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Fordham University Press

Fordham University Press

Website: http://www.fordhampress.com/

Fordham University Press, a member the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) since 1938, was established in 1907 not only to represent and uphold the values and traditions of the University itself, but also to further those values and traditions through the dissemination of scholarly research and ideas.

The press publishes primarily in the humanities and the social sciences, with an emphasis on the fields of philosophy, theology, history, classics, communications, economics, sociology, business, political science, and law, as well as literature and the fine arts. Additionally, the press publishes books focusing on the metropolitan New York region and books of interest to the general public.


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Fordham University Press

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As Bad as They Say?

Three Decades of Teaching in the Bronx

Janet Grossbach Mayer

Rundown, vermin-infested buildings. rigid, slow-to-react bureaucratic systems. Children from broken homes and declining communities. How can a teacher succeed? How does a student not only survive but also come to thrive? It can happen, and As Bad as They Say? tells the heroic stories of Janet Mayer's students during her 33-year tenure as a Bronx high school teacher.In 1995, Janet Mayer's students began a pen-pal exchange with South African teenagers who, under apartheid, had been denied an education; almost uniformly, the South Africans asked, Is the Bronx as bad as they say? This dedicated teacher promised those students and all future ones that she would write a book to help change the stereotypical image of Bronx students and show that, in spite of overwhelming obstacles, they are outstanding young people, capable of the highest achievements.She walks the reader through the decrepit school building, describing in graphic detail the deplorable physical conditions that students and faculty navigate daily. Then, in eight chapters we meet eight amazing young people, a small sample of the more than 14,000 students the writer has felt honored to teach.She describes her own Bronx roots and the powerful influences that made her such a determined teacher. Finally, the veteran teacher sounds the alarm to stop the corruption and degradation of public education in the guise of what are euphemistically labeled reforms (No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top). She also expresses optimism that public education and our democracy can still be saved, urgently calling on all to become involved and help save our schools.

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Aspects of Alterity

Levinas, Marcel, and the Contemporary Debate

Brian Treanor

Every other is truly other, but no other is wholly other.This is the claim that Aspects of Alterity defends. Taking up the question of otherness that so fascinates contemporary continental philosophy, this book asks what it means for something or someone to be other than the self. Levinas and those influenced by him point out that the philosophical tradition of the West has generally favored the self at the expense of the other. Such a self-centered perspective never encounters the other qua other, however. In response, postmodern thought insists on the absolute otherness of the other, epitomized by the deconstructive claim every other is wholly other.But absolute otherness generates problems and aporias of its own. This has led some thinkers to reevaluate the notion of relative otherness in light of the postmodern critique, arguing for a chiastic account that does justice to both the alterity and the similitude of the other. These latter two positions-absolute otherness and a rehabilitated account of relative otherness-are the main contenders in the contemporary debate.The philosophies of Emmanuel Levinas and Gabriel Marcel provide the point of embarkation for coming to understand the two positions on this question. Levinas and Marcel were contemporaries whose philosophies exhibit remarkably similar concern for the other but nevertheless remain fundamentally incompatible. Thus, these two thinkers provide a striking illustration of both the proximity of and the unbridgeable gap between two accounts of otherness.Aspects of Alterity delves into this debate, first in order understand the issues at stake in these two positions and second to determine which description better accounts for the experience of encountering the other.After a thorough assessment and critique of otherness in Levinas's and Marcel's work, including a discussion of the relationship of ethical alterity to theological assumptions, Aspects of Alterity traces the transmission and development of these two conceptions of otherness. Levinas's version of otherness can be seen in the work of Jacques Derrida and John D. Caputo, while Marcel's understanding of otherness influences the work of Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney.Ultimately, Aspects of Alterity makes a case for a hermeneutic account of otherness. Otherness itself is not absolute, but is a chiasm of alterity and similitude. Properly articulated, such an account is capable of addressing the legitimate ethical and epistemological concerns that lead thinkers to construe otherness in absolute terms, but without the absolute aporiasthat accompany such a characterization.

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Asylum Speakers

Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse

April Shemak

Offering the first interdisciplinary study of refugees in the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States, Asylum Speakers relates current theoretical debates about hospitality and cosmopolitanism to the actual conditions of refugees. In doing so, the author weighs the questions of truth valueassociated with various modes of witnessing to explore the function of testimonial discourse in constructing refugee subjectivity in New World cultural and political formations. By examining literary works by such writers as Edwidge Danticat, Nikl Payen, Kamau Brathwaite, Francisco Goldman, Julia Alvarez, Ivonne Lamazares, and Cecilia Rodr!guez Milans, theoretical work by Jacques Derrida, Edouard Glissant, and Wilson Harris, as well as human rights documents, government documents, photography, and historical studies, Asylum Speakers constructs a complex picture of New World refugees that expands current discussions of diaspora and migration, demonstrating that the peripheral nature of refugee testimonial narratives requires us to reshape the boundaries of U.S. ethnic and postcolonial studies.

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Athens, Still Remains

The Photographs of Jean-Franois Bonhomme

Jacques Derrida

Athens, Still Remains is an extended commentary on a series of photographs of contemporary Athens by the French photographer Jean-Franois Bonhomme. But in Derrida's hands commentary always has a way of unfolding or, better, developing in several unexpected and mutually illuminating directions.First published in French and Greek in 1996, Athens, Still Remains is Derrida's most sustained analysis of the photographic medium in relationship to the history of philosophy and his most personal reflection on that medium. At once photographic analysis, philosophical essay, and autobiographical narrative, Athens, Still Remains presents an original theory of photography and throws a fascinating light on Derrida's life and work.The book begins with a sort of verbal snapshot or aphorism that haunts the entire book: we owe ourselves to death.Reading this phrase through Bonhomme's photographs of both the ruins of ancient Athens and contemporary scenes of a still-living Athens that is also on its way to ruin and death, Derrida interrogates a philosophical tradition that runs from Socrates to Heidegger in which the human-and especially the philosopher-is thought to owe himself to death, to a certain thought of death or comportment with regard to death. Combining philosophical speculations on mourning and death, event and repetition, and time and difference with incisive commentary on Bonhomme's photographs and a narrative of Derrida's 1995 trip to Greece, Athens, Still Remains is one of Derrida's most accessible, personal, and moving works without being, for all that, any less philosophical. As Derrida reminds us, the word photography-an eminently Greek word-means the writing of light,and it brings together today into a single frame contemporary questions about the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and much older questions about the relationship between light, revelation, and truth-in other words, an entire philosophical tradition that first came to light in the shadow of the Acropolis.

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An Atmospherics of the City

Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

Ross Chambers

What happens to poetic beauty when history turns the poet from one who contemplates natural beauty and the sublime to one who attempts to reconcile the practice of art with the hustle and noise of the city? An Atmospherics of the City traces Charles Baudelaire’s evolution from a writer who practices a form of fetishizing aesthetics in which poetry works to beautify the ordinary to one who perceives background noise and disorder—the city’s version of a transcendent atmosphere—as evidence of the malign work of a transcendent god of time, history, and ultimate destruction. Analyzing this shift, particularly as evidenced in Tableaux parisiens and Le Spleen de Paris, Ross Chambers shows how Baudelaire’s disenchantment with the politics of his day and the coincident rise of overpopulation, poverty, and Haussmann’s modernization of Paris influenced the poet’s work to conceive a poetry of allegory, one with the power to alert and disalienate its otherwise inattentive reader whose senses have long been dulled by the din of his environment. Providing a completely new and original understanding of both Baudelaire’s ethics and his aesthetics, Chambers reveals how the shift from themes of the supernatural in Baudelaire to ones of alienation allowed a new way for him to articulate and for his fellow Parisians to comprehend the rapidly changing conditions of the city and, in the process, to invent a “modern beauty” from the realm of suffering and the abject as they embodied forms of urban experience.

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The Author-Cat

Clemens's Life in Fiction

Forrest Robinson

At the end of his long life, Samuel Clemens felt driven to write a truthful account of what he regarded as the flaws in his character and the errors of his ways. His attempt to tell the unvarnished truth about himself is preserved in nearly 250 autobiographical dictations. In order to encourage complete veracity, he decided from the outset that these would be published only posthumously.Nevertheless, Clemens's autobiography is singularly unrevealing. Forrest G. Robinson argues that, by contrast, it is in his fiction that Clemens most fully-if often inadvertently-reveals himself. He was, he confessed, like a cat who labors in vain to bury the waste that he has left behind. Robinson argues that he wrote out of an enduring need to come to terms with his remembered experiences-not to memorialize the past, but to transform it.By all accounts-including his own-Clemens's special curse was guilt. He was unable to forgive himself for the deaths of those closest to him-from his siblings' death in childhood to the deaths of his own children. Nor could he reconcile himself to his role in the Civil War, his part in the duel that prompted his departure from Virginia City in 1864, and-worst of all-his sense of moral complicity in the crimes of slavery.Tracing the theme of bad faith in all of Clemens's major writing, but with special attention to the late work, Robinson sheds new light on a tormented moral life. His book challenges conventional assumptions about the humorist's personality and creativity, directing attention to what William Dean Howells describes as the depths of a nature whose tragical seriousness broke in the laughter which the unwise took for the whole of him.

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The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume I

Culture, Philosophy, and Religion

John McDermott

Now back in print, and in paperback, these two classicvolumes illustrate the scope and quality of Royce'sthought, providing the most comprehensive selection ofhis writings currently available. They offer a detailedpresentation of the viable relationship Royce forgedbetween the local experience of community and thedemands of a philosophical and scientific vision ofthe human situation.The selections reprinted here are basic to any understandingof Royce's thought and its pressing relevanceto contemporary cultural, moral, and religious issues.

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The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, Volume II

Logic, Loyalty, and Community

John McDermott

Now back in print, and in paperback, these two classicvolumes illustrate the scope and quality of Royce'sthought, providing the most comprehensive selection ofhis writings currently available. They offer a detailedpresentation of the viable relationship Royce forgedbetween the local experience of community and thedemands of a philosophical and scientific vision ofthe human situation.The selections reprinted here are basic to any understandingof Royce's thought and its pressing relevanceto contemporary cultural, moral, and religious issues.

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Before the Fires

An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s

Mark Naison, and Bob Gumbs

People associate the South Bronx with gangs, violence, drugs, crime, burnt out buildings, and poverty. This is the message that has been driven into their heads over the years by the media. As Howard Cosell famously said during the 1977 World’s series at Yankee Stadium, "There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." In this new book, Naison and Gumbs provide a completely different picture of the South Bronx through interviews with residents that lived there from the 1930s to the 1960s. In the early 1930s, word began to spread among economically secure black families in Harlem that there were spacious apartments for rent in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Landlords in that community, desperate to fill their rent rolls and avoid foreclosure, began putting up signs in their windows and in advertisements in New York’s black newspapers, which said “We rent to select colored families," by which they meant families with a securely employed wage earner and light complexions. Black families who fit those criteria began renting apartments by the score. Thus began a period of about twenty years where the Bronx served as a borough of hope and unlimited possibilities for upwardly mobile black families. Chronicling a time when African Americans were suspended between the best and worst possibilities of New York City, Before the Fires tells the personal stories of seventeen men and women who lived in the South Bronx before the social and economic decline of the area that began in the late 1960s. Located on a hill hovering over one of the borough’s largest industrial districts, Morrisania offered black migrants from Harlem, the South, and the Caribbean with an opportunity to raise children in a neighborhood that had better schools, strong churches, better shopping, less crime, and clean air. This culturally rich neighborhood also boasted some of the most vibrant music venues in all of New York City, giving rise to such music titans as Lou Donaldson, Valerie Capers, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, Donald Byrd, Elmo Hope, Henry “Red” Allen, Bobby Sanabria, Valerie Simpson, Maxine Sullivan, the Chantals, the Chords, and Jimmy Owens. Alternately analytical and poetic, but all rich in detail, these inspiring interviews describe growing up and living in vibrant black and multiracial Bronx communities whose contours have rarely graced the pages of histories of the Bronx or black New York City. Capturing the excitement of growing up in this stimulating and culturally diverse environment, Before the Fires is filled with the optimism of the period and heartache of what was shattered in the urban crisis and the burning of the Bronx.

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The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name

Seven Days with Second-Order Cybernetics

Heinz von Foerster is one of the most consequential thinkers in the history of cybernetics. Von Foerster wrote nearly two hundred professional papers, gaining renown in fields from computer science and artificial intelligence to epistemology and family th

Heinz von Foerster was the inventor of second-order cybernetics, which recognizes the investigator as part of the system he is investigating. The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name provides an accessible, nonmathematical, and comprehensive overview of von Foerster’s cybernetic ideas and of the philosophy latent within them. It distills concepts scattered across the lifework of this scientific polymath and influential interdisciplinarian. At the same time, as a book-length interview, it does justice to von Foerster’s élan as a speaker and improviser, his skill as a raconteur. Developed from a week-long conversation between the editors and von Foerster near the end of his life, this work playfully engages von Foerster in developing the difference his notion of second-order cybernetics makes for topics ranging from emergence, life, order, and thermodynamics to observation, recursion, cognition, perception, memory, and communication. The book gives an English-speaking audience a new ease of access to the rich thought and generous spirit of this remarkable and protean thinker.

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