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Alexandru Macedonski: poetic irony of death

Abstract

Alexandru Macedonski, like most symbolist poets, has a „special relationship” with death. Anchored in the spirit of Western literature, he knew, without a doubt, the great poems dedicated to death, by Byron, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, etc. Not coincidentally, given the relationships, more or less blunt with the Junimea members, marked by polemics, exchange of epigrams, Caragiale called him, Macabronski. The theme of death, with minor exceptions, is, however, in Macedonski a philosophical obsession transfigured into a vision of the Whole, with its full and emptiness.

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Amorality, Immorality and Individualism in Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy

Abstract

Hanif Kureishi, an acclaimed contemporary British writer of Pakistani origin, is known to the Romanian reading public primarily through the translations (under the aegis of the Humanitas publishing house) of his novels Intimacy, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Nothing, Gabriel’s Gift and Something to Tell You. One of the foremost representatives of British postcolonial literature, Kureishi masterfully, and at times shockingly, explores the postmodern urban world of human desolation, loneliness and alienation, with the surgical precision and mercilessness of a “terrorist”, as he himself describes the writer and his artistic mission in an interview. Intimacy, in a classic Proustian or Joycean manner, offers a glimpse into twenty-four hours in the life of a middle-aged Londoner, Jay, who fed up with the monotony and routine of his marriage, decides to leave his wife and children in order to pursue a passionate sexual relationship with a younger lover. The novel thematizes such concerns as the clash between traditional values and (post)modern society, between individualism / narcissism and moral duty, morality versus amorality / immorality, and the inevitable alienation of the individual who experiences these conflicts. The present paper aims at offering a reading of Kureishi’s text starting from the writer’s claim that “I’ve never had any desire to be good. (…) I don’t like goodness particularly. I like passion.” From the vantage point of this confession we shall proceed to analyze Intimacy not as a moral handbook, but as the eternal plight of the human soul, caught between the painfulness of duty and the irresistible call of passion.

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The Cioran case – a heideggerian case?

Abstract

If Cioran’s articles could be easily examined in terms of their political message, his aforisms, short texts, or essays have nothing to justify their analysis from the perspective of their “political” content. Cioran’s thoughts, bordering on the poetic, are not comparable to Heidegger’s writings in which, as some try to convince us, the totalitarian ideology has deeply penetrated the very core of the ontology he developed. Even if scholars have identified features of national-socialism in Heidegger’s works, it is still difficult to blame him for his ideas since he has quickly and lucidly reconsidered his approach to the Nazi ideology. Cioran’s writings have nothing in common with Corneliu Zelea Codreanu’s books, For My Legionaries or The Nest Leader’s Manual. Corneliu Zelea Codreanu’s hatred for Judeo-Communism has no correspondent in Emil Cioran’s writings.

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Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva: Autobiography, Exile, Violence

Abstract

Considered “the great witch of Brazilian literature”, acclaimed as the best woman-writer of Jewish origin and the perfect example of an exquisite reconfiguration of European modernist ideas, Clarice Lispector is a fascinating author. This is obvious since her first novel Perto do coração selvagem (Near to the Wild Heart, 1943), a book that was awarded several literary prizes in Brazil, even if afterwards the text would be often ignored within the critical studies dedicated to Lispector. Compared to Borges and Kafka and even to the narrative strategies used by Virginia Woolf (apparently influenced by James Joyce’s stream of consciousness, even if Lispector underlined that she had not read Joyce’s creation much later) her book entitled Agua viva (1973) represents a perfect example of a very special kind of aesthetic experiment, underlying the importance of art (painting or literature) in its protagonist’s life. Without being precisely an autobiography, this book is obviously influenced by the author’s life and work, also expressing Lispector’s ideas on two important issues of 20th century Latin American literature: exile and violence.

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CLIL: Conceptual differences in teaching “realia” to philological and non-philological students

Abstract

In Slovakia, modern Cultural Studies of English-speaking countries have been integrated into university curricula since the 1990s. However, there is a fundamental difference in the role CLIL plays in teaching “realia” (alternatively: cultural studies, country studies and area studies) for philological students and for business students of non-philological faculties. While philological students study realia with primary linguistic and cultural goals (i.e. to learn new words, terminology, context and comparative cultural aspects), non-philological students’ goals are business oriented (i.e. allow a successful graduate to function effectively in a new business environment). That affects the methodology, teaching procedure and assessment of both disciplines in debate.

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Contents, communicational needs and learner expectations: a study of SSL in Haitian immigrants

Abstract

This research aims to prove the effectiveness of Spanish as a Second Language lessons for Haitians designed by volunteers in Santiago de Chile. The methodology used through the study was based on the application of two questionnaires to Haitian students in order to compare results, and finally obtain an average that reflects the achievement of the communicative functions expected. Results indicate that neither the lessons planned, material giver nor the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages fulfilled such expectations. Findings are discussed in relation to previous studies on methodologies for Spanish as a Second Language for Haitian immigrants in Chile (Toledo, 2016)

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The Cultural and Educational Dimension of the “New Silk Road:” The Re-invention of Mongolness at the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands

Abstract

In October 2013, Xí Jìnpíng presented not only an ambitious infrastructure project but a strategic initiative that promoted connections in many regards: the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). One intended strategic value of this initiative is the improvement of relations between China and its neigh-bours as well as the improvement of dialogue among different civilizations. Emphasis is placed on the importance of the shared historical cultural heritage of the involved ethnic groups, while the idea of a ‘harmonious society’ is promoted at the same time. The aim of this article is to shed light on how China expands its soft power through civilizational connections along the Sino-Mongolian-Russian Economic Corridor by referring to the Silk Road Academic Belt. This article is based on ethnographic field research in Hénán Mongol Autonomous County in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands of Qīnghǎi Province during an international conference titled “Historical and Cultural Links between Mongolia and Tibet,” held in July 2017.1

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The devil inside that won’t be caged or fixed by words: Fluidity and ethics in Ian McGuire’s The North Water

Abstract

In Ian McGuire’s novel The North Water (2016), Patrick Sumner, a young medical doctor recently dismissedfrom the British Army with his reputation and professional prospects in ruins, accepts a poorly paid position as a surgeon on a whaling ship in his attempt to flee from his past and his troubled conscience. However, contrary to his expectations, in the Arctic Circle he faces an ordeal far more demanding than anything he has hitherto endured in the form of the harpooner Henry Drax, a dangerous psychopath who is ready to abuse and murder anyone who is an obstacle to the satisfaction of his brutish physical needs. Confronted with violence and cruelty beyond understanding, within the fluid framework of the distorted ethical norms and values of the heterogeneous crew, the embittered Sumner is gradually forced to abandon his protective shell of resigned indifference and reassess the moral stances and responsibilities of a civilized person when faced with human wickedness. Though McGuire acknowledges primarily the inspiration of Herman Melville and Cormac McCarthy, this paper argues that in ethical terms the novel responds to Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness, pushing the protagonist’s relationship to the other to an extreme by making the other an embodiment of pure evil.

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Discourses of “Herbivore Masculinity” in Japanese Love Advice Books

Abstract

In the last decade, discourses of non-conforming masculinities have become increasingly prominent in Japanese mass media. In particular, the so-called “herbivore men” have been made infamous by Japanese newspapers and were accused of being responsible for sinking birth rates and economic stagnation in Japan (Schad-Seifert 2016). In this article, I explore the discourse on the “herbivore men” in Japanese love advice books which are meant to guide and inform the (female) reader’s assessment of potential romantic partners. Utilising Siegfried Jäger’s methodological approach (2015), this discursive analysis focuses on the line of discourse that implicitly criticises the “herbivore men” and rejects their turn away from hegemonic images of masculinity. The analysis yields that the “herbivore man” is constructed as an ‘unnatural’ form of masculinity in these publications, which allegedly causes women to become sexually active and career-driven “carnivores.” Japanese women’s empowerment from hegemonic gender ideals is thereby misrepresented as a symptom of psychological distress due to changing masculinities. By perpetuating ideas of biological determinism linked to the backlash against the “gender-free” movement in the early 2000s, this line of discourse propagates problematic relations of gender and power in Japanese society.

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Doctor Who meets Loving Vincent Van Gogh (A case study of the “tortured artist” stock character in popular culture)

Abstract

Methodologically connecting at its core the experience-based and interpretation-based aesthetic approach to popular culture/popular art(s) on one hand and the basis-building views of what is called arch-textual thematology on the other, the paper seeks to examine, following its particular embodiment, one of the most stable, recurring and probably therefore one of the most iconic stock characters - the “tortured artist” stock character. This example of a “stereotyped character easily recognized by readers or audiences from recurrent appearances in literary or folk tradition” (Baldick, 2008, p. 317) can be - besides other principal and distinctive examples such as the “mad scientist”, the “lady/damsel in distress” or, let’s say, the “everyman” - witnessed all across culture, including the sub-sphere of popular culture, and the arts. The implied cultural significance and “omnipresence” of the “tortured artist” stock character can be aptly illustrated by Vincent Van Gogh and not only as a real-life tortured artist prototype or even archetype but also as a popular model for numerous and various cultural depictions - from poems by Charles Bukowski through the “moving pictures” of Loving Vincent to an episode of the well-recognized British TV show Doctor Who.

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