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Volume 5, Issue 1: Contents


Civil Disobedience and Punishment:
(Mis)reading Justification and Strategy from SNCC to Snowden

  For several weeks following the publication in the British newspaper the Guardian of a three-part exposé on the U.S. National Security Administration's domestic surveillance programs, a curious and rather heated debate circulated around the Internet about whether or not we could consider the actions of Edward Snowden—his leaking of classified documents—civil disobedience or not. Snowden, at the time an employee at the technology security consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, gathered documents and information on a range of Internet surveillance and metadata collection programs with the intention of leaking them to the press. Contacting first the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and then filmmaker Laura Poitras, Snowden provided them thousands of documents through the spring of 2013, an overview of which was first published later in May. By then, Snowden had left his position in Hawaii for Hong Kong. As details of the leak became public throughout summer 2013, the Obama Administration was quick to condemn Snowden, claiming serious damage and risk to national security. Then, on June 14, 2013 federal prosecutors officially charged him with theft of government property and violations of the 1917 Espionage Act. There were others, however, who questioned whether the leak really constituted a threat, and as of two recent federal court rulings, the constitutionality of the NSA programs remains unclear and disputed.



Coming Out: Closet Rhetoric and Media Publics

  Figure 01 detail
These days it sometimes seems as though the only legitimate way to come out as gay or lesbian, whether famous or not, is in front of a camera before an audience of millions. Our investment in the mass media as crucial sites of gay and lesbian visibility came into sharp relief during the speech Jodie Foster gave when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 2013 Golden Globes ceremony and in the responses that the speech elicited. Foster teased viewers by promising a very personal revelation, but then refused to deliver the anticipated punch line: "So while I'm here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public [. . . . ] But I'm just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I'm going to need your support on this. I am single." Figure 02 detailFollowing this bait and switch, Foster commented on the expectations she had subverted: "[This is not going to] be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met."




Roads Not Taken: Notes on the Legacy
of Orientalism

  In his 1952 essay, "Philology and Weltliteratur," Erich Auerbach notes the centrality of a point of departure in literary-historical investigations as follows: "In order to accomplish a major work of synthesis, it is imperative to locate a point of departure [Ansatzpunkt], a handle, as it were, by which the subject can be seized. The point of departure must be the election of a firmly circumscribed, easily comprehensible set of phenomena whose interpretation is a . . .



Orientalism as Occidentalism

  In Orientalism, Edward Said's efforts were dedicated to uncovering how the "Oriental" other of the Occidental self was formed and conjured up. His seminal book would also explicate the constitution of this Occidental self, an explication that would become generative of a large body of literature that followed in its footsteps. In this brief contribution, I argue that the lasting and ongoing impact of Orientalism is its uncovering . . .



Orientalism and the History of Western
Anti-Semitism: The Coming End
of an American Taboo

  At the very end of the introduction to Orientalism, Edward W. Said makes the peculiar observation that as he was writing the book, he "found himself by some inescapable logic writing the history of the strange, secret sharer of Western anti-Semitism." The historical, political and philological implications of this allusion to Joseph Conrad's short story, "The Secret Sharer," did not occur to me until sometime around 2007. . .




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History of the Present is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal, with issues appearing in the fall and spring.
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