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Eric Pudney

1 Scepticism in the Renaissance Scepticism has long been acknowledged to be a vital feature of Renaissance thought, and one which has been said to distinguish the period from the Middle Ages. Conventionally, Renaissance scepticism has been seen as part of what puts the ‘modern’ into ‘early modern’: the questioning of old certainties which ultimately helped to usher in the Enlightenment. This view understates the importance of sceptical attitudes within the medieval period; as early as the fifth or sixth century, Pseudo-Dionysius was emphasising the unknowability

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681

This book situates witchcraft drama within its cultural and intellectual context, highlighting the centrality of scepticism and belief in witchcraft to the genre. It is argued that these categories are most fruitfully understood not as static and mutually exclusive positions within the debate around witchcraft, but as rhetorical tools used within it. In drama, too, scepticism and belief are vital issues. The psychology of the witch character is characterised by a combination of impious scepticism towards God and credulous belief in the tricks of the witch’s master, the devil. Plays which present plausible depictions of witches typically use scepticism as a support: the witch’s power is subject to important limitations which make it easier to believe. Plays that take witchcraft less seriously present witches with unrestrained power, an excess of belief which ultimately induces scepticism. But scepticism towards witchcraft can become a veneer of rationality concealing other beliefs that pass without sceptical examination. The theatrical representation of witchcraft powerfully demonstrates its uncertain status as a historical and intellectual phenomenon; belief and scepticism in witchcraft drama are always found together, in creative tension with one another.

Gothic Parody in Gibbons, Atwood and Weldon
Avril Horne
Sue Zlosnik

This essay examines a particular kind of female Gothic. Seizing the moment at which features of Gothic form had become sufficiently established to become part of a cultural inheritance, some twentieth-century women writers, we argue, created comic Gothic fictions that extended the boundaries of potential feminine identity. Stella Gibbon‘s Cold Comfort Farm pits an Austen sensibility against a rural Radcliffean scenario and proceeds to parody both as literary ancestors of a contemporary narrative of femininity. Fay Weldon‘s The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983) also appropriates aspects of Gothic to spin a darkly comic tale of literary and literally constructed ‘woman’. The essay also looks at the Canadian novel published a year earlier, Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood, which engages playfully with the relationship between Gothic writing and the feminine. Such texts constitute a challenge to the grand récit of gender difference, a challenge that has yet to be recognized fully by feminist critics many of whom have concentrated their energies on the feminist pursuit of life-writing. Female writers of comic Gothic, however, confront the stuff of patriarchy‘s nightmares and transform it into fictions of wry scepticism or celebratory anarchy. Through parody as ‘repetition with critical difference’, the boundaries of gender difference are destabilized in the service of creating different possibilities for female subjectivity. In their resistance both to tragic closure and their recasting of the fears of patriarchal society from a feminine perspective, such texts transform a literature of terror into a literature of liberation.

Gothic Studies
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori

limited to operating in countries under Western tutelage, but even those inspired by anti-communism were cautious about structural integration into Western security strategies. At the beginning of the 1990s, NGOs shrugged off their scepticism for the morality of state power, working more closely with Western military forces. Private and government funding for humanitarian operations increased. With the help of news media, humanitarian agencies boosted their political capital, presenting themselves as providers of public moral conscience for the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
The Politics of Infectious Disease
Duncan McLean
Michaël Neuman

theories, there is also a broader scepticism that questions the priorities of international donors, not to mention a clear political failure on the part of the State, that should not be glossed over ( Khan and Constable, 2019 ). It was with this rich and often tragic historical background in mind that the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs published a call for papers in January 2021 on the politics of infectious disease. The collective experience of COVID-19 has certainly

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Lessons from the MSF Listen Experience
Jake Leyland
Sandrine Tiller
, and
Budhaditya Bhattacharya

of Imams in northern Somalia is a good example of how trust mediates belief in a piece of information. In February 2021, an MSF health promoter (HP) in Somalia uploaded something recounted to him by an influential local imam: ‘The COVID-19 vaccine contains pork-derived gelatine in its ingredients.’ This was relayed by the imam to his following regularly, resulting in local scepticism of all vaccines. However, over the course of a few conversations, the HP noted that the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order
Stephen Hopgood

important in a world whose rules they did not write, allege that human rights and humanitarianism represent the soft-power version of Western modernity, another vector for the transmission of liberal-capitalist values and interests that threatens their hold on national power and resources. China, with its muscular conception of sovereignty and its no-questions-asked relationship with other authoritarian states, leads the way. These non-Western states can hardly be blamed for their scepticism given the degree to which humanitarians often attend crises

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Louise Beaumais

system: the criticism of the quantified need-system, considered to be suited to donors; the lack of data literacy of humanitarian workers; and finally, the refusal to dehumanise the profession. A Need-System Suited to Donors A first factor to explain the stagnation of EBH is the criticism (or, at the very least, scepticism) of the quantified need-system which is at the root of EBH. In the literature, this criticism is often associated with the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Architecture, Building and Humanitarian Innovation
Tom Scott-Smith

-to-earth living standards to interpreting and fulfilling human desires’ ( Aravena, 2016 : 3–4). It was the last week before the Biennale closed for the season, and I had, over the previous summer, read a great deal of enthusiastic commentary on the event and its explicitly humanitarian intentions. I was keen to see the exhibits, especially given my long-running scepticism about the ability of architects to play a useful role in humanitarianism. However, after walking through the many

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks
Rob Grace

public advocacy at the organisational level, as well as the converse risks of remaining silent, humanitarian practitioners have also expressed various concerns about speaking out. One concern is about whether public advocacy is actually impactful, and what form of advocacy should humanitarians pursue. On the one hand, interviewees articulated scepticism about whether the plethora of data gathering and awareness raising initiatives in this area – such as the Aid Worker Security Database, the Aid in Danger project, the ICRC’s Health Care in Danger initiative, and MSF

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs