The Johns Hopkins University Press

Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society

Stephen G. Nichols, Gerald Prince, and Wendy Steiner, Series Editors

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

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Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society

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The Cynic Enlightenment

Diogenes in the Salon

Louisa Shea

This original study reveals the importance of ancient Cynicism in defining the Enlightenment and its legacy. Louisa Shea explores modernity's debt to Cynicism by examining the works of thinkers who turned to the ancient Cynics as a model for reinventing philosophy and dared to imagine an alliance between a socially engaged Enlightenment and the least respectable of early Greek philosophies. While Cynicism has always resided on the fringes of philosophy, Shea argues, it remained a vital touchstone for writers committed to social change and helped define the emerging figure of the public intellectual in the 18th century. Shea's study brings to light the rich legacy of ancient Cynicism in modern intellectual, philosophical, and literary life, both in the 18th-century works of Diderot, Rousseau, Wieland, and Sade, and in recent writings by Michel Foucault and Peter Sloterdijk. Featuring an important new perspective on both Enlightenment thought and its current scholarly reception, The Cynic Enlightenment will interest students and scholars of the Enlightenment and its intellectual legacy, 18th-century studies, literature, and philosophy.

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Decadent Subjects

The Idea of Decadence in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture of the Fin de Siècle in Europe

Charles Bernheimer edited by T. Jefferson Kline and Naomi Schor

Charles Bernheimer described decadence as a "stimulant that bends thought out of shape, deforming traditional conceptual molds." In this posthumously published work, Bernheimer succeeds in making a critical concept out of this perennially fashionable, rarely understood term. Decadent Subjects is a coherent and moving picture of fin de siècle decadence. Mature, ironic, iconoclastic, and thoughtful, this remarkable collection of essays shows the contradictions of the phenomenon, which is both a condition and a state of mind. In seeking to show why people have failed to give a satisfactory account of the term decadence, Bernheimer argues that we often mistakenly take decadence to represent something concrete, that we see as some sort of agent. His salutary response is to return to those authors and artists whose work constitutes the topos of decadence, rereading key late nineteenth-century authors such as Nietzsche, Zola, Hardy, Wilde, Moreau, and Freud to rediscover the very dynamics of the decadent. Through careful analysis of the literature, art, and music of the fin de siècle including a riveting discussion of the many faces of Salome, Bernheimer leaves us with a fascinating and multidimensional look at decadence, all the more important as we emerge from our own fin de siècle.

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The Discourse of Nature in the Poetry of Paul Celan

The Unnatural World

Rochelle Tobias

Paul Celan has long been regarded as the most important European poet after 1945 but also the most difficult owing to the numerous references in his work to his personal history and to a cultural heritage spanning many disciplines, centuries, and languages. In this insightful study, Rochelle Tobias goes a long way to dispelling the obscurity that has surrounded the poet and his work. She shows that the enigmatic images in his poetry have a common source. They are drawn from the disciplines of geology, astrology, and physiology or what could be called the sciences of the earth, the heavens, and the human being. Celan’s poetry borrows from each of these disciplines to create a poetic universe—a universe that attests to what is no longer and projects what is not yet. This is the unnatural world of Celan's poetry. It is a world in which time itself takes physical form or is made plastic. Through a series of close readings and philosophical explorations, Tobias reflects on the experience of time encoded and embodied in Celan's work. She demonstrates that the physical world in his poetry ultimately serves as a showcase for time, which is the most elusive aspect of human experience because it is based nowhere but in the mind. Tobias's probing interpretations present a new model for understanding Celan's work from the early elegiac poems to the later cryptic texts. An interdisciplinary project, the study combines readings of Celan's poetry with discussions of ancient and modern science, mystical cosmology, and twentieth-century literature and thought. Tobias's original approach to Celan illuminates his complex verse and contributes significantly to the theory of metaphor as it applies to modern verse.

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Estrangement and the Somatics of Literature

Tolstoy, Shklovsky, Brecht

Douglas Robinson

Drawing together the estrangement theories of Viktor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht with Leo Tolstoy's theory of infection, Douglas Robinson studies the ways in which shared evaluative affect regulates both literary familiarity—convention and tradition—and modern strategies of alienation, depersonalization, and malaise. This book begins with two assumptions, both taken from Tolstoy's late aesthetic treatise What Is Art? (1898): that there is a malaise in culture, and that literature's power to "infect" readers with the moral values of the author is a possible cure for this malaise. Exploring these ideas of estrangement within the contexts of earlier, contemporary, and later critical theory, Robinson argues that Shklovsky and Brecht follow Tolstoy in their efforts to fight depersonalization by imbuing readers with the transformative guidance of collectivized feeling. Robinson's somatic approach to literature offers a powerful alternative to depersonalizing structuralist and poststructuralist theorization without simply retreating into conservative rejection and reaction. Both a comparative study of Russian and German literary-theoretical history and an insightful examination of the somatics of literature, this groundbreaking work provides a deeper understanding of how literature affects the reader and offers a new perspective on present-day problems in poststructuralist approaches to the human condition.

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Fortune's Faces

The Roman de la Rose and the Poetics of Contingency

Daniel Heller-Roazen

Arguably the single most influential literary work of the European Middle Ages, the Roman de la Rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun has traditionally posed a number of difficulties to modern critics, who have viewed its many interruptions and philosophical discussions as signs of a lack of formal organization and a characteristically medieval predilection for encyclopedic summation. In Fortune's Faces, Daniel Heller-Roazen calls into question these assessments, offering a new and compelling interpretation of the romance as a carefully constructed and far-reaching exploration of the place of fortune, chance, and contingency in literary writing. Situating the Romance of the Rose at the intersection of medieval literature and philosophy, Heller-Roazen shows how the thirteenth-century work invokes and radicalizes two classical and medieval traditions of reflection on language and contingency: that of the Provençal, French, and Italian love poets, who sought to compose their "verses of pure nothing"in a language Dante defined as "without grammar," and that of Aristotle's discussion of "future contingents" as it was received and refined in the logic, physics, theology, and epistemology of Boethius, Abelard, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas.Through a close analysis of the poetic text and a detailed reconstruction of the logical and metaphysical concept of contingency, Fortune's Faces charts the transformations that literary structures (such as subjectivity, autobiography, prosopopoeia, allegory, and self-reference) undergo in a work that defines itself as radically contingent. Considered in its full poetic and philosophical dimensions, the Romance of the Rose thus acquires an altogether new significance in the history of literature: it appears as a work that incessantly explores its own capacity to be other than it is.

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Framing Attention

Windows on Modern German Culture

Lutz Koepnick

In Framing Attention, Lutz Koepnick explores different concepts of the window—in both a literal and a figurative sense—as manifested in various visual forms in German culture from the nineteenth century to the present. He offers a new interpretation of how evolving ways of seeing have characterized and defined modernity. Koepnick examines the role and representation of window frames in modern German culture—in painting, photography, architecture, and literature, on the stage and in public transportation systems, on the film screen and on television. He presents such frames as interfaces that negotiate competing visions of past and present, body and community, attentiveness and distraction. From Adolph Menzel's window paintings of the 1840s to Nam June Paik's experiments with television screens, from Richard Wagner's retooling of the proscenium stage to Adolf Hitler's use of a window as a means of political self-promotion, Framing Attention offers a theoretically incisive understanding of how windows shape and reframe the way we see the world around us and our place within it.

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Gilles Deleuze's ABCs

The Folds of Friendship

Charles J. Stivale

Friendship, in its nature, purpose, and effects, has been an important concern of philosophy since antiquity. It was of particular significance in the life of Gilles Deleuze, one of the most original and influential philosophers of the late twentieth century. Taking L'Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze—an eight-hour video interview that was intended to be aired only after Deleuze's death—as a key source, Charles J. Stivale examines the role of friendship as it appears in Deleuze's work and life. Stivale develops a zigzag methodology practiced by Deleuze himself to explore several concepts as they relate to friendship and to discern how friendship shifts, slips, and creates movement between Deleuze and specific friends. The first section of this study discusses the elements of creativity, pedagogy, and literature that appear implicitly and explicitly in his work. The second section focuses on Deleuze's friendships with Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Claire Parnet, and Félix Guattari and reveals his conception of friendship as an ultimately impersonal form of intensity that goes beyond personal relationships. Stivale's analysis offers an intimate view into the thought of one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

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Passions of the Sign

Revolution and Language in Kant, Goethe, and Kleist

Andreas Gailus

Passions of the Sign traces the impact of the French Revolution on Enlightenment thought in Germany as evidenced in the work of three major figures around the turn of the nineteenth century: Immanuel Kant, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Heinrich von Kleist. Andreas Gailus examines a largely overlooked strand in the philosophical and literary reception of the French Revolution, one which finds in the historical occurrence of revolution the expression of a fundamental mechanism of political, conceptual, and aesthetic practice. With a close reading of a critical essay by Kleist, an in-depth discussion of Kant's philosophical writing, and new readings of the novella form as employed by both Goethe and Kleist, Gailus demonstrates how these writers set forth an energetic model of language and subjectivity whose unstable nature reverberates within the very foundations of society. Unfolding in the medium of energetic signs, human activity is shown to be subject to the counter-symbolic force that lies within and beyond it. History is subject to contingency and is understood not as a progressive narrative but as an expanse of revolutionary possibilities; language is subject to the extra-linguistic context of utterance and is conceived primarily not in semantic but in pragmatic terms; and the individual is subject to impersonal affect and is figured not as the locus of self-determination but as the site of passions that exceed the self and its pleasure principle. At once a historical and a conceptual study, this volume moves between literature and philosophy, and between textual analysis and theoretical speculation, engaging with recent discussions on the status of sovereignty, the significance of performative language in politics and art, and the presence of the impersonal, even inhuman, within the economy of the self.

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The Site of Petrarchism

Early Modern National Sentiment in Italy, France, and England

William J. Kennedy

Drawing upon poststructuralist theories of nationalism and national identity developed by such writers as Etienne Balibar, Emmanuel Levinas, Julia Kristeva, Antonio Negri, and Slavoj Zizek, noted Renaissance scholar William J. Kennedy argues that the Petrarchan sonnet serves as a site for early modern expressions of national sentiment in Italy, France, England, Spain, and Germany. Kennedy pursues this argument through historical research into Renaissance commentaries on Petrarch's poetry and critical studies of such poets as Lorenzo de' Medici, Joachim du Bellay and the Pléiade brigade, Philip and Mary Sidney, and Mary Wroth. Kennedy begins with a survey of Petrarch's poetry and its citation in Italy, explaining how major commentators tried to present Petrarch as a spokesperson for competing versions of national identity. He then shows how Petrarch's model helped define social class, political power, and national identity in mid-sixteenth-century France, particularly in the nationalistic sonnet cycles of Joachim Du Bellay. Finally, Kennedy discusses how Philip Sidney and his sister Mary and niece Mary Wroth reworked Petrarch's model to secure their family's involvement in forging a national policy under Elizabeth I and James I . Treating the subject of early modern national expression from a broad comparative perspective, The Site of Petrarchism will be of interest to scholars of late medieval and early modern literature in Europe, historians of culture, and critical theorists.

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Styles of Enlightenment

Taste, Politics, and Authorship in Eighteenth-Century France

Elena Russo

Styles of Enlightenment argues that alongside its democratic ideals and its efforts to create a unified public sphere, the Enlightenment also displayed a tendency to erect rigid barriers when it came to matters of style and artistic expression. The French philosophes tackled the issue of the hierarchy of genres with surprising inflexibility, and they looked down on those forms of art that they saw as commercial, popular, and merely entertaining. They were convinced that the standard of taste was too important a matter to be left to the whims of the public and the vagaries of the marketplace: aesthetic judgment ought to belong to a few, enlightened minds who would then pass it on to the masses. Through readings of fictions, essays, memoirs, eulogies, and theatrical works by F

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