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A Study in Pure Sociology
Although "thou shalt not kill" is perhaps the most fundamental legal and moral principle, Mark Cooney finds a remarkable lack of consistency in the handling of homicide not only between but within the whole range of human societies. Equality before the law doesn't exist, but not for the reasons, such as prejudice, that we expect. Legal and moral principles can't explain why one killer is condemned and another acquitted or lauded. The "social geometry" of status and social distance among killer, victim, and third parties does. Incredibly wide-ranging in its 'data set'--Cooney looked at all societies, in all time periods, for which data is available.
A Populist Vision of Intellectual Property Rights
Of all the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson had the most substantial direct experience with the issues surrounding intellectual property rights and their impact on creativity, invention, and innovation. In our own digital age, in which IP has again become the object of intense debate, his voice remains one of the most vital in American history on this crucial subject.
Jefferson lived in a time of immense change, when inventions and other creative works impacted the world profoundly. In this atmosphere it became clear that the developers of creative works and the users of those works often have competing interests. Jefferson appreciated as well as anyone that the originators of ideas needed legal protection. He also knew that innovation was crucial for a nation’s economic prosperity as well as its political health, and that rights should not become barriers.
Jefferson was in a unique position to understand the issues of intellectual property rights. His pronouncements on these issues were those not of a scholar but, rather, of a practitioner. As a scientist, author, and inventor, he was a prolific creator. He was also a tireless consumer of others’ works. As America’s first patent commissioner, he decided which ideas merited protection and effectively created the patent review process. Jeffrey Matsuura profiles Jefferson’s diverse and substantial experience with these issues and discusses the lessons Jefferson’s efforts offer us today, as we grapple with many of the same challenges of balancing IP rights against an effort to foster creativity and innovation. Without inserting Jefferson anachronistically into the current debate, Matsuura does not shy away from positing where in the spectrum of opinion Jefferson’s ideas lie. For lawyers, legal and technology historians, and entrepreneurs, Matsuura offers a fresh, historically informed perspective on a current issue of major importance.
Focusing on slave narratives from the Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this interdisciplinary collection of essays suggests the importance—even the necessity—of looking beyond the iconic and ubiquitous works of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs. In granting sustained critical attention to writers such as Briton Hammon, Omar Ibn Said, Juan Francisco Manzano, Nat Turner, and Venture Smith, among others, this book makes a crucial contribution not only to scholarship on the slave narrative but also to our understanding of early African American and Black Atlantic literature.
The essays explore the social and cultural contexts, the aesthetic and rhetorical techniques, and the political and ideological features of these noncanonical texts. By concentrating on earlier slave narratives not only from the United States but from the Caribbean, South America, and Latin America as well, the volume highlights the inherent transnationality of the genre, illuminating its complex cultural origins and global circulation.
Planter Society at the Virginia Springs, 1790-1860
Each summer between 1790 and 1860, hundreds and eventually thousands of southern men and women left the diseases and boredom of their plantation homes and journeyed to the healthful and entertaining Virginia Springs. In Ladies and Gentlemen on Display, Charlene Boyer Lewis argues that the Virginia Springs provided a theater of sorts, where contests for power between men and women, fashionables and evangelicals, blacks and whites, old and young, and even northerners and southerners played out—away from the traditional roles of the plantation. In their pursuit of health and pleasure, white southerners created a truly regional community at the springs. At this edge of the South, elite southern society shaped itself, defining what it meant to be a "Southerner" and redefining social roles and relations.
How Policy Preferences Influence Legal Reasoning
Based on an innovative combination of psychological experimentation and studies of individual cases, the author advances a new theory about the ways in which policy preferences influence judicial decision-making. She demonstrates that "motivated reasoning" does indeed occur, but its scope is limited by rules of legal analysis.
The Victorian Practice of History from Gibbon to Churchill
In Liberal Epic, Edward Adams examines the liberal imagination’s centuries-long dependence on contradictory, and mutually constitutive, attitudes toward violent domination. Adams centers his ambitious analysis on a series of major epic poems, histories, and historical novels, including Dryden’s Aeneid, Pope’s Iliad, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Byron’s Don Juan, Scott’s Life of Napoleon, Napier’s History of the War in the Peninsula, Macaulay’s History of England, Hardy’s Dynasts, and Churchill’s military histories—works that rank among the most important publishing events of the past three centuries yet that have seldom received critical attention relative to their importance. In recovering these neglected works and gathering them together as part of a self-conscious literary tradition here defined as liberal epic, Adams provides an archaeology that sheds light on contemporary issues such as the relation of liberalism to war, the tactics for sanitizing heroism, and the appeal of violence to supposedly humane readers.
Victorian Literature and Culture Series
In The Life and Undeath of Autonomy in American Literature, Geoff Hamilton charts the evolution of the fundamental concept of autonomy in the American imaginary across the span of the nation’s literary history. Whereas America’s ideological roots are typically examined in relation to Enlightenment Europe, this book traces the American literary representation of autonomy back to its pastoral, political, and ultimately religious origins in ancient Greek thought. Tracking autonomy’s evolution in America from the Declaration of Independence to contemporary works, Hamilton considers affinities between American and Greek literary characters—Natty Bumppo and Odysseus, Emerson’s "poet" and Socrates, Cormac McCarthy’s Judge Holden and Callicles—and reveals both what American literary history has in common with that of ancient Greece and what is distinctively its own.
The author argues for the link with antiquity not only to understand better the boundaries between self and society but also to show profound transitions in the understanding of autonomy from a nourishing liberty of fulfillment, through an aggressive agency destructive to both human and natural worlds, to a sterile isolation and detachment. The result is an insightful analysis of the history of individualism, the evolution of frontier mythology and American Romanticism, and the contemporary representation of social alienation and violent criminality.
Thomas Jefferson and the Power of Knowledge
Although Thomas Jefferson’s status as a champion of education is widely known, the essays in Light and Liberty make clear that his efforts to enlighten fellow citizens reflected not only a love of learning but also a love of freedom. Using as a starting point Jefferson's conviction that knowledge is the basis of republican self-government, the contributors examine his educational projects not as disparate attempts to advance knowledge for its own sake but instead as a result of his unyielding, almost obsessive desire to bolster Americans’ republican virtues and values.
Whether by establishing schools or through broader, extra-institutional efforts to disseminate knowledge, Jefferson's endeavors embraced his vision for a dynamic and meritocratic America. He aimed not only to provide Americans with the ability to govern themselves and participate in the government of others but also to influence Americans to remake their society in accordance with his own principles.
Written in clear and accessible prose, Light and Liberty reveals the startling diversity of Jefferson’s attempts to rid citizens of the ignorance and vice that, in the view of Jefferson and many contemporaries, had corroded and corrupted once-great civilizations. Never wavering from his faith that "knowledge is power," Jefferson embraced an expansive understanding of education as the foundation for a republic of free and responsible individuals who understood their rights and stood ready to defend them.
Thomas Jefferson's Dualistic Enlightenment
The Limits of Optimism works to dispel persistent notions about Jefferson’s allegedly paradoxical and sphinx-like quality. Maurizio Valsania shows that Jefferson’s multifaceted character and personality are to a large extent the logical outcome of an anti-metaphysical, enlightened, and humility-oriented approach to reality. That Jefferson’s mind and priorities changed over time and in response to changing circumstances indicates neither incoherence, hypocrisy, nor pathology.
Valsania’s reading of Jefferson, the Enlightenment, and negativity helps to make sense of the many paradoxes typically associated with that eighteenth-century thinker. At the same time, it provides a corrective to the common though erroneous equation of Enlightenment thinking with rationalism and shallow optimism.
Space and Identity in Caribbean Fiction
While postcolonial discourse in the Caribbean has drawn attention to colonialism’s impact on space and spatial hierarchy, Stanka Radović asks both how ordinary people as "users" of space have been excluded from active and autonomous participation in shaping their daily spatial reality and how they challenge this exclusion. In a comparative interdisciplinary reading of anglophone and francophone Caribbean literature and contemporary spatial theory, she focuses on the house as a literary figure and the ways that fiction and acts of storytelling resist the oppressive hierarchies of colonial and neocolonial domination. The author engages with the theories of Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, and contemporary critical geographers, in addition to selected fiction by V. S. Naipaul, Patrick Chamoiseau, Beryl Gilroy, and Rafaël Confiant, to examine the novelists’ construction of narrative "houses" to reclaim not only actual or imaginary places but also the very conditions of self-representation.
Radović ultimately argues for the power of literary imagination to contest the limitations of geopolitical boundaries by emphasizing space and place as fundamental to our understanding of social and political identity. The physical places described in these texts crystallize the protagonists’ ambiguous and complex relationship to the New World. Space is, then, as the author shows, both a political fact and a powerful metaphor whose imaginary potential continually challenges its material limitations.