Faculty Books

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.

La comédie à l’époque d’Henri III (1580-1589)

The volume is part of the series Theatre Français de la Renaissance. It includes the annotated editions of six plays from the period 1580-1589. Each play is introduced by a critical essay. Eugenio Refini has edited the comic play Frére Fecisti (1589); he is also the author of the essay that introduces the play. Co-authors for this volume are Mariangela Miotti, Jean Balsamo, Charles Mazouer, Anna Bettoni, Nerina Clerici Balmas, Concetta Cavallini.

Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media

Medialogies Book Cover

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.

Aristotele Fatto Volgare: Tradizione aristotelica e cultura volgare nel Rinascimento

The volume, edited by Eugenio Refini in collaboration with David A. Lines (University of Warwick), explores the ways in which the Aristotelian corpus was received, translated and reshaped in the vernacular in the later Middle Ages and the early modern period. From the philological issues of the medieval translations of Aristotle to the critical reflection that developed throughout the Renaissance about the possibility of ‘humanist’ vernacularizations of Aristotle; from the linguistic implications of the phenomenon to its political and ideological dimension, the book, which covers a broad geographical area (Italy, France, Spain), includes essays by Annalisa Andreoni, Simone Bionda, Claudio Ciociola, Alessio Cotugno, Sonia Gentili, Violaine Giacomotto-Charra, Ullrich Langer, David A. Lines, Paula Olmos, Eugenio Refini, Anna Siekiera, Juan Miguel Valero Moreno.

The Man Who Invented Fiction

the man who invented fiction book cover

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.

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.

Fin(s) du Monde

Fin(s) du monde

La fin du monde reste un motif prégnant de l’imaginaire col- lectif, elle dessine un tableau aux variations inépuisables en lit- térature comme dans les autres arts. Si les horreurs du contem- porain semblent marquer une rupture sur laquelle bute l’ap- préhension de l’homme, en revanche l’angoisse ou l’espérance liées à la fin sont ataviques, au point que même le positivisme le plus récent n’a pu totalement les oblitérer. Ce constat sous- tend l’ensemble des contributions de ce recueil, qui interro- gent des démarches issues de contextes historico-culturels dif- férents – de l’Antiquité classique à nos jours. Abordant des questions aussi diverses que complémentaires, elles s’organi- sent autour des axes suivants : téléologies à/dans l’œuvre ; seuils, passages, transitions ; les temps d’après ; usages poli- tiques de la fin.

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 formulationis 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.