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Author:Vogt, Leonard
Position:"Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies" and "The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights" - Book review

Two New Anthologies on Teaching Human Rights and Literature

Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies, edited by Alexandra Schultheis Moore and Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg, in the Approached to Teaching Series, published in October 2015 by the Modern Language Association.

Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies is a sourcebook of inventive approaches and good practices for teachers who want to make human rights the focus of their courses. Writers give consideration to specific rights violations, for example, storytelling and testimonio in Latin America or poetry created in the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. Other essays deepen students' understanding of the stakes and artistic dimensions of human rights representations. The final section is on resources listing readings in history, criticism, theory, and literary and visual studies, and a chronology of human rights legal documents. Included in the list of contributors is Marjorie Agosin, Sophia A. McClennon, Greg A. Mullins, and Belinda Walzer.

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, edited by Sophia A. McClennon and Alexandra Schultheis Moore, in the Routledge Companion Series, published in 2016.

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights is a collection of 47 articles by writers, many of whom hold joint academic appointments in literature and another field such as Law, Anthropology, Life Narratives, International Affairs, or Science and Technology, and an important introduction by Sophia A. McClennen and Alexandra Schultheis Moore. Among the primary aims of this volume are 1) " to make the interdisciplinary field of human rights and literature and culture accessible to nonexperts by providing chapters that survey its core concepts, introduce major themes and issues, provide historical background, and outline a range of central contexts and literary works"; 2)"to expand the idea of human rights literature to include texts that have often been excluded from the literary such as legal texts, performances, visual culture, social media, and human rights reports"; and 3) "to denote human rights literature not as a set of texts, but as the outcome of a reading practice that focuses on the interplay of literary representation and juridicial-political rights work."

The introduction discusses the historical linking of literature and human rights from Amnesty International winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 and President Jimmy Carter's focusing on human rights in his 1977 inaugural address to the UN setting up ad hoc criminal courts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s to try people convicted of violating human rights, followed by the attacks on September 11, 2001 that opened up a discussion both for the advancement and assault on human rights, an example being President George W. Bush speaking of defending the rights of Afghan women while ordering the destruction of the Afghan state.

The Companion is organized in four sections loosely following the journalistic questions of "who," "what," "where," "when," and "how." Part One focuses on Subjects or the "who" of human rights and "investigate[] the circumstances of the person, the development of the concept of the rights-bearing person, and the messy question of who counts as a bearer of rights and by whom"; Part Two takes up the "what" and the "how" of human rights by examining the forms of human rights expression; Part Three includes the variable contexts of human rights...

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