The only collection of Yves Bonnefoy's criticism in English, this volume offers a coherent statement of poetic philosophy and intent—a clear expression of the values and convictions of the French poet whom many critics regard as the most important and influential of our time. The Introduction touches on many of the essays' concerns, including Bonnefoy's recourse to moral and religious categories, his particular use of Saussure's distinction between langue and parole, his early fascination with Surrealism, and his view of translation as "a metaphysical and moral experiment." The essays, published over a nearly thirty-year span, respond to one another, the more recent pieces taking up for renewed consideration ideas developed in earlier meditations, thereby providing the volume with integrity and completeness. Among the subjects addressed in these essays are the French poetic tradition, the art of translation, and the works of Shakespeare, of which Bonnefoy is the preeminent French translator.
Natural history in the eighteenth century was many things to many people—diversion, obsession, medically or economically useful knowledge, spectacle, evidence for God’s providence and wisdom, or even the foundation of all natural knowledge. Because natural history was pursued by such a variety of people around the globe, with practitioners sharing neither methods nor training, it has been characterized as a science of straightforward description, devoted to amassing observations as the raw material for classification and thus fundamentally distinct from experimental physical science. In Catching Nature in the Act, Mary Terrall revises this picture, revealing how eighteenth-century natural historians incorporated various experimental techniques and strategies into their practice.
At the center of Terrall’s study is René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683–1757)—the definitive authority on natural history in the middle decades of the eighteenth century—and his many correspondents, assistants, and collaborators. Through a close examination of Réaumur’s publications, papers, and letters, Terrall reconstructs the working relationships among these naturalists and shows how observing, collecting, and experimenting fit into their daily lives. Essential reading for historians of science and early modern Europe, Catching Nature in the Act defines and excavates a dynamic field of francophone natural history that has been inadequately mined and understood to date.
A woman terrified by the threats of a jilted suitor is denied police protection. A workman collapses on the job and the employer is slow to help him. A bully in a bar begins to carry out threats of serious injury to a customer, after the bartender’s lackadaisical response. Springing from varied areas of human activity, such cases occupy an important area of the legal battleground called modern tort law. They also provide the basis for a fascinating legal analysis by Marshall S. Shapo. Tort law is an important social mediator of events surrounding personal injuries. It impinges on many other areas of the law—those dealing with crime, constitutional protections against government officials and agencies, and property rights. Since litigated tort cases often involve brutal treatment or accidents inflicting severe physical harm, this area of the law generates much emotion and complex legal doctrine. Shapo cuts through the emotion and the complexity to present a view of these problems that is both legally sound and intuitively appealing. His emphasis is on power relationships between private citizens and other individuals, as well as between private persons and governments and officials. He undertakes to define power in a meaningful way as it relates to many tort issues faced by ordinary citizens, and to make this definition precise by constant reference to concrete cases. His particular focus is on an age-old problem in tort law: the question of when a person has a duty to aid another in peril. In analyzing a large number of cases in this category, Shapo develops an analysis that blends considerations of economic efficiency and humanitarian concern. Recognizing that economic considerations are significant in judicial analysis of these cases, he emphasizes elements that go beyond a simple concern with efficiency, especially the ability of one person to control another’s actions or exposure to risk. These considerations of power and corresponding dependence provide the basis for Shapo’s study of the duties of both private citizens and governments to prevent injury to others. Calling on a broad range of legal precedents, he also refers to social science research dealing with the behavior of bystanders when fellow citizens are under attack. Beyond his application of a power-based analysis to litigation traditionally based in tort doctrine, Shapo offers some speculative suggestions on the possible applicability of his views to several controversial areas of welfare law: medical care, municipal services, and educational standards. This book was written with a view to readership by interested citizens as well as legal scholars, judges, and practicing attorneys.
In Fighting for Recognition, R. Tyson Smith enters the world of independent professional wrestling, a community-based entertainment staged in community centers, high school gyms, and other modest venues. Like the big-name, televised pro wrestlers who originally inspired them, indie wrestlers engage in choreographed fights in character. Smith details the experiences, meanings, and motivations of the young men who wrestle as "Lethal" or "Southern Bad Boy," despite receiving little to no pay and risking the possibility of serious and sometimes permanent injury. Exploring intertwined issues of gender, class, violence, and the body, he sheds new light on the changing sources of identity in a postindustrial society that increasingly features low wages, insecure employment, and fragmented social support. Smith uncovers the tensions between strength and vulnerability, pain and solidarity, and homophobia and homoeroticism that play out both backstage and in the ring as the wrestlers seek recognition from fellow performers and devoted fans.
The Post-Modern Aura is Charles Newman's classic and incendiary polemic about the "Post-Modern" attitude in fiction, culture, and sensibility. In it, he challenges the "revolutionary" claims of avant-garde novelists and literary theorists as well as the arguments of neoconservatives, neorealists, and advocates of "moral fiction." Newman argues that neither of these groups confront the unprecedented break with tradition entailed by an economics and culture of inflation. A combination of cultural critique, literary criticism, economic forecast, and historical jeremiad, The Post-Modern Aura is finally a positive statement, celebrating "The Act of Fiction" and suggesting how the forces which have been devaluing it might be overcome.
In the twenty-first century as an interest in Marxist thought again coincides with the specter of financial inflation, The Post-Modern Aura is timely again.
What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.
Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.
Contributors: Holly Dugan, George Washington U; Will Fisher, CUNY–Lehman College; Stephen Guy-Bray, U of British Columbia; Melissa J. Jones, Eastern Michigan U; Thomas H. Luxon, Dartmouth College; Nicholas F. Radel, Furman U; Kathryn Schwarz, Vanderbilt U; Christine Varnado, U of Buffalo–SUNY.
Though often thought of as rivals, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Amiri Baraka shared a range of interests, especially a passion for music. Jazz, in particular, was a decisive influence on their thinking, and, as The Shadow and the Act reveals, they drew on their insights into the creative process of improvisation to analyze race and politics in the civil rights era. In this inspired study, Walton M. Muyumba situates them as a jazz trio, demonstrating how Ellison, Baraka, and Baldwin’s individual works form a series of calls and responses with each other.
Muyumba connects their writings on jazz to the philosophical tradition of pragmatism, particularly its support for more freedom for individuals and more democratic societies. He examines the way they responded to and elaborated on that lineage, showing how they significantly broadened it by addressing the African American experience, especially its aesthetics. Ultimately, Muyumba contends, the trio enacted pragmatist principles by effectively communicating the social and political benefits of African Americans fully entering society, thereby compelling America to move closer to its democratic ideals.
“Every practice is a mode of thought, already in the act. To dance: a thinking in movement. To paint: a thinking through color. To perceive in the everyday: a thinking of the world’s varied ways of affording itself.” —from Thought in the Act
Combining philosophy and aesthetics, Thought in the Act is a unique exploration of creative practice as a form of thinking. Challenging the common opposition between the conceptual and the aesthetic, Erin Manning and Brian Massumi “think through” a wide range of creative practices in the process of their making, revealing how thinking and artfulness are intimately, creatively, and inseparably intertwined. They rediscover this intertwining at the heart of everyday perception and investigate its potential for new forms of activism at the crossroads of politics and art.
Emerging from active collaborations, the book analyzes the experiential work of the architects and conceptual artists Arakawa and Gins, the improvisational choreographic techniques of William Forsythe, the recent painting practice of Bracha Ettinger, as well as autistic writers’ self-descriptions of their perceptual world and the experimental event making of the SenseLab collective. Drawing from the idiosyncratic vocabularies of each creative practice, and building on the vocabulary of process philosophy, the book reactivates rather than merely describes the artistic processes it examines. The result is a thinking-with and a writing-in-collaboration-with these processes and a demonstration of how philosophy co-composes with the act in the making. Thought in the Act enacts a collaborative mode of thinking in the act at the intersection of art, philosophy, and politics.
“To love is to act”— “Aimer, c’est agir.” These words, which Victor Hugo wrote three days before he died, epitomize his life’s philosophy. His love of freedom, democracy, and all people—especially the poor and wretched—drove him not only to write his epic Les Misérables but also to follow his conscience. We have much to learn from Hugo, who battled for justice, lobbied against slavery and the death penalty, and fought for the rights of women and children. In a series of essays that interweave Hugo’s life with Les Misérables and point to the novel’s contemporary relevance, To Love Is to Act explores how Hugo reveals his guiding principles for life, including his belief in the redemptive power of love and forgiveness. Enriching the book are insights from artists who captured the novel’s heart in the famed musical, Les Mis creators Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, producer of the musical Les Misérables Cameron Mackintosh, film director Tom Hooper, and award-winning actors who have portrayed Jean Valjean: Colm Wilkinson and Hugh Jackman.
Rescued in 1972 from a storeroom in which rats and seeping water had severely damaged the fifty-year-old manuscript, this text is the earliest major work (1919-1921) of the great Russian philosopher M. M. Bakhtin. Toward a Philosophy of the Act contains the first occurrences of themes that occupied Bakhtin throughout his long career. The topics of authoring, responsibility, self and other, the moral significance of "outsideness," participatory thinking, the implications for the individual subject of having "no-alibi in existence," the difference between the world as experienced in actions and the world as represented in discourse—all are broached here in the heat of discovery. This is the "heart of the heart" of Bakhtin, the center of the dialogue between being and language, the world and mind, "the given" and "the created" that forms the core of Bakhtin's distinctive dialogism.
A special feature of this work is Bakhtin's struggle with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Put very simply, this text is an attempt to go beyond Kant's formulation of the ethical imperative. mci will be important for scholars across the humanities as they grapple with the increasingly vexed relationship between aesthetics and ethics.
One of the cruelest abuses of slavery in America was that slaves were forbidden to read and write. Consigned to illiteracy, they left no records of their thoughts and feelings apart from the few exceptional narratives of Frederick Douglass and others who escaped to the North—or so we have long believed. But as Christopher Hager reveals, a few enslaved African Americans managed to become literate in spite of all prohibitions, and during the halting years of emancipation thousands more seized the chance to learn. The letters and diaries of these novice writers, unpolished and hesitant yet rich with voice, show ordinary black men and women across the South using pen and paper to make sense of their experiences.
Through an unprecedented gathering of these forgotten writings—from letters by individuals sold away from their families, to petitions from freedmen in the army to their new leaders, to a New Orleans man’s transcription of the Constitution—Word by Word rewrites the history of emancipation. The idiosyncrasies of these untutored authors, Hager argues, reveal the enormous difficulty of straddling the border between slave and free.
These unusual texts, composed by people with a unique perspective on the written word, force us to rethink the relationship between literacy and freedom. For African Americans at the end of slavery, learning to write could be liberating and empowering, but putting their hard-won skill to use often proved arduous and daunting—a portent of the tenuousness of the freedom to come.