Becoming Plots: Human Rights, the <i>Bildungsroman</i>, and the Novelization of Citizenship

Joseph R. Slaughter

in Human Rights, Inc.

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780823228171
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241033 | DOI:
Becoming Plots: Human Rights, the Bildungsroman, and the Novelization of Citizenship

Show Summary Details


The humanist discourse of human rights risked being overrun by seemingly plotless accounting methods for representing and imagining the contemporary social world and human development. This chapter explores a more general intersection of the conceptual vocabularies of human rights and narrative theory. When Ireland's former president Mary Robinson reproached the United Nations for straying from its historical plot and losing the thread of the human rights plot to other imperatives, she suggested that state and other interests have corrupted the basic humanist vision of free and full human personality development. However, in fact, lamentations over a degraded human rights plot — and the blunting of its counteractive force — draw too neat a distinction between a rebellious spirit of human rights and their current crass instrumentalization by states and other international actors. As the chapter shows, with regard to rebellion and legitimation, both human rights and the Bildungsroman equivocate as a matter of form.

Keywords: human rights; Mary Robinson; United Nations; human personality; rebellion; legitimation; Bildungsroman; narrative theory; humanist

Chapter.  19769 words. 

Subjects: Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Fordham University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.