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Modernist thinkers once presumed a progressive secularity, with the novel replacing religious texts as society’s moral epics. Yet religion—beginning with the Iranian revolution of 1979, through the collapse of communism, and culminating in the singular rupture of September 11, 2001—has not retreated quietly out of sight.
In Fiction Beyond Secularism, Justin Neuman argues that contemporary novelists who are most commonly identified as antireligious—among them Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, Haruki Murakami, and J. M. Coetzee—have defied assumptions and have instead written some of the most trenchant critiques of secular ideologies, as well as the most exciting and rigorous inquiries into the legacies of the religious imagination. As a result, many readers (or nonreaders) on either side of the religious divide neglect the insights of works like The Satanic Verses, Disgrace, and Snow. Fiction Beyond Secularism serves as a timely corrective.
Conversion, Torture, and Truth in the Luso-Hispanic Atlantic
The practices of interrogation, torture, and confession have resurfaced in public debates since the early 2000s following human rights abuses around the globe. Yet discussion of torture has remained restricted to three principal fields: the legal, the pragmatic, and the moral, eclipsing the less immediate but vital question of what torture does.Figurative Inquisitions seeks to correct this lacuna by approaching the question of torture from a literary vantage point.
This book investigates the uncanny presence of the Inquisition and marranismo (crypto-Judaism) in modern literature, theater, and film from Mexico, Brazil, and Portugal. Through a critique of fictional scenes of interrogation, it underscores the vital role of the literary in deconstructing the relation between torture and truth. Figurative Inquisitions traces the contours of a relationship among aesthetics, ethics, and politics in an account of the "Inquisitional logic" that continues to haunt contemporary political forms. In so doing, the book offers a unique humanistic perspective on current torture debates.
Krestovskii, Tur, and the Power of Ambivalence in Nineteenth Century Russian Women's Prose
Though among the most prominent writers in Russia in the mid nineteenth century, Evgeniia Tur (1815 92) and V. Krestovskii (1820? 89) are now little known. By looking in depth at these writers, their work, and their historical and aesthetic significance, Jehanne M. Gheith shows how taking women's writings into account transforms traditional understandings of the field of nineteenth century Russian literature. Gheith's analysis of these writers' biographies, prose, and criticism intervenes in debates about the Russian literary tradition in general, Russian women's writing in particular, and feminist criticism on female authors and authority as it has largely been developed in and for Western contexts.
Alphonso Lingis’s singular works of philosophy are not so much written as performed, and in The First Person Singular the performance is characteristically brilliant, a consummate act of philosophical reckoning. Lingis’s subject here, aptly enough, is the subject itself, understood not as consciousness but as embodied, impassioned, active being. His book is, at the same time, an elegant cultural analysis of how subjectivity is differently and collectively understood, invested, and situated.
In her book, Oksala shows that the arguments for the ineliminability of violence from the political are often based on excessively broad, ontological conceptions of violence distinct from its concrete and physical meaning and, on the other hand, on a restrictively narrow and empirical understanding of politics as the realm of conventional political institutions.
An Introduction to the Philosophical Life
In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transformed by the very activity of thinking. Thus, this work shows us Foucault in the last phase of his life in the act of becoming a philosopher. Here we see how his encounter with ancient philosophy allowed him to experience the practice of philosophy as, to paraphrase Nietzsche, a way of becoming who one is: the work of self formation that the Greeks called askésis.
Reading the Late Heidegger
Heidegger’s later thought is a thinking of things, so argues Andrew J. Mitchell in The Fourfold. Heidegger understands these things in terms of what he names “the fourfold”—a convergence of relationships bringing together the earth, the sky, divinities, and mortals—and Mitchell’s book is the first detailed exegesis of this neglected aspect of Heidegger’s later thought. As such it provides entrée to the full landscape of Heidegger’s postwar thinking, offering striking new interpretations of the atomic bomb, technology, plants, animals, weather, time, language, the holy, mortality, dwelling, and more. What results is a conception of things as ecstatic, relational, singular, and, most provocatively, as intrinsically tied to their own technological commodification. A major new work that resonates beyond the confines of Heidegger scholarship, The Fourfold proposes nothing less than a new phenomenological thinking of relationality and mediation for understanding the things around us.
Brett Foster is Associate Professor of English at Wheaton College. He is currently completing Elemental Rebel: The Rime of Cecco Angiolieri. A past Wallace Stegner and Elizabethan Club fellow, his poetry and criticism has appeared in Raritan, The Kenyon Review, Best New Poets 2007, and Books & Culture, among other publications.