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Norm and Anomaly in Language, Literature, and Culture


Edited By Jarosław Wiliński and Joanna Stolarek

This book explores norm and anomaly in various contemporary Anglophone linguistic, didactic, literary and cultural studies. The authors provide an international forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas. They analyze, among others, humour in comics and sitcom discourse, riddles and their linguistic properties, idiomaticity in language teaching. They also set their focus on issues like the uses of antipassive-like and extraposed constructions, as well as problems related to order and chaos, expression and repression, autonomy and oppression, harmony and discord in modern and contemporary British and US literature and culture.

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Two Modes of Killing: Murder as an Anomaly and the Death Penalty as a Norm (Justyna Stiepanow)


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Justyna Stiepanow

University of Gdańsk, Poland e-mail:

Two Modes of Killing: Murder as an Anomaly and the Death Penalty as a Norm

Abstract: While in the early-modern times public execution was a rather common and undisputable form of punishment, it began to excite controversy in the advent of new liberal democracy. As a consequence of public debate on capital punishment, the late-modern era has witnessed a steady decline in imposing the death penalty. Yet, the rise of humanitarian sentiments was not sufficient to abolish the sanction everywhere in the demo-Christian world. More importantly, in the jurisdictions retaining the sanction the death sentences enjoy considerable public support. Take the contemporary U.S. as an example, there seems to be no apparent contradiction between upholding capital punishment and the values America has been built on. How, then, can one rationally condemn depriving an individual of life in the act of murder but support taking another life in the course of execution? Answering the question in The Death Penalty, Vol. 1, Derrida notes that in Western culture murder and the death penalty are construed as each other’s opposites: though both include killing, there is no affinity between them. He exposes the Western rationalization of the ongoing use of capital punishment: murder is a crime committed by an inhumane individual for his/her private gain, whereas execution is a lawful humane act of punishment that must be imposed in the name of public good....

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