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Identities, Sexualities, and the Theater of Gender
More than any other area of late-twentieth-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. In this book, a leading Franco-American scholar traces differences and intersections in the development of gender and queer theories on both sides of the Atlantic. Looking at these theories through lenses that are both “American” and “French,” thus simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, she tries to account for their alleged exhaustion and currency on the two sides of the Atlantic. The book is divided into four parts. In the first, the author examines two specifically “American” features of gender theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender (from John Money’s early characterization of gender as “role playing” to Judith Butler’s appropriation of Esther Newton’s work on drag queens); on the other, the early adoption of a “queer” perspective on gender issues. In the second part, the author reflects on a shift in the rhetoric concerning sexual minorities and politics that is prevalent today. Noting a shift from efforts by oppressed or marginalized segments of the population to make themselves “heard” to an emphasis on rendering themselves “visible,” she demonstrates the formative role of the American civil rights movement in this new drive to visibility. The third part deals with the travels back and forth across the Atlantic of “sexual difference,” ever since its elevation to the status of quasi-concept by psychoanalysis. Tracing the “queering” of sexual difference, the author reflects on both the modalities and the effects of this development. The last section addresses the vexing relationship between Western feminism and capitalism. Without trying either to commend or to decry this relationship, the author shows its long-lasting political and cultural effects on current feminist and postfeminist struggles and discourses. To that end, she focuses on one of the intense debates within feminist and postfeminist circles, the controversy over prostitution.
Olivier Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward the Beyond
Present-day music studies conspicuously evade the question of religion in contemporary music. Although many composers address the issue in their work, as yet there have been few attempts to think through the structureof religious music as we hear it.The work of Olivier Messiaen is well known for its inclusion of religious themes and gestures. On the basis of a careful analysis of Messiaen’s work, this book argues for a renewal of our thinking about religious music.Starting from an analysis of his 1960s oratorio La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ, van Maas arranges a moderated dialogue between Messiaen and the music theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, thephenomenology of revelation of Jean-Luc Marion, the rethinking of religion and technics in Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, and the Augustinian ruminations of Søren Kierkegaard and Jean-François Lyotard. Ultimately,this confrontation underscores the challenging yet deeply affirmative nature of Messiaen’s music.
inquiry into the self, art, and transcendence
The book first argues that religious feeling persists in the secular western mind; that it has taken refuge in the unlikeliest of camps, indeed with the supposed debunker of religious creed: the rationalist existential ego.
Conceptual Issues in the Quest for Social Order and National Integration
Rethinking Security in Nigeria adopts an alternate conceptual and methodological framework for rethinking national security in Nigeria by using the humanities' multidisciplinary perspective against the backdrop of the hitherto restrictive analysis of the nature of national security. By expounding the largely unexplored cosmological, conceptual, ethical and aesthetic dimensions as key contributors to national survival and social integration, the volume argues systematically for a basic redefinition of the meanings of security, the value of life, government action and social re-engineering in order to create a new system of social order an integration. The authors attempt to extend the boundaries of previous theorizing on security by identifying alternate ethical and aesthetic approaches to national reconciliation and human development in present-day Nigeria, which faces major security challenges requiring the clarification of the basis for developing a just and harmonious society. The study is a contribution to the quest for defining the vital socio-cultural norms and doctrinal imperatives needed for responsible cooperative human action. It examines the roles of dominant works of philosophy, literature, plays and performances in the creation of a basis for political stability and social reconciliation in the society. It extends the boundaries of previous aesthetic studies and redefines the roles of ethics and aesthetics as crucial contributors to security, human development and world civilisation.
Music, Aesthetics, Politics
Renowned for his influence as a political philosopher, a writer, and an autobiographer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is known also for his intense interest in music. He composed operas and other musical pieces,invented a system of numbered musical notation, engaged in public debates about music, and wrote at length about musical theory. Critical analysis of Rousseau’s work in music has been principally the domain of musicologists, rarely pervading the work of scholars of political theory or literary studies. In Rousseau Among the Moderns, Julia Simon argues for new interpretations of The Social Contract, The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, and The Confessions, as well as other texts, linking Rousseau’s understanding of key concepts in music, such as tuning, harmony, melody, and form, to the crucial problem of the individual’s relationship to the social order. The choice of music as the privileged aesthetic object enables Rousseau to gain insight into the role of the aesthetic realm in relation to the social and political body in ways often associated with later thinkers. Simon argues that much of Rousseau’s “modernism” resides in the unique role that he assigns to music in forging communal relations through the aesthetic.
Theorizing Sexuality and Materiality in Renaissance Representations
The title of this book translates one of the many ways in which Lucretius names the basic matter from which the world is made in De rerum natura. In Lucretius, and in the strain of thought followed in this study, matter is always in motion, always differing from itself and yet always also made of the same stuff. From the pious Lucy Hutchinson's all but complete translation of the Roman epic poem to Margaret Cavendish's repudiation of atomism (but not of its fundamental problematic of sameness and difference), a central concern of this book ishow a thoroughgoing materialism can be read alongside other strains in the thought of the early modern period, particularly Christianity.A chapter moves from Milton's monism to his angels and their insistent corporeality. Milton's angels have sex, and, throughout, this study emphasizes the consequences for thinking about sexuality offered by Lucretian materialism. Sameness of matter is not simply a question of same-sex sex, and the relations of atoms in Cavendish and Hutchinson are replicated in the terms in which they imagine marriages of partners who are also their doubles. Likewise, Spenser's knights in the 1590 Faerie Queene pursue the virtues of Holiness, Temperance, and Chastity in quests that take the reader on a path of askesis of the kind that Lucretiusrecommends and that Foucault studied in the final volumes of his history of sexuality.Although English literature is the book's main concern, it first contemplates relations between Lucretian matter and Pauline flesh by way of Tintoretto's painting The Conversion of St. Paul. Theoretical issues raised in the work of Agamben and Badiou, among others, lead to a chapter that takes up the role that Lucretius has played in theory, from Bergson and Marx to Foucault and Deleuze.This study should be of concern to students of religion, philosophy, gender, and sexuality, especially as they impinge on questions of representation.
Philosophical Analyses of Holocaust Art
Holocaust artworks intuitively must fulfill at least two criteria: artistic (lest they be merely historical documents) and historical (lest they distort the Holocaust or become merely artworks). The Sense of Semblance locates this problematic within philosophical aesthetics, as a version of the conflict between aesthetic autonomy and heteronomy, and argues that Adorno's dialectic of aesthetic semblance describes the normative demand that artworks maintain a dynamic tension between the two. The Sense of Semblance aims to move beyond familiar debates surrounding postmodernism by demonstrating the usefulness of contemporary theories of meaning and understanding, including those from the analytic tradition. Pickford shows how the causal theory of names, the philosophy of tacit knowledge, the analytic philosophy of quotation, Sartre's theory of the imaginary, the epistemology of testimony, and Walter Benjamin's dialectical image can help explicate how individual artworks fulfill artistic and historical desiderata. In close readings of Celan's poetry, Holocaust memorials in Berlin, the quotational artist Heimrad Backer, Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah, and Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus, Pickford offers interpretations that, in their precision, specificity, and clarity, inaugurate a dialogue between contemporary analytic philosophy and contemporary art. The Sense of Semblance is the first book to incorporate contemporary analytic philosophy in interpretations of art and architecture, literature, and film about the Holocaust.