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Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism
Altered States examines the rise of Spiritualism—the religion of séances, mediums, and ghostly encounters—in the Victorian period and the role it played in undermining both traditional female roles and the rhetoric of imperialism. Focusing on a particular kind of séance event—the full-form materialization—and the bodies of the young, female mediums who performed it, Marlene Tromp argues that in the altered state of the séance new ways of understanding identity and relationships became possible. This not only demonstrably shaped the thinking of the Spiritualists, but also the popular consciousness of the period. In diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, scientific reports, and popular fiction, Tromp uncovers evidence that the radical views presented in the faith permeated and influenced mainstream Victorian thought.
Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity
Krishna—widely venerated and adored in the Hindu tradition—is a deity of many aspects. An ancient manifestation of the Supreme God Vishnu, or the Godhead itself, Krishna is the bringer of Yoga philosophy and the creator of the universe, the destroyer of evil tyrants, and the hero of the epic Mahaµbhaµrata. He is also described in classical Sanskrit texts as having human characteristics and enjoying very human pursuits: Krishna is the butter thief, cowherd, philanderer, and flute player. Yet even these playful depictions are based upon descriptions found in the Sanskrit canon, and mostly reflect familiar, classical Pan-Indian images. In this book, contributors examine the alternative, or unconventional, Krishnas, offering examples from more localized Krishna traditions found in different regions among various ethnic groups, vernacular language traditions, and remote branches of Indian religions. These wide-ranging, alternative visions of Krishna include the Tantric Krishna of Bengal, Krishna in urban women’s rituals, Krishna as monogamous husband and younger brother in Braj, Krishna in Jainism, Krishna in Maraµthiµ tradition, Krishna in South India, and the Krishna of nineteenth-century reformed Hinduism.
This dialogue between the Jewish normative tradition and Western moral philosophy addresses central contemporary issues in medical ethics. Alternatives in Jewish Bioethics consists of a dialogue between contemporary, Western moral philosophy and the Jewish tradition of legal/moral discourse (Halakha). Recognizing that no single tradition has a monopoly on valid moral teachings, it seeks to enrich our ethical perspectives through mutual exchange. This is facilitated by a non-authoritarian approach to Judaism—a clear alternative to the implicitly insular, “take-it-or-leave-it” approach often encountered in this field. Following in the footsteps of classical rabbinic discussions, normative pronouncements are grounded in reasons, open to critical examination. The “alternatives” are within the book as well—the presentation throughout avoids one-sided conclusions, citing and analyzing two or more positions to make sense of the debate. These particular arguments are also linked to a larger picture, contrasting two basic themes: religious naturalism versus religious humanism. Concretely, the book addresses some of the central contemporary issues in the ethics of medicine. These include assisted suicide and euthanasia, donor insemination and “surrogate” motherhood, the use of human cadavers for learning and research, and allocation of scarce resources at both the individual and social levels.
Aesthetic Makeovers in Medicine and Culture
Feminist theorists have often argued that aesthetic surgeries and body makeovers dehumanize and disempower women patients, whose efforts at self-improvement lead to their objectification. Amending the Abject Body proposes that although objectification is an important element in this phenomenon, the explosive growth of “makeover culture” can be understood as a process of both abjection (ridding ourselves of the unwanted) and identification (joining the community of what Julia Kristeva calls “clean and proper bodies”). Drawing from the advertisement and advocacy of body makeovers on television, in aesthetic surgery trade books, and in the print and Web-based marketing of face lifts, tummy tucks, and Botox injections, Deborah Caslav Covino articulates the relationship among objectification, abjection, and identification, and offers a fuller understanding of contemporary beauty-desire.
Explores a range of Buddhist perspectives in a distinctly American context. The US seems to be becoming a Buddhist country. Celebrity converts, the popularity of the Dalai Lama, motifs in popular movies, and mala beads at the mall indicate an increasing inculcation of Buddhism into the American consciousness, even if a relatively small percentage of the population actually describe themselves as Buddhists. This book looks beyond the trendier manifestations of Buddhism in America to look at distinctly American Buddhist ways of life—ways of perceiving and understanding. John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff have organized this unique collection in accordance with the Buddhist concept of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha section discusses the two key teachers who popularized Buddhism in America: Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki and the particular kinds of spirituality they proclaimed. The Dharma section deals with how Buddhism can enlighten current public debates and a consideration of our national past with explorations of bioethics, abortion, end-of-life decisions, and consciousness in late capitalism. The final section on the Sangha, or community of believers, discusses how Buddhist communities both formal and informal have affected American society with chapters on family life, Nisei Buddhists, gay liberation, and Zen gardens.
A Demographic Challenge for the Twenty-first Century
Presenting important work by well-known demographers, American Diversity focuses on U.S. population changes in the twenty-first century, emphasizing the nation’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity. Rather than focusing on separate groups sequentially, this work emphasizes comparisons across groups and highlights how demographic and social structural processes affect all groups. Specific topics covered include the formation of race and ethnicity; population projections by race; immigration, fertility, and mortality differentials; segregation; work and education; intermarriage; aging; and racism.
The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction
Looks at the role of Jewish American fiction in the larger context of American culture. 'In American Talmud, Ezra Cappell redefines the genre of Jewish American fiction and places it squarely within the larger context of American literature. Cappell departs from the conventional approach of defining Jewish American authors solely in terms of their ethnic origins and sociological constructs, and instead contextualizes their fiction within the theological heritage of Jewish culture. By deliberately emphasizing historical and ethnographic links to religions, religious texts, and traditions, Cappell demonstrates that twentieth-century and contemporary Jewish American fiction writers have been codifying a new Talmud, an American Talmud, and argues that the literary production of Jews in America might be seen as one more stage of rabbinic commentary on the scriptural inheritance of the Jewish people.
The Blackfeet People
A contemporary history of one of the best-known American Indian nations. Written in collaboration with Blackfoot tribal historians and educators, Amskapi Pikuni: The Blackfeet People portrays a strong native nation fighting for two centuries against domination by Anglo invaders. The Blackfeet endured bungling, corrupt, and drunken agents; racist schoolteachers; and a federal Indian Bureau that failed to disburse millions of dollars owed to the tribe. Located on a reservation in Montana cut and cut again to give land to white ranchers, the Blackfeet adapted to complete loss of their staple food, bison—a collapse of what had been a sustainable economy throughout their history. Despite all of these challenges, the nation held to its values and continues to proudly preserve its culture.