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Editorial

Graham Holderness

Shakespeare's interest in ancient Rome spans the whole of his dramatic career, from Titus Andronicus to Cymbeline, while Roman history and Latin culture permeate the whole of his work, well beyond the explicitly ‘Roman’ plays and poems. Critical interest has to some extent shifted from the historicist Roman plays based on Plutarch, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, and the pseudo-historical Coriolanus, to the outlying Roman plays that evidence greater generic diversity and stylistic innovation, the early Senecan tragedy Titus Andronicus and the late ‘British’ romance Cymbeline. In these latter plays, the complex interactions between past and present, that are the main subject of the formal histories, are presented with even more aesthetic flexibility and creative improvisation than the ‘Roman plays’ proper.

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Editors’ Introduction

Constance L. Mui and T Storm Heter

Readers will recall that we devoted a special issue to anti-Black racism in 2021, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement which gained momentum following the 2020 murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police officers in Louisville and Minneapolis. The present issue continues to address the problem of racism from a Sartrean perspective, with an interview of the pioneering Black Existentialist thinker Lewis R. Gordon, followed by articles that take up related themes in freedom and oppression.

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The Look as a Call to Freedom

On the Possibility of Sartrean Grace

Sarah Horton

Abstract

While the traditional understanding of the look views it in terms of shame and oppression, I read Sartre's Notebooks for an Ethics with Beauvoir's Ethics of Ambiguity to argue that the look always gives me the world and inaugurates my freedom. Even the oppressor's look reveals that I am free and that my existence is conditioned by the existence of other free beings. Because the look gives me the world as the arena within which I act freely, it is a means of grace, and receiving it only in shame is bad faith. Although my existence remains unjustifiable and this grace cannot promise salvation, the look calls me out of shame to the pursuit of my and others’ freedom, and this call is a gift.

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Editorial

John Gillespie and Katherine Morris

Imagination and the imaginary, both in life and in Sartre's treatment of these phenomena, seem so wide-ranging that it is hard to find your feet—what is in common between imagining the absent Pierre's face and imagining something never before seen? What role does imagination play in seeing someone in a portrait of them? What about in seeing Chevalier in Franconnay's imitation (or ‘performative simulation’) of him? Elad Magomedov's question is even trickier: how do we navigate the similarities and differences between Franconnay's Chevalier, Sartre's waiter's ‘playing at being a waiter’, and Jean-Claude Romand, ‘the “real” impostor who for fifteen years pretended to be a medical professional and ended up killing his entire family’?

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Introduction

Joachim Frenk and Lena Steveker

The prologue of Thomas Heywood's tragicomedy The English Traveller, which was first performed around 1627 and first printed in 1633, seeks to focus the minds of its audience on what is to follow on stage:
A Strange Play you are like to haue, for know,
We use no Drum, nor Trumpet, nor Dumbe shew;
No Combate, Marriage, not so much to day,
As Song, Dance, Masque, to bumbaste out a play: […]
                                                            (The English Traveller, n.p.)
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Editorial

Graham Holderness

This general issue of Critical Survey ranges from mediaeval to modern literature and drama.

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Bad Custom

The Meanings and Uses of a Legal Concept in Premodern Europe

Anthony Perron

The place and function of custom as a species of law—distinguished from custom as simply polite manners or cherished cultural traditions—has long been a source of research and debate among legal theorists and historians. One school of thought, reflecting the authority of written statute in modern jurisprudence, has relegated custom in a juridical sense to “primitive” societies, whereas proper law belongs to a world of state sovereignty. Other scholars have revisited the continuing validity of custom, including a trenchant body of work on the use (and manipulation) of custom in modern colonial regimes. At the same time, some have seen benefits in the acknowledgment of custom as a source of norms. A 2006 collection of articles, for instance, explored ways in which customary law might serve as a better foundation for the sustainable development of natural resources. As David Bederman has written, “Custom can be a signal strength for any legal system—preliterate or literate, primitive or modern.”

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Book Reviews

John Bodinger de Uriarte, Paula Mota Santos, and Song Yun

Randy Malamud, The Importance of Elsewhere: The Globalist Humanist Tourist. Chicago/Intellect, The University of Chicago Press, 2018, vii +236 pp., ISBN-13: 978-1783208746, $29.50 (paperback).

Mark Rice, Making Machu Picchu: The Politics of Tourism in Twentieth Century Peru (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2018), xvi +253 pp., ISBN 978-1-4696-4353-3, $28.75 (paperback).

Jeffrey Mather, Twentieth-Century Literary Encounters in China: Modernism, Travel, and Form (New York: Routledge, 2020), ix +182 pp., ISBN 978-1-03-208815-0, US $48.95 (paperback).

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Bruce Chatwin

What He Was Doing Here

Kurt Caswell

Abstract

This article is an attempt to answer the question Bruce Chatwin posed in the title of the last book published during his life: What Am I Doing Here. A critical focus on Chatwin's masterwork, The Songlines, and its exploration of nomadism paired with wandering, leads to an exploration of his lifelong quest for spiritual renewal and ascension. Part literary criticism, part personal essay, the article makes personal connections with Chatwin's life and work. Included here are several book lists, featuring an extensive list of books that Chatwin read and references in his own writing, assembled possibly for the first time.

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Existentialism is an Antiracism

T Storm Heter

This special issue explores how existential thinking can be a living, global force that opposes racist praxis and thought. We are used to hearing that the “heyday” of existentialism was the middle of the twentieth century. In truth, because existential thought is future-oriented, the heyday of existentialism may be yet to come.