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Living Attention

On Teresa Brennan

Alice A. Jardine, Shannon Lundeen, Kelly Oliver

Publication Year: 2007

As an internationally respected feminist philosopher, radical social and political theorist, and tireless activist, Teresa Brennan (1952–2003) was one of the most provocative thinkers of our time. Living Attention is a tribute to the significance of her thought and a testament to the transformative power of her life. This book demonstrates the scope of Brennan’s thought as it continues to challenge academics, public intellectuals, and government leaders. Her concerns ranged from the implications of psychoanalytic theory to relations between men and women to the effects of globalization on our ecological system. The contributors to this volume—from a broad variety of disciplines, including philosophy, literature, government, literary and critical theory, and women’s studies—take up Brennan’s call to radical thinking and, by examining different aspects of Brennan’s work, critically engage with her oeuvre.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Gender Theory

Living Attention

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pp. iii


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Alice A. Jardine: I am sincerely grateful to the faculty and staff of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Harvard University, and especially to the Chair of WGS, Afsaneh Najmabadi, for their generous support of the memorial conference in Teresa’s honor held at Harvard on May 1, 2004. I am grateful to my co-editors, Shannon Lundeen and Kelly Oliver, for their spirit ...

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pp. xi-xvii

The essays in this collection are a tribute to the significance of the work of Teresa Brennan. Although the body that she so gracefully and vivaciously inhabited is gone, Teresa Brennan’s intellect, spirit, and energy are very much present in her scholarly work and the engagements with that work in this volume. Throughout her work, from her first book ...

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1. A Surplus of Living Attention:Celebrating the Life and Ideas of Teresa Brennan

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pp. 1-12

Let me begin with a confession: Over the course of my twenty years of friendship with Teresa Brennan, I lived and breathed her books; but I fi ercely resisted reading them, until after her death. I have asked myself why and have yet to come up with a satisfactory response...

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2. Living A Tension

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pp. 13-22

With risks come possibilities for creativity and imagination—a creative force that takes bits and pieces from here and there and mixes them together into a powerful stimulant if not elixir. In Brennan’s work, we risk losing...

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3. Time Difference: The Political Psychoanalysis of Teresa Brennan

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pp. 23-32

Teresa Brennan wrote, as maybe all do at the moment of creation, in a time zone between conviction and madness, ignominy and brilliance. Above all, she wrote in pursuit of a platform on which to put up her leftist political conviction alongside her feminist outrage and her psychoanalytic understanding of affective life...

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4. Heidegger after Brennan

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pp. 33-44

There are many ways in which Teresa Brennan deliberately and explicitly set her work in relation to Heidegger’s. In Exhausting Modernity (2000), her point of departure is “at least informed by . . . the critique of foundationalism begun by Heidegger” (Brennan 2000, 14). Throughout that work, as she builds her argument in readings of Marx, Freud and Lacan, Heidegger’s name surfaces again ...

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5. Repressed Knowledge and theTransmission of Affect

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pp. 45-55

I last saw Teresa Brennan when she passed through England in the summer of 2002 on her way to Israel, where she was planning to join a group of academics visiting the West Bank. As things turned out, she set off on the next stage of her journey via Egypt, and was surprised and somewhat crest-fallen when even her formidable powers of persuasion failed to move the ...

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6. Emotion, Affect, Drive For Teresa Brennan

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pp. 57-77

I delivered an earlier version of this essay in October of 2003 at a memorial symposium celebrating the life and work of Teresa Brennan. I want to express my thanks to Kelly Oliver and Liz Grosz for organizing that memorial event for Teresa Brennan, and especially for inviting me to participate. It was a privilege to be there with so many of her distinguished friends, and to have ...

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7. After Teresa Brennan

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pp. 79-90

In the spring of 2000, Teresa sent me her manuscript, The Transmission of Affect1 and asked me to respond to it. This followed on a series of exchanges we had at first about the concept of race as a fictional device within the sociology of medicine, which then led to other related issues. Teresa had proposed that we work on an essay together, maybe even a book, on race and...

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8. Ubuntu and Teresa Brennan’s Energetics

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pp. 91-99

Teresa Brennan was a visionary thinker. At the heart of her vision was a passionate plea for all of us to take up the battle for what she called an “economy of generosity,” and if not that, at least an “economy of sustenance.” These two economies would be pitted against the fantasized, or what Brennan calls “the fundamental hallucination” upon which advanced capitalism ...

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9. What’s Not Seen

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pp. 101-106

Teresa responded with all her senses, intellectually. She explored knowledge and knowledges with a mix of lightness and intensity. She understood that we cannot know enough to satisfy the cravings of epistemophilia (the thirst for knowledge that some analysts identify with the infant’s first thirst). She was clear-sighted about the identification of seeing with intellectual life, ...

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10. Reading Brennan

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pp. 107-115

In 1992, Teresa Brennan published her first book, The Interpretation of the Flesh. The book opens with two epigraphs. One is from Proust: “But at least, if strength were granted me for long enough to accomplish my work, I should not fail . . . to describe men first and foremost as occupying a place, a very considerable place compared with the restricted one which is allotted them ...

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11. Can We Make Peace?* For Teresa Brennan

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pp. 117-126

The premature death of Teresa Brennan fills me with an immense sadness. I have lost a friend—one who introduced me into the circle of Hannah Arendt’s collaborators and accomplices at the New School, and who could always inspire me with the interest and pertinence of her thought in the domains of femininity, of the sacred, of psychoanalysis. In these moments of ...

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A Eulogy for Teresa Brennan

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pp. 127-132

It is difficult to write a eulogy for a friend who has had a public life and thus belongs to the public sphere. Personal loss evokes images that are not the least bit monumental. For me it is Teresa driving her car onto our snowy lawn, missing the driveway completely and almost landing in the kitchen. Or eating ice cream cones in tourist Cuba as her sarong unravels, her...


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pp. 133-136


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pp. 137-139

E-ISBN-13: 9780791480120
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791470794
Print-ISBN-10: 0791470792

Page Count: 158
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series in Gender Theory

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Psychoanalysis.
  • Femininity.
  • Philosophy, Modern.
  • Brennan, Teresa, 1952-.
  • Psychoanalysis and feminism.
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