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Bodily Desire, Desired Bodies

Gender and Desire in Early Twentieth-Century German and Austrian Novels and Paintings

Esther K. Bauer

Bodily Desire, Desired Bodies examines the diverse ways that literary works and paintings can be read as screens onto which new images of masculinity and femininity are cast. Esther Bauer focuses on German and Austrian writers and artists from the 1910s and 1920s —specifically authors Franz Kafka, Vicki Baum, and Thomas Mann, and painters Otto Dix, Christian Schad, and Egon Schiele—who gave spectacular expression to shifting trends in male and female social roles and the organization of physical desire and the sexual body.

Bauer’s comparative approach reveals the ways in which artists and writers echoed one another in undermining the gender duality and highlighting sexuality and the body. As she points out, as sites of negotiation and innovation, these works reconfigured bodies of desire against prevailing notions of sexual difference and physical attraction and thus became instruments of social transformation.

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Bombay Modern

Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture

Anjali Nerlekar's Bombay Modern is a close reading of Arun Kolatkar's canonical poetic works that relocates the genre of poetry to the center of both Indian literary modernist studies and postcolonial Indian studies. Nerlekar shows how a bilingual, materialist reading of Kolatkar's texts uncovers a uniquely resistant sense of the "local" that defies the monolinguistic cultural pressures of the post-1960 years and straddles the boundaries of English and Marathi writing.
Bombay Modern uncovers an alternative and provincial modernism through poetry, a genre that is marginal to postcolonial studies, and through bilingual scholarship across English and Marathi texts, a methodology that is currently peripheral at best to both modernist studies and postcolonial literary criticism in India. Eschewing any attempt to define an overarching or universal modernism, Bombay Modern delimits its sphere of study to "Bombay" and to the "post-1960" (the sathottari period) in an attempt to examine at close range the specific way in which this poetry redeployed the regional, the national, and the international to create a very tangible yet transient local.

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The Book of Job and the Immanent Genesis of Transcendence

Davis Hankins

Recent philosophical reexaminations of sacred texts have focused almost exclusively on the Christian New Testament, and Paul in particular. The Book of Job and the Immanent Genesis of Transcendence revives the enduring philosophical relevance and political urgency of the book of Job and thus contributes to the recent “turn toward religion” among philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou. Job is often understood to be a trite folktale about human limitation in the face of confounding and absolute transcendence; on the contrary, Hankins demonstrates that Job is a drama about the struggle to create a just and viable life in a material world that is ontologically incomplete and consequently open to radical, unpredictable transformation. Job’s abiding legacy for any future materialist theology becomes clear as Hankins analyzes Job’s dramatizations of a transcendence that is not externally opposed to but that emerges from an ontologically incomplete material world.

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Charlie Chaplin, Director

Charlie Chaplin was one of the cinema’s consummate comic performers, yet he has long been criticized as a lackluster film director. In this groundbreaking work—the first to analyze Chaplin’s directorial style—Donna Kornhaber radically recasts his status as a filmmaker. Spanning Chaplin’s career, Kornhaber discovers a sophisticated "Chaplinesque" visual style that draws from early cinema and slapstick and stands markedly apart from later, "classical" stylistic conventions. His is a manner of filmmaking that values space over time and simultaneity over sequence, crafting narrative and meaning through careful arrangement within the frame rather than cuts between frames. Opening up aesthetic possibilities beyond the typical boundaries of the classical Hollywood film, Chaplin’s filmmaking would profoundly influence directors from Fellini to Truffaut. To view Chaplin seriously as a director is to re-understand him as an artist and to reconsider the nature and breadth of his legacy.

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The Child as Natural Phenomenologist

Primal and Primary Experience in Merleau-Ponty's Psychology

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) is well known for his work in phenomenology, but his lectures in child psychology and pedagogy have received little attention, probably because Talia Welsh translated the lectures in their entirety only in 2010. The Child as Natural Phenomenologist summarizes Merleau-Ponty’s work in child psychology, shows its relationship to his philosophical work, and argues for its continued relevance in contemporary theory and practice.

Welsh demonstrates Merleau-Ponty’s unique conception of the child’s development as inherently organized, meaningful, and engaged with the world, contrary to views that see the child as largely internally preoccupied and driven by instinctual demands. Welsh finds that Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about human psychology remain relevant in today’s growing field of child studies and that they provide important insights for philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists to better understand the human condition.

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Christ's Subversive Body

Practices of Religious Rhetoric in Culture and Politics

Olga V. Solovieva; Foreword by Haun Saussy

Christ's Subversive Body offers a fascinating exploration of six historical examples of politically or culturally subversive usages of the body of Christ. Shining a light on the enabling potential of religious rhetoric, Solovieva examines how in moments of crisis or transition throughout Western history the body of Christ has been deployed in a variety of discourses, including recent neo- and theoconservative movements in the United States.

Solovieva’s survey includes the iconoclastic polemics of Epiphanius at the moment of struggles for supremacy between the Roman state and the Christian church, the mystical theologico-political alchemy of an anonymous treatise circulated at the Council of Constance, Lavater’s counter-Enlightenment visions of the afterlife expressd through physiognomy, Dostoevsky’s refashioning of ethical communities, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s attempts to provoke the “scandal” of Jesus’s mission once more in the modern world, and the elaboration of a political theology subordinating democratic dissent to the higher unity of a corporately conceived “unitary executive” in early twenty-first-century America.

Solovieva presents her findings not as an entry into theological or Christological debates but rather as a study in comparative discourse analysis. She demonstrates how these uses of Christ’s body are triggered by moments of epistemological, political, and representational crisis in the history of Western civilization.

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Civilizing War

Imperial Politics and the Poetics of National Rupture

Nasser Mufti

Civilizing War traces the historical transformation of civil war from a civil affair into an uncivil crisis. Civil war is today synonymous with the global refugee crisis, often serving as grounds for liberal-humanitarian intervention and nationalist protectionism.

In Civilizing War, Nasser Mufti situates this contemporary conjuncture in the long history of British imperialism, demonstrating how civil war has been and continues to be integral to the politics of empire. Through comparative readings of literature, criticism, historiography, and social analysis, Civilizing War shows how writers and intellectuals of Britain’s Anglophone empire articulated a “poetics of national rupture” that defined the metropolitan nation and its colonial others.

Mufti’s tour de force marshals a wealth of examples as diverse as Thomas Carlyle, Benjamin Disraeli, Friedrich Engels, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, V. S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, and Michael Ondaatje to examine the variety of forms this poetics takes—metaphors, figures, tropes, puns, and plot—all of which have played a central role in Britain’s civilizing mission and its afterlife. In doing so, Civilizing War shifts the terms of Edward Said’s influential Orientalism to suggest that imperialism was not only organized around the norms of civility but also around narratives of civil war.

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Consequences of Hermeneutics

Fifty Years After Gadamer's Truth and Method

Jeff Malpas

These essays examine the achievements of hermeneutics as well as its current status and prospects for the future. Gadamer’s text provides an important focus, but the ambition of these critical reappraisals extends to hermeneutics more broadly and to a range of other thinkers, such as Heidegger, Ricoeur, Derrida, and Rorty.

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Cosmopolitan Desires

Global Modernity and World Literature in Latin America

Mariano Siskind

Mariano Siskind’s groundbreaking debut book redefines the scope of world literature, particularly regarding the place of Latin America in its imaginaries and mappings. In Siskind’s formulation, world literature is a modernizing discursive strategy, a way in which cultures negotiate their aspirations to participate in global networks of cultural exchange, and an original tool to reorganize literary history. Working with novels, poems, essays, travel narratives, and historical documents, Siskind reads the way Latin American literary modernity was produced as a global relation, from the rise of planetary novels in the 1870s and the cosmopolitan imaginaries of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century, to the global spread of magical realism. With its unusual breadth of reference and firm but unobtrusive grounding in philosophy, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, Cosmopolitan Desires will have a major impact in the fields of Latin American studies and comparative literature.

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Cosmopolitan Parables

Trauma and Responsibility in Contemporary Germany

David D. Kim

Cosmopolitan Parables explores the global rise of the heavily debated concept of cosmopolitanism from a unique German literary perspective. Since the early 1990s, the notion of cosmopolitanism has acquired a new salience because of an alarming rise in nationalism, xenophobia, migration, international war, and genocide. This uprising has transformed how artists and scholars within every geopolitical context assess the power of an international civil society, resulting in a moral obligation to unite regardless of cultural background, religious affiliation, or national citizenship. It rejuvenates an ancient yet timely framework within which contemporary political crises are to be overcome, especially after the collapse of communist states and the intersection of postwar and postcolonial trajectories. To exemplify this global challenge, Kim examines three internationally acclaimed writers of German origin—Hans Christoph Buch, Michael Krüger, and W. G. Sebald—joined by their own harrowing experiences and stunning entanglements of Holocaust memory, postcolonial responsibility, and communist legacy.

This bold new study is the first of its kind, interrogating transnational memories of trauma alongside globally shared responsibilities for justice. More important, it addresses the question of remembrance—whether the colonial past or the postwar legacy serves as a proper foundation upon which cosmopolitanism is to be pursued in today's era of globalization.

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