What can literary theory reveal about discourses and practices of human rights, and how can human rights frameworks help to make sense of literature? How have human rights concerns shaped the literary marketplace, and how can literature impact human rights concerns? Essays in this volume theorize how both literature and reading literarily can shape understanding of human rights in productive ways. Contributors to Theoretical Perspectives on Human Rights and Literature provide a shared history of modern literature and rights; theorize how trauma, ethics, subjectivity, and witnessing shape representations of human rights violations and claims in literary texts across a range of genres (including poetry, the novel, graphic narrative, short story, testimonial, and religious fables); and consider a range of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights and their representations. The authors reflect on the imperial and colonial histories of human rights as well as the cynical mobilization of human rights discourses in the name of war, violence, and repression; at the same time, they take seriously Gayatri Spivak’s exhortation that human rights is something that we "cannot not want," exploring the central function of storytelling at the heart of all human rights claims, discourses, and policies.
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Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg is an associate professor of English at Babson College, where she teaches courses in international literatures and human rights. She is author of Beyond Terror: Gender, Narrative and Human Rights (2007) as well as articles in books and in journals such as Callaloo, South Atlantic Review, and Peace Review.
Alexandra Schultheis Moore is associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the author of Regenerative Fictions: Postcolonialism, Psychoanalysis, and the Nation as Family (2004) as well as essays in edited collections and journals including Contemporary Literature, South Asian Review, Peace Review, and Genders.Review:
"The range of voices represented in the book is remarkable...Theoretical Perspectives on Human Rights and Literature promises to be an important contribution not only because it effectively described the burgeoning subfield of literature and human rights, but also because its theoretical interventions help to consolidate and advance that subfield." –James Dawes, Macalester College, Comparative Literature
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