Tag Archives: Humanities

Willing Submission: The Birdcage as a Semiological Signifier in Ambrogio Lorenzetti‰Ûªs Allegory of Good Government

Claralyn Burt, Brigham Young University

Ambrogio Lorenzetti‰Ûªs fresco cycle, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government (1339), decorates the walls of the ‰ÛÏRoom of Peace‰Û (Salla della Pace) in the municipal headquarters of the medieval, Tuscan city state of Siena. These frescos employ countless carefully crafted allegories and representations of virtues and vices used to inspire Siena‰Ûªs civic rulers to govern justly. Traditionally, this piece has generated a good deal of scholarship because of its importance in the history of Sienese art. Many attempts to delve deeper into its meaning have employed an iconographical approach in art history. My project, however, will go beyond the limitations of Erwin Panofsky‰Ûªs system of iconography and will instead employ a semiological analysis, which considers the full range of meanings evoked by a signifier. As the fresco cycle portrays different aspects of Sienese culture‰ÛÓpolitics, religion, labor, economics, etc.‰ÛÓa semiological analysis will enable an exploration between these overlapping parts of society. To do this, I will bring to light the importance of one small but critical object: the solitary birdcage hanging above the classroom in the center of the Good Government fresco. I argue that through its representation of containment and bondage, this birdcage functions as a semiological signifier for submission to the city of Siena in civic, religious, and cultural contexts. My project makes an important contribution to the scholarship of one of the most iconic masterpieces of fourteenth-century Italy, but it also contributes a fascinating, medieval perspective on faith and obedience to the greater conversation about government and its relationship with its citizens.

A Brief Commentary on the Vendidad According to the Prophet Zarathustra

Stanley Siebersma, Weber State University

Zoroastrianism is severely under-studied in the realm of world religions, even though it was the dominant religion of a powerful empire and had a significant impact on Judaism and later Christianity. As Islam spread throughout the Middle East, fanatics persecuted the faithful and destroyed their literature, limiting the resources available to a few extant documents and oral traditions. The limited nature of reliable resources on the Zoroastrian faith is the reason that most world history surveys gloss over Zoroastrianism. Study and understanding of this ancient faith is a critical tool for students of world history who want to understand the way of life of the Persian Empire and the rest of the ancient near east.This commentary aims to create an easily accessible and understandable way to encounter the Zoroastrian religion and grasp the foundational principles thereof, including mythology, morality, religious laws, spells, rituals, and customs. The Vendidad is a book from the Zend-Avesta, the religious texts of the Zoroastrian religion. There are very few commentaries on the writings of the Prophet Zarathustra, and there is a need for resources in this area. This commentary uses the 1880 English translation of the Vendidad by James Darmester with commentary by F. Max Muller. Other sources include M.L West‰Ûªs 2010 The Hymns of Zoroaster, and A. V. Williams Jackson‰Ûªs Zoroaster: The Prophet of Ancient Iran., which is still generally accepted as the most comprehensive biography of the Prophet. This commentary gives understanding and insight into the life and times of the inception of the religion using the best information available to students of Zoroastrian theology and outlines them in an easy to understand format.

A Conversation about Femininity through Himba Traditional Clothing

Jensen Roper, Brigham Young University

The Himba tribe of northern Namibia is currently in an uncertain state as they address the increasing pressures of westernization and modernization against their traditional lifestyle. Their traditional roles and identities in particular are threatened to change by these influences. Himba women, who often lack a voice within their society, use their clothing to visually present and converse about their roles as women. As Himba women are robbed of a political voice and often forced to submission by men, they are without a platform to contribute to the Himba’s dialogue to address their roles under cultural change. However, they engage with this cultural issue through their attire. It is important for anthropologists to recognize these women’s use of clothing as a conversation medium to fully understand the issue of changing roles for women. In a climate that causes them to reevaluate what it means to be a woman, Himba women use their traditional clothing as a visual presentation of their views of femininity, as well as a visual dialogue concerning their roles as women.

Tribal Justice : A Case Study of Witchcraft among the Himba

Rod Dutra, Brigham Young University

Based on my own fieldwork in northern Namibia, this paper follows a number of cultural killings dealing with witchcraft among the indigenous groups of Himbaland. It demonstrates not only a local psycho-cultural perspective (through their distinctive experiences of shame, guilt, and fear) but also creates an empathetic view of how witchcraft works as a leveling mechanism to keep traditional society alive in an ever-transitioning world. Overall, these findings contribute the Himba as a case study to the discussion between universal human rights and traditional customs.

Dance and Culture from Ancient Greece

Alexis Taylor, Southern Utah University

This paper explores the cultural significance of dance in Ancient Grecian culture and the influence it has since had on our society and its view of the arts, focusing specifically on dance and the theatrical arts. When looked at through an anthropological standpoint the act of dance has its roots in the beginning of man and throughout history it has been celebrated and presented differently. The art of dance performance, as it is now, evolved from the Grecian concept of dance theater to the performance-based culture that is so prevalent today. The Ancient Greeks would dance in their daily lives as well as for performance purposes whereas in modern societies dance is more of a performance art than a cultural influence. This paper explores several Greek folk dances known today as well as their potential roots and what they demonstrate about Greek culture. The Greeks used dance in everything from education to physical training to a spiritual relationship between man and the gods. This implicates that dance was heavily invested in their daily lives and cultural identity. With this tie to daily life, this paper will explore the relationship between accepted folk dances from previous generations and the modern concept of dance in social settings.

Nazi art crime against Jews and the ERR program

Josee Hildebrandt, Dixie State University

Most of the scholarship around Nazis and early 20th century art focuses on Nazi ideologies and the theory of Degenerate Art. This project is instead going to focus on how Hitler and several of his high ranking officials sought out and stole valuable art while hiding behind their ideology. A Nazi elite school developed a program called Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), which translates to the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce. The ERR program was established in Paris, France in mid 1940 and continued until the end of the war in 1945. The ERR program‰Ûªs sole goal was stealing Jewish art collections and dividing the highest value art between high ranking official Hermann G̦ring and Hitler. Hermann G̦ring was known for his command of the Nazi Air Force, his rank as Reichsmarschall which gave him seniority over all of Germany‰Ûªs armed forces officers and being the second most powerful man in Germany. In his career, Hermann G̦ring also was in charge of the ERR, tasked with Hitler‰Ûªs order to confiscate art, particularly from Jewish people, throughout Nazi occupied countries. This thesis will cover how this crime was not about confiscating art or Nazi ideology, but about racial prejudice as a cover for crime.

A Comparison of the Use of Light and Darkness as Symbols in El sÌ_ de las ni̱as by Leandro MaratÌ_n and Don Juan Tenorio by JosÌ© Zorrilla

Brayden Jackman, Southern Utah University

An analysis is made which seeks to identify the ways in which authors utilize symbols in their writing to convey specific messages. Particularly, it discusses how these messages and the use of symbols may vary and why. Two theatrical works are identified as the basis of this study. The first is entitled El si de las ni̱as and is written by Leandro MoratÌ_n. The second is Don Juan Tenorio and was written by JosÌ© Zorrilla. Both of these authors are Spanish and the two works were written within a few decades of each other. However, these authors pertain to different cultural and literary movements. Leandro MoratÌ_n, is a neoclassical author, while JosÌ© Zorrilla, is a romantic author. Due to the nature of the material used and the field of study, the paper is written in Spanish. It first gives a brief overview of the cultural ideas that were circulating at the time that both of the previously mentioned authors were actively writing. It later identifies key characteristics in literature of their respective movements, giving examples of how they are used within the text. It then identifies the use of specific symbols, light and darkness, within each of the two works, and discusses how the authorå«s use of them impacts the message that they are conveying. The conclusion is then made that the placement of symbols within the context of a story is key. Symbols evoke emotions, which can subtly emphasize key points that the author tries to make while simultaneously helping the audience to better connect with them.

Thomas Nast and Donald Trump: Continuity and Change in American Political Satire

Taylor Ball, Brigham Young University

Through the power of the pen and caricatures, Thomas Nast brought down the politically corrupt regime of Boss Tweed in New York in the late nineteenth century. In our modern climate of political corruption and division, satire continues to effectually invite reform. This project uses the case study of Thomas Nast against Boss Tweed to study how modern late night TV hosts and political cartoonists criticize the administration of President Trump To understand Nast in his historical context, my research has focused primarily on two questions: how did Nast get to a position of influence? And what made him an effective influencer? This historical framework has then been examined with the theoretical frameworks of Walter Benjamin‰Ûªs theory on the political value of mechanically reproduced material and Pierre Bourdieu‰Ûªs theories of radical contextualism. This interdisciplinary method provides a unique analysis of which methods used by Nast are still being used today. The purpose of evaluating Nast‰Ûªs effectiveness as a satirist is to see how similar tactics are being employed by modern satirists, and, more importantly, what methods were used by Nast that are not being used by modern satirists. I have limited my study of satirists to the political cartoons of the Wall Street Journal along with the television programming of Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The reasons I decided to limit myself to these is because I esteem them to be the most comparable to Nast in our modern setting. They have also all been critical of Donald Trump in various ways. Part of the project will be exploring how Nast‰Ûªs work is applicable in the new, postmodern cultural context with its new mediums of communication.

She Does Not Want: Wartime Rape in Goya’s Disasters of War

Heidi Herrera, Brigham Young University

Remarkable in both subject and execution, Los Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of War) is exceptional in Goya’s oeuvre and in artistic representations of wartime rape. Filled with scenes illustrating the consequences and violence of war, Goya offers an insightful yet ambiguous commentary, particularly in the plates in which rape is presented as a first-hand account; plate 9, No quieren—“They don’t want it”—, plate 10, Tampoco—“Nor do these”— and plate 11, Ni por ésas—“Nor those.” Indicting the French soldiers for the rape of women during the French occupation, the Disasters of War offers offering a brutal and deceptively truthful view on the inevitable and horrible consequences which war and looting wage on women, transforming both viewer and artist into witnesses of the gruesome scenes, implicating both as detached, though unwitting, participants in the sexual violence enacted against these women; the artist in his creation of these rapes and the viewers in their reception of the images. By making the viewer a first-hand witness to these rape scenes, Goya accomplishes greater empathy for the women than other artistic portrayals of rape, however, he also unintentionally sheds a spotlight on the callousness of the viewer, and by extension, the artist himself. Both created and publicly received my men, the scenes of sexual violence shown in plates 9-11 display and discuss the rape of women as a means to an end in which the lives and suffering of these women, fictional or real, are periphery to what acts of sexual violence say about the men who wage war. Although art historians and critics today may consider the beauty of the plate’s compositions, is it at all possible for scenes which portray violence against women, as in the Disasters of War, to be considered beautiful? I would like to address how these images were received when The Disasters of War was released in 1863, considering the plate’s reception by contemporaneous art critics such Enrique Mélida within the context of how rape was understood in the nineteenth century. By comparing They don’t want it, Nor do these, and Nor those to portrayals of rape by Goya and other nineteenth-century artists, in addition to portrayals of rape by female artists, I hope to clarify where Goya’s rape scenes reside on a spectrum of artistic representations of rape, ranging from exploitative to empathetic.

The “Mythic Sublime” in Irish Mythology and the Modern World

Morrigan DeVito, Southern Utah University

Belief in life, death, and rebirth is the most important concept in Irish mythology. Irish myths venerate all aspects of nature, from harsh winters to bountiful summers. In this paper I will examine how Ireland‰Ûªs physical landscape affected early Irish people‰Ûªs myths, gods and goddesses. Because Irish myths have awe for the fearsome power of nature, they are deeply rooted into the ‰ÛÏmythic sublime‰Û. Mythic sublimity incorporates both reverence and fear towards the divine because humans cannot fully comprehend divinity, and Irish myths arose out of the desire to understand nature and the divine. Part of their comprehension of the mythic sublime is the repeated image of life, death and rebirth in their myth and deities. In this paper I will examine ancient Irish relationship to the mythic sublime by closely reading the Mythological Cycle and Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, specifically the TÌÁin BÌ_ C̼ailnge, which is the text of the Ulster cycle. I will also incorporate Kant‰Ûªs theories about sublimity, Levi-Strauss‰Ûªs ‰ÛÏStructural Study of Myth‰Û and Joseph Campbell‰Ûªs theories about the four functions of myth. Using these scholars as secondary sources I will closely study how the repetition of life, death and rebirth is how ancient Irish people connected to the mythic sublime. I will also study whether or not the mythic sublime can be experienced in the modern world as we read, hear, and tell the ancient Irish myths, or if one has to experience a direct connection to the land like the ancient Irish people in order to understand the mythic sublime completely. This project is significant because it will bridge the ancient Irish connection with the mythic sublime to the modern world, reflect on how modern people can connect to the mythic sublime, and how the mythic sublime helps humans understand the universe regardless of their time period.