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Leather, sex, archives, and contemporary art

Bound Together: Leather, Sex, Archives, and Contemporary Art considers historic gay and lesbian leather communities by way of two interrelated lines of enquiry; addressing the archives where leather histories and their attendant visual and material objects currently reside, while also examining the projects of contemporary artists who bring leather histories to the fore, making an implicit argument for their potential queer political force in the present. Arguing for an expansive, yet grounded, consideration of the vicissitudes and pleasures of archival work, the book centers the material and visual cultures produced by members of gay and lesbian leather communities, tracing their contextual meanings at the time of their making, as well as their continued ability to produce community-specific histories in archival repositories (that may or may not be solely dedicated to leather communities). Contemporary artists such as Dean Sameshima, Die Kränken, Monica Majoli, A. K. Burns and A. L. Steiner, and Patrick Staff have incorporated the themes, materialities, and/or histories of such archival holdings into their heterogeneous practices, establishing leather history as a persistent and generative touchstone for rethinking queer life, relationality, and sexual politics.

Based on a study of intersecting French archives (those of the Val de Grâce Hospital, the Service Historique de la Défense and the Archives Diplomatiques), and with the support of numerous printed sources, this article focuses on the handling of the bodies of French soldiers who died of cholera during the Crimean War (1854–56). As a continuation of studies done by historians Luc Capdevila and Danièle Voldman, the aim here is to consider how the diseased corpses of these soldiers reveal both the causes and circumstances of their deaths. Beyond the epidemiological context, these dead bodies shed light on the sanitary conditions and suffering resulting from years of military campaigns. To conclude, the article analyses the material traces left by these dead and the way that the Second Empire used them politically, giving the remains of leaders who died on the front lines of the cholera epidemic a triumphant return to the country and a state funeral.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
A ‘Lost’ Epilogue to Maturin‘s Bertram?

This essay discusses the possibility of a new reading of Charles Maturins Bertram; or, The Castle of St. Aldobrandon the basis of a hitherto ignored manuscript, ‘Epilogue’ to the drama found in the archives of publisher John Murray. The essay adds a new chapter to the tormented publishing history of this work and sheds light on the ambiguous and shifting moral and political interpretations given by both Maturin and his audience to one of the most famous Gothic dramas.

Gothic Studies

In The Arcades Project, Benjamin explores the different aspects of nineteenth-century culture, in search of a historical reality to which people can awake in a revelatory act of political consciousness. However, the uncanny effects of his archival approach impinge on this revelatory and sublime process. Rather than revealing the political, economic, and technological latent content of the past, representations of the material object confront consciousness with the unfamiliar and abject forms of the repressed collective unconscious. The Gothic tropes of Benjamin‘s text are the traces of the melancholy haunting his concept of a demystifying revelation of historical and material truth.

Gothic Studies

This review article charts the general direction of scholarship in James Baldwin studies between the years 2015 and 2016, reflecting on important scholarly events and publications of the period and identifying notable trends in criticism. While these years witnessed a continuing interest in the relationship of Baldwin’s work to other authors and art forms as well as his transnational literary imagination, noted in previous scholarly reviews, three newly emergent trends are notable: an increased attention to Baldwin in journals primarily devoted to the study of literatures in English, a new wave of multidisciplinary studies of Baldwin, and a burgeoning archival turn in Baldwin criticism.

James Baldwin Review
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‘We Want “U” In’

This short essay draws on research undertaken by the curator of the Scottish Screen Archive on the few surviving films credited to Greens Film Service of Glasgow in the teens and twenties. The research revealed a dynamic family business, born out of the travelling cinematograph shows of the late nineteenth century, growing to assume a dominant role in the Scottish cinema trade in the silent era, across exhibition, distribution and production. One small part of a lost film history waiting for rediscovery – early cinema in Scotland.

Film Studies
Blacklisted Writers and TV in the 1950s and 1960s

Given the relative lack of attention to specific TV programmes and episodes in interviews with surviving blacklistees until recently, given the relative lack of availability of 1950s and 1960s TV shows on video, on DVD or even in archives, given the relative lack of complete or reliable information on the credits of many TV series and shows, and given the sheer number of episodes (closer to a thousand than to hundred) requiring research, attention and study, the difficulties facing those interested in researching the blacklistees and TV are all the more formidable. This article begins the task of listing blacklistee‘s television credits.

Film Studies
Understanding Production, Humour and Political Context through Nice Coloured Girls (1987) and The Sapphires (2012)

How Indigenous Australian history has been portrayed and who has been empowered to define it is a complex and controversial subject in contemporary Australian society. This article critically examines these issues through two Indigenous Australian films: Nice Coloured Girls (1987) and The Sapphires (2012). These two films contrast in style, theme and purpose, but each reclaims Indigenous history on its own terms. Nice Coloured Girls offers a highly fragmented and experimental history reclaiming Indigenous female agency through the appropriation of the colonial archive. The Sapphires eschews such experimentation. It instead celebrates Indigenous socio-political links with African American culture, ‘Black is beautiful’, and the American Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. Crucially, both these films challenge notions of a singular and tragic history for Indigenous Australia. Placing the films within their wider cultural contexts, this article highlights the diversity of Indigenous Australian cinematic expression and the varied ways in which history can be reclaimed on film. However, it also shows that the content, form and accessibility of both works are inextricably linked to the industry concerns and material circumstances of the day. This is a crucial and overlooked aspect of film analysis and has implications for a more nuanced appreciation of Indigenous film as a cultural archive.

Film Studies

This article discusses how Armenians have collected, displayed and exchanged the bones of their murdered ancestors in formal and informal ceremonies of remembrance in Dayr al-Zur, Syria – the final destination for hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the deportations of 1915. These pilgrimages – replete with overlapping secular and nationalist motifs – are a modern variant of historical pilgrimage practices; yet these bones are more than relics. Bone rituals, displays and vernacular memorials are enacted in spaces of memory that lie outside of official state memorials, making unmarked sites of atrocity more legible. Vernacular memorial practices are of particular interest as we consider new archives for the history of the Armenian Genocide. The rehabilitation of this historical site into public consciousness is particularly urgent, since the Armenian Genocide Memorial Museum and Martyr’s Church at the centre of the pilgrimage site were both destroyed by ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) in 2014.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

This article aims to shed light on the post-mortem practices for Palestinian dead bodies when there is suspicion of human rights violations by Israeli military forces. By focusing on the case of Omran Abu Hamdieh from Al-Khalil (Hebron), the article explores the interactions between Palestinian social-institutional agents, Israeli military forces and international medico-legal agents. Drawing on ethnographic and archival data, the article explores how the intersectionality between the various controlling powers is inscribed over the Palestinian dead bodies and structures their death rites. The article claims that inviting foreign medico-legal experts in the Palestinian context could reveal the true death story and the human rights violations, but also reaffirms the sovereignty of the Israeli military forces over the Palestinian dead and lived bodies.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal