Can Art Save? Liberal Humanism, Empathy, and the “Use” of Creativity

Sneha Mantri // This is the first in a three-part series examining the “usefulness” of creativity through the lens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. Watch for Parts II and III later this spring. In Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro constructs a chilling alter world, in which individuals are cloned to…

The Unknowable Other: Intersubjectivity in Alias Grace

Sneha Mantri The facts are sparse. Grace Marks was born in Ireland around 1828, emigrated to Canada in 1840 with her family, and by 1843, aged barely fifteen, was sentenced to death for the murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear. Her story was sensationalized in the newspaper-tabloids of the day, then promptly forgotten. More than…

Carrie’s Story

Sneha Mantri On a spring morning ninety years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision on a landmark trial, Buck v Bell, declaring that forcible sterilization of so-called “degenerates” was not only permissible but imperative. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. justified the decision: “It is…

Hypochondria and the Struggle for Control

Sneha Mantri One of the best-known literary depictions of hypochondria is Molière’s medical play, Le Malade imaginaire, which is occupied with the struggle for power between Argan, the titular “invalid,” and those who surround him. One reading of Argan focuses on his victimhood, arguing that the character believes so completely in his own illness that…

Embodied Prisons

Sneha Mantri Little Dorrit is, above all, a novel about prisons.  In addition to the literal Marshalsea prison that is home for the Dorrit family in the first half of the novel, we are taken to the Circumlocution Office, a bureaucratic imprisonment of any sort of innovation, and the Clennam house, which Mrs. Clennam never…