On Violence

Broj 2 - Godina 4 - 06/2014

Uvodnik

The eighth issue of [sic] – a Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation is upon us, offering once again a myriad of texts, analyses, approaches and thoughts, all “hiding” behind a name borrowed from the Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences conference. The conference was titled “On Violence”, and it presented a plethora of trans-disciplinary discursive multiverses, all focusing on the issue, the appeal and/or the abhorrence of violence. The current issue of our journal strongly reflects this ambivalent appeal as it tries to bring forth some of the issues problematized during the conference. ..

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Izdvojeno

Historian Mark Noll’s magisterial America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln was an immediate sensation when it appeared in 2002. Jon Butler, the Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies at Yale University, declared “America’s God delineates the Americanization of an Old World Protestantism with a breadth, learning, and sophistication unmatched by any other historian.” Noll describes this process of “Americanization” as consisting of a “shift away from European theological traditions, descended directly from the Protestant Reformation, toward a Protestant evangelical theology decisively shaped by its engagement with Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary America.” And Noll concludes that this American “Protestant evangelicalism differed from the religion of the Protestant Reformation as much as sixteenth-century Reformation Protestantism differed from the Roman Catholic theology from which it emerged.”This paper will argue that, notwithstanding Noll’s considerable achievement, his identification of an “American” synthesis minimizes (although it never denies) the profound sectional variations of that synthesis. In doing so, Noll downplays the ways in which two competing social formations, grounded in fundamentally different systems of social relations, prevented the synthesis from fully uniting “Americans.” The different understandings of the synthesis, like the different understandings of its central texts – the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution – reflected the chasm that separated white Northerners and white Southerners and made both groups see themselves as the true defenders of “America’s God.” Noll’s work thus both enriches our understanding of the how most white Americans differed from their European contemporaries, and simultaneously demonstrates the fundamental divide within American national identity, a divide so pronounced that only a long and bloody war could settle the question of which of the two competing national projects was “God’s America.”...

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The departure point of this article is that however one conceives the practice of American Studies one has to recognize that it is a disciplinary practice. In accordance with this contention the author proceeds to discuss the notion of the discipline as such before he goes on to ask and answer the question: “How do American Studies constitute themselves?” The author argues that American Studies, like other disciplines, constituted itself by objectifying an exceptional polity. The crux of his argument is that this self-constitution was founded on an act of erasure, whereby the evidence of capitalism was elided from the research agenda of the discipline. Contending that this erasure is paradoxical considering that American Studies has as its object the exemplary capitalist nation, the author proceeds to delineate the reasons for this erasure. He goes on to contend that American Studies was complicit with the capitalist system of production and that one can speak of it as being a part of an ideological apparatus. However, he proceeds by showing that the discipline of American Studies has always had to address the evidence of its object, namely the historical transformations in the United States, which have forced the discipline, at different points of the historical continuum, to revise its protocols and research agenda. In the last part of the article the author maintains that the unfolding economic crisis sets the ground for one such transformation and that the “command of money,” which has been revealed by the crisis, beckons us to undertake a new interdisciplinary networking, this time with economics. In the conclusion of the paper the author argues that the challenges of the present moment force the discipline to attend to postdisciplinary developments which have been proposed as ways with which to address the intractability of the present mutation of capitalism. At the very end of the article the author articulates and identifies the political position which is implied in his reading of American Studies as a disciplinary practice....

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The texts before you were, in their shorter version, originally presented at the inaugural symposium of the Croatian Association for American Studies (Hrvatsko udruženje za američke studije), established in 2010 with the aim of bringing together researchers and academics in Croatian institutions of higher education that teach, research and are working towards their degrees in different fields comprising American Studies. The first and hopefully not the last symposium showcased a considerable number of Croatian Americanists, while hosting also a few guests from abroad, among them one of the keynote speakers, Professor Douglas Ambrose of Hamilton College, USA. The other plenary address was delivered by Professor Stipe Grgas of the University of Zagreb whose work has been a mainstay of American Studies in Croatia and beyond. While Ambrose, as a historian of the early America and the antebellum society, revisits the importance of religion for the fateful conflict between the North and the South, especially as it is presented by some more recent views, Grgas delves deep into the very core of the disciplinary rationale finding there an interesting, even if unselfconscious, occlusion and evasion pertaining to the role of capitalism and the capitalist economy in the installment and development of American Studies. Thus both scholars, each tackling a different aspect of America, show how older approaches are continuously reinvigorated by the influx of new ideas and new interdisciplinary interventions. This gives the feel of a discipline constantly on the move and in the mood of reshaping itself. In this section, the reshaping is done by means of two major socio-cultural phenomena of long duration, religion and capitalism....

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This paper sets out to examine the extent to which the novel The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo confirms the hypothesis that in the 21st century the crime novel has become a platform suitable for the examination of national identity and the nature of violence in given social surroundings. The paper introduces the hypothesis that there is an undercurrent of unease perceivable in contemporary Norwegian society. The existence of the supporters of the Nazi regime in the history of the nation which after World War II has constituted itself as a modern, tolerant and multicultural society, causes a crisis of identity and evokes a new take-off of right-wing politics. Therefore, the policy of resistance to Nazism and the celebration of tolerance and multiculturalism are on slippery ground. But Nesbo's re-examination of national identity is not conducted solely for the purpose of questioning the absoluteness of ethical positions of good and evil; Nesbo transposes the contemporary Norwegian crime novel from the domain of subjective violence into the realm of objective violence. The paper argues that Nesbo explores the categories of the immoral and the righteous within Norwegian society, pinpointing thereby the dangers of a policy which uses the fear of immigrants as a means of mobilising the nation. ...

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