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Desire under the tribe in Nuruddin Farah’s A Naked Needle and Ken N. Kamoche’s “Secondhand Wife”

Abstract

This paper will address the notion of desire in Ken N. Kamoche’s “Secondhand Wife” and Nuruddin Farah’s A Naked Needle; it will be centered on the idea of men’s and women’s sexual desire as caught between being controlled and willing to be free. Desire will be studied as being controlled by the tribe in Kenya and Somalia, which channels men’s and women’s desire into pre-made forms. These channels of desire approved by the tribe are contested in Kenya and Somalia by both men and women. Desire is then situated between collective manipulation and individual freedom. On the one hand, desire will be linked to the idea of power relations that is desire as a tool to establish and support the power of the tribe. Desire is no longer a matter of natural instinct and feeling but that of a constructed dialectic of power. On the other hand, desire under the tribe is also about a refusal of the tribal control of desire and a yearn for liberating desire, which manifests itself in different manners such as the refusal of restrictions on marriage with non-Muslims in Somalia, the rejection of arranged marriage for both men and women, or prostitution as the body avenging itself through itself.

Open access
Misleading minds and playing with senses in the works of H.G. Wells

Abstract

Wings flapping in the dark, a scientist who is able to be present in two places at once as a result of an accident in the laboratory, and unknown creatures hiding in the shadows. This paper focuses on those works of English writer H.G. Wells (1866-1946) which create mystery by playing with human perception and the human senses. In these stories, the mysteries might have a real cause, or they might be a result of confusion. Either way, it certainly makes the characters question the reliability of their minds. They shudder with fear, and sometimes they are on the verge of losing their sanity. These phenomena are examined from the perspective of cognitive approaches. The analysis focuses on mental processing and how it influences the mental stability of the characters in question. One of the questions asked is what kinds of responses are elicited by these mysteries involving potentially misled senses.

Open access
Mystery or not? Quantum cognition and the interpretation of the fantastic in Neil Gaiman

Abstract

The present paper describes a reader-response experiment focusing on the perception of the genre of the fantastic. It also proposes an update of the genre’s structuralist definition to better conform to contemporary cognitive research. Participants answered questions relating to the interpretation of events and important symbols in a Neil Gaiman short story and were also asked if they considered the story “fantasy” or “realistic fiction.” Tzvetan Todorov characterized the fantastic as a hesitation between the uncanny (realistic interpretation) and the marvelous (supernatural interpretation). Neil Gaiman, a popular contemporary author of genre fiction, has utilized this hesitation between psychological and supernatural explanations of his stories to great effect. The results show a consistently higher degree of enjoyment in readers who were aware of the dual interpretation and partook in the hesitation. This paper also introduces the concept of quantum cognition into literary theory and explains the benefit of using terminology from this discipline in a reader-response context. The findings of this study could be the first step towards a better understanding of the different ways in which readers cognitively approach the fantastic or genre in general.

Open access
Violence as art experience

Abstract

The article discusses Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Only God Forgives (2013), and focuses on questions of artistic representation and reception in relation to such cinematic elements as genre film, style, mise-en-scène, graphic violence and art experience. The arguments for the analyses are supported by John Dewey’s theory of art as experience where he claims that aesthetic experience is essentially infused with emotions that provide for a unifying quality cementing diverse constituent parts of the artwork. The article also takes into consideration Refn’s standpoint on the use of violence in art. While violence is a way of externalizing emotions, as Refn claims, it may not necessarily be the real experience viewers want to entertain; however, through an art experience, which is integral and complete as Dewey asserts, they are able to perceive and detect meanings that were “scattered and weakened in the material of other experiences”.

Open access
Adaptation or escapism? The British Royals’ tribulations and the crisis of personal identity in Sue Townsend’s The Queen and I

Abstract

In The Queen and I (1992), English writer Sue Townsend (1946-2014) satirically imagines the abolition of the British monarchy and the subsequent social, political and even personal trials generated by their new situation. This paper1 focuses on the hardships experienced by the royal family in their demoted condition, with special focus on aspects related to personal identity, such as emotional remoteness, displacement, disputes over the reputation of the (royal) name, re-naming, falsifying one’s name and the invention of another identity, illness, escape mechanisms and struggles to adapt to a new life - all of these fictitious tribulations depicting the royal family in a state of crisis

Open access
Documentary film as historical narrative

Abstract

The submitted study describes the documentary film as a historical narrative that carries within it problems documented by historians such as Paul Veyne and Hayden White. It argues on behalf of the thesis that a documentary film in itself does not classify historical clues according to historical truth but according to a selected purpose (e.g. despite aesthetic conventions or in the case of a narrative film - according to the story). The study refutes the argument of Noël Carroll, who deals with the popularizing documentary film - specifically, connecting scientific “truth” with the tropological character of a documentary film narrative can create at best an approximate picture of a historical event.

Open access
The fight between right and wrong: Exploring morality in M. L. Stedman’s novel The Light between Oceans

Abstract

The paper explores the eternal theme of morality and its effects on human thoughts and actions as depicted in M. L. Stedman’s debut novel The Light between Oceans (2012). The aim is to study how her characters, facing a demanding post-war environment, deal with morally challenging events in their lives and how they are able to fight the socially accepted concepts of what is right and what is wrong as well as the consequences of the serious decisions they make. Tom Sherbourne, a WWI veteran, settles down to his new job as lighthouse keeper and marriage with Isabel, but instead of finding peace, he faces several moral dilemmas which create a cold distance between him and his wife, as well as between his pre-war and actual self. In this sense, the paper tries to describe what Stedman has to say - through Tom’s character - about the nature of human morality and decision-making and how tragic their consequences might be.

Open access
A man in crisis: selected short fiction of Joseph Conrad

Abstract

Joseph Conrad devoted twenty years to the writing of short stories. The wide range of subject and setting, spanning from sea stories to domestic tales, managed to constitute Conrad’s reputation as a master story-teller capable of capturing his audience with any theme. While the stories vary in quality, length and themes explored, they all oscillate around the subject of human psyche, with its unpredictability and dark corners portrayed in a rather complex way. The paper seeks to explore the vision of humanity, emerging from Conrad’s short fiction, as well as the literary devices which enable him to capture the essence of human struggle. It focuses primarily on Conrad’s extensive use of figurative language, which contributes to the lyrical quality of his texts, and enables him to express the anguish and disintegration of his characters.

Open access
Mimesis, interpretation and the human condition

Abstract

One of the most fundamental questions in the discourse on artistic creativity and interpretation is that of mimesis or representation; the relation and the ‘tension’ between experiential reality on one hand and an artistic construct on the other hand. In the present study, mimesis and the discussion about the connection between the experiential and the imaginary are understood as major characteristics by which man and the human condition are defined. From the context of the visual arts, the study proceeds to literature and, specifically, to an analysis of the novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) by Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977). The main aim of the study is to show the questions of representation and interpretation as part of the universal inquiry about humanity and the human condition.

Open access
Artistic symbols as support of a biased imagination

Abstract

Ian McEwan has indulged in macabre plots whose points of interest reside in the power of the imaginary over allegedly rational reality. In novels like Atonement, Enduring Love, On Chesil Beach and Amsterdam he points out how approaching the world scientifically can be as misleading as doing it in religious or literary ways. The target of my paper is to spot those common loci of fanaticism and narrowed perspectives which have constituted the origin of many tragedies. Such a conjured tragedy may be identified with a sluice facilitating the passage from postmodernism to post-postmodernism

Open access