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Syrian displacement and care in contemporary Beirut
Ella Parry- Davies

This chapter discusses an artistic project devised amidst conditions of transnational displacement in the Middle East, and through it reflects on the role played by care and cooperation in the politics of art making. Dima el Mabsout’s Fleeing and Forgetting (2015) addressed the transformation of urban spaces in Lebanon by new populations of Syrian refugees, and resulted in a collection of almost two hundred photographs taken of and by refugee children in Beirut. The chapter explores the photographs in order to think through the performances of care that subtended this project, and the broader questions that these pose about art and scholarship on migration. While a visual analysis of the images may celebrate their qualities as art objects, the perceptual coordinates offered by performance emphasise the social and aesthetic care that the images perform and depend upon. The chapter thus problematises a historical tendency in some performance theory to associate migration with positively valenced notions of transgression and liminality and conversely stillness with stasis and unfreedom. The chapter proposes instead to perform scholarship ‘care-fully’, in recognising struggles for continuity and interdependence within specific experiences of transnational displacement.

in Performing care
Jayne Lloyd

This chapter argues that the care of objects could form an important part of care ethics because the performance of the processes involved in their maintenance and repair can be an important vehicle for caring for the self and other people. Applying Fisher and Tronto’s (1990) definition of ‘caring about’ and ‘caregiving’ to processes of caring for objects, it considers how relationships with everyday objects and certain acts of domestic labour become meaningful acts of self-care. The author reflects on her arts practice with care home residents living with dementia, to explore how the everyday act of doing the laundry can be reimagined in arts sessions. She proposes that artists’ performative engagements with processes of caring for objects can have an important role to play in reimagining everyday acts and establishing new models of relational care with and for older people in institutionalised care.

in Performing care
James Thompson

This chapter is an enquiry into the possible shape of an aesthetics of care drawn from the experience of looking after a Congolese colleague after he was injured in a massacre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mix of different professional and personal circumstances directs the writing towards concerns with the ethics and aesthetics of caring for others and how these relationships might provide a productive orientation for work in the field of community-based performance or applied theatre. The chapter explores debates within feminist care ethics to argue that the relations that emerge in many arts projects can be understood as forms of affective solidarity and mutual regard that, in turn, could be powerful counterweights to the exclusions and disregard in a careless society.

in Performing care
An ‘aesthetics of care’ through aural attention
Sylvan Baker and Maggie Inchley

This chapter reflects on an interdisciplinary practice research project, The Verbatim Formula (TVF), based at Queen Mary University of London, consisting of a series of residential workshops with care-experienced young people using verbatim theatre practices. Drawing on feminist care ethicist Nel Noddings’ analogy between aesthetic engagement and the art of caring, the authors reflect on the shared values and aesthetics of acts of care and participatory practices, and how these inhere in the attentiveneness, attunement and receptivity involved in performing and receiving verbatim material using headphone theatre technique. The chapter incorporates testimonies from its care-experienced co-researchers and draws on Joan Tronto’s argument that there is a radical need for an intervention into the dynamics of power in society that ensure that those for whom the structures of care are least effective are heard and attended to. In acknowledging the ‘ugliness’ of caring and the ongoing labour of attunement, listening emerges in TVF both as an aesthetic but also as a care-based participatory and political practice, that aims to empower care-experienced young people to intervene in the structures that represent them and to support adults to honour their experiences and needs.

in Performing care
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Megan Cavell and Jennifer Neville

The Afterword celebrates the communal practice that is riddling—whether composing, solving, interpreting, or editing. It aims to draw together the individual voices of the riddles and of the chapters of this volume into a communal unity that celebrates diverse methods and perspectives. This book’s sections—Words, Ideas, Interactions—arguably move, flow, collapse inward, and reconstitute themselves through the act of interpreting, just as the riddles themselves invite constant re-reading and re-interpretation of clues and solutions. Hence, the Afterword also maps out possible directions for future work in the field of riddle studies: more engagement with the Latin collections and comparative work on Scandinavian and Celtic riddle traditions, as well as critical engagement with identity, especially identity informed by disability, race and gender theories. Finally, it suggests that the insights into daily life offered through the riddles’ subversive concealments and manoeuvrings make them ideal texts for the study of identity in all its complexity.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Francesca Brooks

This chapter proposes a new grouping of Exeter Book riddles which share a semantic and metaphorical interest in ‘craft’ and ‘sound’: the acoustic craft riddles. In these riddles, worked objects speak, ring, and resound, while the practices which transform raw materials into artefacts are often euphonious and resonant in their own right. The soundscape of the craftsman’s workshop – its musical and melodious contexts – and the gifting of sounding voice to worked objects opens up the riddles to a celebration of the most meaningful of all audible human gifts: language, both spoken and written. This chapter explores how the acoustic craft riddles offer us a new critical picture of riddlic textuality which puts the material into a playful and rich relationship with the aural: sound and language can be crafted, like raw materials, in the production of aural artefacts. The riddles do not only rely on the voices of their poets; their linguistic mechanisms presuppose the social and communal value of the text within the word exchange: they leave space for the reader’s own voice to resonate in response and to re-craft solutions and propositions through the shaping power of their own voices.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
The early medieval contexts of Aldhelm’s cat riddle
Megan Cavell

Infamous for an ambivalence that riles some and charms others, the domestic cat’s relationship with humans is now the subject of extensive zooarchaeological study. The point at which domestication took place is the subject of a debate that is complicated by the interbreeding of domestic and wild cats. The complexity of the cat’s domestication goes some way toward explaining the sparse literary and linguistic evidence for this animal in early medieval England, where they seem to have existed largely without human interference. Despite this lack, Aldhelm’s fascinating Anglo-Latin riddle, Enigma 65, Muriceps, explores the role of the mouser in vivid detail. This chapter provides a close reading of Aldhelm’s riddle, after discussing the cat’s pathway to domestication and surveying comparative evidence from early medieval sources. It argues that the semi-domesticated nature of early medieval cats shines through in Aldhelm’s poem, which employs both positive imagery of the mouser’s domestic role (faithfulness, vigilance and guardianship), and negative imagery drawn from the biblical tradition (secretiveness, snare-laying and tribal enmity). Aldhelm’s cat is both a welcome cohabiter and diabolical presence in the human household, an ambiguity that is juxtaposed with the more thoroughly domesticated dog with whom the riddle-cat refuses to cooperate.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
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New translations of Exeter riddle fragments Modor Monigra (R.84), Se Wiht Wombe Hæfde (R.89), and Brunra Beot (R.92), accompanied by notes on process
Miller Wolf Oberman

This chapter offers new translations of some of the most fire-damaged riddles of the Exeter Book, accompanied by a translator’s note discussing the process of translating Old English fragments. While many translators attempt to smooth over missing language, the author is fascinated by the ways in which Old English poetry allows him to walk through its bones, and part of his translation instinct is about paying respect to gaps in these poetic remains, rather than attempting to force a seeming wholeness onto them. Old English poems already exist as sites of multiple kinds of loss. Given that these few remaining poems are in a language no longer spoken, are often damaged, and that many of them are considered without literary merit, it seems crucial to engage them in a way that honours their losses, instead of attempting to offer them ‘accessibility’. This place of loss and temporal and textual scarring is where these translations intervene and build. The translations presented in this chapter do not attempt to find answers to fragmented riddles. Instead, they communicate their words and their syntax, while preserving, rather than hiding, their damage.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Britt Mize

Several textual moments in the Vercelli Book have some similarity to the rhetoric of riddles. This chapter illustrates their conformity to a larger pattern in that manuscript’s texts, a pervasive engagement with conditional revelation that promotes what the author calls ‘enigmatic knowing’: a form of access to discourses of authority that stands in radical contrast to those that characterise modern academic structures of thought about similar problem-solving tasks. Many Vercelli Book poems and homilies show a preoccupation with revelation of truth only through the effort or virtue required to obtain privileged understanding; they posit a structuring of information or knowledge whereby signs inscrutable to many nevertheless contain what is needed to interpret them correctly, provided that their interpreters bring the proper ethical orientations and address themselves to the challenge with a spirit of responsibility. Such narratives of revelation often play out through rhetorical engagements with wisdom, celebrations of paradox, and scenes of intellectual confrontation that intersect the discursive mode of riddles in numerous ways.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
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An ecofeminist reading of Modor Monigra (R.84)
Corinne Dale

Recent studies of Exeter Book riddles and Old English literature have begun to reveal their ecological underpinnings, drawing on ecocriticism to explore the relationship between human beings and the rest of the created world. There is still much to explore in this growing field, including the relationship between the oppression of the natural world and the oppression of women. This chapter discusses Old English texts from an ecofeminist perspective, exploring the representation of, and forging links between, these two oppressed groups. It suggests that, where texts like The Wife’s Lament and The Order of the World depict both nature and women as dominated by an androcentric and anthropocentric worldview, a number of Exeter Book riddles challenge such depictions, offering us, for example, the depiction of water as both a feminine natural force and a celebrated monstrous female that is sellic (‘wonderful’) and freolic (‘free’). Drawing on recent ecofeminist scholarship in the field of eco-theology, this chapter suggests that certain riddles, including Modor Monigra (R.84), interrogate the human- and male-centred nature of wisdom and free early medieval women and the natural world from patriarchal oppression.

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition