Clotilde Escalle’s tales of transgression

   Unnatural women and uncomfortable readers? Clotilde Escalle’s tales of transgression Described by critics variously as one of the ‘new barbarians’ of French writing,1 as one of the cruel ‘Barbarellas’ who seek only to depict the disarray of contemporary French society,2 and as one of the new breed of women writers who hold a violent and deep-seated grudge against the gaze of men,3 Clotilde Escalle is remarkable among new writers for the dispassionate way in which she presents violent sexual and familial dramas. Escalle was born in  in Fez

in Women’s writing in contemporary France

The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs is an exciting, new open access journal hosted jointly by The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK, and Centre de Réflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires MSF (Paris) and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. It will contribute to current thinking around humanitarian governance, policy and practice with academic rigour and political courage. The journal will challenge contributors and readers to think critically about humanitarian issues that are often approached from reductionist assumptions about what experience and evidence mean. It will cover contemporary, historical, methodological and applied subject matters and will bring together studies, debates and literature reviews. The journal will engage with these through diverse online content, including peer reviewed articles, expert interviews, policy analyses, literature reviews and ‘spotlight’ features.

Our rationale can be summed up as follows: the sector is growing and is facing severe ethical and practical challenges. The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs will provide a space for serious and inter-disciplinary academic and practitioner exchanges on pressing issues of international interest.

The journal aims to be a home and platform for leading thinkers on humanitarian affairs, a place where ideas are floated, controversies are aired and new research is published and scrutinised. Areas in which submissions will be considered include humanitarian financing, migrations and responses, the history of humanitarian aid, failed humanitarian interventions, media representations of humanitarianism, the changing landscape of humanitarianism, the response of states to foreign interventions and critical debates on concepts such as resilience or security.

Open Access (free)
Self-examining White Privilege and the Myth of America

James Baldwin, in his landmark essay “My Dungeon Shook,” says that white Americans are “still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.” This open letter explores this history on a personal level. Taking notes from Baldwin’s indictments of whiteness in Another Country and The Fire Next Time, this essay explores how white people, despite claims of deniability, become culpable, complicit, and ensnared in their racial privilege. By reading Baldwin’s work through a personal lens, it implores fellow white readers and scholars of Baldwin to begin examining the myths of America by first examining themselves.

James Baldwin Review
The Experience of Dislocated Listening

“It is only in his music [. . .] that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story. It is a story which otherwise has yet to be told and which no American is prepared to hear,” so wrote James Baldwin in “Many Thousands Gone.” Throughout his career, James Baldwin returned to this incomprehension of African-American experience. He continually privileged music in his literature, crafting his own literary blues to address it. Baldwin’s blues resonated even more powerfully and painfully for its emotional and geographical dislocation. In this article, Rashida K. Braggs argues that it was the combination of music, word, and migration that prompted Baldwin’s own deeper understanding. Exploring her term dislocated listening, Braggs investigates how listening to music while willfully dislocated from one’s cultural home prompts a deeper understanding of African-American experience. The distance disconcerts, leaving one more vulnerable, while music impels the reader, audience, and even Baldwin to identify with some harsh realities of African-American experience. Baldwin evokes the experience of dislocated listening in his life and in “Sonny’s Blues.” Braggs also creates an experience of dislocated listening through her video performance of Baldwin’s words, thus attempting to draw the reader as well into a more attuned understanding of African-American experience.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Listening over James Baldwin’s Shoulder

Black music played a crucial role in the work and life of James Baldwin. What Baldwin heard in the music guided his sense of political reality and human possibility, his invention of character, his shifting analytical point of view, and his decisions about what to do, when, and how to do it during his life in private and career in public. The music, therefore, also offers his critics and his readers important insight and guidance in their own experience and interpretation of his work. This brief essay accounts for some of the most basic connections between Baldwin and black music; it serves here as an introduction to a list of songs, some of which offered Baldwin important guidance and some of which offer his readers access to deeper meanings in his work. A playlist of songs, curated by Ed Pavlić and Justin A. Joyce, is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtSYQ5bCX-C-IZkeQ_PX7ncsbdjI32HSy

James Baldwin Review
A Bibliographic Essay

Readers and critics alike, for the past sixty years, generally agree that Baldwin is a major African-American writer. What they do not agree on is why. Because of his artistic and intellectual complexity, Baldwin’s work resists easy categorization and Baldwin scholarship, consequently, spans the critical horizon. This essay provides an overview of the three major periods of Baldwin scholarship. 1963–73 is a period that begins with the publication of The Fire Next Time and sees Baldwin grace the cover of Time magazine. This period ends with Time declaring Baldwin too passé to publish an interview with him and with critics questioning his relevance. The second period, 1974–87, finds critics attempting to rehabilitate Baldwin’s reputation and work, especially as scholars begin to codify the African-American literary canon in anthologies and American universities. Finally, scholarship in the period after Baldwin’s death takes the opportunity to challenge common assumptions and silences surrounding Baldwin’s work. Armed with the methodologies of cultural studies and the critical insights of queer theory, critics set the stage for the current Baldwin renaissance.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in The Fire Next Time

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves. Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better, in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and evolving democracy.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Aesthetics

This essay establishes a philosophical connection between James Baldwin and the philosopher William James by investigating how the pragmatist protocol against “vicious intellectualism” offers Baldwin a key resource for thinking through how anti-black racism might be dismantled. While Richard Wright had earlier denounced pragmatism for privileging experience over knowledge, and thereby offering the black subject no means for redressing America’s constitutive hierarchies, uncovering the current of Jamesian thought that runs through Baldwin’s essays brings into view his attempt to move beyond epistemology as the primary framework for inaugurating a future unburdened by the problem of the color line. Although Baldwin indicts contemporaneous arrangements of knowledge for producing the most dehumanizing forms of racism, he does not simply attempt to rewrite the enervating meanings to which black subjects are given. Articulating a pragmatist sensibility at various stages of his career, Baldwin repeatedly suggests that the imagining and creation of a better world is predicated upon rethinking the normative value accorded to knowledge in the practice of politics. The provocative challenge that Baldwin issues for his reader is to cease the well-established privileging of knowledge, and to instead stage the struggle for freedom within an aesthetic, rather than epistemological, paradigm.

James Baldwin Review

Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.

Sexology, psychoanalysis, literature

This volume tells the story of the case study genre at a time when it became the genre par excellence for discussing human sexuality across the humanities and the life sciences. A History of the Case Study takes the reader on a transcontinental journey from the imperial world of fin-de-siècle Central Europe and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the interwar metropolises of Weimar Germany, and to the United States of America in the post-war years.

Foregrounding the figures of case study pioneers, and always alert to the radical implications of their engagement with the genre, the six chapters scrutinise the case writing practices of Sigmund Freud and his predecessor sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing; writers such as Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Oskar Panizza and Alfred Döblin; Weimar intellectuals such as Erich Wulffen, and New York psychoanalyst Viola Bernard. There result important new insights into the continuing legacy of such writers, and into the agency increasingly claimed by the readerships that emerged with the development of modernity—from readers who self-identified as masochists, to conmen and female criminals.

Where previous accounts of the case study have tended to consider the history of the genre from a single disciplinary perspective, this book is structured by the interdisciplinary approach most applicable to the ambivalent context of modernity. It focuses on key moments in the genre’s past, occasions when and where the conventions of the case study were contested as part of a more profound enquiry into the nature of the human subject.