19,060 research outputs found

    Comedians without a Cause: The Politics and Aesthetics of Humour in Dutch Cabaret (1966-2020)

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    Comedians play an important role in society and public debate. While comedians have been considered important cultural critics for quite some time, comedy has acquired a new social and political significance in recent years, with humour taking centre stage in political and social debates around issues of identity, social justice, and freedom of speech. To understand the shifting meanings and political implications of humour within a Dutch context, this PhD thesis examines the political and aesthetic workings of humour in the highly popular Dutch cabaret genre, focusing on cabaret performances from the 1960s to the present. The central questions of the thesis are: how do comedians use humour to deliver social critique, and how does their humour resonate with political ideologies? These questions are answered by adopting a cultural studies approach to humour, which is used to analyse Dutch cabaret performances, and by studying related materials such as reviews and media interviews with comedians. This thesis shows that, from the 1960s onwards, Dutch comedians have been considered ‘progressive rebels’ – politically engaged, subversive, and carrying a left-wing political agenda – but that this image is in need of correction. While we tend to look for progressive political messages in the work of comedians who present themselves as being anti-establishment rebels – such as Youp van ‘t Hek, Hans Teeuwen, and Theo Maassen – this thesis demonstrates that their transgressive and provocative humour tends to protect social hierarchies and relationships of power. Moreover, it shows that, paradoxically, both the deliberately moderate and nuanced humour of Wim Kan and Claudia de Breij, and the seemingly past-oriented nostalgia of Alex Klaasen, are more radical and progressive than the transgressive humour of van ‘t Hek, Teeuwen and Maassen. Finally, comedians who present absurdist or deconstructionist forms of humour, such as the early student cabarets, Freek de Jonge, and Micha Wertheim, tend to disassociate themselves from an explicit political engagement. By challenging the dominant image of the Dutch comedian as a ‘progressive rebel,’ this thesis contributes to a better understanding of humour in the present cultural moment, in which humour is often either not taken seriously, or one-sidedly celebrated as being merely pleasurable, innocent, or progressively liberating. In so doing, this thesis concludes, the ‘dark’ and more conservative sides of humour tend to get obscured

    BEYOND THE MYTH: Screenwriting Approaches to Biographical Films

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    This PhD submission comprises an original screenplay on the relationship between African American activist Paul Robeson and the mining community of south Wales titled Robeson: They Can’t Stop Us Singing, and the accompanying exegesis. The aim is to explore, by academic study (gnosis) and creative practice (praxis), the previously overlooked field of writing biographical films, or biopics, and to acknowledge the role of the screenwriter in telling a person’s life story on film. The script is the experiment; the exegesis is the analysis and methodology. The role of the screenwriter is underrepresented across cinema studies, but no more so than in the discussion of biopics. My exegesis begins by exploring what academic and popular writing already exists on English-language biopics, highlighting that amidst auteurist approaches prevalent in cinema studies, little credit has been afforded to screenwriters. I seek to address this by examining how screenwriters have responded to historiographical and socio-political contexts while balancing the needs of the audience with factual integrity (or sometimes not), before using the case studies of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh to explore how American hero figures have been represented on screen. How does a script written on Lincoln in 1939, for example, differ in terms of tone and political philosophy to one delivered in the 21st century? Using historical approaches, the exegesis then examines the life of Paul Robeson and the Welsh miners he knew, to observe the meticulous choices required by the screenwriter researching and writing a biopic script. Using primary sources (interviews with living dramatic writers, including the BAFTA-nominated screenwriter of the biopic, Good Vibrations) and secondary sources (screenplays, films, audio, interviews, other academic writing), I question where and when to begin and end a biographical story, which parts of a person’s life to include or jettison, how to make a historical figure’s events pertinent to a contemporary audience, and how to utilise fictionalised elements in a drama while adhering to a central truth. My own screenplay on Robeson and Wales is the embodiment of this research. The script demonstrates the myriad artistic decisions that need to be made to present the qualities and flaws of the historical figure. It shows why fictionalised moments and composite characters contribute to an understanding of a real person’s motives and feelings in a way documentary and historical writing cannot. And it stands as a record of the screenwriter’s previously overlooked contribution to creating biographical films

    How the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche can be succinctly encapsulated within his Apollonian-Dionysian dichotomy

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    This thesis aims to illustrate that the broad philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche can be subordinated to his conceptual dichotomy: the Apollonian-Dionysian dichotomy. Through an analysis of the Birth of Tragedy, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, as well as a brief analysis of the Will to Power, I will make the case that the dichotomy is the umbrella under which all Nietzschean concepts are to be read and understood. The texts that were chosen represent key stages in Nietzsche’s intellectual development – from the Birth of Tragedy, which marks the beginning of Nietzschean philosophy; to Twilight of the Idols, which represents the end. The constituent parts of the dichotomy are to be understood in two contexts: firstly, the terms (Apollonian/Dionysian) are used to denote the forces required for the creation of art; secondly, the terms come to signify the type of individual who makes use of those forces as it is the case that different types of art can be created by different types of men. Nietzschean philosophy is to be understood through art as it is explicitly stated that the essence of existence is one of a perpetual Becoming wherein there exists only that which is created by man, for man, in service of man’s own will to power. All attempts to discern a fixed Being in-itself existing outside of this will to power are false and are indicative of a weak and sickly disposition, the symptoms of which are found in the progenitors’ art (be it a morality, table of categories, or a transcendent deity). Through the positing of the thing-in-itself as the will to power Nietzsche conceptualises the world of Becoming as a canvas onto which two different types of men imprint a Being which reveals, physiologically, their endowment as either Apollonian or Dionysian

    How ideology affected education in the German Democratic Republic 1945–1959

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    Abstract. Ideologies exist in all societies. They influence for example politics, economics and also education. Ideology or ideologies are detectable in all parts of education such as curriculum, textbooks and teacher education. Therefore, education is not neutral. As an example of the ideology of the society affecting education, I will be looking at the Ger-man Democratic Republic’s education system in the years 1945–1959. In my thesis I will show how the Soviet Union imposed its Marxist-Leninist ideology into the education system after the denazification of it as a consequence of the Second world war. The relevance of ideologies has not disappeared. They still have an influence in societies. By inspecting ideologies, we can better understand their influence in today’s world. Through understanding, we can aim to contradict the current ideologies and aim to change their influence on the different aspects of the society

    Towards a sociology of conspiracy theories: An investigation into conspiratorial thinking on Dönmes

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    This thesis investigates the social and political significance of conspiracy theories, which has been an academically neglected topic despite its historical relevance. The academic literature focuses on the methodology, social significance and political impacts of these theories in a secluded manner and lacks empirical analyses. In response, this research provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for conspiracy theories by considering their methodology, political impacts and social significance in the light of empirical data. Theoretically, the thesis uses Adorno's semi-erudition theory along with Girardian approach. It proposes that conspiracy theories are methodologically semi-erudite narratives, i.e. they are biased in favour of a belief and use reason only to prove it. It suggests that conspiracy theories appear in times of power vacuum and provide semi-erudite cognitive maps that relieve alienation and ontological insecurities of people and groups. In so doing, they enforce social control over their audience due to their essentialist, closed-to-interpretation narratives. In order to verify the theory, the study analyses empirically the social and political significance of conspiracy theories about the Dönme community in Turkey. The analysis comprises interviews with conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theory readers and political parties, alongside a frame analysis of the popular conspiracy theory books on Dönmes. These confirm the theoretical framework by showing that the conspiracy theories are fed by the ontological insecurities of Turkish society. Hence, conspiracy theorists, most readers and some political parties respond to their own ontological insecurities and political frustrations through scapegoating Dönmes. Consequently, this work shows that conspiracy theories are important symptoms of society, which, while relieving ontological insecurities, do not provide politically prolific narratives

    Coloniality and the Courtroom: Understanding Pre-trial Judicial Decision Making in Brazil

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    This thesis focuses on judicial decision making during custody hearings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The impetus for the study is that while national and international protocols mandate the use of pre-trial detention only as a last resort, judges continue to detain people pre-trial in large numbers. Custody hearings were introduced in 2015, but the initiative has not produced the reduction in pre-trial detention that was hoped. This study aims to understand what informs judicial decision making at this stage. The research is approached through a decolonial lens to foreground legacies of colonialism, overlooked in mainstream criminological scholarship. This is an interview-based study, where key court actors (judges, prosecutors, and public defenders) and subject matter specialists were asked about influences on judicial decision making. Interview data is complemented by non-participatory observation of custody hearings. The research responds directly to Aliverti et al.'s (2021) call to ‘decolonize the criminal question’ by exposing and explaining how colonialism informs criminal justice practices. Answering the call in relation to judicial decision making, findings provide evidence that colonial-era assumptions, dynamics, and hierarchies were evident in the practice of custody hearings and continue to inform judges’ decisions, thus demonstrating the coloniality of justice. This study is significant for the new empirical data presented and theoretical innovation is also offered via the introduction of the ‘anticitizen’. The concept builds on Souza’s (2007) ‘subcitizen’ to account for the active pursuit of dangerous Others by judges casting themselves as crime fighters in a modern moral crusade. The findings point to the limited utility of human rights discourse – the normative approach to influencing judicial decision making around pre-trial detention – as a plurality of conceptualisations compete for dominance. This study has important implications for all actors aiming to reduce pre-trial detention in Brazil because unless underpinning colonial logics are addressed, every innovation risks becoming the next lei para inglês ver (law [just] for the English to see)

    ‘Mental fight’ and ‘seeing & writing’ in Virginia Woolf and William Blake

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    This thesis is the first full-length study to assess the writer and publisher Virginia Woolf’s (1882-1941) responses to the radical Romantic poet-painter, and engraver, William Blake (1757-1827). I trace Woolf’s public and private, overt and subtle references to Blake in fiction, essays, notebooks, diaries, letters and drawings. I have examined volumes in Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s library that are pertinent, directly and indirectly, to Woolf’s understanding of Blake. I focus on Woolf’s key phrases about Blake: ‘Mental fight’, and ‘seeing & writing.’ I consider the other phrases Woolf uses to think about Blake in the context of these two categories. Woolf and Blake are both interested in combining visual and verbal aesthetics (‘seeing & writing’). They are both critical of their respective cultures (‘Mental fight’). Woolf mentions ‘seeing & writing’ in connection to Blake in a 1940 notebook. She engages with Blake’s ‘Mental fight’ in ‘Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid’ (1940). I map late nineteenth and early twentieth-century opinion on Blake and explore Woolf’s engagement with Blake in these wider contexts. I make use of the circumstantial detail of Woolf’s friendship with the great Blake collector and scholar, Geoffrey Keynes (1887-1982), brother of Bloomsbury economist John Maynard Keynes. Woolf was party to the Blake centenary celebrations courtesy of Geoffrey Keynes’s organisation of the centenary exhibition in London in 1927. Chapter One introduces Woolf’s explicit references to Blake and examines the record of Woolf scholarship that unites Woolf and Blake. To see how her predecessors had responded, Chapter Two examines the nineteenth-century interest in Blake and Woolf’s engagement with key nineteenth-century Blakeans. Chapter Three looks at the modernist, early twentieth-century engagement with Blake, to contextualise Woolf’s position on Blake. Chapter Four assesses how Woolf and Blake use ‘Mental fight’ to oppose warmongering and fascist politics. Chapter Five is about what Woolf and Blake write and think about the country and the city. Chapter Six discusses Woolf’s reading of John Milton (1608-1674) in relation to her interest in Blake, drawing on the evidence of Blake’s intense reading of Milton. Chapter Seven examines further miscellaneous continuities between Woolf and Blake. Chapter Eight proposes, in conclusion, that we can only form an impression of Woolf’s Blake. The thesis also has three appendices. First, a chronology of key publications which chart Blake’s reputation as well as Woolf’s allusions to Blake. Second a list all of Blake’s poetry represented in Woolf’s library including contents page. The third lists all the other volumes in Woolf’s library that proved relevant. Although Woolf’s writing is the subject of this thesis, my project necessitates an attempt to recover how Blake was understood and misunderstood by numerous writers in the early twentieth century. The thesis argues Blake is a model radical Romantic who combines the visual and the verbal and that Woolf sees him as a kindred artist

    From Democrat to Dissident

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    Recounts the author's experiences and reasons that led him to reject the Democratic Party and become a conservative
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