains the value of a humanities-based course within a carceral setting. The voices and experiences of the three incarcerated co-authors are centered in providing the rationale for what courses like critical race theory can offer them besides just a basic focus on rehabilitation or recidivism. From their experiences with course material and discussions, a case is made that the intellectual and personal agency gained from humanity-based courses are both meaningful and relevant for incarcerated students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities in Prison)
Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Interlocutors, Nonhuman Actors, and the Ethics of Literary Signification. Humanities 2019, 8, 108
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020040 - 07 May 2020
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Abstract
The author would like to make the following changes to the published paper (Wehrs 2019): [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Consuming Desire in Under the Skin
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020039 - 04 May 2020
Viewed by 451
Abstract
Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin is a Gothicized science fictional narrative about sexuality, alterity and the limits of humanity. The film’s protagonist, an alien female, passing for an attractive human, seduces unwary Scottish males, leading them to a slimy, underwater/womblike confinement [...] Read more.
Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin is a Gothicized science fictional narrative about sexuality, alterity and the limits of humanity. The film’s protagonist, an alien female, passing for an attractive human, seduces unwary Scottish males, leading them to a slimy, underwater/womblike confinement where their bodies dissolve and nothing but floating skins remain. In this paper, I look at the film’s engagement with the notions of consumption, the alien as devourer trope, and the nature of the ‘other’, comparing this filmic depiction with Michael Faber’s novel on which the film is based. I examine the film’s reinvention of Faber’s novel as a more open-ended allegory of the human condition as always already ‘other’. In Faber’s novel, the alien female seduces and captures the men who are consumed and devoured by an alien race, thus providing a reversal of the human species’ treatment of animals as mere food. Glazer’s film, however, chooses to remain ambiguous about the alien female’s ‘nature’ to the very end. Thus, the film remains a more open-ended meditation about alterity, the destructive potential of sexuality, and the fear of consumption which lies at the heart of the Gothic’s interrogation of porous boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Climates of Change: A Tuatara’s-Eye View
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020038 - 01 May 2020
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Abstract
The tuatara or New Zealand “spiny-backed lizard” (Sphenodon punctatus) is the sole surviving member of an order of reptiles that pre-dates the dinosaurs. Among its characteristics and peculiarities, the tuatara is renowned for being slow-breathing and long-lived; it possesses a third [...] Read more.
The tuatara or New Zealand “spiny-backed lizard” (Sphenodon punctatus) is the sole surviving member of an order of reptiles that pre-dates the dinosaurs. Among its characteristics and peculiarities, the tuatara is renowned for being slow-breathing and long-lived; it possesses a third eye on the top of its skull for sensing ultraviolet light; and the sex of its progeny is determined by soil temperatures. This article unravels a tuatara’s-eye view of climate change, considering this creature’s survival across geological epochs, its indigenous lineage and its sensitivities to the fast-shifting conditions of the Anthropocene. This article examines the tuatara’s evolving role as an icon of biodiversity-under-threat and the evolving role of zoos and sanctuaries as explicators of climate change, forestallers of extinction, and implementers of the reproductive interventions that are increasingly required to secure the future of climate-vulnerable species. It is also interested in the tuatara as a witness to the rapid and ongoing human-wrought climate change which has secured the lifeworld reconstruction that is foundational to the settler colonial enterprise in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Linking this to the Waitangi Tribunal’s Wai 262 report (Ko Aotearoa Tēnei, 2011), the article considers what the tuatara teaches about kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and climates of change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle
“The Impersonal You”: Mass Print and Other Communication Technologies in the Virtual Friendship of Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Eliot
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020037 - 30 Apr 2020
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Abstract
The relationship between Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Eliot, widely recognized as one of the most significant literary friendships in the 19th century, yet rarely focused on in scholarship beyond mutual literary influence, took place entirely through the communicative media available then: mass [...] Read more.
The relationship between Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Eliot, widely recognized as one of the most significant literary friendships in the 19th century, yet rarely focused on in scholarship beyond mutual literary influence, took place entirely through the communicative media available then: mass print, the Victorian post, and the social network of parlor literature and transatlantic literary community. The article analyzes the beginning of the correspondence, both similar to and different from fan mail exchange, with extensive quotes from Stowe’s unpublished second letter, to demonstrate an innovative theoretical point that novels can function as part of a communicative continuum between a writer and an individual reader, becoming instruments of what may be seen as a proto-virtual relationship. Full article
Open AccessComment
Historicizing Migration and Displacement: Learning from the Early Roman Empire in the Time of the Nation-State. Response to Lachenicht, Susanne. Learning from Past Displacements? The History of Migrations between Historical Specificity, Presentism and Fractured Continuities. Humanities 2018, 7, 36
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020036 - 29 Apr 2020
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Abstract
My response to Susanne Lachenicht’s thought-provoking article is a brief attempt to take up her call to write histories that lead not to absolute certainties but to more understanding of the complexities of the past. I focus on documentation, border control, and citizenship [...] Read more.
My response to Susanne Lachenicht’s thought-provoking article is a brief attempt to take up her call to write histories that lead not to absolute certainties but to more understanding of the complexities of the past. I focus on documentation, border control, and citizenship in the Early Roman Empire to illustrate some of the radically different ways these were conceptualized and practiced in a premodern multiethnic empire like Rome than in a contemporary nation-state today. Passports, for example, and border control as we know it, did not exist, and migration was not tied to citizenship status. But the account I offer is deliberately tentative and full of qualifications to emphasize the real methodological challenges the study of this subject poses on account of fragmentary literary and material records and the numerous difficulties of interpreting these. I conclude by pointing out both the benefits and the limitations of framing history as a discipline from which one can learn. On the one hand, understanding how seemingly universal categories such as ‘citizen’ and ‘migrant’ are dynamic and constructed rather than static and natural can nuance public debates in nation-states which receive high numbers of migrants (like Germany, Lachenicht’s starting point) by countering ahistorical narratives of a monolithic and sedentary identity. On the other hand, knowledge of the past does not necessarily lead to moral edification. Full article
Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Donovan, Josephine. Ethical Mimesis and Emergence Aesthetics. Humanities 2019, 8, 102
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020035 - 16 Apr 2020
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Abstract
The editorial office would like to make the following changes to the published paper (Donovan 2019): [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Photo-Textual Relations: Emphasizing Vulnerability to Efface AIDS
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020034 - 13 Apr 2020
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Abstract
This article considers the relationship between photojournalism and literature about HIV/AIDS in Romania from the late 1980s and the 1990s to examine the ways in which photo-textual relations localize and perpetuate a specific ideological understanding of the AIDS epidemic. The pictures taken by [...] Read more.
This article considers the relationship between photojournalism and literature about HIV/AIDS in Romania from the late 1980s and the 1990s to examine the ways in which photo-textual relations localize and perpetuate a specific ideological understanding of the AIDS epidemic. The pictures taken by Frank Fournier in Bucharest won the Word Press Photo’s first prize in 1990 and established the AIDS epidemic’s image in and about Romania. Using Diana Taylor’s concept of percepticide to think about what the photographs simultaneously reflect and obscure through an active training of the audience’s gaze, in tandem with Lynn Mie Itagaki’s theorization of visuality of vulnerability as a biopolitical heuristic, I examine the photographs performative erasure of AIDS alongside Rodica Mătușa’s (semi) autobiography, Nobody’s Angels. My Life Alongside Children Living with AIDS. The close-up pictures of malnourished children in a dilapidated hospital have a gritty, abrasive texture that perform a defacing function and dehumanize the central subject. The short descriptions accompanying Fournier’s work, alongside Mătușa’s book, present the images as illustrations and consequences of the Romanian communist regime’s biopolitical measures and tie the medical emergency to the communist ideology. The texts and the photographs impose a methodology of looking, of reading and seeing as evidence of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s austerity measures in the late 1980s in Romania, while the centrality of infants’ naked, malnourished bodies fabricate a causal relationship that obscures larger medical and cultural networks. I claim that image-text interrelations instrumentalize and localize the AIDS epidemic by visually emphasizing vulnerability as a direct result of communism, while dehumanizing and effacing the infants’ and children’s bodies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
Open AccessArticle
Gender, Genre and Dracula: Joan Copjec and “Vampire Fiction”
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020033 - 13 Apr 2020
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Abstract
This article critiques a certain psychoanalytic approach both to the genre of “Vampire Fiction” and the “anxiety” it induces. Joan Copjec’s claim is that these are founded on “nothing”, genre and affect being defined by the “overwhelming presence of the real”, for which [...] Read more.
This article critiques a certain psychoanalytic approach both to the genre of “Vampire Fiction” and the “anxiety” it induces. Joan Copjec’s claim is that these are founded on “nothing”, genre and affect being defined by the “overwhelming presence of the real”, for which all “interpretation […] is superfluous and inappropriate.” It follows that Copjec does not understand the encounter with “the real” staged within Dracula through the words on the page, genre and affect being located instead of either within the bare bones of the textual structure or in an unreadable “aura” surrounding the text. This article counters this understanding through a focus on precise textual formulations within Dracula. It begins by reading in detail linguistic constructions of gendered identities, and the identity “child”; moves to question Copjec’s wider claim that genre transcends textual considerations; and closes with a comparative analysis of Dracula and Rousseau’s Émile, a text that Copjec takes to be its “precise equivalent”, but not because of language. What is finally at stake in this article is whether a detailed engagement with language can be jettisoned when considering constructions of genre and gender. It argues that reintroducing textuality problematises Copjec’s arguments, and the empty identities upon which they are founded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
“In the Way of the Gift”: The Postsecular Conditions of Grace in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020032 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 300
Abstract
In Robinson’s Gilead, one of Ames’ greatest hopes is for his son to place himself “in the way of the gift.” What is this gift, and what does it mean to place oneself in its way? The gift, I will argue, is [...] Read more.
In Robinson’s Gilead, one of Ames’ greatest hopes is for his son to place himself “in the way of the gift.” What is this gift, and what does it mean to place oneself in its way? The gift, I will argue, is what Charles Taylor has described as a moral source that is mediated by interpretive frameworks, and empowers us toward ideals otherwise difficult or impossible to sustain. Gilead enacts the necessary condition of having narratives of the gift, of having been in its way, in order to mediate its reception again. But if restoration is the great potential of the gift’s reception for Ames, it also points to the condition of impossibility for Jack, who is never given such a gift, despite having always been in its way. Although there is no guarantee the gift will be given, what Gilead explores are the postsecular conditions necessary for the gift to be received. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology of Marilynne Robinson in a Postsecular Age)
Open AccessArticle
Public Spheres, Counterpublics’ Fears and Syncopolitics
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020031 - 09 Apr 2020
Viewed by 369
Abstract
This article explores the often normative and idealist notion of the public sphere at its possible breaking point by analysing the online reactions to two tabloid articles about a 2016 performance of Dancing with Strangers: From Calais to England by Instant Dissidence. It [...] Read more.
This article explores the often normative and idealist notion of the public sphere at its possible breaking point by analysing the online reactions to two tabloid articles about a 2016 performance of Dancing with Strangers: From Calais to England by Instant Dissidence. It first looks at how a comment platform could be perceived as a subaltern public sphere and as a substitute for a live audience in order to reconsider the notion of the counterpublic. For this, it examines the dialectical tension between politics and aesthetics within a subaltern online public sphere not immune to all kinds of extremism. This leads to an attempt to consider online hostile lay critics as a potentially legitimate public to address the dilemma faced by contemporary artists when engaging with society in an all-inclusive manner. Finally, this article offers a different reading of Instant Dissidence’s performance and of the possible reasons for the commentators’ rage and alienation and proposes syncopolitics as a way out of both online polarisation echo chambers and the public engagement conundrum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
Open AccessArticle
Marilynne Robinson, Wallace Stevens, and Louis Althusser in the Post/Secular Wilderness: Generosity, Jérémiade, and the Aesthetic Effect
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020030 - 07 Apr 2020
Viewed by 314
Abstract
In Restless Secularism (2017), Matthew Mutter points out that Wallace Stevens described three related techniques that could be used to attempt to purge secular life of its religious residue: adaptation, substitution, and elimination. Marilynne Robinson pushes back against such secularizing strategies by employing [...] Read more.
In Restless Secularism (2017), Matthew Mutter points out that Wallace Stevens described three related techniques that could be used to attempt to purge secular life of its religious residue: adaptation, substitution, and elimination. Marilynne Robinson pushes back against such secularizing strategies by employing three related techniques of her own: negotiation, grafting, and invitation. She does so to attempt to bridge the gap between religious and humanistic perspectives and—in the process—mounts a spirited defense of religious faith and practice. Robinson uses a fourth technique as well: jérémiade. In its usual sacred form, jérémiade is a lamentation that denounces self-righteousness, religious hypocrisy, and social injustice. Much of what Robinson says about the Christian Right is essentially jérémiade. Robinson’s critique of parascientists is jérémiade as well, although its grounding assumptions are secular rather than sacred. While Robinson’s jérémiades against the Christian Right and against parascientists are effective in isolation, in aggregate they sometimes undercut her more generous and inclusive attempts at negotiation, grafting, and invitation. This may be because Robinson’s essays do not undergo the moderating influence of what Louis Althusser called the aesthetic effect of art, which in Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), Home (2008), and Lila (2014) helps counterbalance the flashes of anger and tendencies toward judgement that periodically surface elsewhere in Robinson’s work. Taking into account the presence—or absence—of the aesthetic effect in Robinson’s work helps explain the sometimes startling differences between Robinson’s fiction and nonfiction and helps provides a new perspective from which to rethink two of the most influential postsecular readings of Robinson’s work to date: Amy Hungerford’s Postmodern Belief (2010) and Christopher Douglas’s If God Meant to Interfere (2016). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology of Marilynne Robinson in a Postsecular Age)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Corinthian Echoes: Gaiman, Kiernan, and The Dreaming as Sadomodernist Gothic Memoir
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020029 - 04 Apr 2020
Viewed by 503
Abstract
This article examines Caitlín R. Kiernan’s writing for the DC/Vertigo comic series The Dreaming, a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It places Kiernan’s writing for the series in the wider context of both her prose fictional writings and representations of LGBTQI+ [...] Read more.
This article examines Caitlín R. Kiernan’s writing for the DC/Vertigo comic series The Dreaming, a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It places Kiernan’s writing for the series in the wider context of both her prose fictional writings and representations of LGBTQI+ characters in American comics. It uses Moira Weigel’s concept of “sadomodernism” to characterize Kiernan’s writings, demonstrating how Kiernan’s use of this mode in The Dreaming anticipated signature characteristics of her later fictions. Close reading of selected excerpts from the published comics, as well as Kiernan’s scripts, emails, and editorial remarks alongside the work of queer and trans theorists, including Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam, reveal how groundbreaking Kiernan’s unsettling work with the series was and remains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
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Open AccessArticle
Oromo Orature: An Ecopoetic Approach, Theory and Practice (Oromia/Ethiopia, Northeast Africa)
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020028 - 31 Mar 2020
Viewed by 739
Abstract
Using available empirical data of Oromo Orature, particularly folksongs, obtained from the field through interview and observation in Oromia, central Ethiopia, in 2009 and 2010, and other sources in print, this study has two objectives to tackle. First, reflecting upon the questions of [...] Read more.
Using available empirical data of Oromo Orature, particularly folksongs, obtained from the field through interview and observation in Oromia, central Ethiopia, in 2009 and 2010, and other sources in print, this study has two objectives to tackle. First, reflecting upon the questions of a native model of origin narratives in relation to ecology, this study examines some examples of Oromo ecopoetics to determine: (a) how ecology and creative process conspire in the production of folksongs and performance, and (b) how the veil of nature hidden in the opacity of songs is revealed through the rites of creative process and performance as the human and ecological realms intersect. When put in relation to ecology, I theorize, the ecocultural creative act and process go beyond the mundane life activities to determine the people’s use (of nature), perceptions, and implications. Second, damages to the ecology are, I posit, damages to ecoculture. Drawing on the notion of ecological archetypes, thus, the study makes an attempt to find a common ground between the idea of recurrent ecological motifs in Oromo orature and the people’s ecological identity. The findings show that the political and social attitudes the Oromo songs embody are critical of authorities and the injustices authorities inflict on peoples and the environment they live in. For the folksinger, singing folksongs is a form of life, and through performance, both the performance and the song sustain the test of time. In its language, critique, imagination, and cultural referents, Oromo Orature is a voice of the people who rely on traditional agricultural life close to nature along with facing challenges of the dominating religious, political and scientific cultures. Full article
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