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Author: Eric Pudney

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.

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
Author: Allyn Fives

What does the work of Judith Shklar reveal to us about the proper role and limits of political theory? In particular, what are the implications of her arguments both for the way in which we should think of freedom and for the approach we should take to the resolution of moral conflicts? There is growing interest in Shklar’s arguments, in particular the so-called liberalism of fear, characteristic of her mature work. She has become an important influence for those taking a sceptical approach to political thought and also for those concerned first and foremost with the avoidance of great evils. However, this book shows that the most important factor shaping her mature work is not her scepticism but, rather, a value monist approach to both moral conflict and freedom, and that this represents a radical departure from the value pluralism (and scepticism) of her early work. This book also advances a clear line of argument in defence of value pluralism in political theory, one that builds on but moves beyond Shklar’s own early work.

Gothic Parody in Gibbons, Atwood and Weldon
Avril Horne and 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)
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
The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks and 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
Megan Daigle, Sarah Martin, and Henri Myrttinen

and 2009 ( Stoddard et al. , 2009 : 1). The year 2018 saw 405 attacks, the second-highest number on record ( Humanitarian Outcomes, 2019b ). By way of explanation, Eckroth (2010 : 5) points to the increasingly ‘complicated’ post-Cold War and post-9/11 world, which has made aid work more ambiguous and fomented scepticism of humanitarian principles. It bears noting that data on aid worker security is limited, heavily dependent on the Aid Worker

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
How we avoid insight from others
Author: Mikael Klintman

Why do people and groups ignore, deny and resist knowledge about society’s many problems? In a world of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’, and ‘fact resistance’ that some believe could be remedied by ‘factfulness’ or ‘enlightenment’, the question has never been more pressing. Following years of ideologically polarised debates on this topic, the book seeks to further advance our understanding of the phenomenon of knowledge resistance by integrating insights from the social, economic, and evolutionary sciences. In current debates and studies, several vital factors are downplayed: that all people and institutions – even science – occasionally resist knowledge while calling their resistance ‘scepticism’, that knowledge resistance is not always irrational, that facts don’t equal truth, and that knowledge claims continuously need to be re-evaluated. Ignoring such key factors undermines the chances of reducing problematic knowledge resistance. Examples used in the book include controversies over climate change, the roots of violence, gender roles, religion, child-rearing, vaccination, genetically modified food, and artificial intelligence. In addition to accessible discussion of the scholarly literature and media sources, in-depth interviews with other renowned human scientists in the UK about their perspectives on knowledge resistance contribute to understanding this intriguing phenomenon. Moreover, the author shares his personal experiences of cultural clashes between different knowledge claims. The book is written for the educated public, students, and scholars interested in how people and groups handle knowledge controversies, and how such disputes can be resolved in the service of better managing the urgent social, environmental, and health-related problems of today.