Philosophy

New Books in August

We hope you’re enjoying your summer! Our fall list is now in full swing with lots of new books to check out in August.

LazarreIn her memoir, The Communist and the Communist’s DaughterJane Lazarre tells the fascinating history of her father Bill, a radical activist who, as part of his tireless efforts to create a better world for his family, held leadership positions in the American Communist Party, fought in the Spanish Civil War, and organized labor unions.

William Schaefer, in Shadow Modernism,  traces how early twentieth century photographic practices in Shanghai provided artists, writers, and intellectuals a forum within which to debate culture, ethnicity, history, and the very nature of images, thereby showing how artists and writers used such practices to make visible the shadows of modernity in Shanghai.

In The Look of a Woman, Eric Plemons explores the ways in which facial feminization surgery is changing the ways in which trans- women are not only perceived of as women, but in the ways it is altering the project of surgical sex reassignment and the understandings of what sex means.

Jason Dittmer, in Diplomatic Material, applies new materialism to international relations and offers a counterintuitive reading of foreign policy by tracing the ways that complex interactions between people and things shape the decisions and actions of diplomats and policymakers.
Hough-Snee and Sotelo Eastman

Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee and Alexander Sotelo Eastman’s collection, The Critical Surf Studies Reader, is an innovative exploration of the history and culture of surfing that recasts wave-riding as a complex cultural practice and reclaims the forgotten roles that women, indigenous peoples, and peoples of color have played in the its evolution.

In Disturbing Attachments, Kadji Amin challenges the idealization of Jean Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory, bringing the genealogy of Genet’s imaginaries of attachment to bear on pressing issues within contemporary queer politics and scholarship, including prison abolition, homonationalism, and pinkwashing.

art1Nicholas De Genova’s The Borders of “Europe” examines the perceptions of the staggering refuge and migration crisis in Europe, demonstrating how it stems from migrants exercising their right to the freedom of movement, leads states to create new technologies of regulating human movement, and prompts the questioning of the very idea of Europe.

In Vibrator Nation, Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how feminist sex-toy stores such as Eve’s Garden, Good Vibrations and Babeland raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, provided educational and community resources, and changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed.

Alexandra Chang’s catalog, Circles and Circuits—which examines Chinese Caribbean art in Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Panama—accompanies the exhibition, Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art, presented in two parts: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora at the California African American Museum from September 15, 2017 through February 25, 2018, and Contemporary Chinese Caribbean Art at the Chinese American Museum from September 15, 2017 through March 11, 2018.

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Tatiana Flores and Michelle Ann Stephens’ Relational Undercurrents accompanies an exhibition by the same name that opens at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California in September, 2017. The exhibition and edited volume call attention to the artistic production of the Caribbean islands and their diasporas, challenging the conventional geographic and conceptual boundaries of Latin America.

Both exhibitions, Circles and Circuits and Relational Undercurrents, are part of the Pacific Standard Time Art Project. 

The largely unknown story of the FBI’s surveillance operations in Latin America during the 1940s is the topic of Marc Becker’s The FBI in Latin America. He provides new insights into leftist organizations and the nature of the U.S.’s imperial ambitions in the western hemisphere.

Ambassadors of the Working ClassIn Ambassadors of the Working Class, Ernesto Semán tells the story of Argentina’s diplomatic worker attachés dispatched to further Peronism, organized labor became a crucial aspect in defining democracy and perceptions of social justice, freedom, and sovereignty in the Americas.

Kojin Karatani’s Isomania and the Origins of Philosophy questions the canonical glorification of philosophy and democracy in ancient Athens by placing Western philosophy’s origins in Ionia, a set of Greek colonies located in present-day Turkey that practiced isonomia—a system based on non-rule and a lack of social divisions whereby equality is realized through individual freedom.

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Slavoj Žižek: In Defense of a Lost Cause

sbriglia - author photoHappy birthday to renowned philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek! Today’s guest blog post comes from Russell Sbriglia, editor of the new collection Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek.

Today marks the 68th birthday of Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek. In my recent collection for Duke University Press, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, I make the case for Žižek’s relevance for literary studies—a relevance long overshadowed by the work done on Žižek in other fields such as film, media, and cultural studies. On this particular occasion, however, I’d like to make the case for Žižek’s continued relevance as a political thinker. Žižek has come under heavy fire of late for a number of his public positions, most notably those regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. For those well-versed in and sympathetic to Žižek’s work, there is little that is controversial, let alone “conservative,” about these stances. Yet there now seems to be an entire cottage industry devoted to misreading and misinterpreting Žižek.

978-0-8223-6318-7Consider, for instance, his claim that, were he a U.S. citizen, he would have voted for Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. His point was not to “endorse Trump,” as one article headline ridiculously proclaimed (Žižek has said time and again that Trump is an absolutely vulgar and disgusting figure who represents the decline of public decency), but rather to emphasize that a vote for Clinton would be a vote for the neoliberal status quo. The curious thing is that many of those who excoriated Žižek for taking such a position are the very same people who have long laughed at Francis Fukuyama’s thesis regarding the “end of history.” Fukuyama, in his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, (in)famously argued that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism, political history had effectively come to an end. From here on out, history would consist of the gradual yet inevitable democratization of the world under the regime of global capitalism. Laugh at Fukuyama though they will, the reaction by many on the left to Žižek’s hypothetical vote for Trump as a means of accelerating the contradictions of late capitalism suggests an implicit confirmation of the Fukuyaman thesis. For a vast majority of liberals, democratic capitalism still remains, as Marcel Gauchet has said of liberal democracy, “l’horizon indépassable,” an impassable horizon. Hence Žižek’s frequent reiteration of Fredric Jameson’s famous line that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”

Even after Clinton’s Electoral College loss—a loss due in part to the fact that Trump was able to capitalize on the DNC’s sacrifice of Bernie Sanders, filling the vacuum left by Sanders’s democratic socialism with a faux populist nationalism—a number of Democrats seem bent on maintaining the neoliberal status quo. Take, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s comments from a CNN Town Hall in late January. Citing a recent Harvard University poll which showed that a majority of people between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the capitalist system, an NYU student asked Pelosi whether she could envision the Democratic Party “mov[ing] farther left to a more populist message” that would make for “a more stark contrast to right-wing economics.” Pelosi’s immediate response was as follows: “Well, I thank you for your question. But I have to say, we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is.” This is precisely the type of “inertia” that Žižek saw in Clinton, who in attempting to appeal to both Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street ended up running on a platform that was as anodyne as it was amorphous. On this issue in particular, if Žižek is a lost cause, then so are we.

The good news amidst the many horrors of the past two months is that we are now beginning to see signs that perhaps Žižek was correct about Trump mobilizing the left. Though Žižek often quips that the left never likes to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, the numerous women’s marches that were held around the globe the day after Trump took office, the protests at airports across the U.S. following the Trump Administration’s initial Muslim ban, and the fiery Republican town halls at which constituents are voicing (and venting) their concerns over a possible repeal of Obamacare all suggest that a political awakening may very well be underway on the left. If this proves to truly be the case, if the left does indeed have the courage to “resume” history, then we’re going to need Žižek more than ever.

Want more Žižek? Read the introduction to Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, edited by Russell Sbriglia, or save 30% on the paperback using coupon code E17ZIZEK.

Bernard Stiegler: Amateur Philosophy

ddbou_44_1The most recent issue of boundary 2, “Bernard Stiegler: Amateur Philosophy,” edited by Arne De Boever, brings together three lectures on aesthetics delivered by the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler in Los Angeles in 2011 with articles by scholars of Stiegler’s work.

Aesthetics, understood as the theoretical investigation of sensibility, has been central to Stiegler’s work since the mid-1990s. The lectures featured here explicitly link Stiegler’s interest in sensibility to aesthetic theory proper as well as to art history. In “The Proletarianization of Sensibility,” “Kant, Art, and Time,” and “The Quarrel of the Amateurs,” Stiegler expounds his philosophy of technics and its effects on human sensibility, centering on how the figure of the amateur—who loves what he or she does—must be recovered from beneath the ruins of technical history. The other contributors engage the topics covered in the lectures, including the figure of the amateur, cinema, the digital, and extinction.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction to the issue by guest editor Arne De Boever, made freely available.

For more readings on Stiegler, revisit this 2010 issue of Cultural Politics featuring an interview with Bernard Stiegler, “Knowledge, Care, and Trans-Individuation.”

A Tale of Two Marriages: the Carlyles and the Brownings

2016-05-26-01-51-14

The “A Tale of Two Marriages” speakers.

Thomas Carlyle’s 221st birthday was yesterday, 4 December. In his honor, we are sharing several lectures on Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle given by Carlyle scholars Brent Kinser and David Sorensen last May at the Carlyle House in Chelsea. The event, “A Tale of Two Marriages,” included Kinser and Sorensen’s talks on the Carlyles and two talks on the marriage of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband, Robert Browning, by distinguished Browning scholars Simon Avery and Scott Lewis. The event compared and contrasted the relationships of the two couples through the lens of Victorian marriages.

Read the full versions of the talks from David Sorensen and Brent Kinser by selecting the titles of the lectures. We have included excerpts from the talks below.

An excerpt from David Sorensen’s talk, “Selective Affinities: The Browning and Carlyle Marriages Through Their Correspondence

 The Browning and Carlyle marriages were unusual in their own time because of the manner in which they lived up to the ideal of a union between equals, which many members of the Victorian intelligentsia championed. In The Subjection of Women (1869) the philosopher John Stuart Mill memorably denounced the Victorian “command and obedience” model of marriage and insisted on the primacy of mental compatibility between men and women in the conjugal sphere. Mutual intelligence, both emotional and psychological, inevitably fostered mutual interests. As Mill pointed out, “when each of two persons, instead of being a nothing, is a something; when they are attached to one another, and are not too much unlike to begin with; the constant partaking in the same things, assisted by their sympathy, draws out the latent capacities of each for being interested in the things which were at first interesting only to the other; and works a gradual assimilation of the tastes and characters to one another … by a real enriching of the two natures, each acquiring the tastes and capacities of the other in addition to its own.” The result of this interaction, conducted on a basis of respect and curiosity, was the creation of a “solid friendship, of an enduring character, more likely than anything else to make it, through the whole of life, a greater pleasure to each to give pleasure to the other than to receive it.” In these remarks Mill set a standard that some thought was too high. One remembers Mrs. Allonby’s remarks in Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance (1903): “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?”

An exerpt from Brent Kinser’s talk, “The Tautology of Prose and Poetry in the Carlyle and Browning Marriages

For the Carlyles, marriage began as a matter of prose. In the months before the Carlyles married in 1826, Thomas wrote long missives to Jane out of deeply anxious insecurity regarding his prospects. At one point, he made the mistake of telling her that if there was another suitor she would prefer, then she was free to accept the offer. Her response says much:

But surely, surely Mr Carlyle, you must know me better, than to have supposed it possible I should ever make a new choice! To say nothing of the sentiments I entertain towards you, which would make a marriage with another worse than death; is there no spark of honour, think you, in this heart, that I should not blush at the bare idea of such shame? Give myself to another, after having given myself with such unreservedness to you! Take another to my arms, with your image on my heart, your kisses on my lips! Oh be honest, and say you knew this would never be,—knew I could never sink so low! Let me not have room to suppose, that possessing your love, I am unfortunate enough to be without your respect! For how light must my open fondness have seemed; if you doubted of its being sanctified by a marriage-vow—a vow spoken, indeed, before no Minister, but before a presence, surely as awful, God and my Conscience— And yet, it is so unlike you, the sworn enemy of cant, to make high-sounding offers, in the firm confidence of their being rejected! and unless I lay this to your charge in the present instance how can I help concluding that there is some virtue in me, which you have yet to learn?— For it is in no jesting, or yet “half-jesting” manner that you tell me my hand is free— “If there be any other—you do not mean whom I love more—but whose wife all things considered I would rather be; you call upon me as my Husband—(as my Husband!) to accept that man.” Were these words really Thomas Carlyle’s, and addressed to me? Ah! ich kenne dich nicht mehr! Dearest! Dearest! it will take many caresses to atone for these words! (CLO: JBW to TC, [4 March 1826]

The Carlyles’ move towards marriage seems a long way from “I love your poems, and I love you, too,” the legendary beginning of the Brownings’ courtship.

2016-05-26-00-59-28For more on the Brownings, read the talk by Scott Lewis, “‘Penini means to be very good tomorrow’: The Browning Marriage and Their Son,” and the talk by Simon Avery, “Love, Marriage and Violence in the Work of the Brownings.”

Stay connected! Learn more about Carlyle’s friendship with Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the Carlyle Letters Online. To learn more about the Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle and to read their many letters, visit the Carlyle Letters Online. Follow @carlyleletters for daily tweets from these prolific writers.

Happy Birthday, Deleuze!

Happy 91st birthday to French philosopher Gilles Deleuze! In celebration, we’re excited to share some of our publications that focus on his work.

the_hermetic_deleuzeThe Hermetic Deleuze, Joshua Ramey

Ramey examines the extent to which Deleuze’s ethics, metaphysics, and politics were informed by, and can only be fully understood through, hermetic tradition. He argues that the philosopher’s work represents a kind of contemporary hermeticism, a consistent experiment in unifying thought and affect, percept and concept, and mind and nature in order to engender new relations between knowledge, power, and desire.

deleuzismDeleuzism, Ian Buchanan

The conviction that Gilles Deleuze is doing something radical in his work has been accompanied by a corresponding anxiety as to how to read it. In this rigorous and lucid work, Ian Buchanan takes up the challenge by answering the following questions: How should we read Deleuze? How should we read with Deleuze? In essays that address the “prehistory” of Deleuze’s philosophy, his methodology, and the utopic dimensions of his thought, Buchanan extracts an apparatus of social critique that arises from the philosopher’s utopian impulse.

becoming_undoneBecoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz

In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related concepts—life, politics, and art—by exploring the implications of Charles Darwin’s account of the evolution of species. Connecting the naturalist’s work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as forms of competing and coordinating modes of openness.

CUP_10_3_pr“Godard in Sarajevo,” Philip Roberts

Published in Cultural Politics, volume 10 and issue 3

In this essay, Roberts critiques and rearticulates the terms of Deleuze’s media philosophy in relation to work by Paul Virilio on media and warfare. The critique is organized around a study of the recent films of Jean-Luc Godard, which focus on the recurrence of the images of the mainstream culture industry and their transformation in wartime Sarajevo.

time-travelsTime Travels, Elizabeth Grosz

Time Travels brings Grosz’s trailblazing essays together to show how reconceptualizing temporality transforms and revitalizes key scholarly and political projects. She examines Henri Bergson’s philosophy of duration in light of the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and William James, and she discusses issues of sexual difference, identity, pleasure, and desire in relation to the thought of Deleuze, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Luce Irigaray.

DIF_25_1_pr“The Virtues of Critical Technical Practice,” Michael Dieter

Published in differences, volume 25 and issue 1

This article reflects theoretically on the conditions of possibility for critical work to be conducted in the context of the digital humanities and aims to provide a broad conceptual vocabulary suitable for supporting and expanding this rapidly changing subdiscipline. It does so by elaborating on the framework of critical technical practice (CTP) first proposed by Philip Agre. The origin of Agre’s notion of CTP is linked back to its inspiration in the specific methodologies and concepts in the work of Michel Foucault. It is also suggested that other important connections to the thought of Henri Bergson, Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Gilles Deleuze can be made.

 

Just can’t get enough Deleuze? Check out these additional publications that feature his work.

1entanglements

Entanglements, or Transmedial Thinking about Capture, Rey Chow

Vibrant Matter, Jane Bennett

The Power at the End of the Economy, Brian Massumi

4worldA World of Becoming, William E. Connolly

Freedom Not Yet, Kenneth Surin

Disenchanting Les Bons Temps, Charles Stivale

6disenchantingA Deleuzian Century?, an issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (volume 96 and issue 3), edited by Ian Buchanan

Sumud: A Palestinian Philosophy of Confrontation in Colonial Prisons,” Lena Meari, published in South Atlantic Quarterly, volume 113 and issue 3

“Figural Aesthetics,” Vlad Ionescu, published in Cultural Politics, volume 9 and issue 2

 

Happy Birthday, Thomas Carlyle!

Thomas CarlyleIn honor of Thomas Carlyle’s 220th birthday on 4 December, we invite you to read talks by David Sorensen, senior editor of the Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, and Brent Kinser, editor of the print edition and coordinating editor of the Carlyle Letters Online. Each year, Sorensen and Kinser participate in an evening at the Carlyle’s House in Chelsea, hosted by the National Trust and curator Lin Skipping. It is a highlight of the year for both Sorensen and Kinser. This years’ event was entitled “Victorian Metropolis: London in the Correspondence of Dickens and the Carlyles.” They were joined in Chelsea by their friend and distinguished colleague David Paroissien, longtime editor of the Dickens Quarterly. The lectures are delivered in the same front parlour featured in Robert Scott Tait’s painting A Chelsea Interior. As Kinser puts it, “the house is a magnificent place to be, and to be there with such an assembly and to talk about the Carlyles simply defies description.”

Read the full versions of the talks from David Sorensen and Brent Kinser by selecting their names. We have included excerpts from the talks below.

An excerpt from David Sorensen’s talk, “The Carlyles, Dickens, and London”

No sentence that Thomas Carlyle wrote has been so often quoted as his observation from his great essay “On History” (1830) that “Life is the aggregate of all the individual men’s Lives who constitute society; History is the essence of innumerable Biographies.” This is an appropriate place to begin our discussion of the Carlyles, Dickens, and London this evening, because in a variety of respects, London exercised a deep and enduring influence on their writing. Thanks to Peter Ackroyd’s remarkable London: A Biography (2000), it no longer strikes us as anomalous that the life of a city can be compared to that of a single human being. Ackroyd himself freely and rightly acknowledged his indebtedness to Carlyle for this notion. Like the bewildered young man from Annandale  who arrived in the metropolis in 1824, Ackroyd felt driven to ask, how else can the history of London be written other than as a biography? He admitted in his preface that “Some will object that such a biography can form no part of a true history. London is a labyrinth, half of stone and half of flesh. It cannot be conceived in its entirety but can be experienced only as a wilderness of alleys and passages, courts and thoroughfares, in which even the most experienced citizen may lose the way.”

To personalize London is to humanize it, and to invest it with qualities that make it manageable and navigable. The Carlyles and Dickens understood this as a personal necessity, yet they never lost their sense of the strangeness of the place, even as they strove to assimilate themselves to its unpredictable and sometimes hostile patterns. In Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44), Dickens spoke of the “tumult” of 19th-century London that frequently swelled “into a roar.” Everywhere one turned, there was the challenge of trying to cope with opinions that “thicken and expand a hundredfold.” Critical destinations, like the address of Todgers itself, remained elusive. Visitors might grope their way for hours “through lanes and bye-ways, and court-yards, and passages” without discovering a specific location—their exhilaration was only matched by their frustration and disgust at finding no way out of the clogged maze. Perhaps what is most unique about the perspectives of the Carlyles and Dickens towards London is their perpetual exasperation—what John Forster memorably referred to in his biography of Dickens as their “profound attraction of repulsion.” Unlike Wordsworth, they could never quite escape the “din” of the city through the contemplation of the “beauteous forms” of nature: as frequently as they complained of London (and in the Carlyles’ case, as frequently as they idealized Scotland), it remained both their home and their burden.

An excerpt from Brent Kinser’s talk,  “‘A kind of epic grandeur’: Thomas Carlyle and London”

In August 1842 Carlyle took a whirlwind trip to Belgium with his friend Stephen Spring Rice. When he got back to Chelsea he wrote a narrative of the adventure, and towards the end of it, he summarized both the trip and his return: “Thus had kind destiny projected us rocket-wise for a little space into the clear blue of Heaven and Freedom: thus again were we swiftly reabsorbed into the great smoky simmering crater, and London’s soot-volcano had again recovered us.” Carlyle’s description of London as a “smoky simmering crater” of a “soot-volcano” reflects a conflicted relationship with the capitol. To John Stuart Mill TC wrote that London air was like a “horrid flood of Spartan black-broth” (CLO: TC to JSM, 12 Jan. 1833). To James Hannay he wrote that it was a “hot place, too much like Tophet,” a “hateful place.” But Carlyle also professed to Hannay that he saw in London and its ability to allow him the freedom to work against cant and pietism “a kind of epic grandeur.”[1] Curiously, Carlyle’s own reputation suffers from a similar contradiction. As he grew older and ever more encrusted with the iconic trappings established and affirmed both in the writings by him and in the multitude of paintings and photographs of him, Carlyle, like Tennyson’s Ulysses, had “become a name.” People who met the “Sage of Chelsea” expected a simmering, volcanic conveyor of Spartan black-broth whose heroic fight to wrest truth from the mud-demons of his world had left him sadder, wiser, and angrier. If London was a “soot-volcano,” well then so was Carlyle. People, however, were often surprised to find a different sort of Carlyle. The myth of a raging, guilt-ridden, mourning recluse who rarely went out does not ring entirely true for Carlyle the old man. London plays a central role in understanding why it does not.

If Dickens proclaimed that he “would go at all times farther to see Carlyle than any other man alive,” then it was also true that it was not all that difficult to see Carlyle, as testified by the multitude of reminiscences that include stories about encounters with the old man. In 1876, for example, a young Newcastle writer named Stuart J. Reid came to London to see the sights, which included a trip to Hyde Park and the Prince Albert Memorial. Reid recounted that “Suddenly there slouched up the steps an old man in a loose round cloak and a tumbled-looking wideawake . . . leaning heavily on the arm of a friend” and making “energetic and not too complimentary remarks on the portraits of the world’s celebrities” (383). Soon after Reid managed to strike up a conversation in which the young man quoted and discussed Carlyle’s Life of Sterling (much to Carlyle’s pleasure). He left the old man with a handshake and received a blessing. When Reid was able to arrange another afternoon with Carlyle the following year, he declared, “As long as I live, I shall cherish the memory and remember the words and even the gesture and tone of that old man” (403).

To learn more about the Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle and to read their many letters, visit the Carlyle Letters Online. Follow @carlyleletters for daily tweets from these prolific writers.

New Books in August

August is off to a great start, and we’ve got a lot of new books to look forward to this month. Here is a quick preview of what to keep an eye out for:

Joseph cover image, 5896-1In his ethical autobiography, Saved for a Purpose: A Journey from Private Virtues to Public Values, James A. Joseph—who was active in the Civil Rights Movement, an executive of a Fortune 500 company, the Undersecretary of the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa—shares the development of his philosophies of morality and leadership.

Massumi cover image F15, 5995-1An original theory of power, Brian Massumi explains in Ontopower: War, Powers, and the State of Perception how the logic of preemption governs U.S. military policy in the War on Terror. Threats are now felt into reality, which makes preemptive action necessary. The logic of preemption’s working out creates the self-sustaining force of ontopower.

Snitow cover image, 5874-9Collecting almost four decades of writings by feminist activist Ann Snitow, The Feminism of Uncertainty: A Gender Diary includes well-known essays, such as “A Gender Diary,” along with pieces appearing here for the first time.

In Gut Feminism, Elizabeth A. Wilson shakes feminist theory from its resistance to biological and pharmaceutical data and urges that now is the time for feminism to critically engage with biology. Doing so will reanimate feminist theory, strengthening its ability to address depression, affect, gender, and feminist politics.

Schmidt cover image, 5937-1Jalane D. Schmidt’s Cachita’s Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba shows how the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, discovered in 1612 and known as Cachita, is a potent and contested symbol of Cuban national identity. The book analyzes the five times over the last eighty years Cachita has been celebrated in Cuba’s urban streets. Schmidt provides a comprehensive treatment of Cuban religions, history, and culture, interpreted through the prism of Cachita.

Vladimir Jankélévitch’s Henri Bergson is a great commentary written on philosopher Henri Bergson. Jankélévitch’s analysis covers all aspects of Bergson’s thought, from metaphysics, emotion and temporality, to psychology and biology. This edition also includes supplementary essays on Bergson by Jankélévitch, Bergson’s letters to Jankélévitch, and an editor’s introduction.

In Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter, Natasha Myers shows in this ethnography how scientists who build three-dimensional models of proteins use their senses and bodies to create, represent, and evaluate otherwise imperceptible molecules. These modelers often consider matter to be made up of living, moving, and sometimes breathing entities, and Myers’ study of them rethinks the objectivity of science.

Sammond cover image, 5852-7In Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation, Nicholas Sammond argues that early cartoons are a key components to blackface minstrelsy and that cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat are not like minstrels, but are minstrels. Cartoons have played on racial anxieties, naturalized racial formations, committed symbolic racial violence, and help perpetuate blackface minstrelsy.

Nadia Ellis theorizes the experience of belonging to the African diaspora as living within the space between the land and the soul in Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora. She uses a utopian concept of queerness and analyses of African American and Caribbean writers, musicians, and artists to show how diaspora is a mode of feeling and belonging.

Malkki cover image, 5932-6The Need to Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism, an ethnography by Liisa H. Malkki, reverses the study of humanitarian aid, focusing on aid workers rather than aid’s recipients. She shows how aid serves the needs of its recipients and providers.

New Books in April

Spring is finally here, and what better way to welcome it than a round-up of new and forthcoming books? Here are all the fantastic new books to expect in April.

 Novak & Sakakeeny cover image, 5889-3Keywords in Soundby David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny, defines the field of sound studies and provides a comprehensive conceptual apparatus for why studying sound matters. Each essay includes the keyword’s intellectual history, a discussion of its role in cultural, social and political discourses, and suggestions for possible future research.

Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison’s Reclaiming Travel is a provocative meditation on the meaning of travel in the twenty-first century. Eschewing tourism, Stavans and Ellison urge for a rethinking of contemporary travel in order to return it to its roots as a tool for self-discovery and transformation.

Anthropologist Shalini Shankar explores how racial and ethnic differences are Shankar cover image, 5877-0created and commodified through advertisements and marketing in Advertising Diversity. Focusing on Asian American ad firms, she describes the day-to-day process of creating ads and argues that advertising has framed Asian Americans as “model consumers,” thereby legitimizing their presence in American popular culture.

The contributors to Postgenomicsedited by Sarah S. Richardson and Hallam Stevens, assess the changes to the life sciences the Human Genome Project’s completion brought, develop new frameworks for studying the human genome in the postgenomic era, and show how the environment, technology, race, and gender influence the genome and how we think about it.

In Unearthing ConflictFabiana Li examines the politics surrounding the rapid growth of mining in the Peruvian Andes, arguing that anti-mining protests are not only about mining’s negative environmental impacts, but about the legitimization of contested forms of knowledge.

Hochberg cover image, 5887-9In Visual Occupations, Gil Z. Hochberg examines films, photography, painting and literature by Israeli and Palestinian artists. Israel’s greater ability to control what can be seen, how, and from what position drives the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The artists Hochberg studies challenge Israel’s visual and social dominance by creating new ways to see the conflict.

Nancy van Deusen examines over one hundred lawsuits that indio slaves brought to the Spanish court in the mid-sixteenth century to gain their freedom in Global Indios. The category indio was largely constructed during these lawsuits, and van Deusen emphasizes the need to situate colonial indigenous subjects and slavery in a global context.

In Political Landscapes, an environmental history of twentieth-century Mexico, Christopher R. Boyer conceptualizes the forests of Chihuahua and Michoacán as political landscapes. Conflicts among local landowners, the federal government and timber companies politicized these geographies, demonstrating the crucial role that social forces play in the construction of environments.

In Repeating Žižekedited by Agon Hamza, the contributors read the influential and controversial Slavoj Žižek as a Hamza cover image, 5891-6
philosopher. They place his work in the Western philosophical tradition and analyze it using his own theses, concepts, and methods, all while attempting to formalize his thought into a philosophical school.

Challenging Social Inequality, edited by Miguel Carter, is a collection of essays examining the history and contemporary struggles of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers Movement, the largest social movement in the Americas.

Happy World Philosophy Day

In 2005, UNESCO established World Philosophy Day, thus highlighting the importance of philosophy as a discipline and solidifying philosophy as a field that “encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace.” Sample some of our philosophy titles including the Philosophical Review and My Father’s House: On Will Barnet’s Paintings by Thomas Dumm.

ddpr_123_4David Sanford of Duke University says, “No philosophy journal published in English is more highly regarded than the Philosophical Review.” The journal has been in publication since 1892 and has a long-standing reputation for excellence, publishing many papers now considered classics in the field such as W. V. O. Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” Thomas Nagel’s “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” and the early work of John Rawls. The journal publishes original scholarly work in all areas of analytic philosophy, with an emphasis on material of general interest to academic philosophers, and is one of the few journals in the discipline to publish book reviews.

In honor of World Philosophy Day, read “Love and the Value of a Life,” by Kieran Setiya in the most recent issue of Philosophical Review, made freely available here.

Dumm cover image, 5546-9Once you’ve whetted your appetite for philosophy with Setiya’s thoughtful piece, you may be interested in reading Thomas Dumm’s recent book, My Father’s House: On Will Barnet’s Paintings. In My Father’s House, the political philosopher Thomas Dumm explores a series of stark and melancholy paintings, presented in full color, by American artist Will Barnet. Reading the almost gothic paintings in conversation with the writers and thinkers key to both his and Barnet’s thinking—Emerson, Spinoza, Dickinson, Benjamin, Cavell, Nietzsche, Melville—Dumm’s haunting meditations evoke broader reflections on family, mortality, the uncanny, and the loss that comes with remembrance. The introduction is available for free here.

Would you like to learn about new books in philosophy from Duke University Press? Sign up for our Subject Matters email updates here, and we will notify you each time we publish a new book in the areas you’re interested in.

Performance Curators: Transforming the Theater

Ddthe_44_2Performance curators occupy an “increasingly essential role in a transformation of the theater’s defining edges,” a role which has started to overlap with socially engaged and visual art forms.  In this special issue of Theater, Tom Sellar argues that these creative professionals are leading the way toward new forms and alternative practices. Sample a few articles from “Performance Curators,” edited by Tom Sellar and Bertie Ferdman.

 

In “From Content to Context: The Emergence of the Performance Curator,” Bertie Ferdman offers historical context for the recent prominence of curatorial practices in the presentation of performance. Discussing a range of alternative presenting models and bridges between the visual and performing arts, she traces the evolution of the performance curator from the logistic concerns of programming to more conceptual work. Read the excerpt:

 

“The rise of interdisciplinary performance festivals in the last decade has increased the visibility of the curator as a central and powerful figure in the changing landscape of the performing arts. A growing number of artistic directors, festival programmers, creative producers, and artists not only are beginning to pay attention to what gets seen either commissioning new work and/or selecting finished work but are also conceptualizing how, where, when, why, and for whom such events are structured and presented. As more exhibitions in art galleries and museums continue to embrace theater and dance, and visual and conceptual art is presented in performing arts institutions and festivals, the act of “curating” performance is becoming vital to both its development and its reception. If the sixties and seventies were the heyday of experimental theater and rise of postmodern dance in lineage with the historical avant garde the current moment, almost half a century later, is seeing a renewed interest not only in breaking with disciplinary models but also in providing new frameworks in which such work can exist. Presenters are now often faced with the challenge of producing work that does not necessarily fit into preconceived conventions of theater. What practices do they implement? What presentational forms do they create? Does a curatorial paradigm for such trends exist?”

 

To read more from “From Content to Context,” click here.

 

Tom Sellar delves further into the role of performance curators in his article, “The Curatorial Turn,” in which he begins to define their purpose and explores their effect on the rejuvenation and development of theater, dance, and performance in the twenty-first century.  Read the excerpt:

 

“Could the curation of theater, dance, and performance become a catalyst for the rejuvenation and development of those forms in the twenty-first century? The performance curator a figure of rising importance onto whom the aspirations and frustrations of many constituencies are projected has been hailed in some quarters as the great white hope for progressive theater makers and as a transformative agent for art institutions, including museums, turning to live events as the next extension of contemporary practice. In various indications of interest in North America alone, MOMA and the Whitney Museum have recently hired performance specialists; resident theaters have begun presenting devised work created externally by independent ensembles and artists; newly established cross-disciplinary festivals such as Philadelphia Fringe Arts, fiaf’s Crossing the Line, American Realness, and the Time-Based Art Festival in Portland, Oregon, are flourishing; and artists have redefined models for collaboration and expanded definitions of socially engaged art to include town hall meetings on racial segregation in St. Louis and pop-up services centers for immigrants in Queens.”

 

To read more from “The Curatorial Turn,” click here.