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Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 3 (September 2020) – 61 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Do we live in an age of water wars? We often hear that contemporary conflicts are rooted in wars over water, from the Syrian and Yemeni Civil Wars to Israel/Palestine. The 'water wars novel' is also an increasingly popular mode of contemporary climate fiction, or 'cli-fi'. This essay tracks the ways that water wars novels from around the world reveal and obscure different dimensions of water crises of the past, present, and future. View this paper.
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Article
Fighting Food Poverty through Film: Or Why Global Challenge Research Needs the Arts and Humanities
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030114 - 17 Sep 2020
Viewed by 829
Abstract
Food poverty is just one example of a global challenge where the Arts and Humanities perspective risks being judged at worst to have no relevance at all, and at best to be included as no more than an accessible tool to facilitate public [...] Read more.
Food poverty is just one example of a global challenge where the Arts and Humanities perspective risks being judged at worst to have no relevance at all, and at best to be included as no more than an accessible tool to facilitate public engagement and awareness-raising. How therefore can Arts and Humanities scholars articulate the value of their work in such a way that researchers in other fields are persuaded not only that it brings something new to their understanding of the issues, but that to tackle such questions without this input would leave a significant methodological gap in developing the pathway to research impact? The present discussion takes as its central case study an analysis of the strategies at play to tackle the question of food poverty in French filmmaker Agnès Varda’s 2000 film, Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse [The Gleaners and I]. It then uses this analysis as a springboard to explore how, as Arts and Humanities scholars, we might begin to translate better our methodologies and the unique power of our objects of study to disciplines which tend to dominate research on food security, poverty and sustainability or indeed other challenge-based research. To this end, the present discussion seeks to decipher the power of this methodology in terms of the unique capacity for ‘affect’ of the work of art, and ultimately argues for the essential contribution of Arts and Humanities researchers as ‘brokers’ for movement building and social change. Full article
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Article
The Historical Landscape: Evoking the Past in a Landscape for the Future in the Cheonggyecheon Reconstruction in South Korea
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030113 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 791
Abstract
As cities become increasingly de-industrialized and emphasize building a sustainable future, we have seen an increase in the design of large-scale landscapes being incorporated into the urban fabric. The reconstruction of the Cheonggyecheon stream and park in Seoul, South Korea, is an example [...] Read more.
As cities become increasingly de-industrialized and emphasize building a sustainable future, we have seen an increase in the design of large-scale landscapes being incorporated into the urban fabric. The reconstruction of the Cheonggyecheon stream and park in Seoul, South Korea, is an example of this phenomenon. Since its completion in 2005, the city of Seoul has promoted the project as a restoration of its history and recreation of a collective memory of the site and historic stream from its geographic origins. However, this narrative of historic rebirth of a stream raises questions of authenticity, the selective emphasis of one history over another, and how this transformation of Seoul’s built environment may change the identity of the city’s culture and society. Using a mixture of direct observations of the park design, activities, and events held at the site, and interviews with project designers and former Seoul Metropolitan Government staff who worked on the project and Cheonggyecheon park visitors, this research examines the reconstruction of the Cheonggyecheon as simultaneously a recovery of and break with the past, and the representation of Seoul’s history, memory, and culture as performative functions of the design of the landscape and its activities. In the process, this new landscape offers a rewriting of the past and memory of the city as it redefines the identity of the city for its present and future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peoples, Nature and Environments: Shaping Landscapes)
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Article
A Tornado Hitting the Homeland: Disturbing American Foundational Myths in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030112 - 14 Sep 2020
Viewed by 633
Abstract
Historically, the United States has always been a country of immigration. Yet, in light of recent political events, a form of nativism and sedentarism is re-emerging that seeks to preserve what is generally perceived as essentially American: an ethnically white and male identity [...] Read more.
Historically, the United States has always been a country of immigration. Yet, in light of recent political events, a form of nativism and sedentarism is re-emerging that seeks to preserve what is generally perceived as essentially American: an ethnically white and male identity that has its origins in the foundational myths of the pastoral, the frontier, and the West. The American Midwest is where the allegedly “real” America lies: it is what Anthony D. Smith has termed an 2ethnoscape”: a landscape imbued with historical and cultural meaning that has come to represent true “Americanness”. In her 1989 novel Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee uses the figure of Jasmine, an undocumented female immigrant from India, to disrupt this traditional trope of “the West” as the perceived location of American cultural identity. She liberates the land from its national, historical, and ethnic inscriptions by subverting the very foundational myths of the pastoral, the frontier, manifest destiny, virgin land, and the melting-pot, that are so crucial to the justification of this exclusive as well as exclusionary identity… This article analyzes the processes and mechanisms through which Mukherjee liberates the landscape: Firstly, she satirizes the ideal of the American pastoral and exposes the assumption of a stable, uniquely American landscape as purely imaginative. She then subverts the notion of the global city as the ideal location of immigrants, where “the other” can be safely contained outside the homeland and instead makes the Midwest ethnoscape the space where her protagonist uproots American national identity. Through her presence in the American heartland, Jasmine disturbs and challenges naturalized notions of America and constructs a new homeland that is open for all immigrants following her. Mukherjee thus shifts the perspective away from seeing the American homeland as a pre-existing place in need of defense, and proposes a fluid understanding of home that has acquired new relevance in light of recent political events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures)
Article
The Poetics of Schism: Dostoevsky Translates Hamlet
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030111 - 12 Sep 2020
Viewed by 871
Abstract
F.M. Dostoevsky (1821–1881) never translated Shakespeare’s works into Russian, at least not in the common sense. His fascination, however, with Hamlet and his choices, led him to interrogate the cult of Hamlet in his own culture to better understand the political and philosophical [...] Read more.
F.M. Dostoevsky (1821–1881) never translated Shakespeare’s works into Russian, at least not in the common sense. His fascination, however, with Hamlet and his choices, led him to interrogate the cult of Hamlet in his own culture to better understand the political and philosophical schism of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia, torn between Western and Populist ideals. Translatio, in the broader sense of “carrying over” Hamlet’s character, caught on a threshold, into the Russian context represents an important aspect of Dostoevsky’s re-interpretation of modern ethics. More immediately, this translatio is a call to the “old morality” of the 1840s generation of Russian intellectuals, who rejected notions of rational egoism and of the means justifying the ends. Dostoevsky’s schismatic hero, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, is Dostoevsky’s reimagining of his own culture’s translation of Hamlet that produced extreme and radical forms of Hamlet. Raskolnikov mimics Hamlet’s conscience-stricken personality at war with itself but achieves a more ambiguous ending typical of Dostoevsky’s regenerative paradigm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translation and Relocation: Literary Encounters East and West)
Article
Between or Beyond? Jewish British Short Stories in English since the 1970s
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030110 - 11 Sep 2020
Viewed by 599
Abstract
Looking at short stories by writers as diverse as Brian Glanville, Ruth Fainlight, Clive Sinclair, Jonathan Wilson, James Lasdun, Gabriel Josipovici, Tamar Yellin, Michelene Wandor, and Naomi Alderman, and extending from the center of Jewish British writing to its margins, this article seeks [...] Read more.
Looking at short stories by writers as diverse as Brian Glanville, Ruth Fainlight, Clive Sinclair, Jonathan Wilson, James Lasdun, Gabriel Josipovici, Tamar Yellin, Michelene Wandor, and Naomi Alderman, and extending from the center of Jewish British writing to its margins, this article seeks to locate the defining feature of their ‘Jewish substratum’ in conditions particular to the Jewish post-war experience, and to trace its impact across their thematic plurality which, for the most part, transcends any specifically British concerns that may also emerge, opening up an Anglophone sphere of Jewish writing. More specifically, it is argued that the unease pervading so many Jewish British short stories since the 1970s is a product of, and response to, what may very broadly be described as the Jewish experience and the precarious circumstances of Jewish existence even after the Second World War and its cataclysmic impact. It is suggested that it is prompted in particular by the persistence of the Holocaust and the anxieties the historical event continues to produce; by the confrontation with competing patterns of identification, with antisemitism, and with Israel; and by anxieties of non-belonging, of fragmentation, of dislocation, and of dissolution. Turned into literary tropes, these experiences provide the basis of a Jewish substratum whose articulation is facilitated by the expansion of Jewish British writers into the space of Anglophone Jewish writing. As a result, the Jewish British short story emerges as a multifaceted and hybrid project in continuous progress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary British-Jewish Literature, 1970–2020)
Article
Let’s Celebrate the Humane in the Humanities
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030109 - 10 Sep 2020
Viewed by 799
Abstract
The economic collapse in the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the problems caused by a generation of funding cuts to institutions of higher education and, with these cuts, the increasing costs for students and their families. The current problems raise anew [...] Read more.
The economic collapse in the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the problems caused by a generation of funding cuts to institutions of higher education and, with these cuts, the increasing costs for students and their families. The current problems raise anew the questions of what public good is created both by programs in the Humanities and by all forms of higher education. They are not new questions, but the responses often bring out the importance of humane education to a free society. Courses in the Humanities develop more than the skills in communication and critical thinking that employers say they value. Such courses contribute to the personal development, character formation, and emotional intelligence that create a healthy and productive society. The benefits of such education are considerable, but cannot be measured in a strictly business model of higher education such as is often used by institutions balancing budgets, as well as by the overseers to which they report, including regents, politicians, and community affiliates. Full article
Article
Penny Dreadful’s Queer Orientalism: The Translations of Ferdinand Lyle
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030108 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 770
Abstract
Cultural expressions of Orientalism, the Gothic, and the queer are rarely studied together, though they share uncanny features including spectrality, doubling, and the return of the repressed. An ideal means of investigating these common aspects is neo-Victorian translation, which is likewise uncanny. The [...] Read more.
Cultural expressions of Orientalism, the Gothic, and the queer are rarely studied together, though they share uncanny features including spectrality, doubling, and the return of the repressed. An ideal means of investigating these common aspects is neo-Victorian translation, which is likewise uncanny. The neo-Victorian Gothic cable television series Penny Dreadful, set mostly in fin-de-siècle London, employs the character Ferdinand Lyle, a closeted queer Egyptologist and linguist, to depict translation as both interpretation and transformation, thereby simultaneously replicating and challenging late-Victorian attitudes toward queerness and Orientalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Article
Doing Motherhood, Doing Home: Mothering as Home-Making Practice in Half of a Yellow Sun
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030107 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 749
Abstract
Home and motherhood are tightly interwoven, particularly in the dominant conceptualizations of home as a physical and emotional refuge from the public world. However, a closer look into these concepts helps question the naturalization of both motherhood and home, revealing them as shaped [...] Read more.
Home and motherhood are tightly interwoven, particularly in the dominant conceptualizations of home as a physical and emotional refuge from the public world. However, a closer look into these concepts helps question the naturalization of both motherhood and home, revealing them as shaped by complex lived experiences and relations instead. I argue that such a rethinking of home and motherhood beyond essentialist discourse is prominent in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s postcolonial novel Half of a Yellow Sun. Drawing on concepts and theories from the fields of gender studies and geography, and taking into account the postcolonial, Nigerian context of the novel, I address how Adichie’s 2006 piece of historical fiction thematizes the intersection point of motherhood and home as a relational practice. Adichie provides alternative conceptualizations of motherhood and home through her focus on performative, ritualized mothering practices that also function as relational home-making practices and that stretch beyond gender and biological relations. Through the central ambivalence that emerges in the novel when the female protagonist chooses and practices a traditional mother role but simultaneously does not correspond to the dominant Nigerian ideal of a mother, Adichie destabilizes binary views of both home and of motherhood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures)
Editorial
Water Enclosure and World-Literature: New Perspectives on Hydro-Power and World-Ecology
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030106 - 08 Sep 2020
Viewed by 889
Abstract
This editorial introduces the special issue, ‘World Literature and the Blue Humanities’. The authors articulate the commonalities and tensions between world literature, world-ecology, blue humanities, and hydrocultural approaches. Taking megadams, water pollution, and the blue revolution as baselines, we offer short analyses of [...] Read more.
This editorial introduces the special issue, ‘World Literature and the Blue Humanities’. The authors articulate the commonalities and tensions between world literature, world-ecology, blue humanities, and hydrocultural approaches. Taking megadams, water pollution, and the blue revolution as baselines, we offer short analyses of works by Namwali Serpell, Craig Santos Perez, Jean Arasanayagam, Paul Greengrass, Wyl Menmuir, and Emily St. John Mandel in order to articulate how culture can both contest and normalize water enclosure. The piece ends with a brief summary of the contributions to the special issue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue World Literature and the Blue Humanities)
Article
Psychic Unhomings, Amnesia, and the Risk of Decosmopolitanization in Damon Galgut’s The Impostor (2008)
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030105 - 07 Sep 2020
Viewed by 598
Abstract
The apartheid regime has left behind a range of chronic and structural disturbances of home/lands in contemporary South Africa. This article examines the representation of housing in Damon Galgut’s The Impostor. In this post-apartheid novel, houses feature prominently; they are not only [...] Read more.
The apartheid regime has left behind a range of chronic and structural disturbances of home/lands in contemporary South Africa. This article examines the representation of housing in Damon Galgut’s The Impostor. In this post-apartheid novel, houses feature prominently; they are not only the axle around which the plot revolves, but characters in their own right. Houses are depicted as relational and dynamic sites, invested with traumatic repressed material. By drawing on critical house studies, psychoanalysis, memory, and postcolonial studies, it will be shown that there is a strong intersection that needs to be unpacked between inhabited spaces, the mnemonic economy of the self, its displacements and unexpected flights, and the larger socio-economic and political sphere. This article argues that houses in Galgut’s novel emerge as psychological and affective contents, as symptoms of historical amnesia and displaced whiteness; characters’ psychic disturbances find fertile terrain in a country which, while parading itself as “new” and “open”, risks regressing towards new forms of “decosmopolitanization” (Appadurai). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures)
Editorial
Afterword: Reflections on Humanities Engagements with the Cultural Politics of Climate Change: Histories, Representations, Practices
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030104 - 04 Sep 2020
Viewed by 860
Abstract
Understandings of, and responses to, climate change are culturally and historically specific, informed and shaped by a complex set of intersecting social, historical, economic and political systems and representational practices [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change)
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Article
“Incisive, Dissonant” Rationality vs. Aesthetic Modernism: Hedenius and Trotzig
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030103 - 04 Sep 2020
Viewed by 567
Abstract
The Swedish “Welfare State” of the 1950s was described as a rational, well-organized society by leading Swedish philosopher, Professor Ingemar Hedenius. His biopolitical vision emphasized the scientific basis for social reforms, and he was an active opponent to any kind of religious thinking. [...] Read more.
The Swedish “Welfare State” of the 1950s was described as a rational, well-organized society by leading Swedish philosopher, Professor Ingemar Hedenius. His biopolitical vision emphasized the scientific basis for social reforms, and he was an active opponent to any kind of religious thinking. Hedenius also worked as a literary critic, and he would use that role to confront literary representations of contemporary society that did not fit in with his promulgation of rationality. Hedenius furiously attacked Swedish writer Birgitta Trotzig’s A Landscape (1959). In her book, she challenges any harmonizing vision of society. She does it through representations of the body, and the gaze that does not shy away from the anguished and pained body, the body opening up and giving birth. The body in Trotzig’s work is also the tortured body of Christ. With the Swedish welfare state as a point of reference, this article explores the collision between what can be called a “rational modernism” and aesthetic modernism: Hedenius called Trotzig’s book “evil,” and Trotzig, when she commented upon this almost three decades later, saw Hedenius’s review as an authoritarian assault. Full article
Article
The Location of Settled Diasporas in Nova Scotian Fiction
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030102 - 02 Sep 2020
Viewed by 736
Abstract
This article offers a comparative study between two novels by Nova Scotian writers: George and Rue (2006), by George Elliott Clarke, and No Great Mischief (2000), by Alistair MacLeod. The main purpose of this analysis is to transform some of the pervasive assumptions [...] Read more.
This article offers a comparative study between two novels by Nova Scotian writers: George and Rue (2006), by George Elliott Clarke, and No Great Mischief (2000), by Alistair MacLeod. The main purpose of this analysis is to transform some of the pervasive assumptions that dominate interpretations of diasporic ontologies. Most conceptual contexts of diaspora, constructed around the idea of a homeland that is located elsewhere, can only partially be applied to historically long-established communities. Clarke’s and MacLeod’s works emphasize “native” identity, the historical presence of Africans and Scots in Nova Scotia and their ensuing attachment to the (home)land. The novels illustrate how the hostland may be transformed into a homeland after centuries of settlement. The favoring of routes over roots of many current conceptualizations of the diaspora thus contravenes the foundations on which these groups construct a “native/diasporic” identity. However, in settler colonies such as Canada, identifying these groups as unequivocally native would imply the displacement of the legitimate Indigenous populations of these territories. A direct transformation from diaspora to indigenous subjectivity would entail the obliteration of a (however distant) history of migration, on the one hand, and the disavowal of Indigenous groups, on the other. For these reasons, new vocabulary needs to be developed that accurately comes to terms with this experience, which I propose to refer to as “settled diaspora.” In settled diasporas, the notions of attachment to a local identity are reconciled with having distant points of origin. At the same time, there is conceptual room to accommodate claims of belonging that differ from those by Indigenous populations. Thus, the concept of the settled diaspora redresses critical restrictions in diaspora theory that prevent discourses of migration from being applied to spaces of settlement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures)
Article
Creative Environments: The Geo-Poetics of Allen Ginsberg
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030101 - 01 Sep 2020
Viewed by 922
Abstract
As was the case for other writers from the Beat Generation, geography is more than simply a setting for Allen Ginsberg’s work, as his poetry also bears the imprint of the influence of the landscapes through which he traveled in his mind and [...] Read more.
As was the case for other writers from the Beat Generation, geography is more than simply a setting for Allen Ginsberg’s work, as his poetry also bears the imprint of the influence of the landscapes through which he traveled in his mind and poetic practice. In the 1950s, the same decade which saw the composition of Ginsberg’s Howl, Guy Debord and his followers developed the concept of “psychogeography” and “dérive” to analyze the influence of landscapes on one’s mind. The Debordian concept of psychogeography implies then that an objective world can have unknown and subjective consequences. Inspired by Debord’s theories and through the analysis of key poems, this paper argues that a psychogeographical focus can shed new light on ecocritical studies of Ginsberg’s poetry. It can indeed unveil the complex construction of the poet’s own space-time poetics, from hauntological aspects to his specific composition process. Full article
Article
Rousseau and the Qualified Support of Matriarchal Rule
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030099 - 31 Aug 2020
Viewed by 664
Abstract
The article investigates the relations between men and women in Rousseau’s major works to uncover the possibility of a long-term rule of women over men. Rousseau does provide examples of alternating rule between the sexes. However, given that the rule of prominent women [...] Read more.
The article investigates the relations between men and women in Rousseau’s major works to uncover the possibility of a long-term rule of women over men. Rousseau does provide examples of alternating rule between the sexes. However, given that the rule of prominent women like Sophie and Julie is indirect and more Machiavellian than that of men, I make the case that Rousseau sees straightforward control by women as more consistent with modern conditions (specifically in an indirect-rule as opposed to an instrumental-rationality sense). First, I provide examples of Sophie’s rule in Emile. Sophie rules Emile especially through acts of charity that incline Emile to participate in the project that Sophie has undertaken, making him more capable of willing generally. Second, I show that Julie at Clarens rules a number of the men there and particularly in the administration of the estate. Interestingly, like Sophie’s, her power is communicated through concrete examples of charitable action. Rousseau writes that, as a result, those around her are imbued with the spirit to contribute to the projects of importance to her, which also renders them more apt to will generally. Interestingly, two women as different as Sophie and Julie rule men in the same way: through charity. They do so as the result of a religious education. And, whereas religious education in Rousseau is in general anti-metaphysical, this is especially true for women compared to men. The examples of Sophie and Julie do, therefore, take us into territory of the sexes alternating in rule. But the difference in education suggests that for Rousseau their rule goes deeper and represents a relation more fundamental than the rule of men over women. The possibility is further confirmed through an analysis of Rousseau’s states of nature. At the end of the day, the reevaluation of relations between the sexes in Rousseau’s work is long overdue. I engage a rich scholarly literature and embark on a rereading of several of Rousseau’s works to offer a fresh interpretation that suggests the citizen of Geneva was not only open to a significant increase in the power of women over time, but that he actually favored matriarchy. The argument hopefully underscores the way in which great works are both timely and timeless. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Enlightenment in Literature and Other Art Forms)
Article
Liberal Arts for Social Change
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030098 - 31 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
The author makes a strategic argument for the liberal arts grounded in realpolitik (that is, the “realistic” manipulation of the levers of power). In a time of neoliberal university governance, it is useful for fields of study to base appeals for their continued [...] Read more.
The author makes a strategic argument for the liberal arts grounded in realpolitik (that is, the “realistic” manipulation of the levers of power). In a time of neoliberal university governance, it is useful for fields of study to base appeals for their continued existence on their utility to their institutions. The growth of equity and diversity initiatives in the academy, particularly in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, gives us a means of making this argument, as the liberal arts have utility in questioning the structures of white supremacy and received history and values. By exploiting the cognitive dissonance between the demands of neoliberal governance and the need for diversity and equity, we can make a persuasive case for reinvestment in the liberal arts. Further, this reinvestment ought to be democratized and carried out through all levels of higher education, including, and especially, non-selective, vocationally oriented institutions. Full article
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Article
Asceticism in Old English and Syriac Soul and Body Narratives
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030100 - 31 Aug 2020
Viewed by 549
Abstract
A great deal of scholarship on Old English soul-body poetry centers on whether or not the presence of dualist elements in the poems are unorthodox in their implication that the body, as a material object, is not only wicked but seems to possess [...] Read more.
A great deal of scholarship on Old English soul-body poetry centers on whether or not the presence of dualist elements in the poems are unorthodox in their implication that the body, as a material object, is not only wicked but seems to possess more agency in the world than the soul. I argue that the Old English soul-body poetry is not heterodox or dualist, but is best understood, as Allen J. Frantzen suggests, within the “context of penitential practice.” The seemingly unorthodox elements are resolved when read against the backdrop of pre-Conquest English monastic reform culture, which was very much concerned with penance, asceticism, death, and judgment. Focusing especially on two anonymous 10th-century Old English poems, Soul and Body I in the Vercelli Book and Soul and Body II in the Exeter Book, I argue that that both body and soul bear equal responsibility in achieving salvation and that the work of salvation must be performed before death, a position that was reinforced in early English monastic literature that was inspired, at least in part, by Eastern ascetics such as fourth-century Syrian hymnologist and theologian, St. Ephraim. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translation and Relocation: Literary Encounters East and West)
Article
Half-Remembering and Half-Forgetting? On Turning the Past of Old Norse Studies into a Future of Old Norse Studies
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030097 - 28 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1107
Abstract
Many Humanities scholars seem to have become increasingly pessimistic due to a lack of success in their efforts to be recognized as a serious player next to their science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) colleagues. This appears to be the result of a [...] Read more.
Many Humanities scholars seem to have become increasingly pessimistic due to a lack of success in their efforts to be recognized as a serious player next to their science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) colleagues. This appears to be the result of a profound uncertainty in the self-perception of individual disciplines within the Humanities regarding their role both in academia and society. This ambiguity, not least, has its roots in their own history, which often appears as an interwoven texture of conflicting opinions. Taking a stance on the current and future role of the Humanities in general, and individual disciplines in particular thus asks for increased engagement with their own past, i.e., histories of scholarship, which are contingent on societal and political contexts. This article’s focus is on a case study from the field of Old Norse Studies. In the face of the rise of populism and nationalism in our days, Old Norse Studies, with their focus on a ‘Germanic’ past, have a special obligation to address societal challenges. The article argues for the public engagement with the histories of individual disciplines to strengthen scholarly credibility in the face of public opinion and to overcome trenches which hamper attempts at uniting Humanities experts and regaining distinct social relevance. Full article
Article
“At Home with Zoe”: Becoming Animal in Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030096 - 28 Aug 2020
Viewed by 748
Abstract
This paper focuses on Charlotte Wood’s 2015 dystopian novel The Natural Way of Things. Set in an unnamed place in the Australian outback, it recounts the story of 10 girls in their late teens and early twenties who are kept prisoners by [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on Charlotte Wood’s 2015 dystopian novel The Natural Way of Things. Set in an unnamed place in the Australian outback, it recounts the story of 10 girls in their late teens and early twenties who are kept prisoners by a mysterious corporate organisation for their sexual involvement with an array of powerful men. The novel’s title invites two main readings: the first, and perhaps more obvious, along gender lines; and the second, which will provide the backbone to my analysis, within the framework of the natural world, the animal kingdom in particular. The Natural Way of Things has been described as a study in contemporary misogyny and the workings of patriarchy. The ingrained sexism of society—the insidious, normalised violence against females, often blamed on them, glossing over male responsibility—is undoubtedly the central topic of Wood’s work. Without losing sight of gender issues, my approach to Wood’s novel is inspired by Rosi Braidotti’s posthuman theories on the continuum nature–culture and the primacy of zoe—“the non-human, vital force of life”—over bios, or life as “the prerogative of Anthropos” (Rosi Braidotti). According to Braidotti, the current challenges to anthropocentrism question the distinction between these two forms of life, highlighting instead the seamless connection between the natural world and culture and favouring a consideration of the subject as embodied, nomadic and relational. My reading of The Natural Way of Things in light of Braidotti’s insights will be supplemented by an analysis of the novel in the context of transmodernity, both a period term and a distinct way of being in the world theorised by critics such as Rosa M. Rodríguez Magda and Marc Luyckx, who emphasise the relational, interdependent nature of contemporary times from a more human-centred perspective. The Natural Way of Things is also a story of female empowerment. This is especially the case with Yolanda Kovacs and Verla Learmont, the two protagonist women, who step out of their roles as victims and stand up to their guards. My analysis of the novel will revolve around these two characters and their different reactions to confinement and degradation. I conclude that although a more zoe-centred conception of the human subject that acknowledges the human–animal continuum should definitely be welcomed, literally “becoming animal”, as Yolanda does, deprives one of meaningful human relationality, embodied in the novel in Verla’s memories of her caring, empathic relationship with her father. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative)
Article
A Post-Colonial Ontology? Tim Winton’s The Riders and the Challenge to White-Settler Identity
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030095 - 28 Aug 2020
Viewed by 641
Abstract
Through a reading of Australian non-Indigenous author Tim Winton and his novel The Riders, this essay seeks to shake to the very roots white-settler understandings of identity and belonging. The essay treads respectfully into the field of Australian identity, recognizing that Indigenous people’s [...] Read more.
Through a reading of Australian non-Indigenous author Tim Winton and his novel The Riders, this essay seeks to shake to the very roots white-settler understandings of identity and belonging. The essay treads respectfully into the field of Australian identity, recognizing that Indigenous people’s ancient and sacred relationship with country and the formation of treaties with the nation, are now rightfully central on national agendas. However, this essay asks the following question: what are the ontological grounds upon which respectful dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians might occur, after such violent and traumatic history? The essay explores the possible grounds for an evolving dialogue, one which will be necessarily intersectional: (post)colonial, spiritual/ontological and material. Further, the essay identifies “spirituality” and “ontology” as broad denominators for religion, speculating on a (post)colonial ontology which centers on home and (un)belonging. White-settler Australians, this essay argues, must confront deep ontological issues of brokenness if they are to take part meaningfully in future dialogues. Scully, the protagonist of The Riders, finds himself far from home and stripped of almost all the markers of his former identity: as Australian, as husband, and as a man in control of his life. The novel probes (un)belonging for this individual descendent of colonial Australia, as trauma engulfs him. Further, it will be argued that The Riders prefigures the wider, potentially positive aspects of a post-colonial ontology of (un)belonging, as white-settler Australians come to enunciate a broken history, and ontological instability. Such recognition, this essay argues, is a preliminary step towards a fuller post-colonial dialogue in Australia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Postcolonial Literature, Art, and Music)
Editorial
Introduction: Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030094 - 25 Aug 2020
Viewed by 957
Abstract
The development of the environmental humanities as an interdisciplinary formation is a response to an ecological and planetary crisis [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Humanities Approaches to Climate Change)
Editorial
Introduction: Writing and Viewing Illness
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030093 - 25 Aug 2020
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Writing (prosaic, non-fictional and (auto)biographical) and photography (as aesthetics and technology, language, material object and practice) can communicate and interrelate in the narration and depiction of physical disorders. The five articles in this Special Issue explore how the body and its pain and [...] Read more.
Writing (prosaic, non-fictional and (auto)biographical) and photography (as aesthetics and technology, language, material object and practice) can communicate and interrelate in the narration and depiction of physical disorders. The five articles in this Special Issue explore how the body and its pain and disorders can be accessed in projects that either interlace words and images within themselves or that communicate and interrelate with other written or visual texts produced by others. In these photo-textual encounters (or clashes), wounded, tormented, weakened bodies are narrated and mediated, as well as marked, modified and exposed by personal and emotional choices or by ideological and socio-historical circumstances. The articles invite us to reflect on the ideological discourses, issues of power, practice, ethics and agency that any illness implicates, as well as the flexible boundaries of the written and visual language narrating such an overpowering experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
Article
A Landscape without Nonhuman Primates? The Case of the Barbary Macaque, Macaca sylvanus, (Linnaeus, 1758) and Its Interaction with Humans throughout Recorded Time
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030092 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 946
Abstract
Cultural and physical landscapes can be regarded as a result of the interaction among humans, nonhumans and a vast array of ecological factors. Nonhuman primates are our closest relatives and play a role in many cultural manifestations of mankind. Therefore interface between humans [...] Read more.
Cultural and physical landscapes can be regarded as a result of the interaction among humans, nonhumans and a vast array of ecological factors. Nonhuman primates are our closest relatives and play a role in many cultural manifestations of mankind. Therefore interface between humans and other primates can create complex social and ecological spaces, new physical and cultural landscapes. This work, based on historical, artistic, archaeozoological, anthropological and biological data aims to review the history of the interactions between humans and the Barbary macaque since Antiquity. Adopting a cross-disciplinary approach, it will explore the Barbary macaque/human interface across history, with special emphasis on the cultural impact and influence this species has had on the different Mediterranean civilizations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peoples, Nature and Environments: Shaping Landscapes)
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Article
The Making of the “Malay Pirate” in Early Modern European Thought
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030091 - 24 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1056
Abstract
This article traces the long historical background of the nineteenth-century European notion of the Malay as a human “race” with an inherent addiction to piracy. For most of the early modern period, European observers of the Malay Archipelago associated the Malays with the [...] Read more.
This article traces the long historical background of the nineteenth-century European notion of the Malay as a human “race” with an inherent addiction to piracy. For most of the early modern period, European observers of the Malay Archipelago associated the Malays with the people and diaspora of the Sultanate of Melaka, who were seen as commercially and culturally accomplished. This image changed in the course of the eighteenth century. First, the European understanding of the Malay was expanded to encompass most of the indigenous population of maritime Southeast Asia. Second, more negative assessments gained influence after the mid-eighteenth century, and the Malays were increasingly associated with piracy, treachery, and rapaciousness. In part, the change was due to the rise in maritime raiding on the part of certain indigenous seafaring peoples of Southeast Asia combined with increasing European commercial interests in Southeast Asia, but it was also part of a generally more negative view in Europe of non-settled and non-agricultural populations. This development preceded the notion of the Malays as one of humanity’s principle races, which emerged toward the end of the eighteenth century. The idea that Malays were natural pirates also paved the way for several brutal colonial anti-piracy campaigns in the Malay Archipelago during the nineteenth century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section History in the Humanities)
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Article
The Whale in the Cape Verde Islands: Seascapes as a Cultural Construction from the Viewpoint of History, Literature, Local Art and Heritage
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030090 - 24 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1372
Abstract
Cultural constructions of landscapes, space and environments, and of people’s relationship with nature, have in the Cape Verde Islands a perspective of their own and might have been mediated by the whale. To address perceptions about these marine mammals, historical sources, literature, art, [...] Read more.
Cultural constructions of landscapes, space and environments, and of people’s relationship with nature, have in the Cape Verde Islands a perspective of their own and might have been mediated by the whale. To address perceptions about these marine mammals, historical sources, literature, art, memory and heritage were considered. Whaling influenced history and diaspora and is reflected in literary productions. Remains of whales are found in museums and used as decorative pieces and local art. We found the Cape Verdean seascapes as being culturally and naturally constructed and the whale occupies a true ‘place’ of convergence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peoples, Nature and Environments: Shaping Landscapes)
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Article
The Natural Frontiers of a Global Empire: The Pineapple—Ananas comosus—In Portuguese Sources of the 16th Century
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030089 - 24 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
The great oceanic voyages had unexpected consequences on the pace with which plants moved between the most far-removed corners of the globe. From the mid-sixteenth century onwards, the huge distances covered led to an unprecedented change in the distribution of vegetable species. Settlers [...] Read more.
The great oceanic voyages had unexpected consequences on the pace with which plants moved between the most far-removed corners of the globe. From the mid-sixteenth century onwards, the huge distances covered led to an unprecedented change in the distribution of vegetable species. Settlers and voyagers took European plants with them and introduced them into the Americas, Africa, and Asia. African plants were transferred to America and Asia, and Asian species were dispersed across all continents. These biological transferences led to global changes in people’s dietary habits and therapeutic practices, as well as giving rise to new business opportunities and previously untested ways of exploiting the land. Originally from Brazil, the pineapple—Ananas comosus—made a great impression on those who came across it. Refusing to take root in the cold European latitudes, the fruit crossed the Atlantic Ocean aboard Portuguese ships in search of other territories with an adequate climate. In this essay, I will analyze the references to pineapple in the chronicles, botanical texts, and missionaries’ letters in circulation in the 1500s. I will examine the cultural context that permitted the diffusion of this botanical species and follow the oceanic routes traced by this exotic plant that allowed the wide dissemination of the fruit throughout the Portuguese empire. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peoples, Nature and Environments: Shaping Landscapes)
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Article
Rachel Lichtenstein’s Narrative Mosaics
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030088 - 21 Aug 2020
Viewed by 677
Abstract
Rachel Lichtenstein’s books, along with her multimedia art, represent her explorations of her British Jewish identity and her place in British Jewish culture as an imaginative odyssey. Her work represents research, stories, and traces from London’s Jewish past and multicultural present as well [...] Read more.
Rachel Lichtenstein’s books, along with her multimedia art, represent her explorations of her British Jewish identity and her place in British Jewish culture as an imaginative odyssey. Her work represents research, stories, and traces from London’s Jewish past and multicultural present as well as from Poland and Israel, her family’s accounts, and the testimony of recent immigrants and long-time residents. Lichtenstein is a place writer whose artistic projects subject her relationship to the Jewish past and East End to critical interrogation through a metaphorical method composed of fragments that represent varied segments of Jewish history and memory as well as wandering as a narrative of personal exploration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary British-Jewish Literature, 1970–2020)
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Article
De Kretser’s Retelling of a Ghost Love Story
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030087 - 19 Aug 2020
Viewed by 524
Abstract
Australian author Michelle de Kretser addresses in her literary work ideas of home and belonging. In Springtime. A Ghost Story (2014) the author gives voice to an ambiguous and variable subject who coexists with her past, present and future, inhabiting a fluid trans-space [...] Read more.
Australian author Michelle de Kretser addresses in her literary work ideas of home and belonging. In Springtime. A Ghost Story (2014) the author gives voice to an ambiguous and variable subject who coexists with her past, present and future, inhabiting a fluid trans-space where love has a principal role. Frances, the main character in Springtime, sees ghosts who unconsciously allow her to voice her insecurities and doubts concerning her life existence. These phantoms contribute to the formation of Frances’ alternative conceptualization of subjectivity. At the same time, de Kretser offers in this dystopic novella a much-needed escape from binary definitions of inclusion/exclusion, offering palimpsests of the spaces that Frances inhabits—Melbourne, Sydney and Paris. This main character is a fluid flâneuse who tries to adjust to her glocality constituted and reconstituted by a discursive imaginary. In this article, I analyze how de Kretser subverts ghost story patterns, destabilizes binary thinking, and decentralizes the human subject offering the reader an alternative haunting love story with an open ending, where cities, ghosts, humans, dogs and nature become active characters who are-in-this-together-but-who-are-not-one-and-the-same. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dystopian Scenarios in Contemporary Australian Narrative)
Article
“The One Who Comes from the Sea”: Marine Crisis and the New Oceanic Weird in Rita Indiana’s La mucama de Omicunlé (2015)
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030086 - 19 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1350
Abstract
Caribbean literature is permeated by submarine aesthetics registering the environmental histories of colonialism and capitalism. In this essay, we contribute to the emergent discipline of critical ocean studies by delineating the contours of the “Oceanic Weird”. We begin with a brief survey of [...] Read more.
Caribbean literature is permeated by submarine aesthetics registering the environmental histories of colonialism and capitalism. In this essay, we contribute to the emergent discipline of critical ocean studies by delineating the contours of the “Oceanic Weird”. We begin with a brief survey of Old Weird tales by authors such as William Hope Hodgson and, most famously, H.P. Lovecraft, who were writing in the context of a world still dominated by European colonialism, but increasingly reshaped by an emergent US imperialism. We explore how these tales are both ecophobic and racialized, teeming with fears of deep geological time and the alterity of both nonhuman life and non-European civilizations, and argue that they register the oil-fuelled, militarised emergence of US imperial naval dominance. Subsequently, we turn to Rita Indiana’s neo-Lovecraftian novel, La mucama de Omicunlé [Tentacle, trans. Achy Obejas 2019], set in the Dominican Republic, as a key example of the contemporary efflorescence of ecocritical New Weird Caribbean fiction. We explore how the novel refashions Oceanic Weird tropes to represent the intertwining of marine ecological crisis in an era of global climate emergency with forms of oppression rooted in hierarchies of gender, sexuality, race, and class. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue World Literature and the Blue Humanities)
Article
Living Suspiciously: Contingent Belonging in British South Asian Theater
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030085 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 767
Abstract
This article investigates representations of national belonging in British South Asian theater productions after the 2005 London bombings. It identifies a significant yet hitherto underresearched corpus of plays that show the formation of the UK “home front” in the war on terror from [...] Read more.
This article investigates representations of national belonging in British South Asian theater productions after the 2005 London bombings. It identifies a significant yet hitherto underresearched corpus of plays that show the formation of the UK “home front” in the war on terror from the perspective of postcolonial subjects who are deemed threatening rather than worthy of protection. After discussing the construction of British South Asian citizens as suspicious subjects, the article analyzes two plays that offer an extensive consideration of the contingencies of national belonging. It argues that True Brits by Vinay Patel and Harlesden High Street by Abhishek Majumdar dramatize strategies for building, making, or keeping a home in London in spite of the strictures of suspectification and securitization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures)
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