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Global Testimonial Narratives on the Ethics of Witness

Global Testimonial Narratives on the Ethics of Witness

Responding to the Pain of Others

by Kimberly A. Nance
Publication Date: 15/02/2020
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Inspired by Susan Sontag's examination of the impact of "photography of conscience" in Regarding the Pain of Others, Kimberly A. Nance's Responding to the Pain of Others: Ethics of Witness in Global Testimonial Narratives takes as its point of departure Sontag's speculation that in combatting human rights abuse, "a narrative seems likely to be more effective than an image." Building on her own earlier research on Aristotelian rhetorical theory and testimony, along with other interdisciplinary approaches, Nance analyzes the socio-literary narratives of Elvia Alvarado, Medea Benjamin, Peter Dickinson, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Clea Koff, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, Valentino Achak Deng, Dave Eggers, Uwem Akpan, and Alicia Partnoy. Each of them, she finds, confronts a human rights discourse in which words-and witnesses-have become disconnected from actions. Recognizing that the genre's own conventions have become an obstacle to its projects, these testimonialists draw on humor, irony, satire, parody, and innovative literary techniques, alongside strategies rooted in real-life organizing, in an effort to reactivate the discourse of human rights. They seek to persuade readers to exchange a solidarity of sentiment, a state Michael Vander Weele calls "an aesthetics in which the engine revs but the clutch is never engaged," for actual social action.
Literary studies: general
Publication Date:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Incorporated
Country of origin:
United States
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