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Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur
Avodah: Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur is the first major translation of one of the most important genres of the lost literature of the ancient synagogue. Known as the Avodah piyyutim, this liturgical poetry was composed by the synagogue poets of fifth- to ninth-century Palestine and sung in the synagogues on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Although it was suppressed by generations of rabbis, its ornamental beauty and deep exploration of sacred stories ensured its popularity for centuries. Piyyut literature can teach us much about how ancient Jews understood sacrifice, sacred space, and sin. The poems are also a rich source for retrieving myths and symbols not found in the conventional Rabbinic sources such as the Talmuds and Midrash. Moreover, these compositions rise to the level of fine literature. They are the products of great literary effort, continue and extend the tradition of biblical parallelism, and reveal the aesthetic sensibilities of the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity.tAvodah: Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur is the first volume in The Penn State Library of Jewish Literature, overseen by Baruch Halpern and Aminadav Dykman. This series will constitute a library of primary source material for the Jewish and Hebrew literary traditions. The library will present Jewish and Hebrew works from all eras and cultures, offering both scholars and general readers original, modern translations of previously overlooked texts.
The Russian Radical
Author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. Yet, despite the sale of over thirty million copies of her works, there have been few serious scholarly examinations of her thought. Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical provides a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual roots and philosophy of this controversial thinker. It has been nearly twenty years since the original publication of Chris Sciabarra’s Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Those years have witnessed an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on philosophy, politics, and culture; in film and literature; and in contemporary American politics, from the rise of the Tea Party to recent presidential campaigns. During this time Sciabarra continued to work toward the reclamation of the dialectical method in the service of a radical libertarian politics, culminating in his book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism (Penn State, 2000). In this new edition of Ayn Rand, Chris Sciabarra adds two chapters that present in-depth analysis of the most complete transcripts to date documenting Rand’s education at Petrograd State University. A new preface places the book in the context of Sciabarra’s own research and the recent expansion of interest in Rand’s philosophy. Finally, this edition includes a postscript that answers a recent critic of Sciabarra’s historical work on Rand. Shoshana Milgram, Rand’s biographer, has tried to cast doubt on Rand’s own recollections of having studied with the famous Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky. Sciabarra shows that Milgram’s analysis fails to cast doubt on Rand’s recollections—or on Sciabarra’s historical thesis.
Each of the five volumes in the Stone Art Theory Institutes series—and the seminars on which they are based—brings together a range of scholars who are not always directly familiar with one another’s work. The outcome of each of these convergences is an extensive and “unpredictable conversation” on knotty and provocative issues about art. This fourth volume in the series, Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic focuses on questions revolving around the concepts of the aesthetic, the anti-aesthetic, and the political. The book is about the fact that now, almost thirty years after Hal Foster defined the anti-aesthetic, there is still no viable alternative to the dichotomy between aesthetics and anti- or non-aesthetic art. The impasse is made more difficult by the proliferation of identity politics, and it is made less negotiable by the hegemony of anti-aesthetics in academic discourse on art. The central question of this book is whether or not artists and academicians are free of this choice, in practice, in pedagogy, and in theory. Aside from the editor, the contributors are, Stéphanie Benzaquen, J. M. Bernstein, Karen Busk-Jepsen, Luis Camnitzer, Diarmuid Costello, Joana Cunha Leal, Angela Dimitrakaki, Alexander Dumbadze, T. Brandon Evans, Geng Youzhuang, Boris Groys, Beata Hock, Gordon Hughes, Michael Kelly, Grant Kester, Meredith Kooi, Cary Levine, Sunil Manghani, William Mazzarella, Justin McKeown, Andrew McNamara, Eve Meltzer, Nadja Millner-Larsen, Maria Filomena Molder, Carrie Noland, Gary Peters, Aaron Richmond, Lauren Ross, Toni Ross, Eva Schürmann, Gregory Sholette, Noah Simblist, Jon Simons, Robert Storr, Martin Sundberg, Timotheus Vermeulen, and Rebecca Zorach.
Political Imagination in Kant and Foucault
Late in life, Foucault identified with “the critical tradition of Kant,” encouraging us to read both thinkers in new ways. Kant’s “Copernican” strategy of grounding knowledge in the limits of human reason proved to stabilize political, social-scientific, and medical expertise as well as philosophical discourse. These inevitable limits were made concrete in historical structures such as the asylum, the prison, and the sexual or racial human body. Such institutions built upon and shaped the aesthetic judgment of those considered “normal.” Following Kant through all of Foucault’s major works, this book shows how bodies functioned as “problematic objects” in which the limits of post-Enlightenment European power and discourse were imaginatively figured and unified. It suggests ways that readers in a neoliberal political order can detach from the imaginative schemes vested in their bodies and experiment normatively with their own security needs.
By Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan, one of the earliest known women authors, wrote the Livre de paix (Book of Peace) between 1412 and 1414, a period of severe corruption and civil unrest in her native France. The book offered Pizan a platform from which to expound her views on contemporary politics and to put forth a strict moral code to which she believed all governments should aspire. The text’s intended recipient was the dauphin, Louis of Guyenne; Christine felt that Louis had the political and social influence to fill a void left by years of incompetent leadership. Drawing in equal parts from the Bible and from classical ethical theory, the Livre de paix was revolutionary in its timing, viewpoint, and content. This volume, edited by Karen Green, Constant J. Mews, and Janice Pinder, boasts the first full English translation of Pizan’s work along with the original French text. The editors also place the Livre de paix in historical context, provide a brief biography of Pizan, and offer insight into the translation process.
The Redemptive Reading of an Irishman in Nineteenth-Century New England
In Books and Religious Devotion, Allan Westphall presents a study of the book-collecting habits and annotation practices of Thomas Connary, an Irish immigrant farmer who lived in New Hampshire in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Connary led a pious life that revolved around the use, annotation, and sharing of religious books: his surviving annotated volumes provide a revealing glimpse into the utility of books for a common reader and into how one remarkable non-elite reader imagined book utilities and the iconic status of religious books. Through a careful excavation of book adaptations and enhancements, Westphall establishes a profile of an eccentric reader-cum-annotator that gives us insight into the range of opportunities provided by the material book for recording and communicating a reader’s religious fervor. The study also investigates the broader nineteenth-century cultural setting, in which books are seen as testimonies of personal faith and come to function as instruments of social interaction in both domestic and public spheres. Underlying Connary’s many and varied interactions with books is a belief that physical objects can materialize belief, and that working in them can be a devout exercise instrumental in human salvation.
In Borderline Exegesis, Leif Vaage presents an alternate approach to biblical interpretation, or exegesis—an approach that bends the boundaries of the traditional North American methodology to analyze the meaning of biblical texts for a wider audience. To accomplish this, Vaage engages in a practice he calls “borderline exegesis.” Adapting anthropological notions of borderlands, borderline exegesis writes biblical scholarship peripherally, unearthing the Bible’s textual and discursive borderlands and allowing biblical texts to be at play with utopian imagination. The book’s main chapters are four case studies that engage in a “divergent reading” of the Book of Job, the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle of James, and the Book of Revelation. Informed by the author’s time in war-torn Peru, these chapters take on themes that the poor and disenfranchised have historically claimed, themes of social justice, the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of prevailing social practices, and—most importantly—a locus of utopian demand for another possible world. These chapters are held together by the presentation of a greater theoretical framework that provides reflection on the exegetical practices within, and confronts biblical scholars with important questions about the aims of the work they do. Taken as a whole, Vaage seeks to disclose what the professional practice of textual interpretation might become if we refuse the conventional distances between academic practice and lived experience.