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A Time for the Humanities

Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

James Bono

Publication Year: 2008

This book brings together an international roster of renowned scholars from disciplines including philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary studies to address the conceptual foundations of the humanities and the question of their future. What notions of the future, of the human, and of finitude underlie recurring anxieties about the humanities in our current geopolitical situation? How can we think about the unpredictable and unthought dimensions of praxis implicit in the very notion of futurity?The essays here argue that the uncertainty of the future represents both an opportunity for critical engagement and a matrix for invention. Broadly conceived, the notion of invention, or cultural poiesis, questions the key assumptions and tasks of a whole range of practices in the humanities, beginning with critique, artistic practices, and intellectual inquiry, and ending with technology, emancipatory politics, and ethics. The essays discuss a wide range of key figures (e.g., Deleuze, Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray), problems (e.g., becoming, kinship and the foreign, disposable populationswithin a global political economy, queerness and the death drive, the parapoetic, electronic textuality, invention and accountability, political and social reform in Latin America), disciplines and methodologies (philosophy, art and art history, visuality, political theory, criticism and critique, psychoanalysis, gender analysis, architecture, literature, art). The volume should be required reading for all who feel a deep commitment to the humanities, its practices, and its future.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

We would like to acknowledge the support we have received from individuals as well as institutions. The initial impetus for this collection came from the inaugural conference of the University at Buffalo Humanities...

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Introduction: Future, Heteronomy, Invention

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pp. 1-14

A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy brings together an interdisciplinary and international group of renowned theorists and scholars to reflect on the future of the humanities. Whereas many recent works have addressed this issue in primarily...

Part I: The New and Its Risks

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pp. 15-57

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1. Life and Event: Deleuze on Newness

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pp. 17-28

Whether cinema, as Deleuze claims, is Bergsonian, remains an open question; that Deleuze himself was a Bergsonian, however, is beyond doubt. Still, we should ask ourselves: What, exactly, does the Bergsonian inspiration to be found across...

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2. A Precursor: Limiting the Future, Affirming Particularity

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pp. 29-44

The possibility of the future, linked though perhaps too often to the unacknowledged positing of the new, endures as a continuing refrain.1 Hence, there is the inevitable repetition of the problem posed by the need to begin again and anew...

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3. Visual Parrhesia?:Foucault and the Truth of the Gaze

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pp. 45-57

Cezanne’s famous assertion in a letter to a friend in 1905, “I owe you the truth in painting and I will tell it to you,” was fi rst brought into prominence by the French art historian Hubert Damisch in his 1978 Huit thèses pour (ou contre?) une sémiologie de la peinture...

Part II: Rhetoric and the Future of the Political

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pp. 59-106

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4. Articulation and the Limits of Metaphor

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pp. 61-83

In a well-known essay, Gérard Genette discusses the question of the interdependence between metaphor and metonymy in the structuration of Proust’s narrative.1 Following the pathbreaking work of Stephen Ullmann,2 he shows how...

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5. Answering for Sense

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pp. 84-93

Whoever writes responds. To whom or to what he or she responds, tradition has given many names. There’s been the Muse, poetic Fury, Genius with or without a capital “G,” inspiration, at times the mission or the vocation, at other times a necessity...

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6. “Human” in the Age of Disposable People:The Ambiguous Import of Kinshipand Education in Blind Shaft

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pp. 94-106

In the essay “Letter on Humanism,”2 published soon after Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, Martin Heidegger refers to the condition of homelessness as “coming to be the destiny of the world.”3 By homelessness, Heidegger means something...

Part III: Heteronomy and Futurity in Psychoanalysis

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pp. 107-158

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7. The Foreign, the Uncanny, and the Foreigner: Concepts of the Self and the Other in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Philosophy

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pp. 109-121

Although the first and the last word in my title differ by only one syllable, it is this, at first sight, negligible difference that will be at the center of this paper’s attempt to question one of the few themes on which today’s humanities seem...

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8. An Impossible Embrace: Queerness, Futurity, and the Death Drive

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pp. 122-140

Is every vision of the future heteronormative? Must our thinking of futurity necessarily occur within a reproductive framework that imagines the future as a figurative child born from the union of past and present, thereby installing covertly heterosexist...

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9. Luce Irigaray and the Question of Critique

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pp. 141-158

The future of critique is one of the puzzles facing the critical disciplines. There is one mode of critical reading that attempts to trouble the text for what it is blind to or what it wants not to know. There is another mode of reading that explores...

Part IV: Inventions

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pp. 159

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10. Parapoetics and the Architectural Leap

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pp. 161-179

This essay is divided into three uneven sections. The opening two are short. The first offers a “soft,” manifesto-like exposition of parapoetics; the second discusses a related matter: the paralogicality of the frame. The final section comprises a part mapping...

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11. The Future of Literature:Complex Surfaces of Electronic Texts and Print Books

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pp. 180-209

Nothing is riskier than prediction; when the future arrives, we can be sure only that it will be different than we thought. Nevertheless, I will risk a prognostication: Digital literature will be a significant component of the twenty-first-century canon...

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12. Crisis Means Turning Point: A Manifesto for Art and Accountability

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pp. 210-225

If the humanities are in crisis, this is no time to lament a cruel fate, but to make choices, fast. In common usage, crisis can mean stagnation and festering, a present so oppressively present that it crowds out the past and stifles the future...


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pp. 227-264


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pp. 265-268


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pp. 269-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247370
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823229192
Print-ISBN-10: 082322919X

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Humanities -- Philosophy.
  • Humanities -- Social aspects.
  • Autonomy.
  • Humanities -- Forecasting.
  • Geopolitics -- Forecasting.
  • Civilization, Modern -- 21st century -- Forecasting.
  • Social change -- Forecasting.
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