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Postmodern Romance and the Illusion-Making Tendencies of Historiography

Abstract

The paper proposes a reading of romance in terms of postmodernism by establishing a connection between feminism and postmodernism’s questioning of historical and cultural representation. The aim is to reveal how history, no longer governed by the urge to find the “truth”, gives prominence to the uncertain, the extraordinary, the fantastic, which are the main ingredients of romance.

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Literature as Enchantment or the Regained Grandeur of the Novel: An Essay on Salman Rushdie’s Novel The Enchantress of Florence

Abstract

My essay intends to analyze the dialectic relationship between historical reality and fiction in the novel The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. I will point out a sophisticated and playful story in which the author interweaves elements of history and literature, a game-story that transcends the canonical limits of postmodernism where the novel has constantly been placed by the critical establishment, and goes back to the beginnings, to the anthropological function of play as an essential human activity that was once defined by Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in Culture. Moreover, my paper will explore how this play becomes Rushdie’s attempt to return to the original function of literature which used to enchant and inform at the same time. Once these roots have been reached, however, and the secondary reality of the literary game is well-established, Rushdie manages to break the barriers between reality and fiction, and through versatile textual mechanisms, to intermingle history and reality in a way that makes them merge. Consequently, he composes a play within fiction that is just as powerful as reality itself and suggests the fact that representation has more ontological consistency than the represented body or event itself. We exist as long as we are written and talked about, and nothing in the order of reality can be as powerful as the reality of language.

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“Journeys are Meaningful” (Travelling, Travellers, Literary Periods, Literary Journeys)

Abstract

If the changes of the “discourse networks” (Aufschreibesysteme) from 1800 to 1900 model the relations pertaining to the personality, to the cultural determinedness of technology and personality as well as to their interconnections (Kittler 1995), especially having in view the literary mise en scène, it applies all the more to travelling - setting out on a journey, heading towards a destination, pilgrimage and/or wandering as well as the relationship between transport technology and personality. The changes taking place in “transport” are partly of technological, partly (in close connection with the former) indicative of individual and collective claims. The diplomatic, religious, commercial and educational journeys essentially belong to the continuous processes of European centuries; however, the appearance of the railway starts a new era at least to the same extent as the car and the airplane in the twentieth century. The journeys becoming systematic and perhaps most tightly connected to pilgrimages from the Middle Ages on assured the “transfer” of ideas, attitudes and cultural materials in the widest sense; the journeys and personal encounters (of course, taking place, in part, through correspondence) of the more cultured layers mainly, are to be highly appreciated from the viewpoint of the history of mentalities and society.

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History and Debut of the Ski-Mountaineering

Abstract

Since ancient times, skiing has been a way of moving, born out of a spirit of survival. The usefulness of this means of transportation has undergone numerous transformations with implications in terms of utility-applied aspect as well as in the area of sports and recreation. Military Physical Education, as a component of military training, includes utility-applied skiing, focusing in particular on cross-country skiing and ski touring. The modern battlefield requires military training in increasingly complex and new areas in this century, with a focus on the formation of well-trained and multispecialized armies of professionals, to the detriment of mass armies. Ski-mountaineering has increasingly evolved over the last few years, due to the possibility of reaching relatively fast on the ridge tips and lowering even faster, eliminating the barriers imposed by the relief. As the name calls it, it combines the techniques and procedures of skiing with mountaineering.

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Azerbaijan in the account of the trip to the East by Felice De Vecchi (1841-1842)

Abstract

The article aims to illustrate how Azerbaijan appeared in the eyes of an Italian who, in the first half of the nineteenth century, had the opportunity to visit it during a trip to Constantinople. Between 1841 and 1842, Felice De Vecchi, a wealthy Milanese passionate about painting and travel, embarked on a journey, together with his naturalist friend Gaetano Osculati, to Constantinople and then, through Persia, visited India. He kept a diary of that journey, only recently found in its almost totality, dedicating an entire chapter to Azerbaijan, the “land of fires”. From his account, rich in anthropological and pictorial notations, emerges a very well-defined sketch that does not hide the wonder of those who meet housing situations and customs far from their country of origin. In order not to lose the most emotional component contained in De Vecchi’s writing, the frequent quotations of passages from the diary are presented in the English translation, followed by the original text in nineteenth-century Italian.

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The Image of Transylvania in the Works of Two Contemporary Romanian Historians. Translation and Related Views on History

Abstract

“As every inhabited area, culturally Transylvania can also be conceived of mainly as a symbolic space. Starting from its physical, material reality, our perceptions are made up into a subjective image of the area in question. This is the real Transylvania, or rather, the place in connection with which we formulate our ideas and to which we adjust our deeds. This image may seem so real also because it is equally shared by many, occasionally several millions. If many see things in the same way, we could say, this means that they are so in reality, though most of the time we only share prejudices, clichés and misunderstandings” - Sorin Mitu writes. Comparative imagology examines the formation of these collective ideas as well as the issues of identity and attitude to the Other. As a member of the imagology research group at the Department of Humanities of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Miercurea Ciuc, Romania, I translated one chapter of Sorin Mitu’s volume entitled Transilvania mea [My Transylvania]. During the translation process it became obvious to me that if translation is not only linguistic but also cultural transmission, it is especially true for the translation of historical works and that it would be worth examining whether some kind of rapprochement could be detected between the Romanian and Hungarian historical research of the past decades; if yes, whether this is reflected in the mutual translation of the respective works

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Towards a Reflexive Ethnography: (Re-)inserting the Producer and Process Into the Research Equation

Abstract:

The individualistic orientation of life histories has long been hailed as an antidote to the generalizing tendencies of ethnographic research. However, the life history method is not without problems of its own, as I explain by referencing some of the most well celebrated life histories and so-called ‘autobiographies’ in the anthropological corpus. The traditional method of composing the life history as a flowing narrative is not only morally dishonest but also intellectually inadequate because it conveys the false impression of a chronologically timeless and uninterrupted soliloquy. By focusing only on the final product, life histories ignore the other two components in the communicative process. In this article, I emphasize the need to (re-)insert the producer and process into the research equation.

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Empathy or Empathies? Uncertainties in the Interdisciplinary Discussion

Summary

The term empathy has become a linguistic commonplace in everyday communication as well as in interdisciplinary research. The results of the research questions, raised in the last hundred (and more) years, coming from different areas, such as aesthetics, psychology, neurosciences and literary theory, lack in fact a clear concept of empathy. Not surprisingly, a recent paper has identified up to 43 distinct definitions of empathy in academic publications. By reconstructing the main research lines on empathy, our paper highlights the reasons for this conceptual inadequacy and the deficiencies in the theorization of empathy that create misleading interpretations thereof. Along the line connecting Plato’s insights on empathic experiences to the present neuroscientific experiments, a broad spectrum of issues is deployed for which “empathy” functions as an umbrella term covering a net of categorical relationships – projection, transfer, association, expression, animation, anthropomorphization, vivification, fusion, and sympathy – that only partially overlap. Our paper therefore recommends that “empathy” should not be assumed as a self-evident notion but instead preliminarily clarified in its definition every time we decide to have recourse to it.

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Dinesh Bhugra: a personal history of Psychiatry

Abstract

In the past 40 years, the practice of psychiatry has changed dramatically from asylums to community care to personalized home-based treatments. The personal history of working in various settings and changing NHS indicates that an ability to change one’s clinical practice is a critical skill. Being a migrant and an International Medical Graduate brings with it certain specific challenges. Personal histories provide a very specific account that is inherently incomplete and perhaps biased, but personal accounts also give history a tinge that academic accounts cannot. In this account, changes in the NHS have been discussed with regards to changes in clinical care of patients with psychiatric disorders as well as research and training.

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Geschichte zwischen Erinnerung und Phantasie / History between Memory and Fantasy

Summary

This article refers on a recent discussion with the question of the relationship between individual memory and collective history. It is claimed a constitutive role of memory in history. This thesis is examined on the basis of the question according to the value of the autobiography as a historical source. It is shown here that a reference to the collective history is already guaranteed in the relationship between memory and narrative. Four observations shall justify the arguments, they concern (i) the role of intuition in historical narrative, (ii) the relationship between historical actor and his deeds, (iii) the transcendence of memory, and (iv) the role of fiction in the historical narrative. The last observation leads at the end on the role of fantasy in the historical memory.

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