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Editorial

Screening Vulnerability

Brian Bergen-Aurand

About the time I first encountered Robert McRuer’s Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability soon after its publication in 2006, I began to turn my research and teaching from queer theory toward disability studies and crip theory. Or, it might be more accurate to say that crip theory and disability studies began to infect my previous work in queer theory and dis-ease its trajectory. Rather than focus on carnality and desire as much as I once had, I began focusing on corporeality and vulnerability—what Emmanuel Levinas (2006: 64) describes as the radical passivity of being “for the other” without ever desiring such a responsibility, without having either force or intention, something I experience despite myself. Vulnerability, especially rather than capability or ability—with their links to energy, strength, power, and vitality—began to hold a more central place in my research and critical thought. I began rethinking what bodies do and what they do to us when we experience them, especially through screens.

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René Devisch

Diversely echoing Gail Weiss (1999) and Paul Stoller and Cheryll Olkes (1987), I hold that maleficent fetishes that sustain lethal sorcery shape and enact, yet pervert, their proper contours of embodied interactions and transactions. These interactions are being absorbed and consumed, if not devoured, by the sensual order of the uncanny and by forces of abjection. From my immersion in the life of the Yaka people in Kinshasa and south-west Congo, I am aiming at some endogenous understanding of how interacting bodies – or more precisely, intercorporeal awareness – can conform to (attune to) and become subordinated to (and implicated by) the frenzy of the transgressive and annihilating ‘forces’ mobilised by maleficent fetishes and lethal sorcerous violence. I contend that the mysterious field of sorcery and maleficent fetishes among the Yaka seems to foster among complicitous pairs some pre-reflective and interpersonal awareness of their body in the fold of (embracing) images, fantasies, experiential gestalts and desire of sorts. This primary entwinement of (inter)corporeal capacities, ‘forces’, cultural expectations and horizons of significance may help us to comprehend innovatively the sensual articulation of a genuine epistemology and a groping for moral economy in the very mood of transgression and perversion. This merging of desire, intercorporeality and sensing out of things paradoxically ties in with the pursuit as well as the obliteration of ethics. Such intermingling shows up in people’s manifold search to tame or, for other purposes, to stir up forms of unsettling, rupture, paradoxes, indeterminacy, categorial and ontological aporias, perversion or even destructive violence.

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(Dis)Connecting Tourism and Photography

Corporeal Travel and Imaginative Travel

Jonas Larsen

Many connections between mobility and photography are traced and established in this article. It is shown that photography entered discourses of tourism before photography was even invented. Sketching and image hunting were central to pre-photographic tourists and they voiced passionate desires for a machine that could easily fix the fleeting and elusive image of the camera obscura and Claude glasses. The difficulties that Talbot experienced while drawing a foreign prospect with the camera obscura led him to invent photography, while Eastman reinvented photography after realising through his own body that holiday picturing meant 'travelling heavy'. The early history of photography is intimately linked to travel and tourism: pre-photographic tourists desired photography and it became designed with the tourist in mind and later for 'travelling light'. Lightweight and reproducible, photographs were designed for movement too. They were crucial in putting the world on display and globalising the 'tourist gaze'. At a time where travelling was associated with fatigue, hassles and risks on the one hand and visual pleasures on the other, photographs seamlessly transported distant places to the convenient and safe armchair. They allow touristic visual consumption where no actual tourism takes place.

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John H. Gillespie

This two-part article examines whether Sartre's final interviews, recorded in L'Espoir maintenant [Hope Now], indicate a final turn to belief through an overview of his engagement with the idea of God throughout his career. In Part 1 we examine Sartre's early atheism, but note the pervasive nature of secularised Christian metaphors and concepts in his religion of letters and the centrality of man's desire to be God in Being and Nothingness. His theoretical writings seek to refute the idea of God, but in doing so God is paradoxically both absent and present. In Part 2 we assess his anti-theism and consider his final encounter with theism in L'Espoir maintenant, arguing that it is part of Sartre's long-term engagement with the idea of God.

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L’ordre et le bonheur

Langues, nations, et territoires dans la réorganisation de l’Europe après la Première guerre mondiale

Sébastien Moret

English abstract (full article is in French):

Even before the end of World War I, conversations attempting to imagine a post-war Europe were taking place. In this article we will focus on a particular aspect of these conversations in regard to a new Europe: the desire expressed in many texts to achieve a natural and scientific reorganization of the continent, with the underlying conviction that with each state in its legitimate place, such a reorganization would necessarily lead to a lasting peace. In order to bring about this perfect map of Europe, many looked initially to earlier romantic and naturalist conceptions of linguistics. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, romantic and naturalist ideas of language were contradicted and supplanted by a social conception of language. It is therefore necessary to examine why these outmoded ideas made their return at this particular moment in European history.

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Communism, Consumerism, and Gender in Early Cold War Film

The Case of Ninotchka and Russkii vopros

Rhiannon Dowling

This article deals with ideologies of domesticity, femininity, and consumerism as they were articulated in two films in the early Cold War. These films, shown in occupied Berlin from the spring of 1948 through the first few months of 1949, were Ernst Lubitsch's Hollywood classic Ninotchka (1939) and the Soviet film Russkiivopros (The Russian Question, 1948). They portrayed competing notions of domestic consumption and the “good life” in the aftermath of the Second World War—issues more commonly understood to have characterized the later, thaw-era, years of the conflict. Though they were shown at a time of heightened political and ideological tensions, neither painted a one-dimensional or demonized portrait of the enemy. Instead, both films employed narratives about the private lives and material desires of women in order to humanize their enemies and yet make a statement about the inhuman nature of the other system.

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Jo Stanley

Let us begin with the jokey new term ‘ferrosexuals’, meaning people who experience wanton fetishistic desire for trains—also more romantically labelled ‘buffer kissers’. When I was a lass too young to have heard of the Mile-high Club, ferrosexuals were called ‘train-spotters’ and their ardour was seen as innocuous, if pitiably nerdy. Does the new term mean that machines for travel are now seen as sexy, because we live in increasingly sexualised societies? Or does it mean that an underlying sexual charge in people’s interest in trains is finally being made explicit and taken seriously? We do not know. And the reason we do not know is that scholarly work—particularly historicised work—has yet to be done on sexualities’ many interfaces with transport and mobility.

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Nikolaj Lübecker

On 1 November 1946, Jean-Paul Sartre participated in a conference celebrating the inaugural session of the UNESCO. An important argument in his presentation – ‘La responsabilité de l’écrivain’ – was that an author writes in order to achieve recognition. As Sartre puts it: ‘The writer is a man who uses language, putting words together in a way he hopes will be beautiful. Why does he do it? I think the writer speaks in order to be recognised by the others in the sense in which Hegel talks about the mutual recognition of one consciousness by another.’ This question – ‘Why does he do it?’, Why Write? – was also taken up in the second essay of What is Literature? In this longer and more complex text, Sartre not only reiterates his position from La responsabilité de l’écrivain, he adds that the reader, too, comes to the literary work with the hope of satisfying his desire for recognition.

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Rachel Mesch

This article considers the role of men in a form of feminist expression promoted in women's magazines and novels during the Belle Epoque. “Belle Epoque literary feminism,“ as I have termed it, was characterized by a desire to reconcile gender equality with traditional gender roles, outside of political channels; it was also, I argue, defined by male participation. Focusing on a widespread effort to modernize marriage, the article examines both men and women's discussions of marital equality in the influential women's magazines Femina and La Vie Heureuse; it then considers the role assigned to men in realizing feminist marriage in two popular women's novels, Marcelle Tinayre's La Rebelle and Louise Marie Compain's L'Un vers l'autre.

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Lalita Pandit Hogan

This article discusses filmic emotion by focusing on how the dominant color (blue in Gabbeh and Meenaxi; red in Mirch Masala) is used to elicit emotion. Through alienation effect, the viewer is distanced from the aims and goals of characters, and is less likely to experience the sorts of emotions that result from identification. The first two films use multiple frames of narration leading to character(s) in the outer frame becoming like spectators, invested in, for instance, fortune of others emotions that are central to the enjoyment of movies. In Mirch Masala, narration focuses on class struggle; there is minimal engagement with characters' individual aims, goals, and desires. While the red film foregrounds social anger, the blue films foreground consciousness. The three films together ask questions about what makes war and what makes peace, and how human action and human consciousness, represented through colors, figures in all this.