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Textuality and Performance in American Culture before 1900
This collection of original essays examines debates on how written, printed, visual, and performed works produced meaning in American culture before 1900. The contributors argue that America has been a multimedia culture since the eighteenth century. According to Sandra M. Gustafson, the verbal arts before 1900 manifest a strikingly rich pattern of development and change. From the wide variety of indigenous traditions, through the initial productions of settler communities, to the elaborations of colonial, postcolonial, and national expressive forms, the shifting dynamics of performed, manuscript-based, and printed verbal art capture critical elements of rapidly changing societies. The contributors address performances of religion and government, race and gender, poetry, theater, and song. Their studies are based on texts—intended for reading silently or out loud—maps, recovered speech, and pictorial sources. As these essays demonstrate, media, even when they appear to be fixed, reflected a dynamic American experience.
Dante and the Blessed Virgin is distinguished philosopher Ralph McInerny’s eloquent reading of one of western literature’s most famous works by a Catholic writer. The book provides Catholic readers new to Dante’s The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) with a concise companion volume. McInerny argues that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the key to Dante. She is behind the scenes at the very beginning of the Commedia, and she is found at the end in the magnificent closing cantos of the Paradiso. McInerny also discusses Dante’s Vita Nuova, where Mary is present as the object of the young Beatrice’s devotion. McInerny draws from a diverse group of writers throughout this book, including Plato, Aristotle, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, and George Santayana, among others. It is St. Thomas, however, to whom McInerny most often turns, and this book also provides an accessible introduction to Thomistic moral philosophy focusing on the appetites, the ordering of goods, the distinction between the natural and the supernatural orders, the classification of capital vices and virtues, and the nature of the theological virtues. This engagingly written book will serve as a source of inspiration and devotion for anyone approaching Dante’s work for the first time as well as those who value the work of Ralph McInerny.
Theology as Poetry
In Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, an international group of theologians and Dante scholars provide a uniquely rich set of perspectives focused on the relationship between theology and poetry in the Commedia. Examining Dante's treatment of questions of language, personhood, and the body; his engagement with the theological tradition he inherited; and the implications of his work for contemporary theology, the contributors argue for the close intersection of theology and poetry in the text as well as the importance of theology for Dante studies. Through discussion of issues ranging from Dante's use of imagery of the Church to the significance of the smile for his poetic project, the essayists offer convincing evidence that his theology is not what underlies his narrative poem, nor what is contained within it: it is instead fully integrated with its poetic and narrative texture. As the essays demonstrate, the Commedia is firmly rooted in the medieval tradition of reflection on the nature of theological language, while simultaneously presenting its readers with unprecedented, sustained poetic experimentation. Understood in this way, Dante emerges as one of the most original theological voices of the Middle Ages.
New Essays on Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away
Dark Light of Love, John S. Dunne's twenty-third book, was written before his death on November 11, 2013. Dunne, called by Christian Century "one of the most serious and original theologians in the country," continues his quest of faith seeking understanding. In this new book he examines darkness as a metaphor for unknowing and the unknown. If dark light is like physical light traveling through the darkness of outer space, invisible until it strikes an object, then the dark light of love is the kindly light that leads us by the heart, one step at a time, toward God. In this slender, deeply meditative work, Dunne engages with a rich variety of sources—literature, theology, philosophy, and music—in an effort to elaborate how "the dark light of love" illuminates a soul in the process whereby it is "oned" with God through emergence, separation, and finally union. As Paul Kollman observes in the foreword, by examining his own knowing and his own loving in that process, Dunne leads us to reconsider our own knowing and loving, thereby shining light on the puzzles that perplex each of us.
Lima and Cuzco, 1532-1670
When the Spanish invaded the Inca empire in 1532, the cult of the ancestors was an essential feature of pre-Columbian religion throughout the Andes. The dead influenced politics, protected the living, symbolized the past, and legitimized claims over the land their descendants occupied, while the living honored the presence of the dead in numerous aspects of daily life. A central purpose of the Spanish missionary endeavor was to suppress the Andean cult of the ancestors and force the indigenous people to adopt their Catholic, legal, and cultural views concerning death. In her book, Gabriela Ramos reveals the extent to which Christianizing death was essential for the conversion of the indigenous population to Catholicism. Ramos argues that understanding the relation between death and conversion in the Andes involves not only considering the obvious attempts to destroy the cult of the dead, but also investigating a range of policies and strategies whose application demanded continuous negotiation between Spaniards and Andeans. Drawing from historical, archaeological, and anthropological research and a wealth of original archival materials, especially the last wills and testaments of indigenous Andeans, Ramos looks at the Christianization of death as it affected the lives of inhabitants of two principal cities of the Peruvian viceroyalty: Lima, the new capital founded on the Pacific coast by the Spanish, and Cuzco, the old capital of the Incas in the Andean highlands. Her study of the wills in particular demonstrates the strategies that Andeans devised to submit to Spanish law and Christian doctrine, preserve bonds of kinship, and cement their place in colonial society.
In Deep Rhythm and the Riddle of Eternal Life, John S. Dunne’s twentieth book, he examines the end of earthly life and the prospect of eternal life. He begins with two questions: Is death an event of life? Is death lived through? If we answer yes to both questions, then we face “the riddle of eternal life.” This book explores that riddle. Dunne finds his answer in the Gospel of John, with its three great metaphors of life, light, and love. Dunne contemplates the meaning of the metaphors in “deep rhythm,” the deep rhythm of rest in the restlessness of the heart. The words of eternal life in the Gospel speak of life and light and love but also of life passing through death, of light passing through darkness, of love passing through loneliness. So, too, Christ, embodying life and light and love, passes through death and darkness and loneliness. This deeply meditative book from one of our most gifted spiritual writers and teachers will offer consolation to those at the end of life as well as hope for all readers who contemplate eternal life.
Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience
Questions about the dignity of the human person give rise to many of the most central and hotly disputed topics in bioethics. In A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience, Christopher Kaczor investigates whether each human being has intrinsic dignity and whether the very concept of "dignity" has a useful place in contemporary ethical debates. Kaczor explores a broad range of issues addressed in contemporary bioethics, including whether there is a duty of "procreative beneficence," the ethics of ectopic pregnancy, and the possibility of "rescuing" human embryos with human wombs or artificial wombs. A Defense of Dignity also treats issues relevant to the end of life, including physician-assisted suicide, provision of food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state, and how to proceed with organ donation following death. Finally, what are the duties and prerogatives of health care professionals who refuse in conscience to take part in activities that they regard as degrading to human dignity? Should they be forced to do what they consider to be violations of the patient's well being, or does patient autonomy always trump the conscience of a health care professional? Grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, A Defense of Dignity argues that all human beings from the beginning to the end of their lives should be treated with respect and considers how this belief should be applied in controversial cases.
Between Hope and Despair
In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new foreword, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America. Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy. Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.
Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form
Gregory Heyworth’s Desiring Bodies considers the physical body and its relationship to poetic and corporate bodies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beginning in the odd contest between body and form in the first sentence of Ovid’s protean Metamorphoses, Heyworth identifies these concepts as structuring principles of civic and poetic unity and pursues their consequences as refracted through a series of romances, some typical of the genre, some problematically so. Bodies, in Ovidian romance, are the objects of human desire to possess, to recover, to form, or to violate. Part 1 examines this desire as both a literal and socio-political phenomenon through readings of Marie de France’s Lais, Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligès and Perceval, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, texts variously expressing social, economic, and political culture in romance. In part 2, Heyworth is concerned with missing or absent bodies in Petrarch’s Rime sparse, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Milton’s Paradise Lost and the generic rupture they cause in lyric, tragedy, and epic. Throughout, Heyworth draws on social theorists such as Kant, Weber, Simmel, and Elias to explore the connection between social and literary form. The first comparative, diachronic study of romance form in many years, Desiring Bodies is a persuasive and important cultural history that demonstrates Ovid’s pervasive influence not only on the poetics but on the politics of the medieval and early modern Western tradition.