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Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 1 (March 2021) – 58 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Palestine-born religious leader, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, virtually single-handedly created an English language literature for the Bahai faith which originated in Persia in the nineteenth century. He incorporated extensive quotations and axioms from European orientalist texts into the religion’s canonical historical narratives. Compared to the time in which they were composed, these writings have now necessarily acquired enlarged connotations in the contemporary post-colonial world. The article, “What Is Bahai Orientalism?” draws upon the perspectives derived from postcolonial literary and postcolonial religious studies to examine Bahai literature in English, and asks whether it should be revised for its orientalist and islamophobic content. View this paper.
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Article
The Role of Feminist Health Humanities Scholarship and Black Women’s Artistry in Re-Shaping the Origin Narrative of Modern, U.S. Gynecology
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 58; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010058 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 755
Abstract
Between 1845–1849, twelve enslaved women in Montgomery, Alabama lived through prolonged, gynecologic experimentation at the hands of Dr. James Marion Sims. What happened, in his 16-bed backyard hospital, often begins the origin narrative of modern U.S. gynecology and how it developed into a [...] Read more.
Between 1845–1849, twelve enslaved women in Montgomery, Alabama lived through prolonged, gynecologic experimentation at the hands of Dr. James Marion Sims. What happened, in his 16-bed backyard hospital, often begins the origin narrative of modern U.S. gynecology and how it developed into a discrete and international, Western, scientific field of medicine. Sims autobiography references three of these women, by their first names only: Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. The research questions here are: what more can be known about these women’s lives, their possible social networks and their cultural legacies? Further, what changes if the origin narrative of modern, U.S. gynecology begins with feminist health humanities scholarship and in the pages of black women’s artistry? I discuss original research findings, involving the following primary source: an 1841 property deed, mentioning the first names of 7 other enslaved people owned by Sims. I, then, examine cotemporary U.S. feminist scholarly writing and artistic cultural representations, centering the lives of the women as important historical figures. Last, I conceptualize the notion of poetic ancestral witnessing within the work of the following three, twenty-first century, African American, poets: Bettina Judd, Dominique Christina and Kwoya Fagin Maples. These women published poetry collections on this history, between 2014 and 2018. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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Article
Father and God (the Father) in Wiesel’s Night as Response to the Holocaust
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 57; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010057 - 22 Mar 2021
Viewed by 563
Abstract
The proposed paper will begin by looking at the father–son relationship in Elie Wiesel’s Night. I will then briefly note the father–child relationship between God and Israel in the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. I will link the two challenges evident in Wiesel’s [...] Read more.
The proposed paper will begin by looking at the father–son relationship in Elie Wiesel’s Night. I will then briefly note the father–child relationship between God and Israel in the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. I will link the two challenges evident in Wiesel’s Night and in his continuing thought after the Shoah—the loss of family and the loss of God, his faith and/or his understanding of God—and note how these affect one another. After further assessing Wiesel’s father imagery in Night, I will note how Wiesel’s story, eventually making its way into the current version of Night, played a critical role in affecting the thought of Christian leaders and post-Holocaust Jewish–Christian reconciliation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Literary Response to the Holocaust)
Article
Re-Calibrating Steampunk London: Heterotopia and Spatial Imaginaries in Assassins Creed: Syndicate and The Order 1886
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 56; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010056 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 527
Abstract
Video games have become important but understudied narrative media, which link into as well as perpetuate popular forms of cultural memory. They evoke and mediate space (or the illusion thereof) in unique ways, literally putting into play Doreen Massey’s theory of space as [...] Read more.
Video games have become important but understudied narrative media, which link into as well as perpetuate popular forms of cultural memory. They evoke and mediate space (or the illusion thereof) in unique ways, literally putting into play Doreen Massey’s theory of space as being produced through a multiplicity of trajectories. I examine how Assassins Creed: Syndicate and The Order 1886 (both 2015) configure a neo-Victorian London as a simulated, spatio-temporal imaginary in which urban texture becomes a readable storytelling device in and of itself, and interrogate how their neo-Victorian heterotopias are mediated through a spatial experience. Both games conjure up imaginaries of steampunk London as a counter-site sourced from and commenting on the Victorian city of memory. Through retro-speculation, they re-calibrate neo-Victorian London as a playground offering alternative forms of agency and adventure or as cyberpunk-infused hyper-city. In so doing, they invite the player to re-evaluate, through their spatial experience in such a heterotopic steampunk London, shared imaginaries of ‘the city’ and ‘the Victorian’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neo-Victorian Heterotopias)
Article
Echoes of the Heart: Henry James’s Evocation of Edgar Allan Poe in “The Aspern Papers”
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 55; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010055 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 455
Abstract
This essay re-examines Henry James’s complex relationship with Edgar Allan Poe by focusing on the echoes of one of Poe’s most celebrated tales, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), that later reverberate in James’s “The Aspern Papers” (1888). It highlights the similarities, both in mindset [...] Read more.
This essay re-examines Henry James’s complex relationship with Edgar Allan Poe by focusing on the echoes of one of Poe’s most celebrated tales, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), that later reverberate in James’s “The Aspern Papers” (1888). It highlights the similarities, both in mindset and behavior, between the two stories’ devious and deranged first-person narrators, whose actions result in the death of a fellow human being. It further discusses the narrators’ fear and refusal of their own mortality, which finds expression in their hostility, and barely contained revulsion against a man (in “The Tell-Tale Heart”) and a woman (in “The Aspern Papers”), whose principal defining traits are old age and physical decay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James)
Article
Destruction, Reconstruction and Resistance: The Skin and the Protean Body in Pedro Almodóvar’s Body Horror The Skin I Live In
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 54; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010054 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
The instinct to tame and preserve and the longing for eternal beauty makes skin a crucial element in the genre of the Body Horror. By applying a gendered reading to the art of destruction and reconstruction of an ephemeral body, this paper explores [...] Read more.
The instinct to tame and preserve and the longing for eternal beauty makes skin a crucial element in the genre of the Body Horror. By applying a gendered reading to the art of destruction and reconstruction of an ephemeral body, this paper explores the significant role of skin that clothes a protean body in Almodóvar’s unconventional Body Horror, “The Skin I Live In” (2011). Helpless vulnerable female bodies stretched on beds and close shots of naked perfect skin of those bodies are a frequent feature in Almodóvar films. Skin stained and blotched in “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1989), nurtured and replenished in “Talk to Her” (2002), patched up and stitched in “The Skin I Live In”, becomes a key ingredient in Almodóvar’s films that celebrate the fluidity of human anatomy and sexuality. The article situates “The Skin I Live In” in the filmic continuum of Body Horrors that focus primarily on skin, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960), and touching on films like Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and Tom Tykwer’s “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” (2006) and attempts to understand how the exploited bodies that have been culturally and socially subjugated have shaped the course of the history of Body Horrors in cinema. In “The Skin I Live In” the destruction of Vicente’s body and its recreation into Vera follow a mad scientist’s urge to dominate an unattainable body, but this ghastly assault on the body has the onscreen appearance of a routine surgical operation by an expert cosmetologist in a well-lit, sanitized mise-en-scène, suggesting that the uncanny does not need a dungeon to lurk in. The exploited body on the other hand may be seen not as a passive victim, but as a site of alterity and rebellion. Anatomically a complete opposite of Frankenstein’s Creature, Vicente/Vera’s body, perfect, beautiful but beset with a problematized identity, is etched with the history of conversion, suppression, and the eternal quest for an ephemeral object. Yet it also acts as an active site of resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Article
Squaring the Triangle: Queer Futures in Centlivre’s The Wonder
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 53; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010053 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 639 | Correction
Abstract
Susanna Centlivre’s The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (1714) presents a model of female relations invested in queer futurity and queer temporality, disrupting the patriarchal geometry of courtship in order to provide the play’s heroines access to an alternate future grounded in [...] Read more.
Susanna Centlivre’s The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (1714) presents a model of female relations invested in queer futurity and queer temporality, disrupting the patriarchal geometry of courtship in order to provide the play’s heroines access to an alternate future grounded in their relationship with one another. Though the play ends with both women married, their relationship is central and is cemented by Violante’s marriage to Isabella’s brother, which transforms the friends into sisters. Their dedication opens up the possibility that a relationship between women might be more important than the marriages they strive for, illustrating an important intervention into the construction of plot in comedy from the early eighteenth century. The Wonder’s queer potential is developed in the language that both women use to describe their devotion and the actions that embody it. Violante and Isabella are able to expand the triangle of homosocial exchange into a more equitable square that not only allows for happy marriages but visible, loving relationships between the play’s heroines. As such, they manage to create a queer future where their relationship can remain at the forefront of their lives and rewrite the marriage plot as a means to an end. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Queer Culture and Literature in Eighteenth-Century Studies)
Article
Snaking into the Gothic: Serpentine Sensuousness in Lewis and Coleridge
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 52; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010052 - 15 Mar 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
This essay charts the ways late-eighteenth-century Gothic authors repurpose natural histories of snakes to explore how reptile-human encounters are harbingers of queer formations of gender, sexuality, and empire. By looking to M.G. Lewis’s novel The Monk (1796) and his understudied short story “The [...] Read more.
This essay charts the ways late-eighteenth-century Gothic authors repurpose natural histories of snakes to explore how reptile-human encounters are harbingers of queer formations of gender, sexuality, and empire. By looking to M.G. Lewis’s novel The Monk (1796) and his understudied short story “The Anaconda” (1808), as well as S.T. Coleridge’s Christabel (1797–1800), I centre the last five years of the eighteenth century to apprehend the interwoven nature of Gothic prose, poetry, and popular natural histories as they pertain to reptile knowledge and representations. Whereas Lewis’s short story positions the orientalised anaconda to upheave notions of empire, gender, and romance, his novel invokes the snake to signal the effusion of graphic eroticisms. Coleridge, in turn, invokes the snake-human interspecies connection to imagine female, homoerotic possibilities and foreclosures. Plaiting eighteenth-century animal studies, queer studies, and Gothic studies, this essay offers a queer eco-Gothic reading of the violating, erotic powers of snakes in their placement alongside human interlocutors. I thus recalibrate eighteenth-century animal studies to focus not on warm-blooded mammals, but on cold-blooded reptiles and the erotic effusions they afford within the Gothic imaginary that repeatedly conjures them, as I show, with queer interspecies effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Queer Culture and Literature in Eighteenth-Century Studies)
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Article
Baboons, Centipedes, and Lemurs: Becoming-Animal from Queer to Ghost of Chance
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010051 - 15 Mar 2021
Viewed by 384
Abstract
The paper establishes a connection between the becoming-writer of Burroughs, who found his calling and style during the 1950s and his signature characteristic of becoming-animal. This can first be observed in Queer, where Burroughs develops his so-called routine; a short sketch-like text [...] Read more.
The paper establishes a connection between the becoming-writer of Burroughs, who found his calling and style during the 1950s and his signature characteristic of becoming-animal. This can first be observed in Queer, where Burroughs develops his so-called routine; a short sketch-like text that often involves instances of metamorphosis or transformation. The theoretical background for this short form and the term becoming-animal is taken from Deleuze’s and Guattari’s book on Kafka, who also worked best in short texts and frequently wrote about animals. “The Composite City” may be the central text to understanding Burroughs’ work. It is the text where Burroughs found his style and his identity as a writer. Becoming-animal is a logical consequence that further develops Burroughs’ aesthetic ideal. Over the following decades, he experimented with it in different forms, and toward the end of his career, it became part of an environmental turn. In Ghost of Chance, one can find the same aesthetic ideal that starts Burroughs’ writing in 1953, but the political implications have turned toward saving the lemurs of Madagascar. Full article
Article
Poems in the World: The Ecopoetics of Anne Waldman’s Life Notes
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 50; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010050 - 12 Mar 2021
Viewed by 569
Abstract
This essay argues that Anne Waldman’s 1973 selected poems, Life Notes, articulates a vision of the environment that is positively and reparatively enmeshed with language and culture. Embracing the paradox at the heart of the best environmental writing, Life Notes reveals our [...] Read more.
This essay argues that Anne Waldman’s 1973 selected poems, Life Notes, articulates a vision of the environment that is positively and reparatively enmeshed with language and culture. Embracing the paradox at the heart of the best environmental writing, Life Notes reveals our natural environments to be at once legible and unknowable, and embodies this through experimental forms, language, and typography. This collection of poems, which has yet to be paid significant critical attention (despite Waldman’s renowned status as a poet), artfully mediates the relationship between word and world, giving voice, shape, and form to what we might call the poet’s ‘ecology of knowing’, per Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s formulation. Through a sustained process of imaginative elision of the human and nonhuman, I argue, Waldman illuminates the ways in which the ‘natural’ world is almost always touched by the human, and refutes the widely-held cultural fantasy that nature is self-evidently restorative or redemptive and thereby somehow at a remove from humankind. Life Notes, I suggest, is a ‘dissipative structure’, critically entangled with the everyday environment out of which it emerges and with which it remains ‘involved in a continual exchange of energy’ (Waldman). Full article
Article
Grilling Meataphors: Impossible™ Foods and Posthumanism in the Meat Aisle
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010049 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 625
Abstract
There has always been a posthuman aspect to the processing and consumption of animal-based meats, especially as cuts of meat are distanced from the animals supplying them, thus turning the animals themselves into information more so than bodies. Plant-based meat has doubled down [...] Read more.
There has always been a posthuman aspect to the processing and consumption of animal-based meats, especially as cuts of meat are distanced from the animals supplying them, thus turning the animals themselves into information more so than bodies. Plant-based meat has doubled down on its employment of posthuman rhetoric, to become what the authors suggest are meataphors, or the articulation of meat as a pattern of information mapped onto a substrate in a way that is not exclusively linguistic. Impossible™ Foods’s meats, in particular, can be considered meataphors that participate in a larger symbolic and capitalistic endeavor to stake a claim in the animal-based meat market using more traditional advertising strategies; however, Impossible™ Foods’s meats are also, more implicitly, making posthuman moves in their persuasive efforts, rhetorically shifting both the meaning of meat and what it means to choose between animal-based and plant-based meats, in a way that parallels posthumanism’s emphasis on information. Impossible™ Foods, through their persuasive practices, has generated a new narrative of what sustains bodies, beyond the spatially significant juxtapositions with animal-based meats. Impossible™ Foods takes on the story of meat and remediates it for audiences through their semiotic practices, thus showing how the company employs a posthumanist approach to meat production and consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
Article
Urban Food Autonomy: The Flourishing of an Ethics of Care for Sustainability
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010048 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 707
Abstract
Urban agriculture is often advanced as a sustainable solution to feed a growing urban population, offering a number of benefits: improved fresh food access, CO2 absorption, social justice and social cohesion among others. Going beyond these direct tangible/objective benefits from urban agriculture, [...] Read more.
Urban agriculture is often advanced as a sustainable solution to feed a growing urban population, offering a number of benefits: improved fresh food access, CO2 absorption, social justice and social cohesion among others. Going beyond these direct tangible/objective benefits from urban agriculture, in this paper we ask: How can growing food in the cities teach us about taking care of each other and the natural environment? We use the example of urban food autonomy movements to discuss the transformative potential of a grassroots-led initiative promoting permaculture, which is anchored in three “ethics”: care for the earth, care for the people, and fair share. Through examining the philosophical underpinnings of “autonomy” and “care”, we explore how urban food autonomy initiatives can enable the development of an ethics of care, especially using permaculture inspirations. Our theoretical review and case analysis reveal that “autonomy” can never be achieved without “care” and that these are co-dependent outcomes. The urban food autonomy initiatives are directly relevant for the achievement of the three of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: “Zero Hunger,” “Life on Land” and “Climate Action”, and contribute to a culture of care. Indeed, urban agriculture can act as a powerful education platform for the engagement of diverse stakeholders while also supporting a collective transformation of values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
Article
The Thorns of Trauma: Torture, Aftermath, and Healing in Contemporary Fairy-Tale Literature
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010047 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 680
Abstract
While classical fairy tales do not portray much depth of suffering, many contemporary fairy-tale retellings explore trauma and its aftermath in great detail. This article analyzes depictions of trauma in fairy tales, utilizing as a primary case study the “Beauty and the Beast” [...] Read more.
While classical fairy tales do not portray much depth of suffering, many contemporary fairy-tale retellings explore trauma and its aftermath in great detail. This article analyzes depictions of trauma in fairy tales, utilizing as a primary case study the “Beauty and the Beast” retelling A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, arguing that this text provides a scientifically accurate representation of trauma and its aftermath, thereby articulating the real in fairy tales. Further, this article classifies that work as not simply a “dark” fairy tale (a contentious term that invites rethinking) but rather as fairy-tale torture porn, in a nod to the horror genre that foregrounds torture, surveillance, and the disruption of bodily boundaries and safety. However, the text’s optimistic account of healing is uniquely relevant in a time of widespread trauma due to a global pandemic, thereby demonstrating that fairy tales remain germane in contemporary contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Confronting the Real in Fairy Tales)
Article
Recovering a “Lost Europe”: The De-Centering of Master Narratives in Eyvind Johnson’s Natten är här
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 46; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010046 - 10 Mar 2021
Viewed by 427
Abstract
A socially-engaged literary Modernist, whose writings possess an incisive skepticism toward political power, Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976) was a working-class autodidact who became a prominent voice in Swedish letters during the twentieth century. His historical novels have attracted the most critical attention to date, [...] Read more.
A socially-engaged literary Modernist, whose writings possess an incisive skepticism toward political power, Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976) was a working-class autodidact who became a prominent voice in Swedish letters during the twentieth century. His historical novels have attracted the most critical attention to date, but his short fiction from the 1920s reveals a young author increasingly suspicious of what postmodern theorist Jean-Francois Lyotard would later call master narratives—totalizing views of historical events that serve a political or universalized function. In “Kort Besök” (A Short Visit), “Det Förlorade Europa,” (The Lost Europe) and “En Man i Etolien” (A Man in Aetolia), from his 1932 short story collection Natten är här (The Night Has Come), Johnson’s characters resist and subvert various master narratives, maintaining their dignity and individuality in the face of destructive political, military or nationalistic agendas. Although his formal experimentation, introspective storytelling and narrative irresolution firmly situate him in the Modernist literary tradition, Johnson’s disruption of grand narratives about historical events in these stories previews postmodernity, with its radical interrogation of language’s subjugating power, suggesting a new avenue for evaluating and apprehending his literary innovations. Short fiction, thus, offers an accessible entryway into the complex art of Eyvind Johnson, whose intricate novels about centuries past have long resisted casual readership. Full article
Article
Is Green the New Red? Marxism, Ecology, and Contemporary Architectural Theory
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010045 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 512
Abstract
This essay examines the role of Marxist concepts in recent architectural theories of ecology using two architecture firms, Estudio Teddy Cruz and Sauerbruch Hutton (SH), as case studies. In their writings, Cruz and SH mobilize the critique of capital, a dialectical materialist understanding [...] Read more.
This essay examines the role of Marxist concepts in recent architectural theories of ecology using two architecture firms, Estudio Teddy Cruz and Sauerbruch Hutton (SH), as case studies. In their writings, Cruz and SH mobilize the critique of capital, a dialectical materialist understanding of history, and the Frankfurt School’s critique of functionalist culture for the theorization of sustainable design. Their work has two vital ramifications for current sustainability discourses in two different fields which this essay seeks to bridge. For Marxist theorists concerned about ecology but averse to Western Marxism because of its supposed idealism, Cruz and SH show anew the importance of aesthetic concerns to conceptions of the environment. For design scholars accustomed to thinking of Marxism as having been absorbed into broader debates about cultural studies, the architects’ theories have the potential to recentralize the left-wing inheritance through its adaptation to concerns of ecology. In addition, in the essay’s conclusion, I reflect briefly, as a suggestion for further research, on how Cruz’s and SH’s architectural practice and theories might productively be analyzed in light of the terms of the Adorno-Benjamin debate of the 1930s over the political status of the cultural products of capital. Can eighty-year old discussions of the potentially revolutionary and retrograde qualities of mass cultural objects be relevant to radical thought in the age of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Imagination and German Culture)
Article
Resilience and Euripides’ Heracles
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 44; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010044 - 04 Mar 2021
Viewed by 460
Abstract
In the midst of the current global health crisis, there is ongoing discussion about the need to cultivate resilience, that is, the ability to survive tragic events, adversity and prolonged stress. This paper engages in a reading of Euripides’ Heracles, a bold [...] Read more.
In the midst of the current global health crisis, there is ongoing discussion about the need to cultivate resilience, that is, the ability to survive tragic events, adversity and prolonged stress. This paper engages in a reading of Euripides’ Heracles, a bold and disturbing tragedy in which the eponymous hero suffers several striking reversals of fortune. After being victimized by Hera and unwittingly destroying his family, Heracles resolves to commit suicide. Only two hundred lines later, he resolves to continue to live. This change in outlook is remarkable given the traumatic events that he has just suffered. How does Heracles find the strength to endure? What factors bring about this positive change in Heracles’ perspective? This paper will draw on findings from modern resilience research to shed light on Heracles’ decision. It will discuss the complex combination of internal and external factors that play into Heracles’ change of mind. I argue that the processes that Euripides portrays in his play dramatize many of the protective factors that are said to promote resilience in real life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Literature in the Humanities)
Article
Narrating a Valley in Max Frisch’s Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän: Material Agency, Rain, and the Geologic Past
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010043 - 04 Mar 2021
Viewed by 483
Abstract
The complex narrative composition of image and text in Max Frisch’s Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän discloses entanglements between humans and nonhuman entities that impact the narrative and that demand careful consideration. The story depicts the aging protagonist’s struggle with memory loss and [...] Read more.
The complex narrative composition of image and text in Max Frisch’s Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän discloses entanglements between humans and nonhuman entities that impact the narrative and that demand careful consideration. The story depicts the aging protagonist’s struggle with memory loss and his careful examination of the valley’s mountain formations in fear of a landslide. In this analysis, I show that both of these threats can be read as entangled with nonhuman agents. By focusing on the material dimension of the text, two central and related shifts occur: the background element of rain becomes foregrounded in the narrative, and the natural formations of the valley that are assumed to be static are revealed to be dynamic. These shifts lead to an interpretation of Frisch’s text focused on the impacts of rain and the temporal scale of the text’s geologic dimension. Approaching the text through the lens of material ecocriticism unveils the multiple agencies at play, decenters the human, and illustrates the embodied experience of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Imagination and German Culture)
Article
Dialogical Memory and Immemorial Poetics: The Ethical Imperatives of Holocaust Literature
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010042 - 02 Mar 2021
Viewed by 413
Abstract
Drawing from Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophical ethics and Paul Celan’s dialogical poetics, this article interrogates the impossible memorial and ethical demands that literary responses to the Holocaust place upon their readers. While Levinas reveals our position as summoned to radical responsibility, Celan shows us [...] Read more.
Drawing from Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophical ethics and Paul Celan’s dialogical poetics, this article interrogates the impossible memorial and ethical demands that literary responses to the Holocaust place upon their readers. While Levinas reveals our position as summoned to radical responsibility, Celan shows us how that responsibility plays out in the form of ethical reading. By attending to the imperative commands found in Celan’s longest poem, “Engführung”, this article demonstrates how Holocaust literature memorializes the Shoah through an invocation of Levinasian ethics and the concept of the immemorial—that which exceeds memory. Following the discussion of Levinas, Celan, and “Engführung”, I turn to Primo Levi’s “Shema”, a paradigmatic text that likewise directly challenges us, calling us into question as readers during the moment of reading and demanding an attentiveness to the text that proves beyond our ability to deliver. Throughout, I aim to show how dialogical memory enables us to better comprehend the ethical burden we encounter in the literary texts of the Holocaust. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Literary Response to the Holocaust)
Article
Enshrining Gender in Monuments to Settler Whiteness: South Africa’s Voortrekker Monument and the United States’ This Is the Place Monument
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010041 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 659
Abstract
This essay examines two monuments: the Voortrekker Monument in South Africa and the American This is the Place Monument in Utah. Similar in terms of construction and historical purpose, both employ gender as an important tool to legitimize the settler society each commemorates. [...] Read more.
This essay examines two monuments: the Voortrekker Monument in South Africa and the American This is the Place Monument in Utah. Similar in terms of construction and historical purpose, both employ gender as an important tool to legitimize the settler society each commemorates. Each was part of a similar project of cultural recuperation in the 1930s−1940s that chose as their object of commemoration the overland migration in covered wagons of a group of white settlers that felt oppressed by other white settlers, and therefore sought a new homeland. In a precarious cultural moment, descendants of these two white settler societies—the Dutch Voortrekkers of South Africa and Euro-American Mormons (Latter-day Saints or LDS) of Utah—undertook massive commemoration projects to memorialize their ancestors’ 1830s−1840s migrations into the interior, holding Afrikaners and Mormons up as the most worthy settler groups among each nation’s white population. This essay will argue that a close reading of these monuments reveals how each white settler group employed gendered depictions that were inflected by class and race in their claims to be the true heart of their respective settler societies, despite perceiving themselves as oppressed minorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Race and the Material Culture)
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The Bounds of Narrative in Don DeLillo’s Underworld: Action and the Ecology of Mimêsis
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010040 - 27 Feb 2021
Viewed by 430
Abstract
The interrelationship of natural and cultural history in Don DeLillo’s Underworld presents an ecology of mimesis. If, as Timothy Morton argues, ecological thought can be understood as a “mesh of interconnection,” DeLillo’s novel studies the interpretation of connection. Underworld situates its action [...] Read more.
The interrelationship of natural and cultural history in Don DeLillo’s Underworld presents an ecology of mimesis. If, as Timothy Morton argues, ecological thought can be understood as a “mesh of interconnection,” DeLillo’s novel studies the interpretation of connection. Underworld situates its action in the Cold War era. DeLillo’s formal techniques examine the tropes of paranoia, containment, excess, and waste peculiar to the history of the Cold War. Parataxis and free-indirect discourse emphasize the contexts of reference in the novel, illustrating how hermeneutics informs the significance of boundaries. DeLillo’s use of parataxis exemplifies the conditions that propose and limit metaphor’s reference to reality, conditions that offer the terms for meaningful action. I utilize Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics to demonstrate how Underworld situates the reference to reality in its temporal and narrative condition. The historical situation of the novel’s narrative structure allows DeLillo to interrogate the role of discourse in producing and interpreting connection. Underworld offers layers of significance; the reader’s engagement with the novel’s discourse reaffirms the conditions of a meaningful relationship with reality in the pertinence of a metaphor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Opening the Ecological Text)
Article
Henry James Reads Walter Scott Again
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 39; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010039 - 27 Feb 2021
Viewed by 457
Abstract
This article reassesses Henry James’s attitude to the historical novels of Walter Scott in light of James’s observation, made early on in the First World War, that the current global situation “makes Walter Scott, him only, readable again”. Scott’s novels were strongly associated [...] Read more.
This article reassesses Henry James’s attitude to the historical novels of Walter Scott in light of James’s observation, made early on in the First World War, that the current global situation “makes Walter Scott, him only, readable again”. Scott’s novels were strongly associated for James with young readers and a juvenile, escapist mode of reading; and yet close attention to James’s comments on Scott in his criticism, notebooks and correspondence, and examination of a recurring image of children as readers and listeners to oral stories in the work of both authors, indicate that James engaged with Scott’s presentation of the historical and personal past more extensively and in more complex ways than have hitherto been suspected. Scott’s example as a novelist and editor notably informs James’s practice in several late works: the family memoir Notes of a Son and Brother (1914), the New York Edition of his novels and tales (1907–1909), and the unfinished, posthumously published novel The Sense of the Past (1917). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forms of Literary Relations in Henry James)
Article
Image, Environment, Infrastructure: The Social Ecologies of the Bergfilm
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 38; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010038 - 26 Feb 2021
Viewed by 414
Abstract
The German mountain film (Bergfilm) has received extensive critical attention for its political, social, and aesthetic implications, but has received remarkably little attention for its role in the environmental history of the Alps. This article considers the Bergfilm within the long [...] Read more.
The German mountain film (Bergfilm) has received extensive critical attention for its political, social, and aesthetic implications, but has received remarkably little attention for its role in the environmental history of the Alps. This article considers the Bergfilm within the long history of depictions of the Alps and the growth of Alpine tourism in order to ask how the role of media in environmental change shifts with the advent of film. The argument builds on Verena Winiwarter and Martin Knoll’s model of social-ecological interaction, Adrian Ivakhiv’s theoretical framework for the environmental implications of film, and Laura Frahm’s theories of filmic space. Through an analysis of Arnold Fanck’s films Der heilige Berg [The Holy Mountain, Fanck 1926] and Der große Sprung [The Great Leap, Fanck 1927], which are compared with Gustav Renker’s novel Heilige Berge [Holy Mountains, Renker 1921] and set into the context of the environmental history of the Alpine regions where the films were shot, the author argues that film aesthetics serve as a creative catalyst for environmental change and infrastructure development. While some ecocinema scholars have argued that environmental films teach viewers new ideas or change modes of behavior, this analysis suggests that film aesthetics are most effective at accelerating processes of environmental change that are already underway. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Imagination and German Culture)
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Article
Green Jack: Naïveté, Frontier and Ecotopia in On the Road
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 37; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010037 - 26 Feb 2021
Viewed by 365
Abstract
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is among the seminal texts of the Beat Generation canon, and the author himself is renowned as a hero of American letters and freedom. Kerouac’s book is clearly one of the most inspirational of the last century and [...] Read more.
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is among the seminal texts of the Beat Generation canon, and the author himself is renowned as a hero of American letters and freedom. Kerouac’s book is clearly one of the most inspirational of the last century and helped to spur the culture of mobility, spiritual yearning and adventure in the decades following its release not only in the USA but in many other parts of the world. A close reading of On the Road reveals other realities about the author, through his character Sal Paradise, and the America he discovers in his travels. This article looks at the files from Kerouac’s aborted stay in the US navy, letters, journal entries and the text of On the Road itself to demonstrate that the author’s Whitmanesque longings and ennui are very much rooted in a romantic vision challenged by the realities of mid-20th-century American life. However, Kerouac’s “ecotopia of the West” also suggests other ways of living which would influence America’s counterculture and environmental movements. Full article
Article
Lux et Tenebris? Coloniality and Anglican Missions in Argentine Patagonia in the Nineteenth Century
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 36; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010036 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 325
Abstract
Within the modern capitalist World-System, Missionary work was mostly developed through the connubiality with colonial powers. The missionary work of the Anglican Church is no exception. This article centers on the missionary enterprise carried out in Argentine Patagonia in the nineteenth century. Missionaries’ [...] Read more.
Within the modern capitalist World-System, Missionary work was mostly developed through the connubiality with colonial powers. The missionary work of the Anglican Church is no exception. This article centers on the missionary enterprise carried out in Argentine Patagonia in the nineteenth century. Missionaries’ reports carefully narrated that venture. However, the language and the notions underlying the missionary work’s narration reveal the dominion of colonial ideologies that imbued how religious agents constructed alterity. Connecting the missionaries’ worldview with the political context and expansion of the British Empire allows us to unfold the complex intersections of religious, ethnic, racial, and geopolitical discourses that traverse the lives of indigenous peoples in South America. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Postcolonial Literature, Art, and Music)
Article
Café Culture as Decolonial Feminist Praxis: Scherezade García’s Blame … Coffee
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 35; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010035 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
This article provides a decolonial feminist analysis of Latinx artist Scherezade García’s most recent portable mural, Blame it on the bean: the power of Coffee (2019), created for and installed in the café and library of The People’s Forum, a “movement incubator for [...] Read more.
This article provides a decolonial feminist analysis of Latinx artist Scherezade García’s most recent portable mural, Blame it on the bean: the power of Coffee (2019), created for and installed in the café and library of The People’s Forum, a “movement incubator for working class and marginalized communities” and “collective action” in the heart of Manhattan. This artwork depicts three allegorical women convening over cups of coffee, one of which has precariously overflowed onto a miniaturized portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose undoing was said to have been facilitated by his excessive indulgence in coffee and other commodities of empire. Historically, coffee production was bound to imperial plantocracies, enslavement, and patriarchal networks; today, the industry remains a continued site of oppression and erasure for female workers around the globe. By placing this mural in conversation with the portable material economies of the Caribbean, the gendered history of coffee production and consumption, and the history of female representation in art, this article argues that the mural dismantles heteropatriarchal conventions precisely by invoking café culture—the very mode of social performance that García’s work critiques. In so doing, García subverts the problematically gendered and racialized heritage of coffee with a matriarchal Afrolatinidad that, in the artist’s words, “colonizes the colonizer.” Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Race and the Material Culture)
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Editorial
Environment, Ecology, Climate and ‘Nature’ in 21st Century Scottish Literature
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 34; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010034 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 505
Abstract
A pivotal scene in the 2019 reinvention of Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film Local Hero into musical theatre involves a hangover[...] Full article
Essay
(Dis)orientation, POV and the Virtual
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 33; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010033 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 351
Abstract
This essay moves the first steps toward an understanding of the intricate intertwining between the notion of orientation and that of Point of View (POV) across the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (and in his work with psychotherapist Felix Guattari), and revendicates their crucial [...] Read more.
This essay moves the first steps toward an understanding of the intricate intertwining between the notion of orientation and that of Point of View (POV) across the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (and in his work with psychotherapist Felix Guattari), and revendicates their crucial role in relation to the concept of the virtual. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Posthumanism, Virtuality, and the Arts)
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Article
When William Came: A Prophetic Propaganda War
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 32; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010032 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
When William Came by Saki (H. H. Munro) is a unique novel in the genre of invasion literature. Starting after a fictional war between Britain and Germany, it depicts no scenes of invasion. Recently, there have been studies from the perspective of how [...] Read more.
When William Came by Saki (H. H. Munro) is a unique novel in the genre of invasion literature. Starting after a fictional war between Britain and Germany, it depicts no scenes of invasion. Recently, there have been studies from the perspective of how Munro and other authors in the genre viewed Germany and Britain. Some studies also refer to Munro’s deliberate lack of depiction of the war. However, it seems that no studies have looked into the reasons why the war is not depicted. This paper argues that the story is not about showing British military unpreparedness but about how psychological weapons work. It could even be said that depictions of war would distract from the focus on propaganda and its effect on people. Considering this work as being about a British and German propaganda war opens up a new perspective that is different from previous studies. When William Came is a work that points out Britain’s unpreparedness for psychological war by imagining and detailing possible propaganda strategies. It has been said that the novel’s ending is unsatisfactory, as it only ends up showing the potential for youth resistance. However, if it is understood that this novel, from beginning to end, is about a propaganda battle, a war that is fought under the surface, then the final chapter can also be understood as a thrilling one. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Literature in the Humanities)
Article
Reframing Entrepreneurship via Identity, Techné, and Material Culture
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 31; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010031 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
Entrepreneurship is typically understood as capitalist, but new models are emerging; these new models, like Welter et al.’s “everyday-entrepreneur,” can be understood in the tradition of techné, in which entrepreneurship is an embodied practice balancing the sociality of identity politics and the materiality [...] Read more.
Entrepreneurship is typically understood as capitalist, but new models are emerging; these new models, like Welter et al.’s “everyday-entrepreneur,” can be understood in the tradition of techné, in which entrepreneurship is an embodied practice balancing the sociality of identity politics and the materiality of objects and infrastructures. With no English equivalent, techné is typically understood as either art, skill or craft, but none of the placeholders provide a suitable encapsulation of the term itself (Pender). Examining identity against the backdrop of entrepreneurship illuminates the rhetorical ways entrepreneurs cultivate and innovate the processes of making, especially in terms of the material cultures that this process springs from and operates within. Intersectional issues related to entrepreneurial identity present opportunities for diversification and growth in the existing scholarship. A reframing of entrepreneurial identity and continued development of Welter et al.’s everyday-entrepreneurship is argued for, showing how social biases render gender and objects invisible. The article uses data from an on-going study to demonstrate how reframing entrepreneurial identity uncovers the ways in which systemic biases are embedded in the relationship between identity and everyday things. The case study delves into connections between identity, technology, and innovation illustrating how entrepreneurial identity can be seen as a kind of techné, which helps readers better understand identity in relation to material objects and culture—including the biases at work there. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Race and the Material Culture)
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Essay
A Body of Authority: Reorienting Gender and Power in Julian of Norwich’s Revelations
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 30; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010030 - 12 Feb 2021
Viewed by 733
Abstract
The 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich’s theology, dissolving gender binaries and incorporating medieval constructs of the female into the Trinity, captivates scholars across rhetorical, literary, and religious studies. A “pioneering feminist”, as Cheryll Glenn dubs her, scholarship attempts to account for the [...] Read more.
The 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich’s theology, dissolving gender binaries and incorporating medieval constructs of the female into the Trinity, captivates scholars across rhetorical, literary, and religious studies. A “pioneering feminist”, as Cheryll Glenn dubs her, scholarship attempts to account for the ways in which Julian’s theology circumvented the religious authority of male clerics. Some speculate that Julian’s authority arises from a sophisticated construction of audience (Wright). Others situate Julian in established traditions and structures of the Church, suggesting that she revised a mode of Augustinian mysticism (Chandler), or positing that her intelligence and Biblical knowledge indicate that she received religious training (Colledge and Walsh). Drawing from theories on space and gender performativity, this essay argues that Julian’s gendered body is the generative site of her authority. Bodies are articulated by spatial logics of power (Shome). Material environments discipline bodies and, in a kind of feedback loop, gendered performance (re)produces power in time and space. Spaces, though, are always becoming and never fixed (Chavez). An examination of how Julian reorients hierarchies and relations among power, space, and her body provides a hermeneutic for recognizing how gender is structured by our own material cultures and provides possibilities for developing practices that revise relations and create new agencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Race and the Material Culture)
Article
On Something Like an Operational Virtuality
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 29; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/h10010029 - 09 Feb 2021
Viewed by 371
Abstract
We outline here a certain history of ideas concerning the relation between intuitions and their external verification and consider its potential for detrivializing the concept of virtuality. From Descartes and Leibniz onward to 19th-century geometry and the concept of “invariant” that it shares [...] Read more.
We outline here a certain history of ideas concerning the relation between intuitions and their external verification and consider its potential for detrivializing the concept of virtuality. From Descartes and Leibniz onward to 19th-century geometry and the concept of “invariant” that it shares with 19th-century psychology, we follow the thread of what might be informally called an “operational” conception of the virtual, an intuition progressively developed in the 20th century from of group theoretical thinking into “functorial” thinking (in the context of category theory), and eventually intuitions for the concept of “univalence” (homotopy type theory) and its implications for the meaning of equality and identity. At each turn, skeptical arguments haunt this history’s modes of exteriorization, proof, and verification; we consider the later Wittgenstein’s worries concerning rule following and the apparent unbridgeable gap between formal theory and informal practice. We show how the development of mathematical intuitions and formalisms in the last century and the discovery of deep connection between intuitionistic logic and computation have begun to respond to some of these concerns and favour a conception of virtuality that is operational, constructive, pragmatic, and hospitible to scientific detrivialization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Posthumanism, Virtuality, and the Arts)
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