Hubris: an ancient concept for a modern age?

Shaoni Bhattacharya

What did four of the last five British Prime Ministers have in spades? So offensive a vice (or quality) that it was a crime in ancient Athens, that even children, slaves and women – who had no rights to bring lawsuits – were protected from in law.

In Shakespeare, kings died of it. In classical texts, it led to unmitigated disaster, such as in Herodotus’s account of the Persian king Xerxes’ invasion and attempt to subjugate ancient Greece.

In modern life, it meant Margaret Thatcher could not fathom the reaction she got to her riot-inducing poll tax policy in the early 1990s, nor Tony Blair the consequences of the Iraq War early this century.

It was the disease of kings, the surfeit that sovereigns died from, and the characteristic that Britain’s current prime minister, Theresa May, stands accused of?

After winning – but yet losing – in the UK’s general election last month, headlines in media outlets the world over  invoked an ancient Greek word and concept in relation to the current political chaos in the UK, that of hubris, or hybris (with the ancient Greek spelling).

‘From hubris to humiliation’ heralded the front page of UK newspaper The Guardian on 10 June, after the UK election results showed that although incumbent prime minister Theresa May had won the election, she had hugely weakened her own position.

By calling an election, which crucially she didn’t have to for another three years, May lost her majority in Parliament. Just after the vote, opposition leaders called for her resignation, and members of her own party gleefully bestowed epithets like “dead woman walking” upon her.

But when May called the UK’s snap election she had a 20-point lead in the polls ahead of the main opposition party Labour. Confident of her own clear victory, her intention in calling an election appeared to have been to gain major validation and endorsement politically and publically so that she could steam ahead with Britain’s Brexit from the European Union without having to kowtow to dissenters.

So confident was she, that May’s now heavily criticized election campaign focused on denigrating the opposition; trotting out policies in her manifesto that served to alienate core voters like the elderly; and not putting in the time or public appearances to win over voters. She decided not to participate in a televised debate days before the election, when her main rival Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did, sending instead her rather unpopular Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Within the space of a few weeks, May’s 20-point lead dwindled. Rather than get the strong public backing to do what she wanted as prime minister, she failed to get an overall majority of seats in the House of Commons.

The situation in Britain is currently turbulent. The country feels in chaos after a spate of sudden and horrible events including terrorist attacks and the UK’s worst disaster in decades at Grenfell Tower in London on the night of 14 June. What should have been a contained household fire in one apartment ran amok and scorched the whole tower block with hundreds of occupants – many still missing, within hours, and which many are saying was as a result of years of neglect and austerity measures put on social housing and local government by May’s party.

To boot, May came in for more criticism when she visited the accident site and failed to meet a single member of the public affected by the tragedy, speaking with only emergency services staff. Just days later, Brexit negotiations with the EU started and are ongoing but Britain has not yet got it’s own house in order.

While hundreds of people are being evacuated from tower blocks with the same external cladding – a possible cause of the Grenfell Tower fire’s rapid spread, some worry about civil unrest and controversy still mires Theresa May’s government.

Pre-election, perhaps on a wave of hubris, May told an NHS nurse who had not had a pay rise in eight years that there was no “magic money tree”. This week, her offer of a £1 billion sweetener to the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to form a government with her party, unsurprisingly has been met with derision that the tree has been found.

Without the support of the DUP, the Conservative party will have a minority government and its power will be severely curtailed.

So, rather than bolster her position, May’s decision to call an early election has disastrously weakened her. Was it hubris that led her down a path she didn’t have to take? To her spectacular “own goal of the season” as one UK sports commentator noted?

But what is hubris?

It is an ancient concept that the academic world can tell us much about, yet it is far from abstract and it has indubitably modern connotations.

The UK’s Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in London, ran a fascinating and timely conference in the month before the UK election: Power, gender, hubris: success and arrogance as risks to leadership in healthcare and beyond.

Insights at the meeting organised by the RSM’s Psychiatry section in association with the Daedalus Trust and Medical Women’s Federation, came from an eclectic line-up of speakers including doctors, scientists, economists and classicists.

Professor Douglas Cairns, professor of classics at the University of Edinburgh, gave delegates a crash course into the concept’s origins.

Ancient hybris was more nuanced than the modern idea, though it still has huge connotations for the modern world.

Hybris could be the over-exuberant excess that literally grew from plenty, an overtipping of nature’s balance that labelled as hubristic luxuriant vines or fruit trees that flourished with abandon in rich soils without bearing fruit.

Even horses could be hubristic – and frequently were, turning their long noses up at humans, until they were tamed.

In ancient Greek terms, where plants and animals were considered inferior, this hubristic behaviour meant that they were failing to fulfil their purposes. For example, a fruit tree which produces plenty of leaves and branches, but no fruit fails in its social role (from an ancient farmer’s point of view).

Hubris comes from “too much of a good thing”, as Professor Cairns put it. And ancient hybris is inextricably linked with the concept of honour. He said that “hybris is a way of going wrong about honour”.

It is a distortion of balance in the respect between yourself and other people – what they owe you and you owe.

So in ancient Athens, hubris could be prosecutable in its intention to shame or dishonour another person. Professor Cairns gave the example of the case of Demosthenes Against Meidias.

The 4th century BC orator Demosthenes was involved in organising a major musical and civic festival at a theatre when he was punched in the face by his enemy Meidias. He brought criminal proceedings against his aggressor – not for assault, but rather for the manner of it: for the hubristic demeanour that Meidias displayed as he delivered the blow.

Often the perpetrator of hubris would be a person in position of power, but not necessarily. But hubris in leaders can lead carry overconfidence and excessive self-belief that can skew decision-making, distort reality and justice and lead to a shipwreck of disaster. In simple terms, perhaps the old proverb – Pride goes before a fall.

In ancient Greece hubris could stem from ‘koros’ (the word for indigestion or satiety) – and to hubristically carry on ‘consuming’ or indulging yourself when you were already sated led to ‘atê’, or ruin.

So Xerxes’ father says in Persians, written by Aeschylus in 472 BC, just eight years after Athens was rescued from Persian invasion:

“For Hybris has burst into bloom and borne fruit in a crop of disaster (atê), from which it reaps an abundant harvest of tears.”


But is the modern hubris always bad?

A degree of hubris may be necessary for a person to become a powerful leader in the first place. Ordinary people do not want to be prime minister, as political historian and biographer, and vice-chancellor of Buckingham University Sir Anthony Seldon pointed at the meeting.

But the huge self-belief that drives a person to political success, if it then grows to excess, may also lead to their downfall, personal unhappiness and tarnished legacy. Hubris, according to Seldon, is excessive self-confidence and risk-taking.

In the career game generally, a degree of hubris may carry benefits that drive a person who believes unerringly in themselves forwards. It may be something you see in politics, healthcare and even higher education and academia. Hierarchy and power are hubris’s natural home.

Indeed sometimes a small dose of hubris can be helpful – though not, of course, in kingdom-destroying quantities.

So which one of the last five UK prime ministers was not hubristic? (And arguably might have been helped by a little dose of hubris).

While Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron all suffered from hubris, according to Seldon; the answer, unsurprisingly, is John Major.

What are they thinking?

(Photo credit: Isaac James Creative. AAMC Foundation)

An email has this banner image across the top. What are you likely to think? If you are me, you recognize “my world.” A lecture hall, filled with name-tagged, slightly bored people. What are they thinking? “Why won’t scholars stick to the 20-minute limit?” “Someone made this argument 30 years ago, and better.” “Where is that wine reception? I need to beat the line.”
But I opened this particular email because of the subject line: In-Conversation: “Art & Social Justice” presented by Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation. Now there is a topic worthy of a large auditorium. The accompanying text describes a promising program including a diverse group of participants representing various institutions and perspectives: “The event brings together five prominent arts leaders to have a conversation around the power of art – created and presented by artists, arts organizations, scholars, activists, and of course, curators – to instigate action, produce impactful outcomes, bring attention to critical issues, and open conversations by offering different points of view.”

Museums have been the subject of harsh critique for their perpetuation of oppressive systems, for their practices of exclusion. This is particularly the case for art museums, with their colonialist, Eurocentric perspectives, their elitism, their whiteness. Has progress been made? Indeed. Does more work need to be done? Absolutely. New York Times art critic Holland Cotter has some suggestions.

So the AAMC initiative is part of an ongoing conversation about the role that curators and other arts professionals play in maintaining the status quo, and in spearheading change. As the most public face for my own discipline, art history, museums, through the efforts of the AAMC, could advance the progress of a socially-engaged art history, one which actually benefits the communities where it is practiced.

The roundtable description does not specify which critical issues are of most concern. “Social justice” as a term generally means “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” Art museums in this context are a mixed bag. They are famously lacking in diverse leadership, serve the interests of the very wealthy, and regularly make headlines for accusations of race and gender inequality, and cultural appropriation and insensitivity. And yet they are, too, the front line for some of the best progress that has been made in recognizing and acknowledging their own complicity, and developing programs and practices to promote accessibility, accountability, and respect for all cultures. Two recent examples offer case studies: the objection at the Whitney Museum to the painting of Emmett Till by Dana Schutz and the objection at the Walker Art Center to a sculpture by Sam Durant that references the mass execution of 38 Dakota men in 1862. Both examples and their resolutions demonstrate the tricky navigation of intersectional issues of representation, power, and voice.

So can museums use curatorial, educational and other practices to actively promote social justice? That, admirably, is what AAMC sought to examine in this event. I, for one, hope that there were some concrete outcomes, some action items.

Now back to that picture. The other notable aspect is its unbearable whiteness of being. It is difficult to confidently identify a single African-American, and only one or two persons of color can be spotted in that audience. As a convening of the American Association of Museum Curators, it is a visual indictment of the organization’s own lack of progress. Did they slyly intend that self-critique in their choice of images? In other words, what were they thinking? Well, they weren’t. The response to my query was that it is “our own stock photo that we use often for programming.”[1] That lack of attentiveness to visual rhetoric sends the message that the organization’s intended audience reflects the very absence of diversity that is one of the roots of the social justice issues they intend to discuss. Who is allowed a seat at this table?

[1] Judith Pineiro, Executive Director AAMC, e-mail June 8, 2017.


Author Biography

Karen J. Leader is Associate Professor of Art History, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University. Her activities on behalf of art history and the humanities can be found here. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @proftinkerbell.

Read more by the author here, and here.


AHHE journal Special Issue: Tuning History

                                                                                                      Editorial: Tuning history

by David Ludvigsson, Linkoping University and Alan Booth, University of Nottingham.               DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686507

The Tuning educational project for History has its supporters and its detractors. This overview of the articles contained in this special issue of the journal reflects on some of the complexities of implementing such an ambitious global project and the local and national priorities that have made the process both stimulating and challenging for those involved. And it argues that while lists of competences constitute valuable reference points for discussion of the arts and humanities curriculum in an international context, they should be seen as the starting point for a more detailed and broad-ranging set of global conversations about how we (should) teach our subjects and why this matters for students in today’s world.

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686508

The Tuning Movement and the scholarship of teaching and learning have each had a significant impact on teaching history in higher education in the United States. But the isolation of these initiatives from each other has lessened their potential impact. Interactions between the two might bring together the intellectual exploration of scholarship of teaching and learning and the activist engagement with practical challenges present in the U.S. Tuning Movement. The work of groups, such as the History Learning Project, could facilitate such interactions.

Tuning the discipline of history in the United States: Harmony (and dissonance) in teaching and learning

by Daniel J McInerney DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686523

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686522

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686525

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216628379

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686506

by  DOI: 10.1177/1474022216686524


Reflections on ‘Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities’conference

Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities Conference

Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

‘Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities’ conference

Reflections by Jan Parker, University of Cambridge

Sincere thanks are due to the Organisers from the University of Nottingham, Michele McIntosh and Martin Brooks
And to the AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership & University of Nottingham’s School of English for their support

Reading : Writing Minds : Bodies: Medicine: Humanities Research : Practice

This conference delighted in crossing boundaries and braiding disciplinary traditional practices to ask and answer multifaceted questions. Exemplary: so important in cross domain (domains with different epistemological practices as well as methodological traditions, as, here, Medicine and Humanities) collaborations.

The result is to challenge categories as well as frames of understanding so often shown in a conference full of perceptive readings of all kinds of texts (with all kinds of audience, purpose, structure and authority, questioning each in turn).

Throughout, papers questioned the very dichotomies of the title – Reading : Writing/ Minds : Bodies / Medicine: Humanities…… and, importantly, I would add: Research : Practice.

What was everywhere evident and truly inspiring was the reflective attitude to the participants’ ‘home’ discipline when used on an interdisciplinary problem. Bringing together complementary discrete Humanities research traditions and [medical, historical] practice-based inquiry serves so vitally and importantly to question the purposes as well as research approach of those disciplines.

For ‘Medieval narratives offer alternative perspectives for hearing and mental health which can generate rich and fruitful dialogues with modern accounts’ concluded Bonnie Millar (University of Nottingham) in ‘Dissolving Boundaries: Medieval and Modern Perspectives on Hearing’.

This fascinating study added considerably to the awareness-generating and boundary-questioning, patient experiences collective (Their ‘mission statement’ declares: ‘Our reputation is growing as the limitations of a solely medical approach to voices become better known. Psychiatry traditionally refers to hearing voices as ‘auditory hallucinations’ but research shows that there are many explanations for hearing voices…’;their ‘position paper’ opposes the all defining American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM V , saying ‘Rather than seeing voices, visions and extreme states as symptoms of an underlying illness, we believe it is helpful to view them as meaningful experiences.’)

Dr Millar argued that ‘In both medieval self-narratives and fictional stories hearing and authority can be intrinsically linked. The sensory components of these women’s visions have spawned a number of alternative retrospective modern medical diagnoses ranging from migraine attacks, neurosis, and bipolar disorder to temporal lobe epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome. However, this paper will examine how through auditory metamorphosis Teresa de Cartagena, a fifteenth-century nun … depicts her acquired profound deafness as a virtue… Nonnormative hearing patterns and auditory transformations are indicative of virtue, communication with the divine or female authority. Medieval narratives offer alternative perspectives for hearing and mental health which can generate rich and fruitful dialogues with modern accounts.’

Indeed, in signalling its intention to question all the boundaries, the conference started with considering the abject those ‘freaks’ of nature that challenge the boundaries between life and death; flesh and spirit, self and other – conjoined twins (Joseph Holloway, University of Exeter: ‘Death Infecting Life: Conjoined Twins, Personal Identity & the Abject’).

Inter-disciplinary Epistemology and Meaning making

The immediate problem is to gather ‘evidence’ about mental states which modern medicine categorise differently; states whose causes, definitions and implications are described and ascribed very differently at different periods. The result is not just to document changing attitudes to & treatments of, eg, ‘lunacy’ (As, importantly, ‘Robert Goemans and Rebecca Goddard, University of Lincoln, on ‘Madness, Gender, and Class: The Construction of Identity and Experiences in the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum 1820-1840’: they showed how their research data allows an analysis of how restraint was applied differently to different groups, so indicating how late Georgian society constructed gender, class, and madness.)

But, more, by reflecting on the context to question the very process of cultural definition and framings of the category – are those with ‘melancholy’ ‘mad, bad or sad’?

This question demanded intercultural reading and brought surprising sympathies: Natalie Calder, Queen’s University Belfast, in ‘“all swetnes & deuocion is taken from me’: Remedying Spiritual Despair in Late Medieval England’ juxtaposed two texts written at either end of the ‘long’ fifteenth century in an examination of the ways in which such spiritual guides addressed despair and extreme mental distress in their audiences. And which ‘provide a sophisticated and sensitive means of addressing issues of mental illness among their audiences that is recognised almost as an expected state of being amongst those readers who sought to obtain a deeper, cognitive connection with God.’ The paper outlined the (perhaps surprisingly) sympathetic approaches each writer has towards his reader who is struggling to reconcile their extreme doubts and self-criticism with their faith. Linking the mental afflictions of unstable belief with other, more traditional examples of emotional and physical ailment, the texts seek to remedy what could be described (committing the cardinal sin of anachronism!) as depression within their audiences.

‘the cardinal sin of anachronism’

In fact, each and every speaker was exemplary in their understanding of the constructedness of the terms they were using. And this was not the least of the important implications of the conference: that ‘melancholy’, for instance, and indeed mental illness, is identified and evaluated multifacetedly across time and across cultures.

Starting with the keynote, Chantelle Saville, University of Auckland, ‘Picturing Pigritia in Late Medieval Moral Psychology’, each speaker was clear they were dealing with the representation as well as the embedding of terms ‘reading and writing’ ‘minds and bodies’.

From the problematics of ‘attempting to access the genuine mood, emotions and priorities’ from Medieval Last Wills and Testaments’ (Esther Lewis, University of Nottingham) to adumbrating and distinguishing contemporary definitions – Jonathan Coope, University of Nottingham, ‘On Eco-psychiatry and Historiography: Exploring Transcultural Mental Health Narratives through the Lens of Nature-connectedness “Theory” the importance and problematics of using kaleidoscopic and multidimensional as well as multidisciplinary lenses were demonstrated.

Addressing Melancholy

The delight, challenge and sometimes despair of real interdisciplinary work is when a term like ‘melancholy’ ‘depression’ ‘trauma and PTSD’ is simultaneously illuminated & contested. This is a vital challenge to the [continuously varied] baseline understandings of the now 5 editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

So I particularly valued the conference’s central concern with the portrayal (sic) of ‘melancholy’ – the medieval, Elizabethan and indeed Greco-Roman humoral disturbance.

Kevin Binfield and Kaley Owens, Murray State University discussed Mary Rawes’ ‘Address to Melancholy’, which ‘became a fixture in the portrayal of melancholy’. During her first confinement in 1808 in The Retreat at York, labouring under ‘a considerable degree of active mania’, she immediately wrote twelve quatrains. They argued that as an expression, the ‘Address’ provides a naked glance into Rawes’ psychological condition, diagnosed with ‘melancholia and hysterical mania’; that as a poem, it draws upon and varies conventions of literary form and the lexicon of melancholy. They concluded, significantly for the whole debate, that ‘the tensions between raw self-account and literary conventions as well as the question of authenticity that must arise in reading an account of depression written in a manic phase.’

This raises the continuously central issue of the question of identity: self and other representations of mental [in]stability. In ‘Margaret Cavendish and the Problem of Melancholy’, Molly Bridges (University of Birmingham) discussed Margaret Cavendish’s ‘eccentricity’, ‘madness’, diagnosis of melancholy. As her condition was corporeal, the question is raised then as now of the ‘psycho-somatic’; also the ‘parallel tradition that endowed the genial melancholic with a special capacity for creative brilliance’.

Similarly, Tim Craven (University of Edinburgh) in ‘The Metaphorical Representation of the Mind and Emotional Dysfunction in the Poetry of Anne Sexton’(1950s) examined how Sexton constructs and utilises metaphor to evoke the mind in extremis. Using close readings of individual examples, applying the analytical framework of cognitive poetics, and exploring the socio-medical context reflected in their creation he provided a model of literary-socio-medical analysis.

Representing/Writing mental illness

The analytical methodology of narratology deployed in ‘writing mental illness’ was both illuminatingly explored and critiqued by Ralph Höger (Universität Heidelberg): ‘Writing the psychiatric patient. A narratological approach to historical patient records’. He argued that as narratological analyses of this complex source material are still rare, the patient in doctors’ notes appears as a heavily fictionalised character; a literary unit first dissected by the implicit organisational laws of the asylum and then rearranged in the records according to cultural, scientific, and clinical criteria.

All these fascinating accounts raise the central question of Representation. Eg, Fiona Johnstone (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Curating Mental Illness: Mr. A Moves in Mysterious Ways’ asked ‘Can exhibitions actively inform or improve experiences of mental health, rather than merely historicizing or critiquing them?’

And Kevin Harvey, Gavin Brookes and Dr Neil Chadborn (all University of Nottingham) raised the central contemporary question of multimodal discourse representation: ‘“Our Biggest Killer”[?]: Multimodal Discourse Representations of Dementia in the British Media’.

Civil war poetry & prose structuring (? expressing? revealing?) ‘PTSD’

Another ‘anachronistic’ term was fascinatingly explored by Erin Peters (University of Gloucestershire): ‘“Suddaine cures are commonly unsound”: Seventeenth-century Narrative Therapies’. In examining the public narration of psychological disability brought on by the lingering effects of combat trauma and memories of fear among soldiers and civilians during and after the English Civil Wars, she argued that ‘alongside the official and authorised interpretation of disability as a physical impairment, a popular understanding of the disabling and disfiguring nature of psychological damage developed. While conventional histories of psychiatry depict the medieval and early modern periods as dominated by demonological ideas about mental illness [mad as devilishly bad] and treatment of the afflicted as cruel and inhumane, the construction and dissemination, in popular print, of psychological disability theories and narratives before, during, and after the wars reveal that this period saw a growth of interest in the conceptualisation of psychological damage that was removed from ideas of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

I was particularly interested in what seemed to be historical cases of ‘narrative therapy’ – of using the structuring activity of poetry to give shape to and control over a condition that is today diagnosed but not fully understood – PTSD. Demonstrating ‘the curative methods by which people attempted to treat invisible wounds and arguing that contemporary responses to the disabling nature of psychological trauma demonstrate a cognizance of the therapeutic value of attempting to construct publically available trauma narratives’.

Therapy – as restorying the self

This chimed with a concern in several of the presentations with arts therapies: eg Dramatherapy which ‘provides an unspoken voice for the client’s feelings to be expressed in a manner that is personally revealing, socially acceptable, culturally accessible and therapeutically constructive. Clients can represent mental health issues, reconstruct and link together past and present experiences to build an emotional life narrative, and construct a new way forward for the future. Through dramatherapy the problems that the children face can be located back within the story of their parent, rather than cast within the children themselves. Dramatherapy becomes a way to “re-story” themselves in the way they need, be it to re-cast themselves as the heroes of their own story or to lament the complicated loss of a parent’s presence.

Reflective inter-disciplinary and inter-domain hermeneutic strategies

Throughout, the richness of the material discussed and the confident deployment of hermeneutic strategies was itself exemplary and inspiring, as was the tact (difficult and important) in which terms like ‘melancholy’ were deployed.

For the impossible to draw Venn diagram of mental illness covers:

a) ‘diagnosis’- biomedical model;

b) ‘mad, bad, sad’ – the cultural construction and definition of the cause of ‘abnormal’ mental states and

c) ‘memetic’- the popular adoption and influential circulation of representations of models of, eg, the ‘hysteric’ or ‘melancholic’.

One paper was exemplary – sic – in managing to analyse a problem through these tripartite lenses.I quote:

Moira Hansen (University of Glasgow): ‘“O wad some pow’r the gift tae gie us”: Redefining the Melancholy of Robert Burns’.

‘Robert Burns, celebrated at home and abroad as the ‘heav’n-taught ploughman’ who gave a voice to the ordinary man, is probably as well-known for his tempestuous personal history as he is for his poetry and songs. In the 220 years since the poet’s premature death at the age of 37, his flaws and failings have been notoriously exaggerated and misrepresented as artefacts of excessive alcohol consumption or his temperamental poetic genius. Burns, however, has his own insights to offer; his personal correspondence includes regular references to episodes of melancholy, at times rendering the poet bed-ridden and unable to work, let alone capable of any creative output. Derived from on-going research exploring Burns’s mental health, a much-neglected aspect of the poet’s biography, this paper will draw on the poet’s letters and commonplace books to explore his understanding of and relationship with his melancholy. It will go on to illustrate how literary analysis of Burns’s writings within the context of a modern psychiatric framework is clarifying the nature of that melancholy, indicating it is not the consequence of an alcohol addiction or the artificial construction of a poetic persona, but evidence of an identifiable mood disorder as defined by clinical diagnostic criteria, representing a significant development of our understanding of the influences affecting the personal and creative life of Scotland’s national Bard’.

And, I would add a significant development of our understanding of the influences affecting the personal and creative self, the identification of the self with prevailing constructions and evaluation of mental states, of the boundaries and interconnections of mind, self and body, of the varying norms drawn by society beating the bounds of the acceptable and the moral and not least, questioning the ‘identification of mood disorder’ and the ‘definition by [culturally and historically various] clinical diagnostic criteria’.

The medical and psychiatric profession needs the challenge of the multifaceted, inter-domain as well as interdisciplinary Humanities research so evident throughout this conference, in order to challenge the ‘algorithmic’ approach to diagnosis, differentiation and discrimination of mental distress and illness.

The organisers wanted to thank the AHRC, Midlands 3 Cities, and the University of Nottingham’s School of English for their support.












We will celebrate the discipline’s intellectual strength, diversity and creativity and explore its futures in the nations of the UK and across the world.’

Wednesday 5th July

10.30 – 12.15  Registration

11.30 – 12.30 English Association Welcoming/Mentoring Session

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Advocating and Promoting English Studies (Early Career Academics – ECA)
  2. B/Orders of Standard English: Registering Linguistic Difference in the Academic Writing Classroom
  3. Investigating English: Translating Linguistic Research for the Secondary English Classroom
  4. Digital Humanities: GIS and English Studies
  5. Book Parts: Flash Panel
  6. HEA Roundtable: Who We Are
  7. Place Writing: People, Partnerships and Pedagogy; or Impact, Exchange and Policy
  8. Teaching 21st Century Genre
  9. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Archiving for the Future (Contemporary Women’s Writing Association – CWWA)
  10. Women Who Dare (National Association of Writers in Education – NAWE)
  11. Feminist Pedagogies, Feminist Classrooms
  12. Beyond Story – An Examination of the ‘Authentic’ in Fiction and Poetry
  13. Migration and Borders

2.00 – 3.15 English: The Journal of the English Association presents the Plenary Panel – Literary Biography: Andrew Hadfield, Kathryn Hughes, Hermione Lee

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. University English (UE) presents The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Helen Mort
  3. Social Justice and Literature
  4. Making it New: On the Future of Modernist Studies British Association for Modernist Studies – BAMS)
  5. Teaching Genre Fiction Writing (NAWE)
  6. The Concept of Storyworld in Relation to the Impact of New Technology on Writing Practices
  7. HEA Teaching Surgery
  8. Useless Articles: English and Instrumentalism
  9. Knowledge About Language and Linguistics in the Classroom
  10. Contemporary Women’s Writing: Apocalyptic Narratives (CWWA)
  11. Contemporary British Tragedy / Symptoms at the Surface: On Postcolonial Critical Reading / Immersive Poetics
  12. Poetics of Feminism
  13. Literary Societies in Action: Creativity, Engagement and Learning

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. University English (UE) presents The Discipline of English and the Work of the Humanities
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Elleke Boehmer
  3. Publishing Roundtable (ECA)
  4. Making it New is the Oldest Trick in the Book: On Current Modernist Studies (BAMS)
  5. Contemporary Critical Perspectives: Looking Back, Moving Forward
  6. Reshaping Reality: Creative Work in Progress
  7. Creative Work (CWWA)
  8. ‘trans-‘
  9. Neo-Victorian Mortalities
  10. Gender, Sexuality and (Un)doing English
  11. Goldsmiths’ Writers

6.15 – 7.30 Conference Drinks Reception in association with Palgrave, with the launch of Ben Knights’ Pedagogic Criticism (2017)

Thursday 6th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. The Borders of Irish Literature (British Association for Irish Studies – BAIS)
  2. Virtual Collegiality: Putting the ‘Social’ Back into Social Media (CWWA)
  3. Flight Paths in English Studies: Searching for Lines of Consistency in Learner Activity from 11 to Postgraduate (and Beyond
  4. Open Voice Session (ECA)
  5. Cross-Pollination: Music, Railways, Publications and Productions
  6. ‘The Past is My Present to Your Future’: Capitalizing on the Linguistic Heritage of the North East
  7. After Brexit: Life without Erasmus (NAWE)
  8. Distance Learning: default or fault?
  9. Teaching Excellence Framework Workshop (HEA)
  10. Delivering English: a roundtable of subject leads and department heads
  11. Renaissance Outreach (Society for Renaissance Studies – SRS)
  12. Closed Circles? English Literature and the Return of Canonical Exclusivity
  13. Why Shakespeare Now? (British Shakespeare Association – BSA)
  14. Literature and Cultural Politics in the Long Eighteenth Century

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. Writing Shared Futures:  African American Literature and Racialisation (British Association for American Studies – BAAS)
  2. Contemporary Women’s Writing and Book Publication Workshop (CWWA)
  3. Towards a Theory of Poetry Writing Development
  4. Close Reading and Queer Reputation-Building
  5. At the Borders of Globalisation
  6. Tomorrow’s English Today
  7. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job: Preparing Creative Writing Graduates for Lifelong Careers (NAWE)
  8. Creative Writing, Knowledge and Emancipatory Strategies
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Neo-Victorians (British Association for Victorian Studies – BAVS)
  10. PhD Network: Alternative Futures: 70/30 (NAWE)
  11. Audio-Visual Romanticism
  12. Contemporary Fiction, Method, Manifesto: Towards a Response
  13. Sharing Shakespeare’s Language (BSA)
  14. Grassroot Feminist Novels of Sixties England / Celebrity Culture and Corruption in the Indian Graphic Novel Legends of Halahala / John Donne

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Literature, Science and Inbetween (British Society for Literature and Science BSLS)
  2. Publishing and Contemporary Women’s Writing Workshop (CWWA)
  3. From A Level to HE: Reading
  4. PhD Students Teaching Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. On Reflection: Voice and Medium in the Reflective Component of Practice-Led Research
  6. Competence Modelling and English Literature
  7. Ethics in Creative Writing and Life Research (NAWE)
  8. Academics and Engaged Publics (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)
  9. The Future of the Victorians: Digital Curation (BAVS)
  10. Global Futures
  11. Romanticism, Mutability and Mobilite
  12. Poetry Reading by US, UK and Australian Poets (NAWE)
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities I

2.00 – 3.15 Plenary – Language and the Problem of Female Authority, Deborah Cameron

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Defining the Contemporary (Contemporary Studies Network)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: John Mullan
  3. From A Level to HE: Writing
  4. Barriers to Access (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  5. Creative Writing in Higher Education
  6. Public Linguistics and Impact
  7. Poetry: Form and Experiment Workshop (NAWE)
  8. Renaissance Literature Beyond the Canon (SRS)
  9. Sharing Pedagogies Integrating English project and Poetics and Linguistics Association
  10. Literature and the New Cognitive Science
  11. Romanticism and the Stigmatised: Transnationalism, Migration and Trauma
  12. The Environmental Humanities: Changing Ecologies, Persistence and Possibility
  13. Multi-Cultural Textualities II
  14. Employability and English Studies

5.00 – 6.15 Panel Sessions

  1. HE for Our Time (Institute of English Studies – IES)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Dinah Birch
  3. The Living Archive: Archives and Contemporary Poetry
  4. REF for PhDs and Early Career Academics (ECA)
  5. ECAs and PhDs in an Age of Anxiety (ECA)
  6. Englishes: Writing and Thinking in Multiple Voices
  7. Harold Rosen Lecture
  8. Sharing Futures Across Primary, Secondary and University Education (BSA)
  9. What Do We Do When We Analyse Texts? (Poetics and Linguistics Association)
  10. Divided by a Common Language: Creative Writing Discourse in the US, UK and Australia (NAWE)
  11. Romantic Liminology: A Roundtable Discussion
  12. The Environmental Humanities: The Interdependent Present
  13. Getting Ready for ‘The Modernist Party as Pedagogy’: A Critique of Role-Play in the Teaching of Modernism
  14. Shakespearean Futures 400+

Friday 7th July

9.30 – 10.45 Panel Sessions

  1. HEA Fellowship Workshop
  2. Shared Subject Knowledge? English Across School, University, and PGCE
  3. The Past, Present and Future of Postcolonial Literary Studies
  4. BAME Roundtable (ECA)
  5. Paper Nations: Building a Creative nation for Young Writers (NAWE)
  6. Writing Workshop: The Poem as Witness: War and its Aftermath
  7. Sexual Harrassment
  8. What is the Industry Standard for Digital Research in English?
  9. Epic Transformation? Developing the English Curriculum at University
  10. Anglo-Saxon Futures I
  11. Literature in Britain Today: Findings of a National Opinion Poll (Royal Society of Literature)
  12. Researching Living Writers
  13. Renaissance Literature: New Pedagogies (SRS)
  14. Wild Laughter: Performing Life/Staging Biography

11.00 – 12.15 Panel Sessions

  1. External Examining and Academic Standards: seeking greater consistency (HEA)
  2. Teaching Through Imitation
  3. Career Development Workshop (ECA) [Numbers limited, pre-booking required]
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory I
  5. Shared Responsibility: Auto/Biography and the Ethics of Representation
  6. Contemporary British and American Poetics: the Trans-Atlantic Avant-Garde (Centre for Contemporary Poetry)
  7. Broadcasting English
  8. Englishes Online
  9. Anglo-Saxon Futures II
  10. Beyond the East/West Divide: Bangladesh as Travelling Culture in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane
  11. English Studies and Careers: Opening a Conversation
  12. Renaissance Literature: New Perspectives (SRS)
  13. National Literatures and New ‘Englishes’: Writing from Wales

12.30 – 1.45 Panel Sessions

  1. How to Grow an English Student (Common English Forum)
  2. Academics in the Classroom: How Can Universities Deliver English Outreach for Schools
  3. The Future of English Studies I: Periodisation (ECA)
  4. Shared Futures for Literary Theory II
  5. How Can Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes Support People to Improve their Mental Health
  6. Reflections on Time and Place: the Creative Writing PhD in Historical Fiction
  7. Hometowns and Influences (NAWE)
  8. Literary Research and Teaching in the Age of DH
  9. Literary Criticism in an Age of Radical Politics
  10. Awake and Present: a roundtable on why contemporary literary studies matters (British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies)
  11. Stella Benson and I Pose / Ellen Terry and the Archives
  12. Reading (IES)
  13. Writing (out of) Wales

2.00 – 3.15 The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society ALCS presents the Plenary – Creative Writing, Bernardine Evaristo

3.30 – 4.45 Panel Sessions

  1. Diversity in Teaching and Learning (NAWE)
  2. English Association Literary Salon: Marina Warner
  3. The Future of English Studies II: English Studies in Ruins? (ECA)
  4. CWWA Meeting
  5. Story as Medicine: Creative Writing Workshop
  6. Creativity and Research in the 21st Century (NAWE)
  7. Crossing Borders in the Nineteenth Century: Genre and Time
  8. Across the Great Divide: the Scientific Humanities and the Future of the Discipline
  9. Transnational Scholarship and the Digital Edition
  10. Difficult Identities: How the Academy and Literature Must Do Justice to their Own Complexity
  11. Music as Literature, Literature as Music
  12. Scholarly Editing in the 21st Century

5.00 – 6.15 Plenary – Martin Luther King in Newcastle, Brian Ward

The Future of Aural Skills in Universities and Conservatoires

by Paul Fleet,

AHHE Associate Editor for Music

Hello again.  My first blog highlighted particular upcoming music conferences, and in keeping with this I wanted to report to you my thoughts from a recent Aural Skills Pedagogy Symposium that was held on 7th April 2017 at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Colleagues from Universities and Conservatories from the UK, Europe, and North America came together at this one-day symposium to present and listen to papers under the themes of how we teach, assess, use technology, and embed aural skills. A full listing of the papers and their presenters can be found at

All delegates (regardless of whether they were from a University or Conservatory) recognised that one of the biggest difficulties facing educators of aural skills is that the topic is often side-lined in music education itself.  A typical example many will recognise is when the student informs you of their prior ABRSM practical exam preparation: they spent months on the scales and pieces, and only two weeks before the exam did their tutor run through some examples regarding the aural part of the assessment.  It was felt that aural skills should not be separate but integral to the training of musicianship.  This may seem obvious but it is often not the case in our curricula, much to the disadvantage of our students.  For an interesting empirical study on the advantages of singing through a melody before playing it on an instrument see Chie Ohsawa (2009) ‘The Effect of Singing the Melody in the Practice of the Piano’

We similarly collectively recognised at the symposium that we should be completely transparent in our assessment of aural skills; making sure that we put the theory of the skill firmly within the place of its practice.  To assess transcription skills in an intangible space (such as a request to the student to write down a string of non-sequential intervals) is to send them on a fool’s errand that is neither useful in the real world (I can happily state that in my professional life I have never had to work out a string of intervals that was not grounded in a melodic or harmonic context) nor to the understanding of the music itself (Kent Cleland, Jena Root, and Simon Parkin all spent time within their papers showing how the association of the tonal-familiar was the key to progression in the acquisition of complex listening skills).

For someone like myself who is active in the field of embodied music theory strategies (watch out for my article ‘Rethinking the Guidonian Hand for twenty-first century Musicians’ in the second issue (first volume) of the Journal of Popular Music Education this July) what became apparent was the distinction between those who Kodály and those who Kodon’t [sic].  It would have been a surprise to have been at a conference on aural skills and not have the Kodály method mentioned.  However, it was interesting to hear that whilst the aforementioned distinction I made (somewhat in jest) is in place, it is not as clear cut as those who have undertaken the specific solfège training and those who have not.  There are various ideas and techniques that use the body without instrument to ‘play’ the sound being heard (for example, the idea of air guitar) and thus check and reinforce the connection.  It is hoped that many of these ideas will form articles in a dedicated issue of a targeted journal for wider dissemination.

One of the most reassuring pieces of information emerging from the day, and particularly for those of use who do not have perfect / absolute pitch, is that the golden arrow of aural accuracy is not something that stays with that person for the whole of their life.  Intriguingly, and as Gary S. Karpinski pointed out, those with perfect pitch discover that their recognition begins to be ‘out’ by an increasing distance from middle-age onwards (from about a semitone rising to a minor third higher than that of the sounded pitch).  If ever there was a convincing argument for why all musicians should undertake regular aural skills training it is that the skills of relative pitch can be deployed when the gift of perfect pitch is lost.

The value of going to conferences is known and clear but it is often worth reminding ourselves of this fact as the pressures of academic life invite us to commit more time to internal responsibilities and activities.  To help, might I remind us all of the JISC Musicology list that can deliver details of such conferences, requests for papers, and so on straight to your inbox and help promote discussion across the musicology community.  If you haven’t already joined then all you need to do is send the one line: ‘join musicology-all firstname lastname’ to to begin the interaction.

Until soon, Paul

AHHE Associate Editor for Music





Translating Theatre: an update by Margherita Laera and Flora Pitrolo

by Margherita Laera and Flora Pitrolo, University of Kent


A few months ago Jan Parker wrote a blog [TRANSLATING THEATRE: ‘FOREIGNISATION’ ON STAGE] about our AHRC-sponsored project entitled ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness’, following her attendance of our symposium on theatre translation in October 2016. The project asks how theatre in translation can communicate linguistic and cultural difference without flattening it or over-domesticating it. A video gallery from the symposium is visible here

The project has come a long way since our symposium and since Jan Parker’s reflections. Having edited our project documentary (https:// we are now re-imagining our summer workshop series as an interactive archive, forthcoming on We have also begun work on our special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance (due to be published in the summer of 2018), which allows the team of scholars and translators who took part in the initial phase of the project to reflect more deeply and more carefully on the experiences of attempting strategies of ‘foreignisation’ on stage.

‘Foreignisation’ is not a binary term in clear-cut opposition to the term ‘domestication’. In fact, both terms encompass a range of possibilities performed through, within and contextually to translation, which are ascribable to much more than purely discursive strategies. The questions we posed – which regarded how Venuti’s ideas on ‘foreignisation’ might be applicable in and useful to theatre and performance – were carefully addressed beyond the sphere of the textual, stretching into choice of text, casting, acting techniques, accents and other aspects of performance and of its aesthetic and cultural framing. We deliberately chose texts from Spain, France and Poland that would sit on the margins of both the translated corpus from those languages into English, and that would challenge standard practices in contemporary London theatre (more on this here).

The project’s directors and performers attempted to purposefully re-elaborate their process design, their acting techniques, and their very style of performance in order to invent something other to what they are used to but also other to their received ideas of ‘Spain’, ‘France’, ‘Poland’. In every step of the process we questioned defaults, stereotypes and go-to positions in order to discover whether we could perform an ‘Other’ space – the space we called ‘translation’ and the space we also called ‘the theatre’ – that could exist outside of the discursive and imaginary limits implicit in the mere fact of decoding out of one linguistic and cultural system and recoding into another.

Therefore the project’s first phase responded precisely to what Parker singles out as ‘research which engages with all the interrelations of the theatre studio as a multifaceted translation “exploratorium”’. We attempted to ‘test’ the idea of ‘foreignisation’ where it had seldom been tested before, namely in theatrical texts and theatrical practice: as Parker rightly points out, ‘“effect/affect/identification” in the theatre work more complexly than delivering an awareness’, and indeed we deployed the theatre as a medium in order to transfer the ‘awareness’ of the other into the sphere of embodied knowledge – the knowledge of the rehearsal room – where encounters and experiences are performed rather than explored through conjecture only.

To employ a methodology such as practice-as-research is to willfully push at something that appears obscure, and to accept the imperfect and exploratory nature of that searching; it is also to keep oneself open to finding something other than what one might have expected or planned for, and to accept that the process will probably lead to more questions than answers. Many of the questions we uncovered in the rehearsal room address the very core of what it is to perform, and not only of what it is to perform a translation: in this sense, a paradigm borrowed from translation studies is having a second life in theatre studies in our current research, and we are still working on singling out how the two disciplines, crafts and ways of knowing can productively both enrich and destabilise each other.

The questions we are asking now have to do with performative strategies that might complicate, enrich and supplement discursive and non-discursive strategies. How can performance and mise en scène communicate linguistic and cultural difference to a live audience? The answer to these questions clearly depends on the context in which one is performing and spectating. We are aware that we are asking that question in London in 2017 and our chosen strategies might not apply to other contexts. The project’s special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance seeks to further investigate these matters, which have generated – and we hope will continue to generate – a rich conversation across fields.

Nothing to see here

Karen J Leader

(Art History class at Mount Holyoke)


The photograph reproduced above drives me bonkers. Every time I see it, I have a conniption. Why, you might ask. It seems innocuous; playful and inoffensive. A cute youngish looking man mugs for the camera while a group of adoring young women watch him and smile. Judging from the surroundings they appear to be in a museum, or gallery. But rather than looking at art, he is clowning and they are giggling.

It is not just the image that sends me into paroxysms, it is the use to which it was put. In 2014, then-President of the United States Barack Obama took his turn taking a potshot at the humanities, choosing art history as his target. His comment predictably drew the ire of academic types, who did what they do best, and wrote well-crafted responses. (Full disclosure, I was among them, with my colleague Amy K. Hamlin. You can read it here.)

Scott Jaschik, the editor of Inside Higher Ed wrote a perfectly respectable example of such a riposte, complete with quotes from experts. A worthy entry into the debate, it generated quite a comment thread, and was shared on social media. The article was illustrated with that stupid image. Because it was shared, the image kept popping up, taunting me with its glib posing.

Why on earth was this utterly unserious image selected by a picture editor, or perhaps by the author himself, as a good choice to accompany an article trying to argue for the value of art history? (Full disclosure, I did not ask the author, because I didn’t want to risk yelling at him, e-mail style: what were you thinking dude?!)

The image infuriates me in part because it says nothing about crucial skills of discernment, critical thinking, or cultural and historical specificity that are the hallmarks of art historical study. In fact the works of art huddle in the background (a figure in one of them seems to stare back with the same disapproval I’m expressing here. So does one of the students, disgusted with the shenanigans and ready to look at some art already.)

This photograph does more than convey a lack of seriousness or rigor in an art history class’s confrontation with works of art. It actually reinforces a damning stereotype of the discipline: that it is elitist, only suitable for posh girls, here offered by central casting from the campus of Mount Holyoke. Reinforces, I say, because the stereotype is not only evergreen, but has enjoyed a resurgence. Google “art history posh.” I’ll wait.

The class argument, insisting that the humanities disciplines must be available to all, is crucial in debates around higher education of course. Thankfully, it has been made by some very smart people, and will be the subject of a future post.

For now, can I just suggest that picture editors, when choosing which image will best illustrate an article, ask an art historian for heaven’s sake?



Author Biography

Karen J. Leader is Associate Professor of Art History, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University. Her activities on behalf of art history and the humanities can be found here. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @proftinkerbell.





‘Intercultural university models for the 21st century’- Editor’s introduction


Intercultural university models for the 21st century

By Manuela Guillerne, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra

Winds of change are whistling through social, political and cultural institutions, all over the world, and universities in particular. It may well be said that in the 21st century these have been in the eye of the hurricane since they had unquestionably become the locus of knowledge par excellence of modern nation-states and, therefore, where the national elite of rulers was formed, the national scientific and cultural references of the past, present and the future, were devised, refined, delivered and finally where national identity was energized. In sum, in global times, the University is reflecting the crisis of the Nation-State.

Europe started this century with the launching of the Bologna process, which aimed “to create a coherent and cohesive European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010”, and it seemed that, once completed, the scene would have been set up and would remain stable for quite some time. In fact, it fulfilled, within the deadline, its main objectives: – “adopt a system of easily readable and comparable degrees; adopt a system with two main cycles (undergraduate/graduate); establish a system of credits (ECTS); promote mobility by overcoming legal recognition and administrative obstacles; promote European co-operation in quality assurance; promote a European dimension in higher education”. These accomplishments have certainly brought innumerous benefits for higher education in the name of its internationalization and in the form of networking. Furthermore, it broke down innumerous frontiers and if, on the one hand, it homogenized often carelessly of national epistemological traditions, cultural uses and local relevance, on the other hand, it opened up a wide horizon that started to long for farther and away from Europe. In addition, the design and implementation of an EHEA and the development of the idea of a “knowledge economy” has carefully been observed by the governments of other regions in the world and inspired the creation of some governmental and non-governmental policies, e. g. in Latin America. The mirror-like reflecting images between universities in Europe and in the Americas offer an interesting field for colonial and postcolonial analysis.

The universities which started in the Americas in colonial times were often organizations which transplanted the models from their mother institutions in Europe, formerly under the umbrella of the Church and later of the Nation-State. Despite its national symbolism and identity, the University has been described by several authors as a “colonial” institution per se both in its essence and history and, in fact, university models expanded from the North to the South, both within Europe and from Europe to overseas. However, it should not be ignored the a posteriori reverse influence from North America to Europe (North-North) and nonetheless the currently starting influence from South America to Europe (South-North). This justifies the interest that this special issue on “Winds from the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century” is thought to raise among the AHHE readers. Furthermore, globalization has had an impact in the role, life and image of universities worldwide, which has been described as a loss of their identity, more specifically of their cultural and national ethnic identity, in some cases, their tradition. This is why the experience of the intercultural/indigenous universities is worth considering today because they are adequately considered to be ethnically grounded.

AHHE Special Issue Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century

Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century
Editors: Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz


Introduction – Winds of the South: Intercultural university models for the 21st century by Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz

This issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education focuses on innovative initiatives which are emerging in different Latin-American university contexts as well as a few other experiments in traditionally established universities. Sometimes these initiatives are newly created higher education institutions that are rooted inside indigenous regions, in other cases conventional universities start to “interculturalize” their student population, their teaching staff, or even their curricular contents and methods. Despite certain criticisms, community leaders frequently claim and celebrate the appearance of these new higher education opportunities as part of a strategy of empowering ethnic actors of indigenous or afro-descendant origin.


Interview with Boaventura de Sousa Santos
by Manuela Guilherme Gunther Dietz

Local resignifications of transnational discourses in intercultural higher education: The case of the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural in Mexico                                                                                                   by Laura Selene Mateos Cortés Gunther Dietz

Is the interculturalisation of Chile’s universities a real possibility?
by Guillermo Williamson

Displacement and revitalization of the Nahuatl language in the High Mountains of Veracruz, Mexico
by Carlos O Sandoval Arenas

Knowing the other/other ways of knowing: Indigenous feminism, testimonial, and anti-globalization street discourse
by Isabel Dulfano

Llama herders and urban elites: Interdisciplinary readings of early colonial narratives in the Americas
by Christine D Beaule, Benito Quintana

Intercultural doctoral supervision: The centrality of place, time and other forms of knowledge
by Catherine Manathunga