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‘All the world’s a [post-apocalyptic] stage’

The Future of Shakespeare in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven

Charles Conaway

Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel, Station Eleven, follows the Traveling Symphony, a small troupe of actors and musicians who perform concerts and stage Shakespeare’s plays in the scattered communities of survivors of an influenza pandemic. Tattooed on the arm of Kirsten Raymonde, an actress in the troupe, are the words ‘Because survival is insufficient’, a phrase borrowed from Star Trek: Voyager, indicating that the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven can enrich the lives of the survivors of the pandemic. But even if survival in this post-apocalyptic landscape is considered insufficient, it cannot be taken for granted. In a world without electricity and modern technology, encounters with strangers on the road occasionally turn confrontational, even deadly. The novel thus dramatises a constant struggle that complicates the idea that survival is insufficient, and ceaselessly probes the notion that Beethoven and Shakespeare can enrich our lives in post-apocalyptic times.

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Keith Jones

Taking Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Gary Schmidt’s Wednesday Wars as test cases, this article explores generic considerations in modern novels that employ Shakespeare but do not retell or recast the plot of any particular work by Shakespeare. Questions to be considered include how the works employ the Shakespearean genres of comedy, tragedy, history, romance and tragicomedy to create their own genres – and, conceivably, to transcend them. The article will also consider the mainstream appropriation of Shakespeare in Mandel and Schmidt. The Three Fates by Linda Lê will be briefly examined as a less straightforward reworking of the material of a single Shakespeare play (King Lear).

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An Anti-Imperial Mythology

The Radical Vision of Howards End

Charles Campbell

Critics have read Howards End as if Forster ‘specifically barred’ the poor from the novel (Trilling), so that only the middle classes are considered and not in a ‘truly radical’ way (Crews). Yet Forster does, after all, concern himself with the very poor in his depiction of Leonard Bast, Jacky and other characters, and extensively in the thoughts of Margaret. Furthermore, he creates the myth he says England lacks, and, considered in relationship to the main narrative events and to the novel’s imagery, this takes the form of an anti-imperialist mythology. Mythic elements include epic journeys and battles, a symbolic sword and tree, a sacrificial death and a redemptive child. In the novel’s poetic passages and in its account of Margaret’s education on the ‘hard road of Henry’s soul’, the nature of England’s imperialism is revealed and defeated by an alternative radical and feminist vision of society.

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Jan Ifversen

In March 2020, Melvin Richter, one of the founders of international, conceptual history passed away. This sad occasion makes it timely in our journal to reflect on the process that turned national projects within conceptual and intellectual history into an international and transnational enterprise. The text that follows—published in two parts, here and in the next issue—takes a closer look at the intellectual processes that led up to the founding meeting of the association behind our journal, the History of Concepts Group. It follows in the footsteps of Melvin Richter to examine the different encounters, debates and protagonists in the story of international, conceptual history. The text traces the different approaches that were brought to the fore and particularly looks at Melvin Richter’s efforts to bridge between an Anglophone tradition of intellectual history and a German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte.

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Ben Page, Olga R. Gulina, Doğuş Şimşek, Caress Schenk, and Vidya Venkat

MIGRANT HOUSING: Architecture, Dwelling, Migration. Mirjana Lozanovska. 2019. Abingdon: Routledge. 242 pages. ISBN 9781138574090 (Hardback).

THE AGE OF MIGRATION: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th ed. Hein de Haas, Stephen Castles, Mark J. Mille. 2020. London: Red Globe Press. 446 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1352007985.

REFUGEE IMAGINARIES: Research across the Humanities. Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and Agnes Woolley, eds. 2020. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 642 pages. ISBN 9781474443197 (hardback).

MIGRATION AS A (GEO-)POLITICAL CHALLENGE IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas. Olga R. Gulina. 2019. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag. 120 pages. ISBN: 9783838213385.

COMPARATIVE REVIEW: Migration and Development in India: Provincial and Historical Perspectives

INDIA MOVING: A History of Migration. Chinmay Tumbe. 2018. New York: Penguin Viking. 285 pages. ISBN: 9780670089833.

PROVINCIAL GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: Transregional Mobilities and Development Politics. Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, eds. 2020. New York: Routledge. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-06962-6.

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Marie Paxton and Uğur Aytaç

George Robert Bateman, Jr., The Transformative Potential of Participatory Budgeting: Creating an Ideal Democracy.

Garett Jones, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less.

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Canon Fodder and Conscripted Genres

The Hogarth Project and the Modern Shakespeare Novel

Laurie E. Osborne

The Hogarth Shakespeare novels bring into focus several features emerging in the encounter between Shakespeare and fiction writing. Hogarth’s ostensibly ‘new’ version of serial Shakespearean publication intersects in provocative ways with both historical adaptations, like Mary Cowden Clarke’s Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines, and with current, less high-profile Shakespearean novels. In the context of current serial adaptations, the Hogarth novels foreground Shakespeare as a principle of collectivity, a gesture towards coherence in works whose larger alliances reside in genre or authorship. Hogarth’s Shakespearean frame also draws attention to new adaptive choices which expand but perhaps dilute Shakespeare as a useful collective canon. As a result, the series both contributes to and emphasises Shakespeare’s participation in the three zones of cultural capital: our individual and collective artistic investment in series, culturally provoked shifts in adaptive choice, and evolving genres that increasingly test former lines between literary and genre fiction.

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The Concept of Religion in Meiji Popular Discourse

An Analysis of the Newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun

Makoto Harris Takao

This article challenges claims that the Japanese neologism shūkyō (as a translation for “religion”) lacked an established nature prior to the twentieth century and had little to do with experiences of the urban masses. It accordingly problematizes the term as a largely legal concept, highlighting historical newspapers as underutilized sources that offer insight into Meiji popular discourse and attendant conceptualizations of “religion.” This article endorses a shift in both our chronological understanding of shūkyō’s conceptual history as well as its sociocultural mobility. By expanding the milieu understood as being familiar with debates on a range of “religious” issues, this article thereby offers a counter-narrative in which regular use of shūkyō begins to clearly emerge from the mid-1880s, exponentially increasing with the following decades.

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Conceptual Explorations around “Politics”

Thematizing the Activity of Politics in the Plenary Debates of the German Bundestag

Kari Palonen

This article discusses the ways of conceptualizing politics in parliamentary debates. When the politics-vocabulary is ubiquitous in them, which kind of speech act lies in emphasizing the political aspect? Focusing on thematized uses allows us to identify conceptual revisions in the politics-vocabulary in digitalized plenary debates of the German Bundestag from 1949 to 2017. My fourfold scheme for conceptualizing politics (polity, policy, politicization, politicking) provides the analytical apparatus. The units of analysis in this study are compound words around politics written as single words, a German language specialty. Their frequency has remarkably risen in the Bundestag debates, and the search engine can easily find them. This research interest allows me to speculate with changes in the understanding and appreciation of politics in postwar (West)Germany.

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Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane’s The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

In his latest opus, The New Despotism, John Keane continues to challenge existing wisdom in the field of democratic theory and comparative political studies. One of the key insights of the book is that there is nothing inherently democratic about democratic innovations and procedures, and thus they can be used to prop up despotisms, rather than usher in democracy. While this insight comports with existing misgivings about elections, the book stands out in the way it explains the sustainability of using the democratic procedures in the new despotisms. For democratic procedures to further the aims of the new despotisms, the condition of “voluntary servitude” needs to be met. “Voluntary servitude” means that people willingly give in to political slavery, and become accomplices in maintaining the illusion that democratic procedures are implemented (215–222). Keane’s achievement is that he creates an analytical ecosystem of interlinked assumptions, observations, conditions, and other logical connectors, which make his model of the new despotism so robust.