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Literature and Learning Not to Read
Reading is good for us. The reading of literature, we are told, enlarges our horizons, extends our experience beyond our own lives. But the moral and political dangers that attend the association of reading with experience have long been understood. And is that association even valid? What if precisely our most important literary texts are constructed so as to challenge or disrupt it? This book is a radical criticism of the concept of reading,especially of the concept of thereader, as commonly used in literary criticism. Bennett starts with the point that readingdoes not name a single, identifiable type of experience or class of experiences. Her then sketches in broad terms the historical provenance of thereader, in an argument that includes discussions of Dante, Boccaccio, Cervantes, Marlowe, and German idealist philosophy. In two concluding chapters on modern German novellas, he suggests that most major European literary works since the eighteenth century are written in direct opposition to the central concepts by which criticism has sought to lay hold of them.
Mediocrity, Dirtiness, Adulthood, Literature
Almost all twentieth-century philosophy stresses the immanence of death in human life-as drive (Freud), as the context of Being (Heidegger), as the essence of our defining ethics (Levinas), or as language (de Man, Blanchot). In Death's Following, John Limon makes use of literary analysis (of Sebald, Bernhard, and Stoppard), cultural analysis, and autobiography to argue that death is best conceived as always transcendentally beyond ourselves, neither immanent nor imminent. Adapting Kierkegaard's variations on the theme of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac while refocusing the emphasis onto Isaac, Limon argues that death should be imagined as if hiding at the end of an inexplicable journey to Moriah. The point is not to evade or ignore death but to conceive it more truly, repulsively, and pervasively in its camouflage: for example, in jokes, in logical puzzles, in bowdlerized folk songs. The first of Limon's two key concepts is adulthood: the prolonged anti-ritual for experiencing the full distance on the look of death. His second is dirtiness, as theorized in a Jewish joke, a logical exemplum, and T. S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday": In each case, unseen dirt on foreheads suggests the invisibility of inferred death. Not recognizing death immediately or admitting its immanence and imminence is for Heidegger the defining characteristic of the "they," humanity in its inauthentic social escapism. But Limon vouches throughout for the mediocrity of the "they" in its dirty and ludicrous adulthood. Mediocrity is the privileged position for previewing death, in Limon's opinion: practice for being forgotten. In refusing the call of twentieth-century philosophy to face death courageously, Limon urges the ethical and aesthetic value of mediocre anti-heroism.
Conversations with Contemporary Thinkers
This important book brings together in one volume a collection of illuminating encounters with some of the most important philosophers of our age-by one of its most incisive and innovative critics.For more than twenty years, Richard Kearney has been in conversation with leading philosophers, literary theorists, anthropologists, and religious scholars. His gift is eliciting memorably clear statements about their work from thinkers whose writings can often be challenging in their complexity. Here, he brings together twenty-one originally published extraordinary conversations-his 1984 collection Dialogues: The Phenomenological Heritage, his 1992 Visions of Europe: Conversations on the Legacy and Future of Europe, and his 1995 States of Mind: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers. Featured interviewees include Stanislas Breton, Umberto Eco, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Herbert Marcus, George Steiner, Julia Kristeva, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard. To this classic core, he adds recent interviews, previously unpublished, with Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Luc Marion, Jacques Derrida, and George DumZzil, as well as six colloquies about his own work.Wide-ranging and accessible, these interviews provide a fascinating guide to the ideas, concerns, and personalities of thinkers who have shaped modern intellec-tual life. This book will be an essential point of entry for students, teachers, scholars, and anyone seeking to understand contemporary culture.ContentsPrefacePart One: Recent DebatesJacques Derrida: Terror, Religion, and the New PoliticsJean-Luc Marion: The Hermeneutics of RevelationPaul Ricour: (a) On Life Stories (b) On The Crisis of Authority (c) The Power of the Possible (d) Imagination, Testimony, and TrustGeorges Dumzil: Myth, Ideology, SovereigntyPart Two: From Dialogues: The Phenomenological Heritage, 1984Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics of the InfiniteHerbert Marcuse: The Philosophy of Art and PoliticsPaul Ricour: (a) The Creativity of Language (b) Myth as the Bearer of Possible WorldsStanislas Breton: Being, God, and the Poetics of RelationJacques Derrida: Deconstruction and the OtherPart Three: From States of Mind, 1995Julia Kristeva: Strangers to Ourselves: The Hope of the SingularHans Georg Gadamer: Text MattersJean-Franois Lyotard: What Is Just?George Steiner: Culture-The Price You PayPaul Ricour: Universality and the Power of DifferenceUmberto Eco: Chaosmos: The Return to the Middle AgesPart Four: Colloquies with Richard KearneyVillanova Colloquy: Against OmnipotenceAthens Colloquy: Between Selves and OthersHalifax Colloquy: Between Being and God Stony Brook Colloquy: Confronting ImaginationBoston Colloquy: Theorizing the GiftDublin Colloquy: Thinking Is DangerousAppendix: Philosophy as Dialogue
Latina/o Theology and Philosophy
This anthology gathers the work of three generations of Latina/o theologians and philosopher who have taken up the task of decolonizing epistemology by transforming their respective disciplines from the standpoint liberation thought and of what has been called the “decolonial turn” in social theory, theology, and philosophy. At the heart of this collection is the unveiling of subjugated knowledge elaborated by Latina/o scholars who take seriously their social location and that of their communities of accountability and how these impact the development of a different episteme. Refusing to continue to allow to be made invisible by the dominant discourse, this group of scholars show the unsuspecting and original ways in which Latina/o social and historical loci in the US are generative places for the creation of new matrixes of knowledge. The book articulates a new point of departure for the self-understanding of Latina/os, for other marginalized and oppress groups, and for all those seeking to engage the move beyond coloniality as it continues to be present in this age of globalization.
Sovereignty and Public Life in Antebellum American Writing
What is the hangman but a servant of law? And what is that law but an expression of public opinion? And if public opinion be brutal and thou a component part thereof, art thou not the hangman's accomplice?Writing in 1842, Lydia Maria Child articulates a crisis in the relationship of democracy to sovereign power that continues to occupy political theory today. Is sovereignty, with its reliance on singular and exceptional power, fundamentally inimical to democracy? Or might a more fully realized democracy distribute, share, and popularize sovereignty, thus blunting its exceptional character and its basic violence? In Democracy's Spectacle, Jennifer Greiman looks to an earlier moment in the history of American democracy's vexed interpretation of sovereignty to argue that such questions about the popularization of sovereign power shaped debates about political belonging and public life in the antebellum United States. In an emergent democracy that was also an expansionist slave society, Greiman argues, the problems that sovereignty posed were less concerned with a singular and exceptional power lodged in the state than with a power over life and death that involved all Americans intimately.Drawing on Alexis de Tocqueville's analysis of the sovereignty of the people in Democracy in America, along with work by Gustave de Beaumont, Lydia Maria Child, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville, Greiman tracks the crises of sovereign power as it migrates out of the state to become a constitutive feature of the public sphere. Greiman brings together literature and political theory, as well as materials on antebellum performance culture, antislavery activism, and penitentiary reform, to argue that the antebellum public sphere, transformed by its empowerment, emerges as a spectacle with investments in both punishment and entertainment.
Written in the wake of Jacques Derrida's death in 2004, Derrida From Now On attempts both to do justice to the memory of Derrida and to demonstrate the continuing significance of his work for contemporary philosophy and literary theory. If Derrida's thought is to remain relevant for us today, it must be at once understood in its original context and uprooted and transplanted elsewhere. Michael Naas thus begins with an analysis of Derrida's attachment to the French language, to Europe, and to European secular thought, before turning to Derrida's long engagement with the American context and to the ways in which deconstruction allows us to rethink the history, identity, and promise of post-9/11 America. Taking as its point of departure several of Derrida's later works (from Faith and Knowledgeand The Work of Mourning to Rogues and Learning to Live Finally), the book demonstrates how Derrida's analyses of the phantasms of sovereignty, the essential autoimmunity of democracy or religion, or the impossible mourning of the nation-state can help us to understand what is happening today in American culture, literature, and politics. Though Derrida's thought has always lived on only by being translated elsewhere, his disappearance will have driven home this necessity with a new force and an unprecedented urgency. Derrida From Now On is an effect of this force and an attempt to respond to this urgency.
Interweaving Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis
Derrida and Lacan have long been viewed as proponents of two opposing schools of thought. This book argues, however, that the logical structure underpinning Lacanian psychoanalytic theory is a complex, paradoxical relationality that corresponds to Derrida's plural logic of the aporia.Andrea Hurst begins by linking this logic to a strand of thinking (in which Freud plays a part) that unsettles philosophy's transcendental tradition. She then shows that Derrida is just as serious and careful a reader of Freud's texts as Lacan. Interweaving the two thinkers, she argues that the Lacanian Real is another name for Derrida's diffrance and shows how Derrida's writings on Heidegger and Nietzsche embody an attitude toward sexual difference and feminine sexuality that matches Lacanian insights. Derrida's plural logic of the aporia,she argues, can serve as a heuristic for addressing prominent themes in Lacanian psychoanalysis: subjectivity, ethics, and language. Finally, she takes up Derrida's prejudicial reading of Lacan's Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter,'which was instrumental in the antagonism between Derrideans and Lacanians. Although acknowledging the injustice of Derrida's reading, the author brings out the deep theoretical accord between thinkers that both recognize the power of psychoanalysis to address contemporary political and ethical issues.
Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians
During the Civil War, there were throughout the Union explosions of resistance to the war -from the deadly Draft Riots in New York City to other, less well-known outbreaks. In Deserter Country, Robert Sandow explores one of these least known inner civil wars, the widespread, sometimes violent opposition in the Appalachian lumber country of Pennsylvania.Sparsely settled, these mountains were home to divided communities that provided safe-haven for opponents of the war. The dissent of mountain folk reflected their own marginality in the face of rapidly increasing exploitation of timber resources by big firms, as well as partisan debates over loyalty. One of the few studies of the northern Appalachians, this book draws revealing parallels to the War in the southern mountains, exploring the roots of rural protest in frontier development, the market economy, military policy, partisan debate, and everyday resistance. Sandow also sheds new light on the party politics of rural resistance, rejecting easy depictions of war-opponents as traitors and malcontents for a more nuanced and complicated study of the class, economic upheaval, and localism.
Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between
The essays in this volume explore how two domains of human experience and action--religion and technology--are implicated in each other. Contrary to commonsense understandings of both religion (as an "otherworldly" orientation) and technology (as the name for tools, techniques, and expert knowledges oriented to "this" world), the contributors to this volume challenge the grounds on which this division has been erected in the first place. What sorts of things come to light when one allows religion and technology to mingle freely? In an effort to answer that question, Deus in Machina embarks upon an interdisciplinary voyage across diverse traditions and contexts where religion and technology meet: from the design of clocks in medieval Christian Europe, to the healing power of prayer in premodern Buddhist Japan, to 19th-century Spiritualist devices for communicating with the dead, to Islamic debates about kidney dialysis in contemporary Egypt, to the work of disability activists using documentary film to reimagine Jewish kinship, to the representation of Haitian Vodou on the Internet, among other case studies. Combining rich historical and ethnographic detail with extended theoretical reflection, Deus in Machina outlines new directions for the study of religion and/as technology that will resonate across the human sciences, including religious studies, science and technology studies, communication studies, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
A Boy's Life in a Japanese Labor Camp
In this moving memoir a young man comes of age in an age of violence, brutality, and war. Recounting his experiences during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, this account brings to life the shocking day-to-day conditions in a Japanese labor camp and provides an intimate look at the collapse of Dutch colonial rule.As a boy growing up on the island of Java, John Stutterheim spent hours exploring his exotic surroundings, taking walks with his younger brother and dachshund along winding jungle roads. His father, a government accountant, would grumble at the pro-German newspaper and from time to time entertain the family with his singing. It was a fairly typical life for a colonial family in the Dutch East Indies, and a peaceful and happy childhood for young John. But at the age of 14 it would all be irrevocably shattered by the Japanese invasion.With the surrender of Java in 1942, John's father was taken prisoner. For over three years the family would not know if he was alive or dead. Soon thereafter, John, his younger brother, and his mother were imprisoned. A year later he and his brother were moved to a forced labor camp for boys, where they toiled under the fierce sun while disease and starvation slowly took their toll, all the while suspecting they would soon be killed.Throughout all of these travails, John kept a secret diary hidden in his handmade mattress, and his memories now offer a unique perspective on an often overlooked episode of World War II. What emerges is a compelling story of a young man caught up in the machinations of a global war-struggling to survive in the face of horrible brutality, struggling to care for his disease-wracked brother, and struggling to put his family back together. It is a story that must not be forgotten.