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Morality and values in Pavel Vilikovský’s The Autobiography of Evil

Abstract

Morality is often referred to as the code of conduct of society. This code determines what is considered correct behaviour and enforces values society deems beneficial. Values themselves are protected by laws and social or moral norms. Authors combine all the mentioned concepts and convey them through the actions taken or not taken by characters. Their writings provide the reader with characters’ motivations, reasoning and try to line them up with a final judgment – to see whether individual morals and values line up with the ones upheld by the rest of society. When dealing with morality in narratives of pain and trauma, the objective is then not only to analyse the protagonists’ psyche but also consider societal pressures. The focus of our analysis lies in Pavel Vilikovský’s novel The Autobiography of Evil, in which the author depicts morally sound characters becoming morally ambiguous while living in an oppressively authoritarian political system. Our aim is to explore the pain and trauma of Jozef K. whose moral core is affected by blackmail and threats. His actions are misguided and they perpetuate the cycle of violence instead of stopping it.

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Native American and Indigenous Studies
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A Poetic Voice in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Holland: Remco Campert and Breyten Breytenbach

Abstract

This article discusses the Dutch poet Remco Campert’s involvement in the anti-apartheid movement in Holland by focusing on his magazine Gedicht (1974-1976) and his poem dedicated to the imprisoned South African writer Breyten Breytenbach. Campert’s international engagement is part of the actions undertaken by the Breytenbach-committee and other Dutch initiatives which tried to maintain public interest for the case of Breyten-bach’s imprisonment.

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Polish Indian Hobbyists and Cultural Appropriation

Abstract

This article attempts to describe the Polish-American Friends Movement (PAIFM) in the context of cultural appropriation. It first describes the history of the movement by linking it to the phenomenon of playing Indian, which started in the United States in the colonial period and then was transplanted to Europe in the late 19th century. Subsequently, it briefly presents the history of the Polish hobbyism movement in Poland, pointing out the historical, social, and psychological circumstances of its development. In the next part it defines the concept of cultural appropriation and its main types according to James Young (2010). The last part is devoted to a detailed analysis of different forms of activities of the PAIFM, especially the annual week gathering, as observed by the author during the 40th gathering of Polish Indian enthusiasts in 2016. Different types of cultural appropriation and an array of consequences resulting from such a positioning are discussed. In this paper it is argued that the negative undertones of the concept obscure the complexity of the movement as a cultural phenomenon and its multiple links with Native American cultures and their present political and cultural situation.

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Post-colonial Literary Texts as Reading Texts within Today’s Schools

Abstract

In the making of an edition of the first modern Dutch slavery novel, De stille plantage (1931) by Surinamese author Albert Helman, all kinds of questions arise. There are issues of postcolonial contextualization, historical commentary and the way a text gets its actual significance in high schools. All these issues have their own sensibility in the light of recent fierce debates on slavery and its impact on western societies. The editors do have to take into account more than ever before their own position and questions of ideological responsibility, apart from issues of didactical and pedagogical nature. The question is raised whether such a modern edition does not touch more upon ideological language critique than postcolonial contextualization.

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Processes of Survival and Resistance: Indigenous Soldiers in the Great War in Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and Gerald Vizenor’s Blue Ravens

Abstract

Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road (2005) and Gerald Vizenor’s Blue Ravens (2014) offer literary representations of the Great War combined with life narratives focusing on the personal experiences of Indigenous soldiers. The protagonists’ lives on the reservations, which illustrate the experiences of racial discrimination and draw attention to power struggles against the White dominance, provide a representation of and a response to the experiences of Indigenous peoples in North America. The context of World War I and the Aboriginal contributions to American and Canadian wartime responses on European battlefields are used in the novels to take issue with the historically relevant changes. The research focus of this paper is to discuss two strategies of survival presented in Boyden’s and Vizenor’s novels, which enable the protagonists to process, understand, and overcome the trauma of war.

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The Red and the Black: Images of American Indians in the Italian Political Landscape

Abstract

In Italy, over the last decades, both the Left and the Right have repeatedly employed American Indians as political icons. The Left and the Right, that is, both adopted and adapted certain real or often outright invented features of American Indian culture and history to promote their own ideas, values, and political campaigns. The essay explores how well-established stereotypes such as those of the ecological Indian, the Indian as victim, and the Indian as fearless warrior, have often surfaced in Italian political discourse. The “Indiani Metropolitani” student movement resorted to “Indian” imagery and concepts to rejuvenate the languages of the old socialist and communist left, whereas the Right has for the most part preferred to brandish the Indian as an image of a bygone past, threatened by modernization and, especially, by immigration. Indians are thus compared to contemporary Europeans, struggling to resist being invaded by “foreign” peoples. While both the Left and the Right reinvent American Indians for their own purposes, and could be said to practice a form of cultural imperialism, the essay argues that the Leftist appropriations of the image of the Indian were always marked by irony. Moreover, while the Right’s Indians can be seen as instances of what Walter Benjamin (1969) described as Fascism’s aestheticization of politics, groups like the Indiani Metropolitani tried to politicize the aesthetics.

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Relics of the Unseen Presence? Evocations of Native American Indian Heritage and Western-Hero Road Poems in Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux and Quixote

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the ways in which Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) and Quixote (1965) evoke Native American Indian heritage and western-hero road poems by challenging the concept of the American landscape and incorporating conventions traditionally associated with cinéma pur, cinéma vérité, and the city symphony. Both pictures, seen as largely ambiguous and ironic travelogue forms, expose their audiences to “the sheer beauty of the phenomenal world” (Sitney 2002: 182) and nurture nostalgic feelings for the lost indigenous civilizations, while simultaneously reinforcing the image of an American conquistador, hence creating a strong sense of dialectical tension. Moreover, albeit differing in a specific use of imagery and editing, the films rely on dense, collage-like and often superimposed images, which clearly contribute to the complexity of mood conveyed on screen and emphasize the striking conceptual contrast between white American and Indian culture. Taking such an assumption, I argue that although frequently referred to as epic road poems obliquely critical of the U.S. westward expansion and manifest destiny, the analyzed works’ use of plot reduction, observational and documentary style as well as kinaesthetic visual modes and rhythmic editing derive primarily from the cinéma pur’s camerawork, the cinéma vérité’s superstructure, and the city symphony’s spatial arrangement of urban environments. Such multifaceted inspirations do not only diversify Mass’ and Quixote’s non-narrative aesthetics, but also help document an intriguing psychogeography of the 1960s American landscapes, thus making a valuable contribution to the history of experimental filmmaking dealing with Native American Indian heritage.

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The silent world of Reinaldo Arenas’s novels

Abstract

The paper focuses on the life and poetics of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, an important representative of Cuban gay literature, who, due to his sexual orientation and eventual opposition to the Revolution, was silenced by the Cuban government and exposed to continual threats. His novels, which depict the hardship of and discrimination against ordinary people and gay members of Cuban society (for example Old Rosa and Farewell to the Sea), reveal also signs of the deep trauma that the writer suffered and its impact on his writing.

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The suffering of existence in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Abstract

This paper deals with the British dystopian novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, in which human clones are forced to donate their organs in an alternate reality set in 1990s England. Through the characters of the novel, various manifestations of suffering are examined from the viewpoint of existentialism. The whole concept of donation might be understood as a metaphorical expression for human life, as well as the omnipresent consciousness of its finitude. Ishiguro has prepared the ground for disturbing discussion where two ostensibly different groups of people – clones, whose only purpose is to donate their vital organs, and “normal people” as the recipients – suddenly appear to be indistinguishable in terms of mortality and the general experience of human existence. This paper focuses on the concept of existential anguish in the context of the novel’s story. Using an unobtrusive science fiction narrative, Never Let Me Go encourages readers to contemplate the essence, meaning and purpose of human life, and it quietly points to topics that are usually treated as highly sensitive: the inevitability of death and apparent absurdity of human existence.

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