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The essays in this collection examine philosophical, religious, and literary or artistic texts using methodologies and insights that have grown out of reflection on literature and art. In them, them phrase “material spirit” becomes a point of departure for considering the continuing spectral effects of religious texts and concerns in ways that do not simply call for, or assume, new orrenewed forms of religiosity. The writers in this collection seek to examine religion beyond traditional notions of transcendence: Their topics range from early Christian religious practices to global climate change. Some of the essays explore religious themes or tones in literary texts, for example, works by Wordsworth, Hopkins, Proust, Woolf, and Teresa of Avila. Others approach—in a literarycritical mood—philosophical or para-philosophical writers such as Bataille, Husserl, Derrida, and Benjamin. Still others treat writers of a more explicitly religious orientation, such as Augustine, Rosenzweig, or Bernard of Clairvaux.
Shortlisted for the 2015 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize This book shows how American literary culture in the first half of the twentieth century saw “irony” emerge as a term to describe intersections between aesthetic and political practices. Against conventional associations of irony with political withdrawal, Stratton shows how the term circulated widely in literary and popular culture to describe politically engaged forms of writing. It is a critical commonplace to acknowledge the difficulty of defining irony before stipulating a particular definition as a stable point of departure for literary, cultural, and political analysis. This book, by contrast, is the first to derive definitions of “irony” inductively, showing how writers employed it as a keyword both before and in opposition to the institutionalization of New Criticism. It focuses on writers who not only composed ironic texts but talked about irony and satire to situate their work politically: Randolph Bourne, Benjamin De Casseres, Ellen Glasgow, John Dos Passos, Ralph Ellison, and many others.
“Yes, Kant did indeed speak of extraterrestrials.” This phrase could provide the opening for this brief treatise of philosofiction (as one speaks of science fiction). What is revealed in the aliens of which Kant speaks—and he no doubt took them more seriously than anyone else in the history of philosophy—are the limits of globalization, or what Kant called cosmopolitanism. Before engaging Kantian considerations of the inhabitants of other worlds, before comprehending his reasoned alienology, this book works its way through an analysis of the star wars raging above our heads in the guise of international treaties regulating the law of space, including the cosmopirates that Carl Schmitt sometimes mentions in his late writings. Turning to track the comings and goings of extraterrestrials in Kant’s work, Szendy reveals that they are the necessary condition for an unattainable definition of humanity. Impossible to represent, escaping any possible experience, they are nonetheless inscribed both at the heart of the sensible and as an Archimedean point from whose perspective the interweavings of the sensible can be viewed. Reading Kant in dialogue with science fiction films (films he seems already to have seen) involves making him speak of questions now pressing in upon us: our endangered planet, ecology, a war of the worlds. But it also means attempting to think, with or beyond Kant, what a point of view might be.
It is said that words are like people: One can encounter them daily yet never come to know their true selves. This volume examines what words are—how they exist—in religious phenomena. Going beyond the common idea that language merely describes states of mind, beliefs, and intentions, the book looks at words in their performative and material specificity. The contributions in the volume develop the insight that our implicit assumptions about what language does guide the way we understand and experience religious phenomena. They also explore the possibility that insights about the particular status of religious utterances may in turn influence the way we think about words in our language.
Heinz von Foerster was the inventor of second-order cybernetics, which recognizes the investigator as part of the system he is investigating. The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name provides an accessible, nonmathematical, and comprehensive overview of von Foerster’s cybernetic ideas and of the philosophy latent within them. It distills concepts scattered across the lifework of this scientific polymath and influential interdisciplinarian. At the same time, as a book-length interview, it does justice to von Foerster’s élan as a speaker and improviser, his skill as a raconteur. Developed from a week-long conversation between the editors and von Foerster near the end of his life, this work playfully engages von Foerster in developing the difference his notion of second-order cybernetics makes for topics ranging from emergence, life, order, and thermodynamics to observation, recursion, cognition, perception, memory, and communication. The book gives an English-speaking audience a new ease of access to the rich thought and generous spirit of this remarkable and protean thinker.
Today we urgently need to reevaluate the human place in the world in relation to other animals. This book puts Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy into dialogue with literature, evolutionary biology, and animal studies. In a radical departure from most critical animal studies, it argues for evolutionary continuity between human cultural and linguistic behaviors and the semiotic activities of other animals. In his late work, Derrida complained of philosophers who denied that animals possessed such faculties, but he never investigated the wealth of scientific studies of actual animal behavior. Most animal studies theorists still fail to do this. Yet more than fifty years ago, Merleau-Ponty carefully examined the philosophical consequences of scientific animal studies, with profound implications for human language and culture. For him, “animality is the logos of the sensible world: an incorporated meaning.” Human being is inseparable from animality. This book differs from other studies of Merleau-Ponty by emphasizing his lifelong attention to science. It shows how his attention to evolutionary biology and ethology anticipated recent studies of animal cognition, culture, and communication.
This book explores the co-dependency of monotheism and idolatry by examining the thought of several prominent twentieth-century Jewish philosophers—Cohen, Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas. While all of these thinkers were keenly aware of the pitfalls of scriptural theism, to differing degrees they each succumbed to the temptation to personify transcendence, even as they tried either to circumvent or to restrain it by apophatically purging kataphatic descriptions of the deity. Derrida and Wyschogrod, by contrast, carried the project of denegation one step further, embarking on a path that culminated in the aporetic suspension of belief and the consequent removal of all images from God, a move that seriously compromises the viability of devotional piety. The inquiry into apophasis, transcendence, and immanence in these Jewish thinkers is symptomatic of a larger question. Recent attempts to harness the apophatic tradition to construct a viable postmodern negative theology, a religion without religion, are not radical enough. Not only are these philosophies of transcendence guilty of a turn to theology that defies the phenomenological presupposition of an immanent phenomenality, but they fall short on their own terms, inasmuch as they persist in employing metaphorical language that personalizes transcendence and thereby runs the risk of undermining the irreducible alterity and invisibility attributed to the transcendent other. The logic of apophasis, if permitted to run its course fully, would exceed the need to posit some form of transcendence that is not ultimately a facet of immanence. Apophatic theologies, accordingly, must be supplanted by a more far-reaching apophasis that surpasses the theolatrous impulse lying coiled at the crux of theism, an apophasis of apophasis, based on accepting an absolute nothingness—to be distinguished from the nothingness of an absolute—that does not signify the unknowable One but rather the manifold that is the pleromatic abyss at being’s core. Hence, the much-celebrated metaphor of the gift must give way to the more neutral and less theologically charged notion of an unconditional givenness in which the distinction between giver and given collapses. To think givenness in its most elemental, phenomenological sense is to allow the apparent to appear as given without presuming a causal agency that would turn that given into a gift.
Beyond the Mother Tongue examines distinct forms of multilingualism, such as writing in one socially unsanctioned “mother tongue” about another language (Franz Kafka); mobilizing words of foreign derivation as part of a multilingual constellation within one language (Theodor W. Adorno); producing an oeuvre in two separate languages simultaneously (Yoko Tawada); and mixing different languages, codes, and registers within one text (Feridun Zaimoglu).
For more than fifty years, Dr. Cahill has been helping to heal the world, as a leading specialist in tropical medicine and as a driving force in humanitarian assistance and relief efforts around the globe. In this revised and expanded edition, he chronicles extraordinary achievements of compassion and commitment. Bringing together a rich selection of writings, he crafts a fascinating memoir of a life devoted to others. The book includes front-line reports from places under siege—Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua, Gaza, and Ireland; there are also visionary essays from the origins of the AIDS epidemic and landmine crises, and no less passionate concerns of his own experiences of pain and suffering—as well as of joy and beauty—in the worlds in which he has traveled. As the distinguished neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, M.D., notes in his endorsement, “These essays, by turns elegiac, lyrical, funny, tender, nostalgic, and vehemently impassioned, come together in an ongoing tapestry, a portrait of a dedicated physician who has dared to make a difference.”
Foucault’s late work on biopolitics and governmentality has established him as the fundamental thinker of contemporary continental political thought and as a privileged source for our current understanding of neoliberalism and its technologies of power. In this volume, an international and interdisciplinary group of Foucault scholars examines his ideas of biopower and biopolitics and their relation to his project of a history of governmentality and to a theory of the subject found in his last courses at the College de France. Many of the chapters engage critically with the Italian theoretical reception of Foucault. At the same time, the originality of this collection consists in the variety of perspectives and traditions of reception brought to bear upon the problematic connections between biopolitics and governmentality established by Foucault’s last works.
This book takes up Foucault’s hypothesis that liberal “civil society,” far from being a sphere of natural freedoms, designates the social spaces where our biological lives come under new forms of control and are invested with new forms of biopower. In order to test this hypothesis, its chapters examine the critical theory of civil society—from Hegel and Marx through Lukacs, Adorno, Benjamin, and Arendt—from the new horizon opened up by Foucault’s turn to biopolitics and its reception in recent Italian theory. Negri, Agamben, and Esposito have argued that biopolitics not only denotes new forms of domination over life but harbors within it an affirmative relation between biological life and politics that carries an emancipatory potential. The chapters of this book take up this suggestion by locating this emancipatory potential in the biopolitical feature of the human condition that Arendt called “natality.” The book proceeds to illustrate how natality is the basis for a republican articulation of an affirmative biopolitics. It aims to renew the critical theory of civil society by pursuing the traces of natality as a “surplus of life” that resists the oppressive government of life found in the capitalist political economy, in the liberal system of rights, and in the bourgeois family. By contrast, natality offers the normative foundation for a new “republic of the living.” Finally, natality permits us to establish a relation between biological life and contemplative life that reverses the long-held belief in a privileged relationship of thinking to the possibility of our death. The result is a materialist, atheological conception of contemplative life as eternal life.
Nation-building processes in the Orthodox commonwealth brought together political institutions and religious communities in their shared aims of achieving national sovereignty. Chronicling how the churches of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia acquired independence from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the wake of the Ottoman Empire’s decline, Orthodox Christianity and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Southeastern Europe examines the role of Orthodox churches in the construction of national identities. Drawing on archival material available after the fall of communism in southeastern Europe and Russia, as well as material published in Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Russian, Orthodox Christianity and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Southeastern Europe analyzes the challenges posed by nationalism to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ways in which Orthodox churches engaged in the nationalist ideology.
This book sheds light on the most philosophically interesting of contemporary objects: the cell phone. “Where are you?”—a question asked over cell phones myriad times each day—is arguably the most philosophical question of our age, given the transformation of presence the cell phone has wrought in contemporary social life and public space. Throughout all public spaces, cell phones are now a ubiquitous prosthesis of what Descartes and Hegel once considered the absolute tool: the hand. Their power comes in part from their ability to move about with us—they are like a computer, but we can carry them with us at all times—in part from what they attach to us (and how), as all that computational and connective power becomes both handy and hand-sized. Quite surprisingly, despite their name, one might argue, as Ferraris does, that cell phones are not really all that good for sound and speaking. Instead, the main philosophical point of this book is that mobile phones have come into their own as writing machines—they function best for text messages, e-mail, and archives of all kinds. Their philosophical urgency lies in the manner in which they carry us from the effects of voice over into reliance upon the written traces that are, Ferraris argues, the basic stuff of human culture. Ontology is the study of what there is, and what there is in our age is a huge network of documents, papers, and texts of all kinds. Social reality is not constructed by collective intentionality; rather, it is made up of inscribed acts. As Derrida already prophesized, our world revolves around writing. Cell phones have attached writing to our fingers and dragged it into public spaces in a new way. This is why, with their power to obliterate or morph presence and replace voice with writing, the cell phone is such a philosophically interesting object.
The enduring power of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry rests with his claim that all we need for a better life on earth is already given to us, in the here and now. In twenty-six engaging and accessible essays, Ulrich Baer’s The Rilke Alphabet examines this promise by one of the greatest poets in any tradition that even the smallest overlooked word may unlock life’s mysteries to us. Fueled by an unebbing passion and indeed love for Rilke’s poetry, Baer examines twenty-six words that are not only unexpected but also problematic, controversial, and even scandalous in Rilke’s work. In twenty-six mesmerizing essays that eschew jargon and teutonic learnedness for the pleasures and risks of unflinchingly engaging with a great artist’s genius, Baer sheds new light on Rilke’s politics, his creative process, and his deepest and enduring thoughts about life, art, politics, sexuality, love, and death. The Rilke Alphabet shows how Rilke’s work provides an uncannily apt guide to life even in our vexingly postmodern condition. Whether it is a love letter to frogs, a problematic brief infatuation with Mussolini, a sustained reflection on the Buddha, the evasion of the influence of powerful precursors, or the unambiguous assertion that freedom must be lived in order to be known, Rilke’s writings pull us deeply into life. Baer’s decades-long engagement with Rilke as a scholar, translator, and editor of Rilke’s writings allows him to reveal unique aspects of Rilke’s work. The Rilke Alphabet will surprise and delight Rilke fans, intrigue newcomers to his work, and deepen every reader’s sense of the power of poetry to penetrate the mysteries and confusions of our world.
Teach Me to Be Generous tells the remarkable story of Regis High School, the Jesuit school on New York’s Upper East Side that was founded in 1914 by an anonymous donor as a school for Catholic boys whose families could not otherwise afford a Catholic education. Enabled by the philanthropy of the founding family for nearly a century, and now by alumni and friends carrying on that tradition of generosity, Regis has been able to provide tuition-free, all-scholarship education for its entire history. It also holds the distinction of being the first free-standing Jesuit high school in the United States, with no connection to any Jesuit colleges or universities. Regis High School’s unique story is told by an engaging storyteller and historian who has taught at the school for more than ten years. Father Andreassi offers captivating glimpses into the lives and daily experiences of Regis’s students and faculty while chronicling the development of the school’s educational philosophy and spiritual approach in its first century. Filled with entertaining anecdotes alongside wider historical context and illuminating statistical analysis, Teach Me to Be Generous tracks Regis High School through the decades of the twentieth century to the present day—from the generosity of a devout Catholic widow, through the Depression and World War II, to changes in demographics of the Catholic community and shifts in the landscape of Catholic education in New York City. During the school’s first few decades, Regis admitted thousands of Catholic boys, mostly from poor or lower-middle-class families, helping prepare them for success in college and leadership positions in the professions. Because of the closing of dozens of urban Catholic schools and the general decline of the quality of New York City’s public schools, in more recent years the school has faced the challenge of remaining true to its mission in offering an education to Catholic boys “who otherwise would not be able to afford a Catholic education.” Teach Me to Be Generous paints a vivid portrait of the first one hundred years of an exceptional institution and looks with hope and confidence to its future.
Sophistics is the paradigm of a discourse that does things with words. It is not pure rhetoric, as Plato wants us to believe, but it provides an alternative to the philosophical mainstream. A sophistic history of philosophy questions the orthodox philosophical history of philosophy: that of ontology and truth in itself. In this book, we discover unusual Presocratics, wreaking havoc with the fetish of true and false. Their logoi perform politics and perform reality. Their sophistic practice can shed crucial light on contemporary events, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, where, to quote Desmond Tutu, “words, language, and rhetoric do things,” creating things like the new “rainbow people.” Transitional justice requires a consistent and sustainable relativism: not Truth, but truth for, and enough of the truth for there to be a community. Philosophy itself is about words before it is about concepts. Language manifests itself in reality only as multiplicity; different languages perform different types of worlds; and difficulties of translation are but symptoms of these differences. This desacralized untranslatability undermines and deconstructs the Heideggerian statement that there is a historical language of philosophy that is Greek by essence (being the only language able to say what “is”) and today is German. Sophistical Practice constitutes a major contribution to the debate among philosophical pluralism, unitarism, and pragmatism. It will change how we discuss such words as city, truth, and politics. Philologically and philosophically rethinking the sophistical gesture, relying on performance and translation, it proposes a new paradigm for the human sciences.
The Indian Independence Act of 1947 granted India freedom from British rule, signaling the formal end of the British Raj in the subcontinent. This freedom, though, came at a price: partition, the division of the country into India and Pakistan, and the communal riots that followed. These riots resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1 million Hindus and Muslims and the displacement of about 20 million persons on both sides of the border. This watershed socioeconomic–geopolitical moment cast an enduring shadow on India’s relationship with neighboring Pakistan. Presenting a perspective of the middle-class refugees who were forced from their homes, jobs, and lives with the withdrawal of British rule in India, Home, Uprooted delves into the lives of forty-five Partition refugees and their descendants to show how this epochal event continues to shape their lives. Exploring the oral histories of three generations of refugees from India’s Partition—ten Hindu and Sikh families in Delhi, Home, Uprooted melds oral histories with a fresh perspective on current literature to unravel the emergent conceptual nexus of home, travel, and identity in the stories of the participants. Author Devika Chawla argues that the ways in which her participants imagine, recollect, memorialize, or “abandon” home in their everyday narratives give us unique insights into how refugee identities are constituted. These stories reveal how migrations are enacted and what home—in its sense, absence, and presence—can mean for displaced populations. Written in an accessible and experimental style that blends biography, autobiography, essay, and performative writing, Home, Uprooted folds in field narratives with Chawla’s own family history, which was also shaped by the Partition event and her self-propelled migration to North America. In contemplating and living their stories of home, she attempts to show how her own ancestral legacies of Partition displacement bear relief. Home—how we experience it and what it says about the “selves” we come to occupy—is a crucial question of our contemporary moment. Home, Uprooted delivers a unique and poignant perspective on this timely question. This compilation of stories offers an iteration of how diasporic migrations might be enacted and what “home” means to displaced populations.
For Strasbourg consists of a series of essays and interviews about the city of Strasbourg and the philosophical friendships Jacques Derrida developed there over a period of some forty years. Written just months before his death, the opening essay, “The Place Name(s): Strasbourg,” recounts in detail, and in very moving terms, Derrida’s deep attachment to this French city on the border between France and Germany. More than just a personal narrative, however, the essay is a profound interrogation of the relationship between philosophy and place, philosophy and language, and philosophy and friendship. As such, it raises a series of philosophical, political, and ethical questions that might all be placed under the aegis of what Derrida once called “philosophical nationalities and nationalism.” The other three texts included in the book are long interviews/conversations between Derrida and his two principal interlocutors in Strasbourg, Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. These interviews are significant both for the themes they focus on (language, politics, friendship, death, life after death, and so on) and for what they reveal about Derrida’s relationships to Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe. Filled with sharp insights into one anothers’ work and peppered with personal anecdotes and humor, the interviews bear witness to the decades-long intellectual friendships of these three important contemporary thinkers. This collection thus stands as a reminder of and testimony to Derrida’s unique relationship to Strasbourg and to the two thinkers most closely associated with that city.
The life of Howard Johnson, nicknamed “Stretch” because of his height (6'5"), epitomizes the cultural and political odyssey of a generation of African Americans who transformed the United States from a closed society to a multiracial democracy. Johnson’s long-awaited memoir traces his path from firstborn of a multiclass/multiethnic” family in New Jersey to dancer in Harlem’s Cotton Club to communist youth leader and, later, professor of Black studies. A Dancer in the Revolution is a powerful statement about Black resilience and triumph amid subtle and explicit racism in the United States. Johnson’s engaging, beautifully written memoir provides a window into everyday life in Harlem—neighborhood life, arts and culture, and politics—from the 1930s to the 1970s, when the contemporary Black community was being formed. A Dancer in the Revolution explores Johnson’s twenty-plus years in the Communist Party and illuminates in compelling detail how the Harlem branch functioned and flourished in the 1930s and ’40s. Johnson thrived as a charismatic leader, using the connections he built up as an athlete and dancer to create alliances between communist organizations and a cross-section of the Black community. In his memoir, Johnson also exposes the homoerotic tourism that was a feature of Harlem’s nightlife in the 1930s. Some of America’s leading white literary, musical, and artistic figures were attracted to Harlem not only for the community’s artistic creativity but to engage in illicit sex—gay and straight—with their Black counterparts. A Dancer in the Revolution is an invaluable contribution to the literature on Black political thought and pragmatism. It reveals the unique place that Black dancers and artists hold in civil rights pursuits and anti-racism campaigns in the United States and beyond. Moreover, the life of “Stretch” Johnson illustrates how political activism engenders not only social change but also personal fulfillment, a realization of dreams not deferred but rather pursued and achieved. Johnson’s journey bears witness to critical periods and events that shaped the Black condition and American society in the process.
The Second Vatican Council’s landmark document Gaudium et spes called Catholics to cultivate robust, mutually enriching dialogue with the modern world by attentively and discerningly listening to the “voices of our times.” This distinctive new publication, the first of two volumes that explore sexual diversity and the Catholic Church, gathers an important set of these voices: the testimonies and reflections of Catholic and former Catholic LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) persons, their friends, family members, and those who teach and accompany them. Drawn from a series of conferences held in autumn 2011 and offering a spectrum of professional, generational, and personal perspectives, the essays in Voices of Our Times suggest the breadth and complexity of Catholic experiences of and engagements with sexual diversity. Each writer locates her or his reflections in careful attention to how ways of experiencing sexuality and speaking about sexual diversity are embodied in and shaped by particular practices—familial, interpersonal, professional, ecclesial, cultural, and political. Part I, “Practicing Love,” introduces the voices of singles, families, couples, parents, and children who reflect on their experiences of sexual diversity in light of their experiences of Catholicism and of Catholics. Part II, “Practicing Church,” offers the perspectives of clergy and lay ministers, casting light on what pastoral workers, Catholic and otherwise, encounter as they walk with people who are grappling with issues of faith and sexuality. In Part III, “Practicing Education,” writers discuss their experiences with sexual diversity in Catholic educational settings as teachers, as students, and as witnesses to the lives, loves, and struggles of LGBTQ young adults. Finally, Part IV, “Practicing Belonging,” spotlights contributions by authors who have struggled with their identities and place within and around the Catholic community. Striving to acknowledge, honor, and respect the truth and value embodied in both LGBTQ persons’ lives and in the Catholic tradition, this book provides a close-to-the-ground look at the state of the conversation about sexual diversity among contemporary Roman Catholics in the United States. Along with its companion volume, Inquiry, Thought, and Expression, Voices of Our Times represents a unique opportunity for readers inside and outside the Catholic community to engage in a conversation that is at once vibrant and complex, difficult and needed.
Harrying considers Richard III and the four plays of Shakespeare’s Henriad—Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V. Berger combines close reading with cultural analysis to show how the language characters speak always says more than the speakers mean to say. Shakespeare’s speakers try to say one thing. Their language says other things that often question the speakers’ motives or intentions. Harrying explores the effect of this linguistic mischief on the representation of all the Henriad’s major figures. It centers attention on the portrayal of Falstaff and on the bad faith that darkens the language and performance of Harry, the Prince of Wales who becomes King Henry V.
War after Death considers forms of violence that regularly occur in actual wars but do not often factor into the stories we tell about war, which revolve invariably around killing and death. Recent history demonstrates that body counts are more necessary than ever, but the fact remains that war and death is only part of the story—an essential but ultimately subordinate part. Beyond killing, there is no war without attacks upon the built environment, ecosystems, personal property, artworks, archives, and intangible traditions. Destructive as it may be, such violence is difficult to classify because it does not pose a grave threat to human lives. Nonetheless, the book argues that destruction of the nonhuman or nonliving is a constitutive dimension of all violence—especially forms of extreme violence against the living such as torture and rape; and it examines how the language and practice of war are transformed when this dimension is taken into account. Finally, War after Death offers a rethinking of psychoanalytic approaches to war and the theory of the death drive that underlies them.
This book argues that we should regard walking and talking in a single rhythmic vision. In doing so, it contributes to the theory of prosody, our understanding of respiration and looking, and, in sum, to the particular links, across the board, between the human characteristics of bipedal walking and meaningful talk. The author first introduces the philosophical, neurological, anthropological, and aesthetic aspects of the subject in historical perspective, then focuses on rhetoric and introduces a tension between the small and large issues of rhythm. He thereupon turns his attention to the roles of breathing in poetry—as a life-and-death matter, with attention to beats and walking poems. This opens onto technical concepts from the classical traditions of rhetoric and philology. Turning to the relationship between prosody and motion, he considers both animals and human beings as both ostensibly able-bodied creatures and presumptively disabled ones. Finally, he looks at dancing and writing as aspects of walking and talking, with special attention to motion in Arabic and Chinese calligraphy. The final chapters of the book provide a series of interrelated representative case studies.
Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: A Study of Manuscript Transmission and Monastic Cultureby Felice Lifshitz
Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia, a groundbreaking study of the intellectual and monastic culture of the Main Valley during the eighth century, looks closely at a group of manuscripts associated with some of the best-known personalities of the European Middle Ages, including Boniface of Mainz and his “beloved,”abbess Leoba of Tauberbischofsheim. This is the first study of these “Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany” to delve into the details of their lives by studying the manuscripts that were produced in their scriptoria and used in their communities. The author explores how one group of religious women helped to shape the culture of medieval Europe through the texts they wrote and copied, as well as through their editorial interventions. Using compelling manuscript evidence, she argues that the content of the women’s books was overwhelmingly gender-egalitarian and frequently feminist (i.e., resistant to patriarchal ideas). This intriguing book provides unprecedented glimpses into the “feminist consciousness” of the women’s and mixed-sex communities that flourished in the early Middle Ages.
Political Magic examines early modern British fictions of exploration and colonialism, arguing that narratives of intercultural contact reimagine ideas of sovereignty and popular power. These fictions reveal aspects of political thought in this period that official discourse typically shunted aside, particularly the political status of the commoner, whose “liberty” was often proclaimed even as it was undermined both in theory and in practice. Like the Hobbesian sovereign, the colonist appears to the colonized as a giver of rules who remains unruly. At the heart of many texts are moments of savage wonder, provoked by European displays of technological prowess. In particular, the trope of the first gunshot articulates an origin of consent and political legitimacy in colonial showmanship. Yet as manifestations of force held in abeyance, these technologies also signal the ultimate reliance of sovereigns on extreme violence as the lessthan-mystical foundation of their authority. By examining works by Cavendish, Defoe, Behn, Swift, and Haywood in conjunction with contemporary political writing and travelogues, Political Magic locates a subterranean discourse of sovereignty in the century after Hobbes, finding surprising affinities between the government of “savages” and of Britons.