Literature, Law and Human Rights_Research Essay

Paper , Order, or Assignment Requirements

Answer one of the following questions, or ask and answer a question of your own devising, for example by choosing a text (literary, legal, filmic, or something else) and applying some of the theoretical and analytic frameworks of this course to it.
Your essay should show a sound understanding of the material we have covered in this course, where relevant to the question you have chosen. You will be expected to have read additional material to that prescribed for this course, including supplementary readings indicated on the web site and/or in the reading guide. You may find it relevant to research the secondary literature more deeply, including by reading authors who have responded to, critiqued, or discussed the work we have focused on in this course. Footnotes included in course materials may prove useful places to begin tracking down other references.

Suggested questions:

1. Stephen Hopgood, The Endtimes of Human Rights, and Robert Meister, After Evil, grant a central place to Holocaust memory in their critiques of the development of human rights. Consider their arguments in relation to Waltz with Bashir, and the broader question of Israeli responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
2. ‘Maybe … much of the imaginative and social work that literature does is done over time and space and is done through the forms of stories that enable forms of thought, forms of commitment, forms of being, and forms of justice’ (McClennen and Slaughter, 2009, 11). Discuss in relation to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Beloved.
3. How do works such as Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love and/or J M Coetzee’s Disgrace contribute to, critique, or confront questions of truth and reconciliation?
4. Critically evaluate a recent humanitarian publicity campaign, for example by Amnesty or Oxfam, deploying some or all of the analytical and theoretical resources we have explored in this course.
5. Write a book review for an academic journal on Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees; or Michael Green et al, They Cannot Take the Sky. Incorporate and build on theoretical and methodological approaches drawn from your readings for this course. (In consultation with your tutor, you may choose a different book as the focus of your discussion.)
6. Analyze a law or report on a question of humanitarian concern in Australia. How does it produce, define, and legitimate responsibility?
7. Select a text or texts which have not been the subject of a class discussion, and analyze how it/they stabilize or destabilize the distinction between guilt & responsibility; or between memory & truth?
8. Consider questions of sovereignty in relation to R2P. To what extent do they illuminate debates around the Northern Territory Intervention?
9. Discuss Bringing Them Home in light of questions of political subjectification, the politics of recognition, trauma, and/or testimony.
10. Examine the photograph of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Robert Fisk’s article, ‘The Forgotten Massacre’ ( massacre-8139930.html). Develop your own theoretically informed analysis of this image, including the extent to which it reveals the limits of Hesford’s argument in Spectacular Rhetorics.
11. ‘Children as sufferers are familiar charismatic figures with an affective authority of great proportions’ (Malkii, 66). Discuss the figure of the child as it has been treated in recent or contemporary political or humanitarian events, either in Australia or elsewhere, drawing on the theoretical and critical perspectives explored in this course.
12. Richard Flanagan declares that the Nauru files are ‘an extraordinary trove of anonymous short stories … [that] will continue to be read in coming decades and even centuries when the works of myself and my colleagues are long forgotten.’ Discuss themes of genre, truth, or witnessing drawing on the Nauru files.

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