Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898 | SUBSCRIBE

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Features

Injury and Beauty

March-April 2014

This spring, Elaine Scarry is teaching two courses: a purely literary class on the three Brontë sisters, and “The Problem of Consent,” drawing examples from literature, medicine, political philosophy, and the law, and enrolling students from the Law School as well as the College. Though her home base is Harvard’s English department, Scarry has never limited her scholarship to literature.

From the beginning, she says, her work has focused on two areas: “the problem of injury, and why it is so hard to get people to care about it;” and “the great pleasure of beauty and creation.” The first of Scarry’s 10 books, The Body In Pain (1985), offered a searching exploration of physical pain in medical, military, legal, scientific, and literary contexts. Dreaming by the Book (1999) inquired into how poets get readers to form vivid mental images. On Beauty and Being Just (1999) argued that encounters with beauty “call us either to educate ourselves, or to try to repair the injuries of the world.” Since 1987, she has been researching the issues involving consent to war expounded in Thermonuclear Monarchy; in recent years she has lectured on its themes at law schools and humanities forums.

You Might Also Like:

Icebergs at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Disko Bay, western Greenland.

Icebergs at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Disko Bay, western Greenland

Photograph by iStock

Greenland’s Fingerprint in Rising Seas

Map of the expansion of Indo-European languages from a source in the highlands of West Asia.

More than 5,000 years ago, Caucasus hunter-gatherers from the highlands between the Black and Caspian Seas traveled west to Anatolia and north to the steppe, splitting their Proto-Indo-European language into two branches. From the steppe, their Yamnaya horse-herder descendants spread their language and genes into daughter languages and cultures across Eurasia. Border colors indicate the geographic origins of five source populations before their migrations (shown by correspondingly colored arrows), while the pie charts show the post-migration admixtures in these regions.

Figure reprinted with permission from I. Lazaridis et al., Science 377:939(2022). 

Seeking the First Speakers of Indo-European Language

Illustration of a city downwind from a fracking well

Illustration by Matt Chinworth

Fracking’s Deadly Toll

You Might Also Like:

Icebergs at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Disko Bay, western Greenland.

Icebergs at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Disko Bay, western Greenland

Photograph by iStock

Greenland’s Fingerprint in Rising Seas

Map of the expansion of Indo-European languages from a source in the highlands of West Asia.

More than 5,000 years ago, Caucasus hunter-gatherers from the highlands between the Black and Caspian Seas traveled west to Anatolia and north to the steppe, splitting their Proto-Indo-European language into two branches. From the steppe, their Yamnaya horse-herder descendants spread their language and genes into daughter languages and cultures across Eurasia. Border colors indicate the geographic origins of five source populations before their migrations (shown by correspondingly colored arrows), while the pie charts show the post-migration admixtures in these regions.

Figure reprinted with permission from I. Lazaridis et al., Science 377:939(2022). 

Seeking the First Speakers of Indo-European Language

Illustration of a city downwind from a fracking well

Illustration by Matt Chinworth

Fracking’s Deadly Toll