Journal Articles

December 2013 - Vol.44/No.1
Humanizing the Monsters: A Schematic Reading of Beowulf
Author : Chih-chiao Joseph Yang
Keywords : Beowulf, hero, monster, humanity, barbarity, schema
Although the fights between the protagonist Beowulf and the three antagonists construct the main plot of Beowulf, they merely serve as static background for the narrative. As the only human hero in the story, Beowulf the character fits into a conventional hero schema; however, the several monstrous qualities that Beowulf possesses outweigh his heroic features. By contrast, his three adversaries, though seemingly negative and villainous, are more human-like and have their own individual characteristics. The invasion of Beowulf ’s three opponents into human society is not motivated by an intention to challenge human authority, overthrow the social system, or even ruin human civilization, but rather to protect their rights from the malicious interference and harassment of the humans and the hero. By performing a schematic analysis, this paper aims to show that the so-called monsters should be foregrounded figures against the background of Beowulf ’s three battles. The appearance and delineation of Beowulf as well as the fighting between Beowulf and the three antagonists can be constructed as the basis from which humane elements can be recognized in the monsters’ brutality and barbarity. Beowulf, the idealized hero, is an inverted version of a monster due to his extraordinary strength and the traits he shares with Grendel and the dragon in particular. Due to continuous schema disruption and refreshment, Beowulf as an epic is undermined and transformed into a monsters’ epic, which calls for barbarian elements in humanity and humane elements in monstrosity. The monsters suffer their fate untraditionally, and the hero is depicted as privileged. In this medieval literary world, the fights result from the uprisings of the underprivileged elements of human society.
Maternity and Mourning with Queenship in Shakespeare’s Henry VI
Author : Chi-I Lin
Keywords : Shakespeare, Henry VI, mourning, maternity, queenship
In Shakespeare’s trilogy Henry VI, the kingdom is gendered as feminine in order to mourn, or rather, to warn of, the loss of “this England” as a strong and unified authority. This paper explores the rationale in Shakespeare’s reworking of historical and cultural texts. The study focuses on how Margaret’s queenship in Shakespeare’s Henry VI disrupts the development of English kingship and endangers the existing Lancastrian rule. My research investigates female authority as represented in the maternal nature ascribed to Margaret in the playwright’s historiographical plot. This paper states that Margaret, with her foreignness and manliness, manifests non-English authority It argues that this clashes with Henry V’s masculine glory. My discussion further examines the significance of Margaret’s maternal experience, to which Shakespeare harnesses political relevance, in relation to the play’s task of honoring her son, Prince Edward, in sustaining the name of Henry V in the patrilineal power heritage. The capacity found in Shakespeare’s plays is not limited to celebrating the order and legitimacy of the history nor in imposing the fear of subversion and dissent, but moves beyond to value the female voice of the “anti-historians.” The art of Margaret’s queenship thus bridges the tastes of the commercial theatre with the playwright’s contextualization of the gender politics in English history.
Between the Acts of Peace and Polemos: Eros, History, and Jan Patočka
Author : Yi-Chuang E. Lin
Keywords : history, Polemos, Eros, nature, intelligence, Jan Patočka, Virginia Woolf
Delving into the individual honeycomb, Virginia Woolf sets off on a literary exploration for the ultimate source that would eventually connect the dissimilar and the disparate. In Between the Acts, Woolf, preoccupied with war, reinvestigates the unity and dispersal of we in the history of humanity through a community pageant held on a national/family heritage site. The frustration of individuality, the distress between uncommunicative family members and conflicting social groups, the changes of each historical epoch and beyond—each of these mirrors the national and pan-European crisis, reconfirming Eros as the grand matrix of modern achievement and social tension. What prevails through history is the “fatal conceit” in human intelligence that differentiates itself from nature but is nonetheless part of nature. Such is the unsolved paradox of human civilization that Jan Patočka raises in his Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History, taking war and the demonic eruption of Eros as inherent in the light (reason) and peace of the rational, responsible life. Rather than being divisive, war—as the expression of the orgiastic secrecy of humanity, sublated through culture—unifies and touches “that source of all being and is thus divine,” as Patočka concludes. Wedged in Patočka’s contention, this study professes that Woolf, speculating above the origin of contemporary conflict, ingeniously stages the kernel play between human intelligence and Eros (the demonic propensity of humans) in Between the Acts, extending from the individual to the socio-political sphere that drives history onward. Alternating between war (Polemos) and peace, between ages that come and pass, the profound nature of life remains unchanged.
Flaneuse or Innocent: Blind Women in Chinese-Language Visual Culture in the New Millennium
Author : Ta-wei Chi
Keywords : disability, Zhang Yimou, Pang Brothers, Jimmy Liao, Wong Kar-wai, Singapore
An attempt to integrate disability studies with Sinophone studies, the article locates the models of the blind flaneuse and the sweet innocent in Chinese-language visual cultural texts. These texts are from the first decade of the twenty-first century, as the rise of China and neoliberalism loom ever larger. The type for the sweet innocent is Charles Chaplin’s City Lights, in which a blind girl, sweet and innocent, passively awaits help from male benefactors. In opposition to the dependent sweet innocent, who is taught to stay at home to avoid participation in the city, the blind flaneuse, a notion inspired by Walter Benjamin’s flaneur and modified by feminist and disability studies scholars, insists on venturing into the urban scene largely on her own. Zhang Yimou’s film Happy Times focuses on a blind girl, pitied by a group of able-bodied benefactors who manipulate her trust, who decides to seek independence as a blind flaneuse. In The Eye from Hong Kong, the blind girl as a flaneuse supported by a disability-friendly city is ironically transformed into a sweet innocent, relying on a male professional after a well-intentioned sight-restoring optical surgery is imposed on her body. In the pictorial book Sound of Colors by the acclaimed artist Jimmy in Taiwan, the blind girl, who relishes more colors in her mind’s eye than the able- bodied citizens who are bored with their colorless everyday life, affirms her self-reliance through her complicated but regulated survival skills in the city; however, likely motivated by neoliberalist logic, the adaptations of Sound of Colors work to undermine this blind girl’s autonomy and impose companionship upon her. Singapore’s Be With Me reveals how an ethical relation of trust can be maintained in a global city by featuring a senior woman whose multiple disabilities challenge the manifold biases against gendered and disabled minorities.
Wallace Stevens and the American Sublime
Author : Mei-shu Chen
Keywords : sublime, primitive reality, nonconformist thoughts, deconstruct, interpretation, supreme fiction
Representing an American sublime free of European influence and classical, romantic, and transcendentalist formulations of the sublime, Wallace Stevens’s poetry invites a re-investigation of Longinus’s definition of the sublime. For Longinus, the effect of the sublime disposes the soul to high thoughts and leaves in the mind more food for contemplation. Decreating prior notions and construction of the sublime, his poetry (re) creates the spirit of a(n) (American) sublime, which passes beyond the confines of pre-established rules. Stevens develops his attempt to subvert authoritative literary practices, to compose the “poem of the mind,” and to “construct a new stage” in his poetry, offering “a new knowledge of reality” rather than the Absolute. His deconstruction of literary conventions, habitual perceptions, and phenomenal interpretations sometimes inevitably deconstructs its original intent. This occurs especially when his attempt to efface the power of received views illustrates that commitment to a specific perspective acts as the foundation of thought, language, experience, and interpretation. His recognition of the negative effects of dominant perspectives could not preserve him from falling into their confinement; thus he experimented with various approaches to the knowledge of reality. The sublime discovered and created in Stevens’s “supreme fiction” can be a fiction, an interpretation, or a new/different “knowledge of reality”; nonetheless, it provides “the never-resting mind” more food for free reflection. Intent not on “the final destination of the mind” but inclined to let “the imperfect” remain, Stevens presents a reality that “is the beginning not the end,” thereby creating his own version of an American sublime that encourages nonconformist thoughts and varied access to a knowledge of reality.
Too Much to Digest: The Irresistible Voice in Contemporary Gothic Metal
Author : Kevin Kai-wen Chiu
Keywords : voice, the object a, fantasy, Slavoj Žižek, Gothic Metal
Ingestion concerns not only the body but also the language, an instinctual behavior which consumes, and at times repulses, materials and structures of signification. Voice, emitted by the mouth and received by the ear, is a particular kind of ingestion which has troubled philosophers throughout history, and a common Gothic device deployed to question the integrality of the perceiving, listening character, at the same time tempting him/her with the guilty pleasure-in-pain, jouissance. This essay discusses the ambiguity of voice, its extimate relationship with the body and the language. Adopting a Lacanian/Žižekian psychoanalytic approach, this essay suggests that “the object voice” be understood as the primitive bodily signifier resistant to symbolization, with the quality of the Thing, a surplus, intimate otherness which troubles the subject and resists fetishization, therefore always causes of anxieties. Contemporary Gothic Metal’s manipulation of the singing/ growling voice is analyzed in this essay; this subculture’s ingestion of the poisonous voices such as the siren voice, the hysterical voice, the demonic voice, the bestial voice, the spectral voice, and the frenetic voice shows a libidinal economy that, instead of obeying the pleasure principle and vomiting the object voice, consumes and internalizes it, along with the potentially devastating jouissance. Such an ingestion of voice a is understood as a way to deal with the subject’s immanent void, the Thing misperceived as subjectivity.
Power, Politics, and Culture: An Interview with Edward W. Said
Author : Te-hsing Shan
Keywords : Edward Said, interview, Power, Politics, and Culture, Out of Place, the Question of Palestine
2013 witnesses the tenth anniversary of Edward W. Said’s untimely demise. Appearing in Chinese and English respectively, this interview, conducted at Columbia University, New York on August 24, 2001, one week after the publication of Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said, complements the twenty-nine interviews included in that diverse collection of interviews from the alternative and contrapuntal perspective of the Sinophone translator of Said’s Representations of the Intellectual and Power, Politics, and Culture. In addition to revealing the story behind the publication of this book of interviews, Said also discusses issues concerning the interview as a “genre,” talks about his memoir Out of Place and his recent publication Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, laments the desperate plight of the Palestinians, and reveals his writing plans.