Deposit“Mad Scientists, Narrative, and Social Power: A Collaborative Learning Activity”

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories “The Birthmark” (1843) and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844) encourage critical thinking about science and scientific research as forms of social power. In this collaborative activity, students work in small groups to discuss the ways in which these stories address questions of human experimentation, gender, manipulation of bodies, and the role of narrative in mediating perceptions about bodies. Students collectively adduce textual evidence from the stories to construct claims and present a mini-argument to the class, thereby strengthening their skills in communication and cooperative interpretation of ethical dilemmas. This exercise is adaptable to shorter and longer periods of instruction, and it is ideal for instructors who collaborate across areas of expertise.

TopicHow can we foster group activity?

Hello, campers! Happy Friday! I hope your networking challenge is going well. Please let me know if you come across any obstacles or if you have any questions/ideas. One common trend that I’ve noticed is that campers are running into dead or near-dead groups. The Humanities Commons team has also noticed less activity in some of the public, […]

DepositEnhancements to IFAR’s Catalogues Raisonnés Database

Catalogues raisonnés are essential art historical research tools. Recognizing this, IFAR launched a free interactive Catalogue Raisonné Database in December 2008. It is the only online resource devoted to catalogues raisonnés in all media. Now IFAR intends to enhance its usefulness to humanities researchers by taking advantage of online resources not available in 2008. We plan two enhancements: 1) links to bibliographic aggregators, such as WorldCat, Hathi Trust, Google Books, and others, enabling users to: a) view and search the text of a catalogue raisonné, where copyright permits, and b) locate the closest library housing the book, and 2) creating the first-ever, interactive artist ontology, which will add context and clarify complex connections between artists in our Database–and in so doing–transform the Database into a nexus of information on catalogues raisonnés. This request supports the planning phase of the project and will result in a “mini-prototype” and user survey.

MemberAndrew Colin Gow

In my first book, I traced and analyzed the German legend of the Red Jews, an imaginary conflation of the Ten Tribes of Israel with Gog and Magog, the apocalyptic destroyers featured in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. My publications since 2000 on the ‘Protestant paradigm’ regarding vernacular Bible translations and editions in the later Middle Ages contributed to a new field of research and debate, with a research cluster at the University of Groningen and a number of conferences and conference panels devoted to the topic. This project addressed late medieval vernacular Bibles, their readership, their dissemination and their cultural effects — which includes contributing to the conditions under which the Protestant Reformation ‘caught fire’ so quickly: e.g., Luther’s Bible translation was a hit because burghers had been reading vernacular Bibles and biblical texts for so long, not because they had been denied access to the Bible. The wide distribution and availability of German and other vernacular Bible translations in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with 22 printed full Bible translations into German/Low German/Netherlandish appearing before Luther’s famous Bible translation, has been known to scholars since at least the early eighteenth century, when various works on German Bibles before the Reformation began to appear. However, the existence of such translations did not guarantee that scholars, especially church historians and historians of the Reformation took such Bible translations seriously. My findings also demonstrate how central modes of history-writing participate in myth-making — sometimes even under the guise of source analysis. In 2003, my former student Dr. Lara Apps and I co-published Male Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester UP), which was based in part on her M.A. thesis. Since 2005, my former student Dr. Robert Desjardins (Ph.D. 2008) and I, along with François Pageau and a number of other graduate students, have been working on the witch trials at Arras in 1459-60 — possibly the very first mass witch-trials that took the classic form under which we know them, a snowball phenomenon driven by torture and sponsored by the authorities — after coming across a hitherto unknown manuscript of a treatise written to justify the trials in their gruesome aftermath. This princely manuscript had been lurking in the UofA library system’s Bruce Peel Special Collections since it was donated to the university by Dr. John Lunn in 1989, but its existence was unknown to scholarship — a 1999 edition of the text relied on manuscripts held at Paris, Brussels and Oxford, but the UofA manuscript is probably the oldest and the best of them. This text anticipates the much better known Witches’ Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum) by a quarter century, and already contains all the elements that the later text would so famously disseminate. Our critical edition of the UofA ms., collated against the other known manuscripts and the 1475 incunabulum printed by Colard Mansion, is in preparation. Our translation of the text, the first into English, and of another treatise written at the same time and in the same place, in collaboration with my Ph.D. student François Pageau and my former student Dr. Robert Desjardins, appeared with Penn State University Press in 2016: The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library and Archives produced and hosts a digital exhibition on this manuscript: We have finished and hope to publish in 2019 with the collaboration of Dr. Jessica Roussanov our complete translation of the voluminous Middle French records of the appeal of the Arras convictions to the Parlement (royal court) of Paris spanning the years 1461 to 1467, with brief postludes up to the final resolution of the appeals in 1491, together with translations of the many late-medieval chronicle entries and other sources relating to these trials from the dawn of the European witch-craze. Demonology and witch-hunting: for more about my recent research, please see this one-minute presentation:  

DepositWhy is Extremely Violent or Disgusting Subject Matter Still Inimical to Literature? Notes on Stokoe’s Novel Cows

The essays I am posting on Humanities Commons are also on Librarything and Goodreads. These aren’t reviews. They are thoughts about the state of literary fiction, intended principally for writers and critics involved in seeing where literature might be able to go. Each one uses a book as an example of some current problem in writing.

Topic#HCSummerRefresh: Sites

It’s day four of the first Humanities Commons Summer Refresh Workshop, and we’re focusing on updating and creating HC sites! Thanks again for the conversations happening in the previous days’ threads… let’s keep it going! Before I get into the activities for today’s focus, I wanted to introduce @cgleek, our sites mentor! He was a member of […]

MemberAlbert N. Mitchell II

Mr. Mitchell is one of the country’s most successful inner-city youth program architects. His accomplishments include designing 28 youth programs for the New Jersey State Health Department, the Camden County Prosecutor Office, the Camden Board of Education, the Camden City Police Department, the Camden City Recreation Department, and the Camden Housing Authority. He attended the University of Rutgers, New Jersey and has appeared frequently on local television shows. Mr. Mitchell is also known nationally for his skills as a market research analyst. His former clients include: the United States Mini-soccer Federation (USMF), the Soccer Association for Youth (SAY), R&R Associates (publishers), and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). In the first six months of operating NJ MED, Mr. Mitchell successfully directed the agency’s first grant award, “The New Jersey Minority Males Community Challenge Grant,” awarded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services. He shares a strength-based and community-focused philosophy of understanding the non-profit sector. To date, he has led NJ MED in developing partnerships with 42 other non-profit organizations in the Camden County area in providing direct services for over 2,500 youths and their families in the City of Camden, New Jersey.

DepositEnclosure, Writing, and Resistance: Revisiting the Prose of Daniil Kharms

The author argues that discipline—operating through the distribution of individuals by means of enclosure and surveillance—is crucial to understanding Daniil Kharms’s prose of the 1930s. The author focuses on three of his mini-stories, first looking at mechanisms of surveillance in “Dream,” examining their effects upon the psyche that have material impacts on the body of the individual. Then he turns to a trajectory of enclosure that operates from the urban commons (“Trial by Lynching”) to the home (“An Unexpected Drinking Party”). The centripetal trajectory of enclosure ends in all cases at the body as the endpoint of discipline and, ultimately, the site of Kharms’s “grotesque resistance,” challenging the enclosure of the body from the point of its confinement. He also takes a look at how paper—as theme in and medium of Kharms’s work—operates within these spatial dynamics. He draws upon Harold Innis, who associated the rise of print in the United States with the “space bias” of communication. Reading Foucault and Innis together, Kharms’s short prose works can be understood as a contestation of the space bias associated with the explosion of print media in the Stalinist era, prompting Kharms’s retreat to the contours of the body as a site of struggle.