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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.
Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing
From sixteenth-century cabinets of wonder and Victorian bird collections to stuffed pets and contemporary animal art, Taxidermy and Longing explores the cultural and poetic history of preserving animals in lifelike postures. While death is what makes taxidermy possible, taxidermy is not motivated by brutality but rather by longing for connection within the natural world – a longing for wonder, beauty, spectacle, order, narrative, allegory, and remembrance. Sometimes the most unlikely things offer the most eloquent commentaries.
Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America
Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation is the first account ever published of drug trafficking through Central America and the efforts of law enforcement to counter it. Julie Bunck and Michael Fowler detail the routes, methods, and networks involved, while comparing the evolution of the drug trade in Belize, Coast Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama over a span of more than three decades.