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Chaos Theory and Metachaotics in Recent American Fiction
Explores the way chaos theory is incorporated in the work of such writers as Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Don DeLillo, and Michael Crichton. Beautiful Chaos is the first book to examine contemporary American fiction through the lens of chaos theory. The book focuses on recent works of fiction by John Barth, Michael Crichton, Don DeLillo, Michael Dorris, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Carol Shields, and Robert Stone, all of whom incorporate aspects of chaos theory in one or more of their novels. They accomplish this through their disruption of conventional linear narrative forms and their use of strategic tropes of chaos and order, but also—and more significantly for an understanding of the interaction of science and fiction—through their self-conscious embrace of the current rhetoric of chaos theory. Since the publication of James Gleick’s Chaos: Making a New Science in 1987, chaos theory has been taken up by a wide variety of literary critics and other scholars of the arts. While considering the relationship between chaos theory and recent American fiction, Beautiful Chaos details basic assumptions about orderly and dynamic systems and the various manifestations of chaos theory in literature, including mimesis, metaphor, model, and metachaotics. It also explains particular features of orderly and dynamic systems, including entropy, bifurcation and turbulence, noise and information, scaling and fractals, iteration, and strange attractors.
Essays on Beauvoir’s influences, contemporary engagements, and legacy in the philosophical tradition. Despite a deep familiarity with the philosophical tradition and despite the groundbreaking influence of her own work, Simone de Beauvoir never embraced the idea of herself as a philosopher. Her legacy is similarly complicated. She is acclaimed as a revolutionary thinker on issues of gender, age, and oppression, but although much has been written weighing the influence she and Jean-Paul Sartre had on one another, the extent and sophistication of her engagement with the Western tradition broadly goes mostly unnoticed. This volume turns the spotlight on exactly that, examining Beauvoir’s dialogue with her influences and contemporaries, as well as her impact on later thinkers—concluding with an autobiographical essay by bell hooks discussing the influence of Beauvoir’s philosophy and life on her own work and career. These innovative essays both broaden our understanding of Beauvoir and suggest new ways of understanding canonical figures through the lens of her work.
Hedwig Dohm (1831–1919) was a thinker and writer significantly ahead of her time. She championed women’s rights in Germany and criticized with acerbic wit the social, political, and familial inequities inherent in gender relationships at the time of the first wave of the women’s movement. Her novella Become Who You Are is about a woman, Agnes Schmidt, whose husband has died and who is grappling with finding an identity for herself as an aging widow—reflecting the restrictions imposed especially on aging, widowed women who often yearn for a life and identity of their own. Also included here is the English translation of Dohm’s essay, “The Old Woman,” which is a compelling call for women to resist the social, intellectual, psychological, and physical restraints placed on women of Dohm’s time.
The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death
A striking look at the death rituals of an indigenous community in North America. Powerful and beautifully written, this is the story of the Isthmus Zapotecs of southern Mexico and their unbroken chain of ancestors and collective memory over the generations. Mortuary beliefs and actions are collective and pervasive in ways not seen in the United States, a resonant deep structure across many domains of Zapotec culture. Anthropologist Anya Peterson Royce draws upon forty years of participant research in the city of Juchitán to offer a finely textured portrait of the vibrant and enduring power of death in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec of Mexico. Focusing especially on the lives of Zapotec women, Becoming an Ancestor highlights the aesthetic sensibility and durability of mortuary traditions in the past and present. An intricate blending of Roman Catholicism and indigenous spiritual tradition, death through beliefs and practices expresses a collective solidarity that connects families, binds the living and dead, and blurs the past and present. A model of ethnographic research and presentation, Becoming an Ancestor not only reveals the luminescent heart of Zapotec culture but also provides important clues about the cultural power and potential of mortuary traditions for all societies.
Combining Cloning and Stem-Cell Therapy
Providing the philosophical, practical, and theoretical leverage for abandoning evolution and development in favor of engineering human beings, Becoming Immortal examines the directions biological change might take if civilization were to take charge of its own destiny. With the aid of embryonic manipulation, cloning, and stem-cell therapy, immortality would seem within the reach of future generations. The question is, “Do we presently have the wisdom to undertake creating immortal organisms?” The author examines every facet of this question, from theory to practice, and provides an answer through an in-depth analysis of life and death.
Masculinity and Sports Talk Radio
Beer, Babes, and Balls explores the increasingly popular genre of sports talk radio and how it relates to contemporary ideas of masculinity. Popular culture plays a significant role in fashioning identities, and sports talk radio both reflects and inspires cultural shifts in masculinity. Through analysis of the content of sports talk radio as well as interviews with radio production staff and audience members, scholar and avid sports talk radio listener David Nylund sheds light on certain aspects of contemporary masculinity and recent shifts in gender and sexual politics. He finds that although sports talk radio reproduces many aspects of traditional masculinity, sexism, racism, and heterosexism, there are exceptions in these discourses. For instance, the most popular national host, Jim Rome, is against homophobia and racism in sport, which indicates that the medium may be a place for male sports fans to discuss gender, race, and sexuality in consequential ways. Nylund concludes that sports talk radio creates a male bonding community that has genuine moments of intimacy and connection, signifying the potential for new forms of masculinity to emerge, while simultaneously reproducing traditional forms of masculinity.
Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature
A wide-ranging exploration of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, a mystical Jewish tradition from late antiquity, including a discussion of the possible cultural context of this material's creators. Beholders of Divine Secrets provides a fascinating exploration of the enigmatic Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, the Jewish mystical writings of late antiquity. Vita Daphna Arbel delves into the unique nature of the mystical teachings, experiences, revelations, and spiritual exegesis presented in this literature. While previous scholarship has demonstrated the connection between Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism and parallel traditions in Rabbinical writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, apocalyptic, early Christian, and Gnostic sources, this work points out additional mythological traditions that resonate in this literature. Arbel suggests that mythological patterns of expression, as well as themes and models rooted in Near Eastern mythological traditions are employed, in a spiritualized fashion, to communicate mystical content. The possible cultural and social context of the Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism and its composers is discussed.
Identity Politics and Globalization in Postsocialist Poland
The Góral ethnic identity has been at the center of political machinations in Poland for centuries. The late Pope John Paul II, for example, was a Góral. This is the first book-length study of the Góral identity and one of the few studies in English to discuss Górals. Through personal interviews, local manuscripts, and academic histories of the region, author Deborah Cahalen Schneider shows how important the Góral identity has been to Poland’s history. The conflict over the Góral identity in the community of Zùywiec, Poland serves as a lens through which Schneider views national identity issues and class conflict in Poland at large. The Góral identity not only gave this community a sense of togetherness under the Habsburg Empire, but also was a symbol of Polish identity for Polish nationalists during that time. Schneider shows how the Góral identity has spanned the rise and, arguably, the fall of nationalism as the primary discourse of political identity in the post–Cold War, European Union–dominated Eastern Europe.
Rhetoric beyond Representation
By elaborating upon pivotal twentieth-century studies in language, representation, and subjectivity, Being Made Strange reorients the study of rhetoric according to the discursive formation of subjectivity. The author develops a theory of how rhetorical practices establish social, political, and ethical relations between self and other, individual and collectivity, good and evil, and past and present. He produces a novel methodology that analyzes not only what an individual says, but also the social, political, and ethical conditions that enable him or her to do so. This book also offers valuable ethical and political insights for the study of subjectivity in philosophy, cultural studies, and critical theory.