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Tom Sjöblom

Journal of Cognition and Culture 7 (2007) 293–312 © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156853707X208521 Spandrels, Gazelles and Flying Buttresses: Religion as Adaptation or as a By-Product Tom Sjöblom Department of Comparative Religion, University of Helsinki


Edited by Stratos Constantinidis

The Reception of Aeschylus' Plays through Shifting Models and Frontiers addresses the need for an integrated approach to the study and staging of Aeschylus’ plays. It offers an invigorating discussion about the transmission and reception of his plays and explores the interrelated tasks of editing, translating, adapting and remaking them for the page and the stage. The volume seeks to reshape current debates about the place of his tragedies in the curriculum and the repertory in a scholarly manner that is accessible and innovative. Each chapter makes a significant and original contribution to its selected topic, but the collective strength of the volume rests on its simultaneous appeal to readers in theatre studies, classical studies, performance studies, comparative studies, translation studies, adaptation studies, and, naturally, reception studies.

Robert Scott Kretchmar

(1997) to conclude that, whatever the middle part of our story turns out to be, it will be a chronicle of intellectual adaptation, of increasingly sophisticated ways of solving the gritty problems of life. Pinker’s conclusions are echoed by others. Many stories about the so-called great leap forward

Provocation and Negotiation

Essays in Comparative Criticism


Edited by Gesche Ipsen, Timothy Mathews and Dragana Obradović

This collection of essays takes on two of the most pressing questions that face the discipline of Comparative Literature today: “Why compare?” and “Where do we go from here?”. At a difficult economic time, when universities all over the world once again have to justify the social as well as academic value of their work, it is crucial that we consider the function of comparison itself in reaching across disciplinary and cultural boundaries.
The essays written for this book are by researchers from all over the world, and range in topic from the problem of translating biblical Hebrew to modern atheism, from Freud to Marlene van Niekerk, from the formation of one person’s identity to experiences of globalisation, and the relation of history to fiction. Together they display the ground-breaking, ideas which lie at the heart of an act as deceptively simple as comparing one piece of writing to another.

Fearful Symmetries

Essays and Testimonies Around Excision and Circumcision


Edited by Chantal Zabus

Often labelled ‘rituals’ or ‘customs’, male circumcision and female excision are also irreversible amputations of human genitalia, with disastrous and at times life-long consequences for both males and females. However, scholars and activists alike have been diffident about making a case for symmetry between these two practices. Fearful Symmetries investigates the sociological, medical, legal, and religious justifications for male circumcision and female excision while it points to various symmetries and asymmetries in their discursive representation in cultural anthropology, law, medicine, and literature.
Experts have been convened in the above fields – SAMI ALDEEB ABU-SAHLIEH, DOMINIQUE ARNAUD, LAURENCE COX, ROBERT DARBY, ANNE–MARIE DAUPHIN–TINTURIER, TOBE LEVIN, MICHAEL SINGLETON, J. STEVEN SVOBODA – along with first-person testimonies from J.K. BRAYTON, SAFAA FATHY, KOFFI KWAHULÉ, and ALEX WANJALA. The volume covers various genres such as sacred writings, literary and philosophical texts, websites, songs, experiential vignettes, cartoons, and film as well as a vast geographical spectrum – from Algeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Kenya, and Somalia to the then Congo and contemporary Northern Zambia; from Syria to Australia and the United States.
In addressing many variants of excision and circumcision as well as other practices such as the elongation of the labia, and various forms of circumcision in Jewish, Islamic, and African contexts, Fearful Symmetries provides an unprecedented, panoptical view of both practices.

Joseph Bulbulia and Andrew Mahoney

considers religious solidarity to be an adaptation for group success, though it is not always clear what unit of selection is implied by “group” (see Group Selection above). Roughly, we assume the total number of groups to be fi xed, that there is variation among the ratios of religionists in these groups

Karenleigh A. Overmann and Thomas Wynn

motorically (Clark, 1997). Clark’s fishy tale relates how an organism interacts with its environment: brain, body, and world are dynamically intertwined to a degree far beyond mere causal linkage. This may aptly describe the human adaptation as well, though our analog is material culture. That is, for both

Yvonne Greene

says that you and most of your choices/actions are driven by the unconscious it is ironic that scientists deride astrology as both seem to share this deterministic viewpoint. However, Rupert Sheldrake asks: “If consciousness does nothing, why has it evolved as an evolutionary adaptation?” 6 According

Michael Moncrieff and Pierre Lienard

to choose from many alternative courses of action, each with its own incentives and payoffs (Skyrms, 2004). Experimental evidence suggests that humans are endowed with refined adaptations to solve such decisional hurdle (Thomas, DeScioli, Haque, & Pinker, 2014). Specific signals and events (e.g., an