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Visions of Europe

Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates

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Edited By Gail K. Hart and Anke S. Biendarra

How do we as scholars envision Europe? Participants in a two-day research symposium bring a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary responses to this complex question. Distinguished US scholars address the European continent, its history and culture, and its politics in essays that range from the intellectual tradition to poetics and world literature, from the air war to plurilingualism, from religious symbolism to Europe’s colonial legacy. These contributions comprise a portrait or vision of Europe today; the challenges it faces, and the challenges we face in confronting it as a cultural and geopolitical entity.
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European Visions in Albert Camus’s Abolitionism

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Ève Morisi

France shares with England and Spain the honor of being one of the last countries on this side of the iron curtain to keep capital punishment in its arsenal of repression.…

     How can European society of the mid-century survive unless it decides to defend individuals by every means against the State’s oppression?

Albert Camus, “Reflections on The Guillotine” (1957)

Recent scholarship has shed light on the previously underestimated depth and breadth of Albert Camus’s fight against the death penalty (Baciu, Vanney, Salas, Morisi). His commitment to the abolitionist cause manifested itself in his public speeches, in his journalistic, fictional, and essayistic publications, and in his letters of support for condemned men irrespective of their national, socio-political, or cultural identities. Camus’s abolitionism was largely shaped by the modern and contemporary thought and imaginaries of the Old World. My paper will examine this European dimension of Camus’s protean writings on the death penalty, particularly with regard to their philosophical and historical roots, their practical applications, and the literary corpus that informed Camus’s convictions and the way in which he conveyed them.

I.  Thinking The Death Penalty: A European Dialogue

Before I begin with the philosophical foundations of Camus’s abolitionism, I should note that abstract or pragmatic principles were not his initial motivation. The writer’s fiction, essays, correspondence, and notebooks indicate that his rejection of shooting squads, the noose, and the scaffold was, at its root, triggered...

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