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An American Body | Politic

A Deleuzian Approach

Bernd Herzogenrath

Publication Year: 2010

A reflection on the metaphor of the body politic throughout American history Bernd Herzogenrath’s An American Body|Politic is a study of the intersection between the material, biological body and body as political and cultural metaphor in American politics, religion, literature, and popular culture. Deeply influenced by the thought of Gilles Deleuze, Herzogenrath’s approach to American culture encompasses endless possibilities and potentials, eschewing the mechanic and structural. He traipses through American history and culture, pausing to examine such varied facets as the Puritans’ “two bodies,” Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy, Cotton Mather and smallpox, the poetics|politics of Whitman, Henry Adams’s stroll along the shores of complexity, and the Detroit-based techno music of today.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Series: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies


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pp. C-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

A great many friends and colleagues have contributed to, supported, and inspired this book and the work and efforts that have gone into it. On the support side, I first have to mention the late (and great) Emory Elliott. From the time I first met Emory (at the end of...

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pp. 1-19

This study explores the oscillation between the ‘real,’ material body, and the social ‘body politic’ in American culture—an oscillation that I will call Body|Politic (I use both single quotation marks and italics for emphasis). My topic is how the materiality of the body [its biological, physical, and other systems] ‘prefigures’ and constitutes...

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0, Body, Theory, Politic

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pp. 20-53

The last two decades have witnessed a boom in Body|Theory. In cultural studies, the market value of ‘the body’ has risen to immense heights: the body has become one of the most analyzed topics of postmodern thought. Particularly in the field of feminism, the body...

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1. The Puritans’ Two Bodies

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pp. 54-91

The Puritans who came to the New World were steeped in Renaissance thought. Almost all of the New England Puritans’ education, their “intellectual life, scientific knowledge, morality, manners and customs, notions and prejudices, was that of all Englishmen” (P. Miller and Johnson 1:7). Indeed, as Howard Mumford...

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2. A "'Physics' of Power": Phase Transitions and Turbulence in the Antinomian Controversy

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pp. 92-115

From 1636 to 1638, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was shaken by its first substantial crisis. Anne Hutchinson, who was later identified by John Winthrop as the main source of that controversy, had come to America from Boston, England, in 1634. Not a part of Winthrop’s party...

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3. Cotton Mather: The Angel and the Animalcula

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pp. 116-170

If John Winthrop and the first generation of New England Puritans can be regarded as both connecting and being suspended between feudal structures of sovereignty and modern structures of government, then Cotton Mather can be considered a transitional or liminal figure oscillating between the fundamentally...

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4. "I am the Poet of Little Things": Walt Whitman and Minor Poetics, Politics

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pp. 171-207

Whereas the last chapters have dealt primarily with events in American history, this chapter will deal with American literature, at a time when the response to Emerson’s call for a genuine American literature clashed with the threat of destruction of a ‘genuine’ United...

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5. A Physical Theory of Herdity, Heresy: The Education of Henry Adams

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pp. 208-232

Both a grandson and a great-grandson of American presidents, Henry Brooks Adams was a fourth-generation member of what was by far the most important and influential political dynasty in American history. He received the finest formal education...

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6. "A Sonorous People": Techno, Music and the Joyful Body, Politic

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pp. 233-252

In noise, Jacques Attali attempts to read music as an indicator [even a predictor] of social change. Since his intention is “not only to theorize about music, but to theorize through music” (4), Attali demonstrates that music can function as the unconscious of...

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pp. 253-258

At the end of the twentieth [and the beginning of the twenty-fi rst] century, the [traditional metaphor of the] Body|Politic seems to have lost its currency—as the political theorist Carl Schmitt observed, the idea and the “epoch of the State is coming to its end” (19), and...


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pp. 259-284


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pp. 285-312


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pp. 313-321

E-ISBN-13: 9781584659426
E-ISBN-10: 1584659424
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584659327
Print-ISBN-10: 1584659327

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 8 illus.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies
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OCLC Number: 712993432
MUSE Marc Record: Download for An American Body | Politic

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Subject Headings

  • Human body (Philosophy).
  • Deleuze, Gilles, 1925-1995.
  • Human body -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Human body -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Political science -- United States -- Philosophy.
  • Human body in literature.
  • Literature and society -- United States.
  • Politics and literature -- United States.
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