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Revisiting Existential Marxism

A Reply to Alfred Betschart

Ronald Aronson

Alfred Betschart has claimed that the project of existential Marxism is a contradiction in terms, but this argument, even when supported by many experts and quotes from Sartre’s 1975 interview, misses the point of my Boston Review article, “The Philosophy of Our Time.” I believe the important argument today is not about whether we can prove that Sartre ever became a full-fledged Marxist, but rather about the political and philosophical possibility, and importance today, of existentialist Marxism.

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Alfred Betschart

Ronald Aronson praises Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential Marxism in an essay in the Boston Review. I argue that existential Marxism is a case of a contradictio in adiecto. Sartre was never recognized as a Marxist by his contemporaries. He not only failed to show any interest in the question of economic exploitation, but most of the answers he gave in the Critique even contradicted Marxist theory. His expression of Marxism as the philosophy of our time seems to have rather been more an act of courtesy than the expression of deep conviction. As Sartre himself later said, Marxism and existentialism are quite separate philosophies.

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Sea Voyage Tales in Conversation with the Jonah Story

Intertextuality and the Art of Narrative Bricolage

Reuven Kiperwasser and Serge Ruzer

The article examines rabbinic and Christian, Syriac and Greek, narratives of miraculous rescue on a storm-tossed sea from a comparative perspective. Taking note of the narrators’ engagement in an ongoing intertextual dialogue with the biblical story of prophet Jonah, the authors highlight the new emphases introduced by late antique storytellers. The function of the adventures on the high seas as a means of establishing the protagonists’ religious identity and, consequently, strengthening the identity of the projected audience is shown to be shared by Jewish and Christian sources. Moreover, the article investigates the role assigned to the Other in Jewish and Christian travel fiction. The results may point to different attitudes toward the Other entrenched in the two cultures.

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Shakespeare in Yosemite

Applied Theatre in a National Park

Katherine Steele Brokaw and Paul Prescott

Shakespeare in Yosemite, founded in 2017, consists of an annual outdoor production of Shakespeare in Yosemite National Park on the weekend closest to World Earth Day and Shakespeare’s birthday. The productions are site-specific and heavily adapted for a general audience; admission is free. In this article, the co-founders describe the origins and aims of the festival within the contexts of applied theatre, eco-criticism and the American tradition of free outdoor Shakespeare. In describing the festival’s inaugural show – a collage piece that counterpointed Shakespeare’s words with those of early environmentalist John Muir – we make the case for leveraging Shakespeare’s cultural currency to play a part (however small or unknowable) in encouraging environmental awareness and activism.

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Shakespeare's Fools

A Piece in a Peacebuilding Mosaic

Maja Milatovic-Ovadia

In November 2017, Ratko Mladic, a war-time leader and a commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, was sentenced by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal to life imprisonment for the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the region the verdict was received with conflicting reactions, emphasising yet again how extensive the ethnic division is within the society. Through close analysis of the theatre project Shakespeare’s Comedies performed by ethnically segregated youth in Bosnia-Herzegovina, this article aims to understand how Shakespeare’s work functions as a vehicle to address the consequences of war and to support the complex process of reconciliation under circumstances in which the issues of war crimes cannot be tackled in a straightforward and direct manner. The study takes a cross-disciplinary approach to research, drawing from theory of reconciliation, applied theatre practice and comedy studies.

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Thither and Back Again

An Exploration of <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream</i>

Sue Emmy Jennings

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the experience of the other world is a central theme, symbolised by the world of the fairies. The play traces a journey from the rigid laws of the court to the seeming chaos of the forest to a return to a place of compromises. It is within the forest that several characters experience ‘other worldliness’; indeed, the forest itself becomes the other world. In my fieldwork with the Senoi Temiar peoples in Malaysia, there is also a belief in other world journeys. In addition to the other world, there are issues addressed in terms of applying Shakespeare with children with special needs as well as troubled teenagers and adults. I describe my own learning from the tribe in terms of understanding child attachment and development. Finally, I suggest that Shakespeare’s plays, in particular Dream, provide rites of healing. These are provided in other societies by their own culturally embedded rituals of healing.

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'Those Twins of Learning'

Cognitive and Affective Learning in an Inclusive Shakespearean Curriculum

Sheila T. Cavanagh and Steve Rowland

Sheila T. Cavanagh and Steve Rowland link Shakespeare classrooms in distinctive venues: Cavanagh is a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, whose students are enrolled in undergraduate degree programmes; Rowland teaches at Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington State, under the auspices of University Beyond Bars. This article describes some of the practical and theoretical challenges emerging through this collaboration, many of which result from the instructors’ desires to construct their classes with pedagogic goals and assignments drawn from both cognitive and affective learning principles. Geography precludes the students meeting in person and they are not currently able to employ videoconferencing in this endeavour, but regular exchanges of essays and responses to each other’s writing allows these disparate groups of Shakespeareans to expand their knowledge of the drama while sharpening their critical and writing skills and learning to develop their affective understandings of the subject.

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William Palmer

The English conquest of Ireland during the sixteenth century was accompanied by extreme violence. Historians remain divided on the motivations behind this violence. This article argues that the English violence in Ireland may be attributed to four main factors: the fear of foreign Catholic intervention through Ireland; the methods by which Irish rebels chose to fight; decisions made by English officials in London to not fund English forces in Ireland at a reasonable level while demanding that English officials in Ireland keep Ireland under control; and the creation of a system by which many of those who made the plans never had to see the suffering they inflicted. The troops who carried out the plans had to choose between their own survival and moral behaviors that placed their survival at risk.

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A World Elsewhere

Documentary Representations of Social Shakespeare

Susanne Greenhalgh

Documentaries about the use of Shakespeare in applied theatre publicise and endorse the work of practitioners to scholars as well as the general public, and have influenced the growth of academic interest in what this article terms Social Shakespeare: practices in which Shakespeare and social work interact with each other to bring about change. However, in the quest for touching and uplifting individual stories, such media treatments risk ignoring the actual values and strategies governing the work in favour of narratives that normalise social differences through emphasis on the transformative power of Shakespearean theatre, viewed as a sanctified space. Documentaries about three different constituencies – prisoners, young people with learning disabilities, and combat veterans – are examined to determine how far they locate the need for change in society rather than in the individual.

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Amotz Giladi

Israeli poet Yonatan Ratosh was the leader of the Young Hebrews, a nationalist group active from the 1940s to the 1970s. Despite his opposition to Zionism and his aspiration to revive the ancient Hebrews’ premonotheistic civilization, Ratosh shared Zionism’s ambition to elaborate a new Israeli identity. One prominent act of this mission involved enlarging the literary corpus in Hebrew through translation. Although initially a means of income, for Ratosh translation increasingly came to be a way to express his ideological position and his self-image as an intellectual. Thus, Ratosh provides an example of how developing a national identity can coincide with appropriating foreign literature. With his regular exhortations that Hebrew readers attain knowledge of foreign cultures, Ratosh did not intend to promote cosmopolitanism. Rather, he considered these endeavors as ultimately reinforcing a “Hebrew” identity.