DepositHistory, Literature, and Authority in International Law

One consequence of international law’s recent historical turn has been to sharpen methodological contrasts between intellectual history and international law. Scholars including Antony Anghie, Anne Orford, Rose Parfitt, and Martti Koskenniemi have taken on board historians’ interest in contingency and context but pointedly relaxed historians’ traditional stricture against presentist instrumentalism. This essay argues that such a move disrupts a longstanding division of labor between history and international law and ultimately brings international legal method closer to literature and literary scholarship. The essay therefore details several more or less endemic ways in which literature and literary studies confront challenges of presentism, anachronism, meaning, and time. Using examples from writers as diverse as Anghie, Spinoza, Geoffrey Hill, Emily St. John Mandel, China Miéville, John Hollander, Pascale Casanova, Matthew Nicholson, John Selden, Shakespeare, and Dante, it proposes a “trilateral” discussion among historians, international lawyers, and literary scholars that takes seriously the multipolar disciplinary field in which each of these disciplines makes and sustains relations with each of the others.  

DepositJavaScript Affogato: Programming a Culture of Improvised Expertise

This essay attempts a philological, meaning a both technically and socially attentive historical study of an individual computer programming language, JavaScript. From its introduction, JavaScript’s reception by software developers, and its importance in web development as we now understand it, was structured by a continuous negotiation of expertise. I use the term “improvised expertise” to describe both conditions for and effects of the unanticipated development of JavaScript, originally designed for casual and inexpert coders, into a complex of technical artifacts and practices whose range and complexity of use has today propelled it into domains previously dominated by other, often older and more prestigious languages. “Improvised expertise” also marks the conditions for and effects of three specific developmental dynamics in JavaScript’s recent history: first, the rapidly accelerated development of the language itself, in the versions of its standard specification; second, the recent, abruptly emerging, yet rapid growth of JavaScript in server-side networking, data processing, and other so-called back end development tasks previously off limits to it; third, the equally recent and abrupt, yet decisive emergence of JavaScript as the dominant language of a new generation of dynamic web application frameworks and the developer toolchains or tooling suites that support them.

Deposit“Give me your hands if we be friends”: collaborative authority in Shakespeare fan fiction

Due to the interactive affordances of twenty-first century technologies, the relationship between readers and texts is often repositioned as part of a communal experience of consumption and reproduction. Inclusive in this expanding culture are user-generated adaptations of Shakespeare, most saliently fanfic. The fanfic universe prolifically crosses genres, putting the Shakespearean urtext in conversation with any other object of cultural interest, and occasionally subjugates the Shakespearean text to the dominant popular icon of the moment. Fanfic manifests textual enjoyment as a creative act; the genre is both recreational and re-creational, resulting in new adaptive works that expand the dramas to include sequels, prequels, and off-stage explorations of character and plot. Because Shakespeare is experienced variously through printed text, television, film, theatrical, or digitized performance – all of which underline the instability of an authoritative Shakespeare text – Shakespeare studies is uniquely positioned to expand critical understanding of adaptation and appropriation vis-a-vis the fanfiction universe. Fanfic’s online modality, existing on websites that facilitate dialogic interaction between author and audience, offers scholars an ongoing chronicle of reception. Uniquely, online interactions allow Shakespeare cultural critics to analyze the ways user-generated fanfic positions Shakespeare’s work as open to transition, crafting adaptations that illustrate what Shakespeare means to everyday users.

DepositDisconcerting Images: Arab Female Portrayals on Arab Television

The changes that have been witnessed by media in the Arab world have redefined media’s initial role as a source of information. With the advent of satellite television new realities, namely the dismantling of communication boundaries, have emerged. At first, such advancements posed a challenge to government bodies, specifically in the Arab region; however, the issue has been resolved in what has eventually resulted in government-controlled media, independently owned broadcasting stations with ties to ruling bodies, and the mushrooming of little private ventures owned by businesses or religious/sectarian groups, transmitting globally. Not only did this not translate into political or social freedoms in the Arab world, but it also failed to challenge pre-existing notions of gender. The current media have inadvertently consolidated traditional stereotypes of the female in spite of their claim to be a liberating force. In this essay I propose to argue that a detailed study of female representation on Arab television would reveal an immature and regressive medium, solely interested in commodifying and in enfeebling the Arab female. Moreover, an interpretive discourse with postcolonial theory and an analysis of what constitutes the Arab identity will reveal why such female representations persist.

DepositThe Role of China in Montesquieu’s “Esprit des lois”

Montesquieu’s ideas on China have been the subject of much study and controversy. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that, as discussed in twenty-two books of the Esprit des lois, China serves to illustrate Montesquieu’s fundamental principles and to elucidate his method. References to the empire appear frequently in the concluding chapters of books or at the end of sequences of arguments to show how relations between various factors can be reversed by special circumstances. China is an exception and a paradox. Montesquieu’s insistence on the fact that the Chinese Empire is a despotic regime aims to convey that his definitions of types of government are theoretical and that in reality they encompass a variety of forms determined by particular circumstances. China also plays an important role in the development of Montesquieu’s theory of climate demonstrating how the relations between physical and moral causes can be reversed. Wise Chinese policies, such as the creation of feudatory states and constructive treatment of conquered nations, are described as the counterpart of destructive practices. The analysis of the interaction between the distinct elements of the esprit général is offset and cofirmed by their exceptional fusion in Chinese rites. Chinese overpopulation and birth control are the turning point in the book on propagation.The importance of China for the opening of trade routes to Asia is recognized in the context of the history of commerce. The discussion of the expansion of European foreign trade concludes with a comparison to the vast extent of Chinese internal trade. In the penultimate chapter of the book on the composition of laws China is invoked once again to confront theory with experience and legislative uniformity with diversity.

DepositJames Joyce’s Priesthood through his Art of Writing

Dreams are abstract thoughts in one’s mind that can be revealed. Thoughts that are suppressed can be revealed in the subconscious mind. Sigmund Freud views dreams as one views sleep; as an abstract code that can be decoded through actions and through the ‘slip of the tongue.’ The Freudian slip is found in several passages of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. When using Freud’s technique, a revelation occurs, suggesting that James Joyce had, indeed, a stabled long profession as a priest, but not in a traditional sense. He used his modernist art form of writing to display religious teachings in his books. His religious nature evolved from studying St. Thomas Aquinas philosophy on the esthetics. Joyce could not separate religion and writing and made being a non-traditional priest an occupation; eliminating the regular ordination process, the title, and duties of a traditional priest. In A Portrait, Joyce was simply writing a fictional autobiography about his experience in school, but his subconscious reveals that in the beginning of the novel, he had a deep devotion for both art and priesthood, and in the middle and end of the novel reveals several tests he had to partake. As the text deconstructs itself, it reveals an adolescent trying to learn how to serve God as a priest through the art form of writing.

DepositPostcolonial Estrangements: Claiming a Space between Stalin and Hitler.

In this essay, I follow debates about forms and sites of memorialization in post- Soviet Belarus. Begun during perestroika, the public discussions about Khatyn’ and Kuropaty eventually evolved into persistent attempts to realign the Soviet past along new narrative axes. Most prominently, this discursive reformatting of the socialist experience was reflected in various gestures of withdrawal and distancing. I suggest that these discursive and mnemonic moves—from commemorating victims to memorializing victimhood—could be seen as signs of the emergence and development of postcolonial reasoning in post- Soviet Belarus. The postcolonial estrangement that these historicist projects have produced is a consequence of a utopian search for sources of authenticity outside the power structures imposed by “occupation regimes.” So far, this retrospective quest for a safe place “in- between” has resulted in a series of dead ends. Instead of bringing the nation together, it has polarized the society. Instead of providing an attractive alternative to the moral duplicity of state socialism, it has offered a historical justification for ethical relativism. These deadlocks and false turns of postcolonial studies of socialism can be seen as reflecting the early stage of this intellectual movement. Alternatively, they may signify the emergence of a different—conservative and nostalgic—form of postcoloniality. In either case, these debates helpfully outline the uneasy process of the retroactive creation of colonial subjectivity, demonstrating how the act of reclaiming an important historical place can become indistinguishable from being beholden to this place.

DepositPerformativity and Metaphor in New Materialist Media Theory

Some media theorists have begun to rethink the material basis of media in light of ‘new materialist’ thought. This involves expanding the concept of media to include the temporal and indeterminate processes involved. The process of mediation, rather than stable media objects, emerges as the point of departure. The basic claim of this essay is that media theory’s recent embrace of material forces and practices should not take place as refusal of representation. The critical context of new materialism, which concerns the instability between objects and their representation, has led some media theorists to reconsider the relation between media theory and its objects of study in the world. This takes place in some cases in the name of a performativity of method—an appeal to the creative, practical, and material forces of media-theoretical research that reconceives the theory-world relation in these terms. Metaphor, the rhetorical transfer of meaning from one term to another, and usually understood as supplemental, can also be conceived as a material process of mediation, if we think in terms of a new materialist perspective. Thinking about metaphor in this way allows us to carry new materialism’s important insights on materiality, meaning, mediation and method further.

DepositIs there Tunisian literature? Emergent writing and fractal proliferation of minor voices

Is There Tunisian Literature? Emergent Writing and Fractal Proliferation of Minor Voices. The article presents the Tunisian literature from the non-local perspective of the global literary market and the circulation of translated literature. The minor status of the studied phenomenon becomes obvious even when the Tunisian literature is compared with the Moroccan one. What is more, this comparison helps to understand the consequences of some choices made by the Tunisian writers, choices that established diverging directions of literary quest and caused the ambivalent aspiration of belonging both to the Arabic and the French linguistic and cultural zone. This basic ambivalence is treated in the article as an essential fissure and a kind of fractal principle, conducing to the proliferation of minor voices, instead of synergistic pattern of development leading to the synthesis of cultural contradictions. Some of these voices, such as Abdelwahab Meddeb, try to inscribe themselves in the universalist, gallicized context, while others, such as the emigrant Arab-speaking writer Hassouna Mosbahi, find in the translation a chance of reaching new readers and the promise of escaping the status of minor or emergent writers. Key words: Tunisian literature – emergent writing – francophone literature – translated literature – Abdelwahab Meddeb – Hassouna Mosbahi

DepositMistaken Identities?: Alessandro de’ Medici and the Question of “Race”

a b s t r ac t Alessandro de’ Medici’s life and its representation reveal important beliefs about family, politics, and genealogy during the Italian Renaissance. Duke Alessandro’s government marked the end of the Florentine Republic and the beginning of hereditary rule. Many scholars interpret Alessandro’s assassination as a fitting end to the tyrannical usurpation of Florentine liberty. This moral and political interpretation, championed by supporters of Italian unification and cherished by writers from the Romantic period until this day, has dominated assessments of Alessandro’s life and rule. The fact that he was illegitimate has given rise to many accounts of his origins and to the related controversies over the possibility that his mother was a peasant or a slave. The slave controversy admits a further question: was his mother’s background North African? Or Southern (i.e., sub-Saharan) African? Such arguments assume that slaves are black and that blacks are a clearly defined group. The history of Alessandro de’ Medici is inseparable from claims made for liberal society against tyranny, from evolving concepts of race, and from ideas of European cultural superiority over Africa. This essay studies images, both written and visual, of Alessandro de’ Medici with a focus on race and on the changing significance of traits now associated with ideologies of ethnicity and nationhood.