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Beyond the Altar

Women Religious, Patriarchal Power, and the Church

Christine L.M. Gervais

Beyond the Altar illustrates how women religious overcome sexist subjugation by side-stepping the patriarchal power of the Roman Catholic Church. This book counters the stereotypical image of Catholic nuns as being loyally compliant with their church by showing how a number of current and former women religious in Canada challenge their institutional religion’s precepts and engage in transformative strategies to effect change both within and outside the Roman Catholic Church.

The sisters’ testimonials reveal never-before-shared details about their painful experiences of male domination, their courageous efforts to move beyond such sexist stifling, and the women-led and women-centered spiritual, governance, and activist practices they have engendered in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Featuring many examples of the sisters’ resourcefulness, resilience, and resistance, this book fills a void in international scholarship on what Canadian Catholic women religious have endured and accomplished. Through interviews and in-depth accounts of the complexities and nuances present in the current and former sisters’ lives, readers will discover their steadfast indomitability as they strategically, and sometimes subversively, innovate their spiritual spaces.

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The Biblical Politics of John Locke

John Locke is often thought of as one of the founders of the Enlightenment, a movement that sought to do away with the Bible and religion and replace them with scientific realism. But Locke was extremely interested in the Bible, and he was engaged by biblical theology and religion throughout his life. In this new book, K.I. Parker considers Locke’s interest in Scripture and how that interest is articulated in the development of his political philosophy.

Parker shows that Locke’s liberalism is inspired by his religious vision and, particularly, his distinctive understanding of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Unlike Sir Robert Filmer, who understood the Bible to justify social hierarchies (i.e., the divine right of the king, the first-born son’s rights over other siblings, and the “natural” subservience of women to men), Locke understood from the Bible that humans are in a natural state of freedom and equality to each other. The biblical debate between Filmer and Locke furnishes scholars with a better understanding of Lockes political views as presented in his Two Treatises.

The Biblical Politics of John Locke demonstrates the impact of the Bible on one of the most influential thinkers of the seventeenth century, and provides an original context in which to situate the debate concerning the origins of early modern political thought.

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Big Picture Realities

Canada and Mexico at the Crossroads

In the post-NAFTA era, Canada and Mexico face dramatic and irreversible changes from the Bush revolution in foreign public policy, the rising economic power of China and India, new concerns about border security and human rights, and the trends of economic integration. The essays in Big Picture Realities: Canada and Mexico at the Crossroads address the sea change in the political economic order of North America and chronicle the attempts of Canada and Mexico, two very different societies, to come to terms with the accumulated and often contradictory effects of micro and macro changes.

Contributors are Canadian and Mexican scholars and leading authorities in security, immigration, human rights, foreign policy, Canada-Mexico relations, and market integration. This book is particularly valuable for public policy experts and scholars and students in international relations.

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Biological Sciences at the National Research Council of Canada

The Early Years to 1952

This monograph describes the work of the Division of Biological Sciences of the National Research Council of Canada. Part One deals with scientific research in agriculture and other areas from 1916 until 1939. The subject of Part Two is the solution of special problems connected with World War II, including the preservation and packaging of food for long–distance transportation. Part Three records changes in emphasis following the war and establishment of branch laboratories in various parts of Canada.

Historians of science and students of Canadian history will find this a valuable reference work. Written in nontechnical language, it can be read easily by anyone interested in the development of biological sciences and in the work of the National Research Council.

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Biomedical Ethics and Fetal Therapy

“Over the last two decades, medical researchers have become more comfortable wit the idea that serious attention must be given to ethical issues when the tests of new technologies are being designed. They have come to see that experimental trials must meet certain standards, not only of scientific rigour, but also of moral acceptability.” (Introduction)

Presented by an international group of experts, the eight essays included in this volume evaluate the new technologies in fetal care and also wrestle with the new problems, often moral ones, that have accompanied techonological advancement. The opening chapters review state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging and molecular genetics and focus on the new patient—the fetus. From here, the efficacy of fetal therapy, the problem of assessing long-term viability, the ethical issues involved in both clinical practice and medical research, and the legal rights of the new patients and their parents are examined. The final chapter “Are Fetuses Becoming Children?” brings a fresh philosophical perspective to the question of a fetus’s status and rights.

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Bird-Bent Grass

A Memoir, in Pieces

Kathleen Venema

Bird-Bent Grass chronicles an extraordinary mother–daughter relationship that spans distance, time, and, eventually, debilitating illness. Personal, familial, and political narratives unfold through the letters that Geeske Venema-de Jong and her daughter Kathleen exchanged during the late 1980s and through their weekly conversations, which started after Geeske was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease twenty years later.

In 1986, Kathleen accepted a three-year teaching assignment in Uganda, after a devastating civil war, and Geeske promised to be her daughter’s most faithful correspondent. The two women exchanged more than two hundred letters that reflected their lively interest in literature, theology, and politics, and explored ideas about identity, belonging, and home in the context of cross-cultural challenges. Two decades later, with Geeske increasingly beset by Alzheimer’s disease, Kathleen returned to the letters, where she rediscovered the evocative image of a tiny, bright meadow bird perched precariously on a blade of elephant grass. That image – of simultaneous tension, fragility, power, and resilience – sustained her over the years that she used the letters as memory prompts in a larger strategy to keep her intellectually gifted mother alive.

Deftly woven of excerpts from their correspondence, conversations, journal entries, and email updates, Bird-Bent Grass is a complex and moving exploration of memory, illness, and immigration; friendship, conflict, resilience, and forgiveness; cross-cultural communication, the ethics of international development, and letter-writing as a technology of intimacy. Throughout, it reflects on the imperative and fleeting business of being alive and loving others while they’re ours to hold.

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Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase

Contemporary North American Dystopian Literature

What do literary dystopias reflect about the times? In Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase, contributors address this amorphous but pervasive genre, using diverse critical methodologies to examine how North America is conveyed or portrayed in a perceived age of crisis, accelerated uncertainty, and political volatility.

Drawing from contemporary novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and the work of Margaret Atwood and William Gibson (to name a few), this book examines dystopian literature produced by North American authors between the signing of NAFTA (1994) and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (2011). As the texts illustrate, awareness of and deep concern about perceived vulnerabilities—ends of water, oil, food, capitalism, empires, stable climates, ways of life, non-human species, and entire human civilizations—have become central to public discourseover the same period.

By asking questions such as “What are the distinctive qualities of post-NAFTA North American dystopian literature?” and “What does this literature reflect about the tensions and contradictions of the inchoate continental community of North America?” Blast, Corrupt, Dismantle, Erase serves to resituate dystopian writing within a particular geo-social setting and introduce a productive means to understand both North American dystopian writing and its relevant engagements with a restricted, mapped reality.

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Blocking Public Participation

The Use of Strategic Litigation to Silence Political Expression

Strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) involves lawsuits brought by individuals, corporations, groups, or politicians to curtail political activism and expression. An increasingly large part of the political landscape in Canada, they are often launched against those protesting, boycotting, or participating in some form of political activism. A common feature of SLAPPs is that their intention is rarely to win the case or secure a remedy; rather, the suit is brought to create a chill on political expression.

Blocking Public Participation examines the different types of litigation and causes of action that frequently form the basis of SLAPPs, and how these lawsuits transform political disputes into legal cases, thereby blocking political engagement. The resource imbalance between plaintiffs and defendants allows plaintiffs to tie up defendants in complex and costly legal processes. The book also examines the dangers SLAPPs pose to political expression and to the quality and integrity of our democratic political institutions. Finally, the book examines the need to regulate SLAPPs in Canada and assesses various regulatory proposals.

In Canada, considerable attention has been paid to the “legalization of politics” and the impact on the Charter in diverting political activism into the judicial arena. SLAPPs, however, are an under-studied element of this process, and in their obstruction of political engagement through recourse to the courts they have profound implications for democratic practice.

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Blues and Bliss

The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke

Blues singer, preacher, cultural critic, exile, Africadian, high modernist, spoken word artist, Canadian poet—these are but some of the voices of George Elliott Clarke. In a selection of Clarke’s best work from his early poetry to his most recent, Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke offers readers an impressive cross-section of those voices. Jon Paul Fiorentino’s introduction focuses on this polyphony, his influences—Derek Walcott, Amiri Baraka, and the canon of literary English from Shakespeare to Yeats—and his “voice throwing,” and shows how the intersections here produce a “troubling” of language. He sketches Clarke’s primary interest in the negotiation of cultural space through adherence to and revision of tradition and on the finding of a vernacular that begins in exile, especially exile in relation to African-Canadian communities.

In the afterword, Clarke, in an interesting re-spin of Fiorentino’s introduction, writes with patented gusto about how his experiences have contributed to multiple sounds and forms in his work. Decrying any grandiose notions of theory, he presents himself as primarily a songwriter.

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Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhism

Leslie Kawamura

Har Dayal's The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature published in 1931 was the first extensive study in English of the Bodhisattva doctrine. Dayal discussed the Bodhisattva doctrine as it was expounded in the Buddhist Sanskrit texts, and it remains a question whether anything more can be added to his excellent study. However, no other book on the doctrine has appeared in English subsequent to Dayal's study, and Buddhist scholarship, having expanded beyond the boundaries of the Sanskrit language, must now take into account information found not only in the Sanskrit language but also in other languages fundamental to Buddhist studies. In order to investigate what current research in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese materials could contribute to the study of the Bodhisattva doctrine, the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary planned a conference around the theme of the Bodhisattva. The papers presented in this volume were first read and discussed at the conference.

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