Faculty Books

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.


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 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.


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 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.


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 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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The works by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1751–1792) emerge in relations: they are published as Observations on the Theatre, along with an attached translated play by Shakespeare, thus connecting a poetics of theatre with a literary translation. They are entitled The Tutor, or, the Advantages of Private Education. A comedy and situate themselves in the discursive network of literature and pedagogy. Or, they bear the title of The Forest Hermit. A Pendant to Werther’s sufferings and refer explicitly to Goethe’s pretext. This book explores the specificity of Lenz’ writing ‘in relations’ from a methodological perspective: it pursues the question of how Lenz’ fleeting textual objects can become a subject of literary studies without losing their elusive productivity. In this context, the term constellation designates a problem of reading: constellation as a methodological concept captures the complex existence of an observable object at the same time as it describes its epistemic constitution as a distinct object of literary studies. Constellation as a practice of reading draws attention to the preconditions of the reading process and it transforms them into a way of reflecting representation in academic discourse.


Figures de l'exil book cover

Agota Kristof et stephen Vizinczey quittent leur pays natal, la Hongrie, suite à la révolution antitotalitaire de 1956. Si leurs routes ne se sont jamais croisées – la première s’exile en Suisse et adopte le français, le deuxième s’installe au Canada et apprend l’anglais –, depuis cette date pourtant leurs livres n’ont cessé de témoigner d’une histoire partagée – bien que vécue de manière profondément personnelle – dont seule la fiction ne saurait rendre compte. C’est justement sur ce dialogue qui s’établit en secret et à distance que cet essai se penche et s’interroge. Complément et prolongement des contributions critiques publiées jusqu’à présent sur chacun de ces écrivains, il propose une analyse thématique et plurielle qui, au lieu de mettre en place un système de comparaisons plus ou moins fondées, préfère se servir des textes de l’un pour mieux appréhender ceux de l’autre. Ainsi, c’est par le biais de la juxtaposition que les nombreux allerretour entre passé et présent, vicissitudes individuelles et mémoire collective, dévoilent leur sens le plus profond. Et cela dans le but, non pas de recentrer le discours autour des procédés rhétoriques favorables à toute sorte de pratique quelque peu documentaire, mais plutôt d’évaluer les potentialités de la littérature et de l’art en général lorsqu’il s’agit de “réparer les fautes”, accommoder souvenirs et blessures afin qu’ils déclenchent un récit, peut-être véritable, mais pas nécessairement véridique.


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 book cover

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.


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.


The literature of Cuba, argues Eduardo González in Cuba and the Fall: Christian Text and Queer Narrative in the Fiction of José Lezama Lima and Reinaldo Arenas, takes on quite different features depending on whether one is looking at it from “the inside” or from “the outside,” a view that in turn is shaped by official political culture and the authors it sanctions or by those authors and artists who exist outside state policies and cultural politics. González approaches this issue by way of two 20th-century writers who are central to the canon of gay homoerotic expression and sensibility in Cuban culture: José Lezama Lima (1910–1976) and Reinaldo Arenas (1943–1990). Drawing on the plots and characters in their works, González develops both a story line and a moral tale, revolving around the Christian belief in the fall from grace and the possibility of redemption, that bring the writers into a unique and revealing interaction with one another.

The work of Lezama Lima and Arenas is compared with that of fellow Cuban author Virgilio Piñera (1912–1979) and, in a wider context, with the non-Cuban writers John Milton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, John Ruskin, and James Joyce to show how their themes get replicated in González’s selected Cuban fiction. Also woven into this interaction are two contemporary films—The Devil’s Backbone (2004) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2007)—whose moral and political themes enhance the ethical values and conflicts of the literary texts. Referring to this eclectic gathering of texts, González charts a cultural course in which Cuba moves beyond the Caribbean and into a latitude uncharted by common words, beyond the tyranny of place.


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.


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 book cover

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 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.


Il volume prende in esame le inedite Annotationes quaedam super Artem Poeticam Horatii di Alessandro Piccolomini, testimoniate da un manoscritto autografo conservato per la Biblioteca Comunale di Siena. Tra i numerosi spunti offerti dalle glosse oraziane, la ricerca cerca di mettere a fuoco quelli che meglio permettono di valutare la poetica di Piccolomini nel ricco contesto della riflessione critica del pieno c inquecento: la portata sapienzale della poesia ed i suoi rapporti con la filosofia; la complessa dialettica tra diletto e giovamento poetico, significamente oscillante nel confronto tra le Annotationes ed il commento alla Poetica Aristotelica, pubblicato dallo setsso Piccolomini nel 1575.


the-civility-solution book cover

Many of us find ourselves confronted with rudeness every day and don’t know how to respond. P.M. Forni, the author of the acclaimed Choosing Civility, has the answer. In The Civility Solution, he provides more than 100 different situations, and shows us how to break the rudeness cycle. How would you respond to the following?


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.


choosing civility book cover

Most people would agree that thoughtful behavior and common decency are in short supply, or simply forgotten in hurried lives of emails, cellphones, and multitasking. In Choosing Civility, P. M. Forni identifies the 25 rules that are most essential in connecting effectively and happily with others. In clear, witty, and, well…civilized language, Forni covers topics that include:

* Think Twice Before Asking Favors
* Give Constructive Criticism
* Refrain from Idle Complaints
* Respect Others’ Opinions
* Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
* Care for Your Guests
* Accept and Give Praise

Finally, Forni provides examples of how to put each rule into practice and so make life-and the lives of others-more enjoyable, companionable, and rewarding.

Choosing Civility is a simple, practical, perfectly measured, and quietly magical handbook on the lost art of civility and compassion.


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 book cover

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.


Sprechende-Korper book cover

Die Studie nimmt die Frage nach dem Performativen in doppelter Hinsicht auf. Zum einen analysiert sie Performativa ausgehend von zwei Feldern sprachlichen Handelns, die Austins Theorie der Sprechakte marginalisiert bzw. explizit ausschließt: Literatur und Rhetorik; zum anderen arbeitet sie Performanz als methodische Kategorie einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Literaturwissenschaft heraus. Ausgehend von Shoshana Felmans Austin-Lektüre wird der performative Akt als Akt des sprechenden Körpers akzentuiert, wobei der Körper nicht als ein Mittel sprachlicher Äußerung, sondern als Überschuss des Äußerungsaktes über die Aussage konzipiert wird. Wie – so wird weitergehend gefragt – macht sich die Körperlichkeit bzw. Materialität der Schrift in Akten des Lesens und Erzählens geltend? An Austins metaphorischer Charakterisierung literarischer Sprechakte als eines infektiösen Geschehens anknüpfend, untersucht die Studie zudem den performanztheoretischen Einsatz von Ansteckung in Texten des Realismus und der Moderne. Die damit formulierte Poetik der Ansteckung wird zugleich als analytisches Instrumentarium profiliert, das es erlaubt, moderne literarische Darstellungsverfahren in spezifischer Weise zu untersuchen.


The Philosopher's Desire book cover

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 book cover

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.


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.


cuba-and-the-tempest book cover

In an analysis of Cuban literature inside and outside the country’s borders, Eduardo Gonzalez looks closely at the work of three of the most important contemporary Cuban authors to write in the post-1959 diaspora: Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005), who left Cuba for good in 1965 and established himself in London; Antonio Benitez-Rojo (1931-2005), who settled in the United States; and Leonardo Padura Fuentes (b. 1955), who still lives and writes in Cuba. Gonzalez places the three Cuban writers in conversation with artists and thinkers from British and American literature, anthropology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and cinema, highlighting the positive experiences of exile and wandering that appear in their work.


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.


Humanism-and-Creativity-cover
  • Humanism and Creativity in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Ronald G. Witt

  • 2006, Brill Academic Publishers
  • , editor
  • Purchase Online

This volume comprises original contributions from 17 scholars whose work and careers Ronald Witt has touched in myriad ways. Intellectual, social, and political historians, a historian of philosophy and an art historian: specialists in various temporal and geographical regions of the Renaissance world here address specific topics reflecting some of the major themes that have woven their way through Ronald Witt’s intellectual cursus. While some essays offer fresh readings of canonical texts and explore previously unnoticed lines of filiation among them, others present “discoveries,” including a hitherto “lost” text and overlooked manuscripts that are here edited for the first time. Engagement with little-known material reflects another of Witt’s distinguishing characteristics: a passion for original sources. The essays are gathered under three rubrics: “Politics and the Revival of Antiquity”; “Humanism, Religion, and Moral Philosophy”; and “Erudition and Innovation.”


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.


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.


perversity-and-ethics book cover

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.


A browser’s delight of proverbs, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s classic, The Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote de la Mancha distills the timeless insight and humor of the masterpiece into a charming gift-size collection ideal for any lover of literature and great quotations.

Decorated with rich illustrations and assembled with a historical introduction by Cervantes scholar Harry Sieber, the quotations in this book are arranged according to theme for quick reference. Readers will easily discover the perfect quote for any occasion or topic. From Love and Hope, to Prudence and Prosperity, to Honor and Honesty, Don Quixote is famous for countless proverbs that have stood the test of time.

After 400 years, these sayings are still with us today, and the best are gathered in this literary volume. In the words of the immortal Man of La Mancha, “Thou hast seen nothing yet.”


the-pragmatic-turn-in-philosophy book cover

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” is the stunning debut of Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei and is the winner of the 2002 Paris Review Prize in Poetry. Each line in this extraordinary collection of poems feels like the deliberate utterance of a strong, educated, and creative mind. Each image and word is carefully chosen for context, clarity, and deep surprise. Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, and has studied in Athens, Ohio; Philadelphia; Berlin; and New York City.


demon lovers book cover

On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmännin of Dillingen in southern Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had confessed to committing a long list ofmaleficia (deeds of harmful magic), including killing forty—one infants and two mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one heinous act—sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin “in many divers places, . . . even in the street by night.”

As Walter Stephens demonstrates in Demon Lovers, it was not Hausmännin or other so-called witches who were obsessive about sex with demons—instead, a number of devout Christians, including trained theologians, displayed an uncanny preoccupation with the topic during the centuries of the “witch craze.” Why? To find out, Stephens conducts a detailed investigation of the first and most influential treatises on witchcraft (written between 1430 and 1530), including the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches).

Far from being credulous fools or mindless misogynists, early writers on witchcraft emerge in Stephens’s account as rational but reluctant skeptics, trying desperately to resolve contradictions in Christian thought on God, spirits, and sacraments that had bedeviled theologians for centuries. Proof of the physical existence of demons—for instance, through evidence of their intercourse with mortal witches—would provide strong evidence for the reality of the supernatural, the truth of the Bible, and the existence of God. Early modern witchcraft theory reflected a crisis of belief—a crisis that continues to be expressed today in popular debates over angels, Satanic ritual child abuse, and alien abduction.


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.


Zerbrechende Tradierung book cover
  • Zerbrechende Tradierung. Zu Kontexten des Schauspiels “IchundIch” von Else Lasker-Schüler

  • 2002, Passagen Verlag
  • , author
  • Purchase Online

Bereits in den 60er Jahren wurden die Weichen für eine nachhaltige Marginalisierung gestellt: Das im Exil entstandene Schauspiel „IchundIch“ von Else Lasker-Schüler erschien unzugänglich für Lektüren, die das Ideal organischer Geschlossenheit zugrunde legten. Das Buch praktiziert demgegenüber eine besondere Form des „close reading“, das die vielschichtige Textur des Dramas „dicht“ beschreibt und dabei poetologische Fragestellungen aus dem Umfeld dekonstruktiver Theoriebildungen mit diskursanalytischen „Querschnitten“ verbindet. Im Zentrum stehen Überlegungen zum Genre des Textes, zur Problematik von Autorschaft und schließlich zur intertextuellen Umschrift von Goethes „Faust“ vor dem Hintergrund nationalsozialistischer Indienstnahmen des „Faustischen“. „Zerbrechende Tradierung“ bezeichnet den komplexen Darstellungsmodus des Dramas, der Exilierung in sprachliche Deterritorialisierung übersetzt und zugleich eine ideologiekritische „Fugentechnik“ ausbildet, die jede Totalisierung absoluter Ursprungsinstanzen unterbricht.


Die Arbeit widmet sich der Frage der Wiederholung aus einer literaturwissenschaftlichen und psychoanalytischen Perspektive. Anhand der Konstellation von Texten Kierkegaards, Lacans, Freuds und Derridas wird die Wiederholung als sprachliche und ethische Figur im Hinblick auf eine Kritik an der Logik der Repräsentation entfaltet. Die Konfrontation von Kierkegaards Denken der Wiederholung mit dem Wiederholungsbegriff der Psychoanalyse und Lacans Ethik der Begehrens ermöglicht es, die Wiederholung als paradoxe Bewegung zu lesen, in der sich Ethik und Sprache strukturell miteinander verschränken. Diese Verschränkung wird anhand von Kierkegaards Begriff der Ironie, Lacans Konzeptionen des Symbolischen und Realen, Freuds Ausführungen zum Urteil sowie Derridas Denken der Schrift theoretisch expliziert. Die Korrespondenzen von Kierkegaards Ironiebegriff mit der Sprachauffassung der Psychoanalyse geben Anlaß zu sprachtheoretischen und methodischen Reflexionen. Auf diesem Wege zeigt sich auch die Lektüre als Wiederholungsbewegung, d.h. als eine Angelegenheit der Ethik und des Begehrens.


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.