Aus unseren Neuerwerbungen – Nordische Philologie 2020.7


Mon­sters in soci­ety: alter­i­ty, trans­gres­sion, and the use of the past in Medieval Ice­land
Drag­ons, giants, and the mon­sters of learned dis­course are rarely encoun­tered in the Sagas of Ice­landers, and there­fore, the gen­er­al ter­a­to­log­i­cal focus on phys­i­cal mon­stros­i­ty yields only lim­it­ed results when applied to them. This, how­ev­er, does not equal an absence of mon­stros­i­ty – it only means that mon­stros­i­ty is con­ceived of dif­fer­ent­ly. This book shifts the view of mon­stros­i­ty from the phys­i­cal to the social, account­ing for the unique social cir­cum­stances pre­sent­ed in the Íslendin­gasögur and demon­strat­ing how close­ly inter­wo­ven the social and the mon­strous are in this genre. Employ­ing lit­er­ary and cul­tur­al the­o­ry as well as anthro­po­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal approach­es, it reads the mon­sters of the Íslendin­gasögur in their lit­er­ary and socio-cul­tur­al con­text, demon­strat­ing that they are not dis­trac­tions from feud and con­flict, but that they are in fact an intrin­sic part of the genre’s re-imag­in­ing of the past for the needs of the present.
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Emp­ty nurs­eries, queer occu­pants: repro­duc­tion and the future in Ibsen’s late plays
Who is the prop­er occu­pant of the nurs­ery? The obvi­ous answer is the child, and not an archive, a seduc­tive troll-princess, or poor fos­ter­lings. Nev­er­the­less, char­ac­ters in Hed­da Gabler, The Mas­ter Builder, and Lit­tle Eyolf intend to host these improp­er occu­pants in their children’s rooms. Dr. Gunn calls these dra­mas ‘the emp­ty nurs­ery plays’ because they all describe rooms intend­ed for off­spring, as well as char­ac­ters’ plans for refill­ing that space. One might expect nurs­eries to pro­vide an ide­al set­ting for a real­ist play­wright to dra­ma­tize con­tem­po­rary prob­lems. Rather than mat­ter­ing to Ibsen in terms of nat­u­ral­ist detail or explic­it social cri­tique, how­ev­er, they are reserved for the main­te­nance of char­ac­ters’ fears and expec­ta­tions con­cern­ing the future. Emp­ty Nurs­eries, Queer Occu­pants inter­venes in schol­ar­ly debates in child stud­ies by argu­ing that the emp­ty bour­geois nurs­ery is a bet­ter sym­bol for inno­cence than the child. Here, ‘empti­ness’ refers to the com­mon con­struc­tion of the child as blank and latent. In Ibsen, the child is also doomed or deceased, and thus essen­tial­ly absent, but nurs­eries per­sist as spaces of memo­ri­al­iza­tion and poten­tial alike. Nurs­eries also ges­ture toward the domains of child­hood and women’s labor, from birth to domes­tic ser­vice. ‘Bour­geois nurs­ery’ points to the classed con­struc­tion of inno­cence and to the more mate­ri­al­ist aspects of this book, which inform our under­stand­ing of domes­tic­i­ty and fam­i­ly in the West and uncov­er a set of repro­duc­tive con­no­ta­tions broad­er than ‘the inno­cent child’ can con­vey.
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