DepositPagans, Rebels and Merovingians: otherness in the early Carolingian world

Early Carolingian authors appear to have been acutely aware of ethnic and regional identities, and the sources of the late-eighth and early-ninth centuries contain many references to non-Franks. These ethnic terms alone, however, do not imply a sense of ‘otherness’. The incorporation of these non-Frankish peripheral peoples into a consolidated Frankish empire was one of the key political policies of Charles Martel and his descendants. We do get a sense of ‘otherness’, though, from the ways in which these peoples were portrayed as being opposed in some way to the concepts which Frankish society was thought to stand for. In contrast to Frankish loyalty, unity and Christian orthodoxy, we find peripheral groups labeled or described as ‘rebellious’ or ‘pagan’. While peripheral groups could be incorporated into the Frankish empire, there was no place for rebels or pagans in the society that was being created by the Carolingians, and so such concepts were ‘other’ in a way that ethnic labels were not. Likewise, the later members of the Merovingian dynasty were ‘other’ because they were presented as useless kings, and such kings had no place in the Frankish community. We can see that in the eighth and early-ninth centuries authors had a common pool of language, signs and symbols upon which to draw when depicting ‘others’, but this does not mean all did so in the same way, and so we must consider how and why each author presented his vision of ‘otherness’. At the same time, we can see that it was only those closest in time or space to the contemporary Frankish community who were targeted by this discourse, with more distant peoples being depicted more ambivalently by our authors. These trends show there was a clear gap between the ideal presented by the authors and the reality of the eighth century. But authors were determined to create a sense of dichotomy in their texts which allowed them to understand the past in a way that allowed for continuity at a time of change.

DepositThe Other Love in the Other Germany: East German Film, Media, and Social Change for Gay Rights

Compared to its Western neighbour, the Federal Republic, the German Democratic Republic had experienced stunted growth in a number of areas, including that of lesbian and gay rights. Although the two countries decriminalized homosexual acts at about the same time (1968 in the East, 1969 in the West), their trajectories then diverged in the years that followed. Whereas in the West gay rights activists were able to freely assemble and agitate for change following these legal developments, in the East any such gatherings of likeminded would-be activists had to take place in secret and were subject to state surveillance and disruption. The 1973 West German broadcast of Rosa von Praunheim’s film Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers…, watched by a number of East German gay activists, served as a catalyst for organization, though change and official recognition would be slow in coming. It was not until the 1989 release of the short documentary Die andere Liebe (dir. Helmut Kißling and Axel Otten) that the GDR made its first explicit, cinematic statement on homosexuality, a film that had long been eagerly anticipated and awaited. This talk will examine the production of this largely ignored documentary, its intended and actual audience, the film’s reception, and its position in the context of mid- to late-1980s gay rights activism in East Germany. This film, like the feature film Coming Out (1989, dir. Heiner Carow) which was released not long afterward, fell prey to the coincidence of greater events surrounding the Wende.

DepositNinety-Nine Problems: Assessment, Inclusion, and Other Old-New Problems

Developing less burdensome and more equitable ways to support scholarly difference is a preeminent challenge when thinking about the future of assessment and promotion in higher education. At stake in this is the very capacity of institutions to do the work of scholarly inclusion, to recognize the range of approaches well captured in the digital humanities caucus of the American Studies Association’s succinct 2016 characterization of humanities work that is “innovative, critical, boundary-pushing, justice-based, and experimental work—scholarship that takes a diversity of forms, that reaches and is produced by thinkers, teachers, practitioners, and makers from a wide range of communities and contexts.” Assessment potentially shadows or highlights scholarly identity at every institutional juncture, and this is as true for undergraduate research work as it is for matters of promotion, tenure, or contract renewal for faculty and staff. With that in mind, this article surveys responses to the challenges of assessing DH work in institutional settings, and also reviews the work of Five College Digital Humanities 2016 draft report on digital assessment, “The New Rigor.”

DepositPhantoms of the Archives: Music for the Early Cinematic Supernatural and Other Tales

Archives are full of ghosts—the ghosts of music long-forgotten, technologies now superseded, practices that have faded away with time. This talk examines music used to accompany and signify the supernatural the silent film, as well as what can be learned by excavating the ghosts of musicians’ lives and careers now held in archives both at the University of Colorado at Boulder and elsewhere. Learn about the sounds of the séance, how mediums and cinema musicians were uniquely trained and positioned for their jobs, and about the music used in spirit films—the forerunners of movies like Beetlejuice, Ghost, and and other films with friendly phantoms, and about the lives of individual women who helped create the sound of the cinema through their musical educations and personal tastes in music.

DepositShipibo Laughing Songs and the Transformative Faculty: Performing or Becoming the Other (2013)

Shipibo indigenous people perform a sophisticated array of vocal musical genres, including short ‘laughing songs’ called osanti. These song-jokes make fun of certain non-humans, mostly animals. They are by definition sung from within the non-humans’ perspective. Osanti are only performed by trained specialists in indigenous medicine and sorcery (médicos), because it is crucial that the performer owns the faculty of transforming into the animal in question, although in osanti the singers do not transform. Songs involving actual transformation are not meant for laughing: these are magical songs including interaction with and transformation into animals or spirits that possess a more ample radius of perception and action than ‘Real Human’ beings. Osanti songs, with their position between secular and magical songs, allow for an analysis of humour and laughing in the construction of the indigenous ontology, thereby questioning some generalisations made in theories of animism and perspectivism.

DepositExcuse the Preface: Hemingway’s Introductions for Other Writers

Over the course of his career Ernest Hemingway wrote introductions for a number of writers. These pieces have been largely forgotten, but study and analysis of Hemingway’s introductions offers additional insight into the well-known author. The process of creating and marketing these pieces allowed Hemingway to manipulate and refine his public persona in a space other than his fiction. These introductions enhanced Hemingway’s authority, granted him greater public exposure, and allowed him to enact his defense of writers and writing on several occasions.

DepositUnderstanding ‘Othering’ mechanisms: Perils of ‘assimilation’ policies for migrant populations

In an ideal society, all inhabitants would be treated equally, but in reality there are divisions with groups of varying dominance, whether clear or hidden. Usually the dominant groups, powerful either by political, cultural or social hegemony create the narrative of ‘otherness’ and pass laws, some of which could be discriminatory. This is especially problematic for migrant groups that have lesser political capital, if any, in the process. This essay is an attempt to understand the mechanisms used for this ‘othering’ and its effect on migrants. It proposes that the policy of maximum ‘assimilation’ promoted for migrant populations is essentially flawed and needs to be re-assessed and calibrated.


Beginning in the 1940s and continuing into the 1960s, Dr. William H. Sheldon and his assistants took thousands of what became known as the “Posture Pictures” at the Ivy League, Seven Sister, and other colleges as well as at hospitals, factories, and prisons. Sheldon believed that there were three basic factors in human body types and that any given body could be mapped and charted using a three-digit code he called the “somatype.”[1] In the 1954 Atlas of Men, Sheldon published over one thousand examples of his eighty male somatypes at various ages and stages of life. Atlas of Men is a studbook as Sheldon identifies each somatype with a unique number and corresponding animal totem expressing the subject’s strength, relative intelligence, and virility. Sheldon begins to reveal the depths of the project’s duplicity when he states that “it may be a good thing, on the whole, that courses in somatyping are not yet generally taught in the women’s colleges” (209). While somatyping may not have been taught at the women’s colleges, patriarchal control of women’s bodies, enforced by fears of punishment for deviance from the norm, surely was. And that lesson stuck as evidenced by Sylvia Plath’s description of Posture Pictures in her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963), published some thirteen years after she stood for her own Posture Picture as a new student at Smith College.