TURBAR LA QUIETUD: Gestos subversivos entre fronteras
TURBAR LA QUIETUD. GestoS subversivos entre fronteras es el resultado de un esfuerzo conjunto cuyo fin es apoyar y potenciar la visita de escritoras internacionales y de habla hispana en Houston. La intención de este esfuerzo es la de mantener un diálogo activo con autoras emergentes y establecidas del mundo de habla hispana, como así también ofrecer una oportunidad excepcional para que estudiantes, investigadores y miembros de la comunidad local trabajen de cerca con profesionales conocidos por sus indagaciones estéticas e innovadoras y por el alcance de sus intervenciones estéticas. Agradecemos a nuestras instituciones por confiar en nuestra intuición y por apoyar estas intervenciones que, esperamos, seguirán creciendo y generando más conmoción.
Gisela Heffes . Cristina Rivera Garza . Amaranta Caballero Prado . Marta Aponte Alsina . Gabriela Wiener . Stalina Villarreal . Verónica Gerber Bicecci . Magela Baudoin . Cristina Burneo Salazar . Selva Almada . Claudia Salazar Jiménez . Giovanna Rivero
Visualizing Loss in Latin America: Biopolitics, Waste, and the Urban Environment
by Gisela Heffes (Author), Grady C. Wray (Translator)
Visualizing Loss in Latin America engages with a varied corpus of textual, visual, and cultural material with specific intersections with the natural world, arguing that Latin American literary and cultural production goes beyond ecocriticism as a theoretical framework of analysis. Gisela Heffes poses the following crucial question: How do we construct a conceptual theoretical apparatus to address issues of value, meaning, tradition, perspective, and language, that contributes substantially to environmental thinking, and that is part and parcel of Latin America? The book draws attention to ecological inequality and establishes a biopolitical, ethics-based reading of Latin American art, film, and literature that operates at the intersection of the built environment and urban settings. Heffes suggests that the aesthetic praxis that emerges in/from Latin America is permeated with a rhetoric of waste―a significant trait that overwhelmingly defines it.
The Rigor of Angels: Borges, Heisenberg, Kant, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality
Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges was madly in love when his life was shattered by painful heartbreak. But the breakdown that followed illuminated an incontrovertible truth—that love is necessarily imbued with loss, that the one doesn’t exist without the other. German physicist Werner Heisenberg was fighting with the scientific establishment on the meaning of the quantum realm’s absurdity when he had his own epiphany—that there is no such thing as a complete, perfect description of reality. Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant pushed the assumptions of human reason to their mind-bending conclusions, but emerged with an idea that crowned a towering philosophical system—that the human mind has fundamental limits, and those limits undergird both our greatest achievements as well as our missteps.
Through fiction, science, and philosophy, the work of these three thinkers coalesced around the powerful, haunting fact that there is an irreconcilable difference between reality “out there” and reality as we experience it. Out of this profound truth comes a multitude of galvanizing ideas: the notion of selfhood, free will, and purpose in human life; the roots of morality, aesthetics, and reason; and the origins and nature of the cosmos itself.
As each of these thinkers shows, every one of us has a fundamentally incomplete picture of the world. But this is to be expected. Only as mortal, finite beings are we able to experience the world in all its richness and breathtaking majesty. We are stranded in a gulf of vast extremes, between the astronomical and the quantum, an abyss of freedom and absolute determinism, and it is in that center where we must make our home. A soaring and lucid reflection on the lives and work of Borges, Heisenberg, and Kant, The Rigor of Angels movingly demonstrates that the mysteries of our place in the world may always loom over us—not as a threat, but as a reminder of our humble humanity.
Imagination: A Very Short Introduction
Imagination: A Very Short Introduction explores imagination as a cognitive power and an essential dimension of human flourishing, demonstrating how imagination plays multiple roles in human cognition and shapes humanity in profound ways. Examining philosophical, evolutionary, and literary perspectives on imagination, the author shows how this facility, while potentially distorting, both frees us from immediate reality and enriches our sense of it, making possible our experience of a meaningful world. Long regarded by philosophers as an elusive and mysterious capacity of the human mind, imagination has been the subject of extraordinary ambivalence, described as both dangerous and divine, as merely peripheral to rationality and as essential to all thinking. Drawing on philosophy, aesthetics, literary and cognitive theory as well as the human sciences, this book engages the dramatic conceptual history of imagination together with contemporary explanations of its role in cognition to explain its importance in everyday life as well as the exquisite creativity of the arts, scientific discovery, and invention. Engaging examples from cave paintings to modern painting, performance art to pop art, physics to phenomenology, technological inventions to literary worlds, the Nazca geoglyphs to dramatic theatre, poetry, and jazz improvisation, the author illuminates with clarity and vision the philosophy of imagination and the stakes of its involvement in human thinking.
What would Cervantes do? Navigating Post-Truth with Spanish Baroque Literature
by David Castillo (Author), William Egginton (Author)
The attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a tragic illustration of the existential threat that the viral spread of disinformation poses in the age of social media and twenty-four-hour news. From climate change denialism to the frenzied conspiracy theories and racist mythologies that fuel antidemocratic white nationalist movements in the United States and abroad, What Would Cervantes Do? is a lucid meditation on the key role the humanities must play in dissecting and combatting all forms of disinformation. David Castillo and William Egginton travel back to the early modern period, the first age of inflationary media, in search of historically tested strategies to overcome disinformation and shed light on our post-truth market. Through a series of critical conversations between cultural icons of the twenty-first century and those of the Spanish Golden Age, What Would Cervantes Do? provides a tour-de-force commentary on current politics and popular culture. Offering a diverse range of Cervantist comparative readings of contemporary cultural texts –movies, television shows, and infotainment – alongside ideas and issues from literary and cultural texts of early modern Spain, Castillo and Egginton present a new way of unpacking the logic of contemporary media. What Would Cervantes Do? is an urgent and timely self-help manual for literary scholars and humanists of all stripes, and a powerful toolkit for reality literacy.
Wandering Women: Urban Ecologies of Italian Feminist Filmmaking
- 2022 , Indiana University Press
- Laura Di Bianco, author
Wandering Women explorers the work of eight contemporary Italian women directors from feminist and ecological perspectives: Cecilia Mangini, Mariangela Barbanente, Marina Spada, Francesca Comencini, Alice Rohrwacher, Wilma Labate, Roberta Torre, and Eleonora Danco.
Their films, released in the first two decades of the twenty-first century, tell stories of displacement and liminality that unfold through the act of walking in the city. These urban experiences revisit the trope of flânerie by restoring the agency of the female city walker, thus representing a claim for belonging.
Radical Equalities and Global Feminist Filmmaking – An Anthology
Radical Equalities and Global Feminist Filmmaking – An Anthology’s main objective is to exhibit and unveil the fruit of the growing movement of feminist filmmakers around the world through interviews with current filmmakers themselves and through critical analysis of the works of these filmmakers. Every filmmaker we examine tells their own story about radical equality from a place that they have lived, are drawing from, or have imagined. The common theme in all of the films of our selected filmmakers is the obligation they feel towards the oppressed and the resulting ethics of interdependence their films exhibit. Some films give voice to those who are suffering in the shadows, or have been silenced and murdered because of their political orientation and work; some films showcase vulnerable identities (especially gender identities) because the characters are inter-sex, transgender, of a marginalised class and skin color, are being forced into a split identity because of a colonial history, or because they are living in a part of the world from which they cannot escape. Other films highlight the feminist experience of lesbian love and its constraints or revolutions, the experience of motherhood, and the question of origin in all of its complexities.
The authors have, to date, conducted 16 interviews with filmmakers from around the world who, in very different ways – at times with comic relief, at times by pointing the cameras back at themselves, at times by inviting the viewer to grieve with them – question radical equality and vulnerability. We have selected these films on the basis of their unique stories and story-telling style, and their diverse points of view referencing different socio-political historical realities around the world. Each of them has one, if not several, female, intersex or non binary characters as their leads; each of them engage us with the question of feminism in a political way that highlights our obligation toward the character and her lived experience. Each of them focuses on “interdependence” as an aesthetic and cinematic principle. But what is most important is the fact that each filmmaker will be able to describe how they found their access and inspiration for their story, and how the film reflects on their own lived experience that is socio-economically and historically determined.
Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish writers and artists across Europe began depicting fellow Jews as savages or “primitive” tribesmen. Primitivism—the European appreciation of and fascination with so-called “primitive,” non-Western peoples who were also subjugated and denigrated—was a powerful artistic critique of the modern world and was adopted by Jewish writers and artists to explore the urgent questions surrounding their own identity and status in Europe as insiders and outsiders. Jewish primitivism found expression in a variety of forms in Yiddish, Hebrew, and German literature, photography, and graphic art, including in the work of figures such as Franz Kafka, Y.L. Peretz, S. An-sky, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Moï Ver.
In Jewish Primitivism, Samuel J. Spinner argues that these and other Jewish modernists developed a distinct primitivist aesthetic that, by locating the savage present within Europe, challenged the idea of the threatening savage other from outside Europe on which much primitivism relied: in Jewish primitivism, the savage is already there. This book offers a new assessment of modern Jewish art and literature and shows how Jewish primitivism troubles the boundary between observer and observed, cultured and “primitive,” colonizer and colonized.
Pseudo-Memoirs: Life and Its Imitation in Modern Fiction
Pseudo-Memoirs redefines the notion of fiction itself, a form that has all too often been understood in terms of its capacity to produce a seeming reality. Rochelle Tobias argues that the verisimilitude of the novel derives not from its object but from the subjectivity at its base. What generates the plausibility of fiction is not the referentiality of its depictions but the intentionality of consciousness.
Edmund Husserl developed the idea that consciousness is always intentional in the sense that it is directed outside itself toward something that it does not find so much as it constitutes as an object. Pseudo-memoirs reveal the full implications of this position in their double structure as the tale of their own telling or the fiction of life-writing. In so doing they reveal how the world of fiction is constructed, but more important they bring to the fore the idealist premises that fuel the novel and guarantee its truth, even when it remains an invention of the imagination.
Rochelle Tobias explores novels by Thomas Mann, Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and W. G. Sebald in conjunction with philosophical and theoretical texts by René Descartes, Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche, György Łukács, Roland Barthes, and Maurice Blanchot.
Phenomenology to the Letter: Husserl and Literature
Regarding philosophical importance, Edmund Husserl is arguably “the” German export of the early twentieth century. In the wake of the linguistic turn(s) of the humanities, however, his claim to return to the “Sachen selbst” became metonymic for the neglect of language in Western philosophy. This view has been particularly influential in post-structural literary theory, which has never ceased to attack the supposed “logophobie” of phenomenology. “Phenomenology to the Letter. Husserl and Literature” challenges this verdict regarding the poetological and logical implications of Husserl’s work through a thorough re-examination of his writing in the context of literary theory, classical rhetoric, and modern art. At issue is an approach to phenomenology and literature that does not merely coordinate the two discourses but explores their mutual implication. Contributions to the volume attend to the interplay between phenomenology and literature (both fiction and poetry), experience and language, as well as images and embodiment. The volume is the first of its kind to chart a phenomenological approach to literature and literary approach to phenomenology. As such it stands poised to make a novel contribution to literary studies and philosophy.
Holderlin’s Philosophy of Nature
In our age of climate change, the work of the decidedly philosophical poet Friedrich Holderlin has gained renewed urgency with its emphasis on the forces of nature that produce life and at the same time threaten to devour it. At the heart of his work lies an understanding of nature and the role that consciousness plays within it. This responds to, but also revises, the concerns of 18th and 19th-century philosophy of nature.This collection of 15 essays by distinguished international scholars reconsiders what his work reveals about the impulses toward form and formlessness in nature and the role that poetry plays in creating Holderlin’s ‘harmonious opposition’. The collection shows that Hlderlin anticipates many of the concerns that motivate contemporary environmental thinking.
The Divine in Modern Hebrew Literature by Professor Neta Stahl
Demonstrating the pervasive presence of God in modern Hebrew literature, this book explores the qualities that twentieth-century Hebrew writers attributed to the divine, and examines their functions against the simplistic dichotomy between religious and secular literature.
The volume follows both chronological and thematic paths, offering a panoramic and multilayered analysis of the various strategies in which modern Hebrew writers, from the turn of the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century pursued in their attempt to represent the divine in the face of metaphysical, theological, and representational challenges. Modern Hebrew literature emerged during the nineteenth century as part of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) movement, which attempted to break from the traditional modes of Jewish intellectual and social life. The Hebrew literature that arose in this period embraced the rebellious nature of the Haskalah and is commonly characterized as secular in nature, defying Orthodoxy and rejecting God. Nevertheless, this volume shows that modern Hebrew literature relied on traditional narratological and poetic norms in its attempt to represent God. Despite its self-declared secularity, it engaged deeply with traditional problems such as the nature of God, divine presence, and theodicy.
Examining these radical changes, this volume is a key text for scholars and students of modern Hebrew literature, Jewish studies and the intersection of religion and literature.
On Being and Becoming
While existentialism has long been associated with Parisian Left Bank philosophers sipping cocktails in smoke-filled cafés, or with a brooding, angst-filled outlook on life, Gosetti-Ferencei shows how vital and heterogeneous the movement really was. In this concise, accessible book, Gosetti-Ferencei offers a new vision of existentialism. As she lucidly demonstrates, existentialism is a rich and diverse philosophy that encourages meaningful engagement with the world around us, offering a host of fascinating concepts that pertain to life as we experience it. The movement was as heterogeneous as it is now misunderstood, influenced by jazz music, involving diverse thinkers from around the world, challenging received ideas about the meaning of human existence. Part of the difficulty in defining existentialism is that it was never a unified philosophy, but came to identify a set of shared concerns about the meaning and possibility of human freedom, as it may be expressed in authentic choices, actions, and projects. Existentialists all explored how, in the absence of traditional reassurances about the meaning of life, we may transcend our present circumstances, and give our situation new meaning. With existentialism, concrete, lived experience of the single individual emerged from the shadow of abstract systems and long-defended traditions, and became subject-matter in its own right for philosophical inquiry. Far from solipsistic, Gosetti-Ferencei shows that existentialist attention to the human self can be intertwined with ways of conceiving the world, our being with others, the earth, and the encompassing concept of being. Fully appreciating what existentialism has to offer requires recognizing the rich diversity of its prospects, which involve not only anxiety, absurdity, awareness of death and the loss of religious meaning, but also hope, the striving for happiness, and a sense of the transcendent. On Being and Becoming unpacks this philosophical movement’s insights, and reveals how its core ideas promote creative responses to the question of life’s meaning.
Sex Changes with Kleist
Sex Changes with Kleist analyzes how the dramatist and poet Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811) responded to a change in the conception of sex and gender that occurred between 1790 and 1810. Specifically, Katrin Pahl shows that Kleist resisted the shift from a one-sex to the two-sex and complementary gender system that is still prevalent today. With creative close readings engaging all eight of his plays, Pahl probes Kleist’s appreciation for incoherence, his experimentation with alternative symbolic orders, his provocative understanding of emotion, and his camp humor. Pahl demonstrates that rather than preparing modern homosexuality, Kleist puts an end to modern gender norms even before they take hold and refuses the oppositional organization of sexual desire into homosexual and heterosexual that sprouts from these norms.
Focusing on the theatricality of Kleist’s interventions in the performance of gender, sexuality, and emotion and examining how his dramatic texts unhinge major tenets of classical European theater, Sex Changes with Kleist is vital reading for anyone interested in queer studies, feminist studies, performance studies, literary studies, or emotion studies. This book changes our understanding of Kleist and breathes new life into queer thought.
Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1800
Forgery is an eternal problem. In literature and the writing of history, suspiciously attributed texts can be uniquely revealing when subjected to a nuanced critique. False and spurious writings impinge on social and political realities to a degree rarely confronted by the biographical criticism of yesteryear. They deserve a more critical reading of the sort far more often bestowed on canonical works of poetry and prose fiction.
The first comprehensive treatment of literary and historiographical forgery to appear in a quarter of a century, Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1800 goes well beyond questions of authorship, spotlighting the imaginative vitality of forgery and its sinister impact on genuine scholarship. This volume demonstrates that early modern forgery was a literary tradition in its own right, with distinctive connections to politics, Greek and Roman classics, religion, philosophy, and modern literature. The thirteen essays draw immediate inspiration from Johns Hopkins University’s acquisition of the Bibliotheca Fictiva, the world’s premier research collection dedicated exclusively to the subject of literary forgery, which consists of several thousand rare books and unique manuscript materials from the early modern period and beyond.
The early modern explosion in forgery of all kinds—particularly in the kindred documentary fields of literary and archaeological falsification—was the most visible symptom of a dramatic shift in attitudes toward historical evidence and in the relation of texts to contemporary society. The authors capture the impact of this evolution within many fundamental cultural transformations, including the rise of print, changing tastes and fortunes of the literary marketplace, and the Protestant and Catholic Reformations.
The Life of Imagination: Revealing and Making the World
Imagination allows us to step out of the ordinary but also to transform it through our sense of wonder and play, artistic inspiration and innovation, or the eureka moment of a scientific breakthrough. In this book, Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei offers a groundbreaking new understanding of its place in everyday experience as well as the heights of creative achievement.
The Life of Imagination delivers a new conception of imagination that places it at the heart of our engagement with the world―thinking, acting, feeling, making, and being. Gosetti-Ferencei reveals imagination’s roots in embodied human cognition and its role in shaping our cognitive ecology. She demonstrates how imagination arises from our material engagements with the world and at the same time endows us with the sense of an inner life, how it both allows us to escape from reality and aids us in better understanding it. Drawing from philosophy, cognitive science, evolutionary anthropology, developmental psychology, literary theory, and aesthetics, Gosetti-Ferencei engages a spectacular range of examples from ordinary thought processes and actions to artistic, scientific, and literary feats to argue that, like consciousness itself, imagination resists reductive explanation. The Life of Imagination offers a vital account of transformative thinking that shows how imagination will be essential in cultivating a future conducive to human flourishing and to that of the life around us.
Screening the Paris Suburbs: From the Silent Era to the 1990s
Decades before the emergence of a French self-styled ‘hood’ film around 1995, French filmmakers looked beyond the gates of the capital for inspiration and content. In the Paris suburbs they found an inexhaustible reservoir of forms, landscapes and social types in which to anchor their fictions, from bourgeois villas and bucolic riverside cafés to post-war housing estates and postmodern new towns. Contributors to this volume address key aspects of this long film history, marked by such towering figures as Jean Renoir, Jacques Tati and Jean-Luc Godard. Idyllic or menacing, expansive or claustrophobic, the suburb served divergent aesthetic and ideological programmes across the better part of a century. Themes central to French cultural modernity – class conflict, leisure, boredom and anti-authoritarianism – cut across the fifteen chapters.
Measured Words: Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy
Measured Words explores the rich commerce between computation and writing that proliferated in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. In this captivating and generously illustrated work, Arielle Saiber studies the relationship between number, shape, and the written word in the works of four exceptional thinkers of the time: Leon Battista Alberti, Luca Pacioli, Niccolò Tartaglia, and Giambattista Della Porta.
Although these Renaissance humanists came from different social classes and practised the mathematical and literary arts at varying levels of sophistication, they were all guided by a sense that there exist deep ontological and epistemological bonds between computational and verbal thinking and production. Their shared view that a network or continuity exists between the literary arts and mathematics yielded extraordinary results, from Alberti’s treatise on cryptography and Pacioli’s design calculations for the Roman alphabet to Tartaglia’s poetic solutions of cubic equations and Della Porta’s dramatic applications of geometry. Through lively, cogent analysis of these and other related texts of the period, Measured Words presents, literally and figuratively, brilliant examples of what interdisciplinary work can offer us.
Drawings of the Heart: The Poetics of Yoel Hoffmann
Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media
We are living in a time of inflationary media. While technological change has periodically altered and advanced the ways humans process and transmit knowledge, for the last 100 years the media with which we produce, transmit, and record ideas have multiplied in kind, speed, and power. Saturation in media is provoking a crisis in how we perceive and understand reality. Media become inflationary when the scope of their representation of the world outgrows the confines of their culture’s prior grasp of reality. We call the resulting concept of reality that emerges the culture’s medialogy.
Medialogies offers a highly innovative approach to the contemporary construction of reality in cultural, political, and economic domains. Castillo and Egginton, both luminary scholars, combine a very accessible style with profound theoretical analysis, relying not only on works of philosophy and political theory but also on novels, Hollywood films, and mass media phenomena. The book invites us to reconsider the way reality is constructed, and how truth, sovereignty, agency, and authority are understood from the everyday, philosophical, and political points of view. A powerful analysis of actuality, with its roots in early modernity, this work is crucial to understanding reality in the information age.
The Man Who Invented Fiction
In the early 17th century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain’s wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from reading too many books of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That book, Don Quixote, went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a bestseller, though. He invented a way of writing. This book is about how Cervantes came to create what we now call fiction, and how fiction changed the world.
The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World explores Cervantes’s life and the world he lived in, showing how his influences converged in his work, and how his work—especially Don Quixote—radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Finally, it explains how that worldview went on to infiltrate art, politics, and science, and how the world today would be unthinkable without it.
Four hundred years after Cervantes’s death, William Egginton has brought thrilling new meaning to an immortal novel.
Balzac, l’éternelle genèse
L’ensemble de La Comédie Humaine est le résultat d’un immense travail de révisions et de transformations s’étalant de 1829 à 1855. De façon nouvelle et diversifiée, cet ouvrage aborde ce travail.
Les études qui y sont réunies abordent des questions jusqu’alors peu étudiées : le rôle de la correspondance de Balzac pour une compréhension plus complète du projet et du travail de l’auteur, l’importance de l’archive manuscrite pour la compréhension de l’entreprise balzacienne, le jeu infiniment complexe et riche du travail sur les manuscrits de théâtre, les déplacements d’œuvres d’édition à édition.
Enfin, l’étude précise de la genèse d’œuvres singulières, particulièrement significatives, permet de suivre l’invention d’une forme moderne de représentation du monde social, ainsi que d’un style narratif particulièrement fécond pour l’avenir du roman.
Brotherly Love: Freemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France
- 2014 , Cornell University Press
- Kenneth Loiselle, author
Alexandre Dumas, fabrique d’immortalité
Alexandre Dumas admired from afar the Pantheon and the illustrious dead who had made their way there. Like Chateaubriand, who lamented the fate of the de-pantheonized Mirabeau, he conceived of what could be his glorious tomb: his work itself. This book retraces the posthumous thought that Dumas entertained around his work.
Les Biographies littéraires: théories, pratiques et perspectives Nouvelles
Authors’ lives expose the real and imaginary relationships forged between their private inner being and their literary production. Contributors to this volume aim to question the literary work in its relation with its author’s life: what knowledge does biography create? What choices does its practice require?
Borges: The Passion of an Endless Quotation
Borges cites innumerable authors in the pages making up his life’s work, and innumerable authors have cited and continue to cite him. More than a figure, then, the quotation is an integral part of the fabric of his writing, a fabric made anew by each reading and each re-citation it undergoes, in the never-ending throes of a work-in-progress. Block de Behar makes of this reading a plea for the very art of communication; a practice that takes community not in the totalized and totalizable soil of pre-established definitions or essences, but on the ineluctable repetitions that constitute language as such, and that guarantee the expansiveness—through etymological coincidences of meaning, through historical contagions, through translinguistic sharings of particular experiences-of a certain index of universality.
Diffusions et circulations des pratiques maçonniques, XVIIIe–XIXe siècle, eds.
- 2013 , Classiques Garnier
- Kenneth Loiselle, co-editor
Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-Century Jewish Literary Landscape
In a groundbreaking book, Neta Stahl examines the attitudes adopted by modern Jewish writers toward the figure of Jesus. Stahl argues that 20th-century Jewish writers reconsidered Jesus’ traditional status as the Christian Other and looked to him instead as a fellow Jew, a “brother,” and even as a model for the “New Jew.”
Other and Brother analyzes the work of a wide array of modern Jewish writers, beginning in the early 20th century and ending with contemporary Israeli literature. Stahl takes the reader through dramatic changes in Jewish life from the Haskalah (or Jewish Enlightenment) and Emancipation, to Zionism, the Holocaust, and the formation of the state of Israel. She shows, for example, how the emergence of quasi-messianic Zionist ideas about returning to the land of Israel, where the actual Jesus was born, helped make the figure of Jesus a source of attraction and identification for Hebrew and Yiddish writers in the first half of the 20th century, and how the fateful events of that century brought about a major transformation in the Jewish attitude toward Jesus.
Stahl’s nuanced and insightful historiography of modern Hebrew and Jewish literature will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the role of Jesus in Jewish culture.
The Cosmetic Gaze: Body Modification and the Construction of Beauty
If the gaze can be understood to mark the disjuncture between how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen by others, The Cosmetic Gaze— in Bernadette Wegenstein’s groundbreaking formulation—is one through which the act of looking at our bodies and those of others is already informed by the techniques, expectations, and strategies (often surgical) of bodily modification. It is, Wegenstein says, also a moralizing gaze, a way of looking at bodies as awaiting both physical and spiritual improvement. In The Cosmetic Gaze, Wegenstein charts this synthesis of outer and inner transformation. Wegenstein shows how the cosmetic gaze underlies the “rebirth” celebrated in today’s makeover culture and how it builds upon a body concept that has collapsed into its mediality. In today’s beauty discourse—on reality TV and websites that collect “bad plastic surgery”—we yearn to experience a bettered self that has been reborn from its own flesh and is now itself, like a digitally remastered character in a classic Hollywood movie, immortal. Wegenstein traces the cosmetic gaze from 18th-century ideas about physiognomy through television makeover shows and facial-recognition software to cinema—which, like our other screens, never ceases to show us our bodies as they could be, drawing life from the very cosmetic gaze it transmits.
Tropes of Transport: Hegel and Emotion
Intervening in the multidisciplinary debate on emotion, Tropes of Transport offers a fresh analysis of Hegel’s work that becomes an important resource for Pahl’s cutting-edge theory of emotionality. If it is usually assumed that the sincerity of emotions and the force of affects depend on their immediacy, Pahl explores to what extent mediation—and therefore a certain degree of manipulation but also of sympathy—is constitutive of emotionality. Hegel serves as a particularly helpful interlocutor not only because he offers a sophisticated analysis of mediation, but also because, rather than locating emotion in the heart, he introduces impersonal tropes of transport, such as trembling, release, and shattering.
Jesus Among the Jews
For almost two thousand years, various images of Jesus accompanied Jewish thought and imagination: a flesh-and-blood Jew, a demon, a spoiled student, an idol, a brother, a (failed) Messiah, a nationalist rebel, a Greek god in Jewish garb, and more.
This volume charts for the first time the different ways that Jesus has been represented and understood in Jewish culture and thought. Chapters from many of the leading scholars in the field cover the topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—Talmud, Midrash, Rabbinics, Kabbalah, Jewish Magic, Messianism, Hagiography, Modern Jewish Literature, Thought, Philosophy, and Art—to address the ways in which representations of Jesus contribute to and change Jewish self-understanding throughout the last two millennia. Beginning with the question of how we know that Jesus was a Jew, the book then moves through meticulous analyses of Jewish and Christian scripture and literature to provide a rounded and comprehensive analysis of Jesus in Jewish Culture.
This multidisciplinary study will be of great interest not only to students of Jewish history and philosophy, but also to scholars of religious studies, Christianity, intellectual history, literature and cultural studies.
Mémoires du général Toussaint Louverture
This edition brings to light the authentic memoir of protest written by Toussaint Louverture, the first black memorialist in French history. Daniel Desormeaux sheds light on the political and ideological dimension of these memoirs which constitute a historical document unique in the genre.
Exotic Spaces in German Modernism
Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei demonstrates that the exotic, as reflected in major works of German literature and in the philosophy and art that inspires it, provokes central questions about the modern self and the spaces it inhabits. Exotic spaces in the writings of such authors as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig, Robert Musil, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Gottfried Benn, and Bertold Brecht, along with the thought of Nietzsche, Freud, Levi-Strauss, and Simmel and the art of German Expressionism, are shown to present alternatives to the landscape and experience of modernity. In an examination of the concept of the exotic and of spatial experience in their cultural, subjective, and philosophical contingencies, Gosetti-Ferencei shows that exotic spaces may contest and reconfigure the relationship between the familiar and the foreign, the self and the other. Exotic spaces may serve not only to affirm the subject in a symbolic conquering of territory, as emphasized in post-colonial interpretations, or project the fantasy of escapism to a lost paradise, as utopian readings suggest, but condition moral, aesthetic, or imaginative transformation. Such transformation, while risking disaster or dissolution of the self as well as endangerment of the other, may promote new possibilities of perceiving or being, and reconfigure the boundaries of a familiar world. As exotic spaces are conceived as mystical, liberating, erotic, infectious, frightening or mysterious, several possibilities for transformation emerge in their exposure: re-enchantment through epiphany; the collapse of the rational self; liberation of the imagination from the confines of the familiar world; and aesthetic transformation, revealing the paradoxically ‘primitive’ nature of modern experience. In strikingly original readings of canonical authors and compelling rediscoveries of forgotten ones, this study establishes that exotic experience can evidence the fragility of the European or Germanic self as depicted in modernist literature, revealing the usually unconsidered boundaries of the subject’s own familiar world.
In Defense of Religious Moderation
In his latest book, William Egginton laments the current debate over religion in America, in which religious fundamentalists have set the tone of political discourse—no one can get elected without advertising a personal relation to God, for example—and prominent atheists treat religious belief as the root of all evil. Neither of these positions, Egginton argues, adequately represents the attitudes of a majority of Americans who, while identifying as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, do not find fault with those who support different faiths and philosophies. In fact, Egginton goes so far as to question whether fundamentalists and atheists truly oppose each other, united as they are in their commitment to a “code of codes.” In his view, being a religious fundamentalist does not require adhering to a particular religious creed. Fundamentalists—and stringent atheists—unconsciously believe that the methods we use to understand the world are all versions of an underlying master code. This code of codes represents an ultimate truth, explaining everything. Surprisingly, perhaps the most effective weapon against such thinking is religious moderation, a way of believing that questions the very possibility of a code of codes as the source of all human knowledge. The moderately religious, with their inherent skepticism toward a master code, are best suited to protect science, politics, and other diverse strains of knowledge from fundamentalist attack, and to promote a worldview based on the compatibility between religious faith and scientific method.
Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography is a classic of medieval scholarship that laid the foundations for viewing literature as an historical artifact that should be read in conjunction with the art, architecture, sculpture and religious rituals produced in the same period. It was the first book to argue that the materiality of representation—how art was created, performed, displayed in its own time—must be taken into account in order to understand its levels of meaning. It also showed that the way this art engages with the history it inherits—secular history, sacred history, intellectual history—is of crucial importance for understanding how and why it was produced as it was. Underlying the book’s thesis is the recognition that Romanesque art reflects history, the world, and sacred history as themes that must be interwoven and choreographed in and as a performance. Hence the term “performative mimesis” used to describe it. The book seeks to overthrow post-Reformation boundaries between the sacred and the secular in order to show that in the early Middle Ages these terms were co-extensive. The sacred and secular existed in equilibrium: the one did not seek to displace the other since they were part of a continuum, each referencing the other at every moment.
The Ecstatic Quotidian: Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature
Fascination with quotidian experience in modern art, literature, and philosophy promotes ecstatic forms of reflection on the very structure of the everyday world. Gosetti-Ferencei examines the ways in which modern art and literature enable a study of how we experience quotidian life. She shows that modernism, while exhibiting many strands of development, can be understood by investigating how its attentions to perception and expectation, to the common quality of things, or to childhood play gives way to experiences of ecstasis—the stepping outside of the ordinary familiarity of the world.
While phenomenology grounds this study (through Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Bachelard), what makes this book more than a treatise on phenomenological aesthetics is the way in which modernity itself is examined in its relation to the quotidian. Through the works of artists and writers such as Benjamin, Cézanne, Frost, Klee, Newman, Pollock, Ponge, Proust, Rilke, Robbe-Grillet, Rothko, Sartre, and Twombly, the world of quotidian life can be seen to harbor a latent ecstasis. The breakdown of the quotidian through and after modernism then becomes an urgent question for understanding art and literature in its capacity to further human experience, and it points to the limits of phenomenological explications of the everyday.
Savoirs en Récits II
Le dix-neuvième siècle a connu une ambition encyclopédique nouvelle, il a rêvé d’un rapport assuré au monde et à la connaissance, mais il a connu aussi bien – ce faisant – un rapport déroutant à la fragmentation, à la pluralité, aux contradictions, aux illusions. Comment les «récits» érudits de ce temps travaillent-ils les représentations anciennes et les savoirs contemporains ? Comment font-ils jouer ensemble croyances, doutes et désir de savoir ? Savoirs en récits, I et II, explorent les tensions entre les savoirs positifs et la puissance des croyances et des mythes.
Ce deuxième volume réunit diverses versions de ces tensions : avec Balzac la recherche d’un absolu qui se dérobe; avec Nerval la quête mélancolique de la multiplicité des dieux ; avec Flaubert les investigations à la fois érudites et plastiques sur les mythes, les religions, l’Orient et l’Antiquité que sont Salammbô et Hérodias; avec Jules Verne l’épos d’un savoir amer, d’un secret pulvérisé; avec les Goncourt la mise en fragments de leur temps. Les bribes du sacré et les rumeurs du commun se confondent dans le siècle.
The Body in Early Modern Italy
Human bodies have been represented and defined in various ways across different cultures and historical periods. As an object of interpretation and site of social interaction, the body has throughout history attracted more attention than perhaps any other element of human experience. The essays in this volume explore the manifestations of the body in Italian society from the 14th through the 17th centuries.
Adopting a variety of interdisciplinary approaches, these fresh and thought-provoking essays offer original perspectives on corporeality as understood in the early modern literature, art, architecture, science, and politics of Italy. An impressively diverse group of contributors comment on a broad range and variety of conceptualizations of the body, creating a rich dialogue among scholars of early modern Italy.
The Theater of Truth
The Theater of Truth argues that 17th-century baroque and 20th-century neobaroque aesthetics have to be understood as part of the same complex. The Neobaroque, rather than being a return to the stylistic practices of a particular time and place, should be described as the continuation of a cultural strategy produced as a response to a specific problem of thought that has beset Europe and the colonial world since early modernity. This problem, in its simplest philosophical form, concerns the paradoxical relation between appearances and what they represent. Egginton explores expressions of this problem in the art and literature of the Hispanic Baroques, new and old. He shows how the strategies of these two Baroques emerged in the political and social world of the Spanish Empire, and how they continue to be deployed in the cultural politics of the present. Further, he offers a unified theory for the relation between the two Baroques and a new vocabulary for distinguishing between their ideological values.
Styles of Enlightenment
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 Fénelon, Bouhours, Marivaux, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Mercier, Thomas, and others, Styles of Enlightenment traces the stages of a confrontation between the virile philosophe and the effeminate worldly writer, “good” and “bad” taste, high art and frivolous entertainment, state patronage and the privately sponsored marketplace, the academic eulogy and worldly conversation. It teases out the finer points of division on the public battlefields of literature and politics and the new world of contesting sexual economies.
Heidegger, Hölderlin, and the Subject of Poetic Language
Heidegger’s interpretations of the poetry of Hölderlin are central to Heidegger’s later philosophy and have determined the mainstream reception of Hölderlin’s poetry. Gosetti-Ferencei argues that Heidegger has overlooked central elements in Hölderlin’s poetics, such as a Kantian understanding of aesthetic subjectivity and a commitment to Enlightenment ideals. These elements, she argues, resist the more politically distressing aspects of Heidegger’s interpretations, including Heidegger’s nationalist valorization of the German language and sense of nationhood, or Heimat.
In the context of Hölderlin’s poetics of alienation, exile, and wandering, Gosetti-Ferencei draws a different model of poetic subjectivity, which engages Heidegger’s later philosophy of Gelassenheit, calmness, or letting be. In so doing, she is able to pose a phenomenologically sensitive theory of poetic language and a “new poetics of Dasein,” or being there.
A Companion to Latin American Literature and Culture
A Companion to Latin American Literature and Culture reflects the changes that have taken place in cultural theory and literary criticism since the latter part of the 20th century. Written by more than 30 experts in cultural theory, literary history, and literary criticism, this authoritative and up-to-date reference places major authors in the complex cultural and historical contexts that have compelled their distinctive fiction, essays, and poetry. This text provides the historical background to help the reader understand the people and culture that have defined Latin American literature and its reception. Each chapter also includes short selected bibliographic guides and recommendations for further reading.
Rethinking the Medieval Senses
How much can we know about sensory experience in the Middle Ages? While few would question that the human senses encountered a profoundly different environment in the medieval world, two distinct and opposite interpretations of that encounter have emerged—one of high sensual intensity and one of extreme sensual starvation.
Presenting original, cutting-edge scholarship, Stephen G. Nichols, Andreas Kablitz, Alison Calhoun, and their team of distinguished colleagues transport us to the center of this lively debate. Organized within historical, thematic, and contextual frameworks, these essays examine the psychological, rhetorical, and philological complexities of sensory perception from the classical period to the late Middle Ages.
The Philosopher’s Desire
This book is about interpretation as it pertains to literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. It argues against certain trends of thought that claim we should do without interpretation by demonstrating that interpretation, as described by psychoanalysis, is already a fundamental aspect of all human experience. Egginton examines the idea of interpretation developed by Freud; how that notion was in turn changed by Lacan; the debate around psychoanalytic interpretation staged by philosophers like Deleuze and Derrida; and finally how a psychoanalytic notion of interpretation is necessary for even the most basic experience of consciousness.
Few filmmakers have taken the principle of the “talking picture” so far as Eric Rohmer, the internationally renowned director of the Moral Tales, Comedies and Proverbs, and Tales of the Four Seasons cycles. Occasionally dismissed as precious or overly literary, Rohmer’s features may leave the impression that there is more to listen to than to look at. Yet as the secretive director (b. Maurice Schérer in 1920) points out, dialogue is no less engaging than the best gunfights, and if his characters prefer discussing love to making it, they are no less the “heroes” of the stories they tell.
Charges of political conservatism aside, the author of My Night at Maud’s, Summer and such period films as Perceval and the all-digital The Lady and the Duke emerges —like Hitchcock before him—as a singular inventor of cinematic forms. This critical overview, which contains an extensive bibliography and a filmography, will appeal to students of film studies, French studies, and enthusiasts.
A Wrinkle in History
The application paradigm of literary studies, in which one spices up a text with fashionable theory, represents the bankrupt extreme of theoretical tendencies, while the denigration of theory in the name of historical accuracy at times covers for a simple and lamentable lack of anything interesting to say. To paraphrase (if not to bastardize) Kant, theory without history is blind, and history without theory is stupid.
The Discourse of Nature in the Poetry of Paul Celan: The Unnatural World
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.
Getting Under the Skin: Body and Media Theory
The body as an object of critical study dominates disciplines across the humanities to such an extent that a new discipline has emerged: body criticism. In Getting Under the Skin, Bernadette Wegenstein traces contemporary body discourse in philosophy and cultural studies to its roots in 20th-century thought—showing how psychoanalysis, phenomenology, cognitive science, and feminist theory contributed to a new body concept—and studies the millennial body in performance art, popular culture, new media arts, and architecture. Wegenstein shows how the concept of bodily fragmentation has been in circulation since the 16th century’s investigation of anatomy. The history of the body-in-pieces, she argues, is a history of a struggling relationship between two concepts of the body—as fragmented and as holistic. Wegenstein shows that by the 20th century these two apparently contradictory movements were integrated; both fragmentation and holism, she argues, are indispensable modes of imagining and configuring the body. The history of the body, therefore, is a history of mediation; but it was not until the turn of the 21st century and the digital revolution that the body was best able to show its mediality.
After examining key concepts in body criticism, Wegenstein looks at the body as “raw material” in 20th-century performance art, medical techniques for visualizing the human body, and strategies in popular culture for “getting under the skin” with images of freely floating body parts. Her analysis of current trends in architecture and new media art demonstrates the deep connection of body criticism to media criticism. In this approach to body criticism, the body no longer stands in for something else—the medium has become the body.
Mémoires du quotidien: les lieux de Perec
Surveying his own career in 1978 for the purposes of a short essay entitled “Notes sur ce que je cherche,” Georges Perec suggested that his work was animated by four major impulses. First, a sociological impulse, a will to examine everyday life; second, an autobiographical current; third, a ludic bent; and finally, an inclination toward narrativity, a desire to write the kind of books that one reads flat out on one’s bed. Even a casual reader of Perec will appreciate that those categories are not airtight, and that there is quite a bit of backing-and-forthing among them in the writer’s production. Nonetheless, they make a good deal of sense when they are taken to describe general directions in Perec’s writing. Among those four principal inclinations, the first has suffered with regard to the latter three in critical considerations of Perec since his death in 1982. In Mémoires du quotidien, Derek Schilling seeks to redress that, seeking also to recontextualize Perec’s work as an important link in a sustained debate on the nature of the quotidian in the second half of the twentieth century.
Novelas Ejemplares I
Las Novelas ejemplares publicadas en 1613 constituyen, segun indica el propio autor, el primer ejemplo de relato corto en la literatura castellana, de acuerdo con el significado en esa epoca de la palabra “novela.” Esta edicion sigue la edicion principe de Juan de la Cuesta y corrige las posibles erratas.
Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language (Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity)
Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language brings to the fore a sixteenth-century philosopher’s role in early modern Europe as a bridge between science and literature, or more specifically, between the spatial paradigm of geometry and that of language. Arielle Saiber examines how, to invite what Bruno believed to be an infinite universe-its qualities and vicissitudes-into the world of language, Bruno forged a system of ‘figurative’ vocabularies: number, form, space, and word. This verbal and symbolic system in which geometric figures are seen to underlie rhetorical figures, is what Saiber calls ‘geometric rhetoric.’ Through analysis of Bruno’s writings, Saiber shows how Bruno’s writing necessitates a crafting of space, and is, in essence, a lexicon of spatial concepts. This study constitutes an original contribution both to scholarship on Bruno and to the fields of early modern scientific and literary studies. It also addresses the broader question of what role geometry has in the formation of any language and literature of any place and time.
Perversity and Ethics
William Egginton argues that the notion of the ethical cannot be understood outside of its relation to perversity—that is, the impulse to do what one knows and feels is wrong. The allure of the perverse, moreover, should not be understood as merely the necessary obverse of ethically motivated behavior; rather, from the perspective of a psychoanalytic understanding of the ethical, the two drives are structurally identical. This discovery leads the author to engagements with deconstructive thought and with contemporary gender theory. In the first, he shows that the insistent resurgence of the ethical fault-line inevitably drives even the most stalwart atheism to a theological moment. In the second, he argues that while “female philosophy” has successfully repudiated the subject-centered exceptionalism of “male philosophy,” it is precisely to the extent that it is understood to offer a kind of release from the perversity of ethics that it must fail as ethical utterances.
The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy
The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy explores how the various discursive strategies of old and new pragmatisms are related, and what their pertinence is to the relationship between pragmatism and philosophy as a whole. The contributors bridge the divide between analytic and continental philosophy through a transcontinental desire to work on common problems in a common philosophical language. Irrespective of which side of the divide one stands on, pragmatic philosophy has gained ascendancy over the traditional concerns of a representationalist epistemology that has determined much of the intellectual and cultural life of modernity. This book details how contemporary philosophy will emerge from this recognition and that, in fact, this emergence is already underway.
After the Palace Burns
After the Palace Burns is the stunning debut of Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei and winner of the Paris Review Prize in Poetry. Each line in this extraordinary collection articulates entrance into a world of intense clarity and deep surprise, nuanced by questions about the limits of the possible and knowable.
“Gosetti-Ferencei’s lyric meditations manifest eloquence, individual voicing, and authentic cognitive power.” — Harold Bloom
“In Gosetti-Ferencei’s poems the unsayable is suggested, encircled, and, finally, magically uttered into existence. ” — Mark Strand
“The writing resonates with an old, symbolist purity, a familiar but quiet formality.” –Stanley Plumly
How the World Became a Stage: Presence, Theatricality, and the Question of Modernity
What is special, distinct, modern about modernity? In How the World Became a Stage, William Egginton argues that the experience of modernity is fundamentally spatial rather than subjective and proposes replacing the vocabulary of subjectivity with the concepts of presence and theatricality. Following a Heideggerian injunctive to search for the roots of epochal change not in philosophies so much as in basic skills and practices, he describes the spatiality of modernity on the basis of a close historical analysis of the practices of spectacle from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period, paying particular attention to stage practices in France and Spain. He recounts how the space in which the world is disclosed changed from the full, magically charged space of presence to the empty, fungible, and theatrical space of the stage.
La Figure du Bibliomane
A history of the figure of the bibliomaniac or excessive book-lover. The _bibliomane_ was condemned until the 19th century, at which point it met with veneration in a literary temple of which Flaubert, Stendhal, Nerval, Barbey d’Aurevilly, and Anatole France were so many pillars.
Images of Quattrocento Florence: Selected Writings in Literature, History, and Art
- 2000 , Yale University Press
- Arielle Saiber, co-author
This anthology provides a panoramic view of fifteenth-century Florence in the words of the city’s own citizens and visitors. The fifty-one selections-many translated into English for the first time-offer fascinating glimpses into Renaissance thought. Together, the documents demonstrate the social, political, religious, and cultural impact Florence had in shaping the Italian and European Renaissance, and they reveal how Florence created, developed, and diffused the mythology of its own origins and glory.The documents point up the divergences in quattrocento accounts of the origins of Florence, and they reveal the importance of the city’s economy, social life, and military success to the formation of its image. The book includes sources that elaborate on the city’s accomplishments in literature and the visual arts, others that present major trends in Florentine religious life, and still others that attest to the acclaim and admiration that Florence evoked from foreign visitors. The editors also provide an informative introduction, a detailed chronology of fifteenth-century Italy, maps, photographs, an annotated bibliography, and a biographical sketch of the author of each document.
This book examines three first-person novels that narrate spectacular failures of self-representation. In an innovative move, the author grounds these failures in the narrators’ inability to move beyond Empiricist notions of correspondence between private, nonverbal experience and public expression, an inability that confines them to various forms of solipsism. Russo contends that such Empiricist notions still inform contemporary French novels and criticism. She deftly shows that current forms of linguistic skepticism favored by Blanchot, Sartre, Barthes, and Derrida are in fact the very product of the Empiricist notion of truth these authors claim to have rejected. Instead, she argues for the social and contextual dimension of language and against the illusion of authenticity on which these critics still rely. Her readings recast the debates surrounding postmodernism by placing them in a much-needed historical context.
Through a series of lively close readings of Prevost’s Histoire d’une Grecque moderne, Constant’s Adolphe, and Des Forets’s Le Bavard, Russo establishes the continuous legacy of Empiricism across three centuries. Prevost pins his narrator’s interpretive difficulties on an inability to know and categorize Oriental reality, Constant grounds his critique of language on the same ethical and political principles that underlie his liberalism, while Des Forets’s extreme solipsism pitches him against the Sartrean notion of engagement.