Combining literary studies, the history of science, and visual culture studies, Heinrich analyzes the rhetoric and iconography through which medical missionaries transmitted to the West an image of China as “sick” or “diseased.” He also examines the absorption of that image back into China through missionary activity, through the earliest translations of Western medical texts into Chinese, and even through the literature of Chinese nationalism. Heinrich argues that over time “scientific” Western representations of the Chinese body and culture accumulated a host of secondary meanings, taking on an afterlife with lasting consequences for conceptions of Chinese identity in China and beyond its borders.
In this much-needed examination of Buddhist views of death and the afterlife, Carl B. Becker bridges the gap between books on death in the West and books on Buddhism in the East.
Other Western writers have addressed the mysteries surrounding death and the afterlife, but few have approached the topic from a Buddhist perspective. Here, Becker resolves questions that have troubled scholars since the beginning of Buddhism: How can Buddhism reconcile its belief in karma and rebirth with its denial of a permanent soul? What is reborn? And when, exactly, is the moment of death?
By systematically tracing Buddhism’s migration from India through China, Japan, and Tibet, Becker demonstrates how culture and environment affect Buddhist religious tradition.
In addition to discussing historical Buddhism, Becker shows how Buddhism resolves controversial current issues as well. In the face of modern medicine’s trend toward depersonalization, traditional Buddhist practices imbue the dying process with respect and dignity. At the same time, Buddhist tradition offers documented precedents for decision making in cases of suicide and euthanasia.
In the 1640s--a decade of epidemic and warfare across colonial North America--eight Jesuit missionaries met their deaths at the hands of native antagonists. With their collective canonization in 1930, these men, known to the devout as the North American martyrs, would become the continent's first official Catholic saints. In The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs, Emma Anderson untangles the complexities of these seminal acts of violence and their ever-changing legacy across the centuries. While exploring how Jesuit missionaries perceived their terrifying final hours, the work also seeks to comprehend the motivations of the those who confronted them from the other side of the axe, musket, or caldron of boiling water, and to illuminate the experiences of those native Catholics who, though they died alongside their missionary mentors, have yet to receive comparable recognition as martyrs by the Catholic Church.
In tracing the creation and evolution of the cult of the martyrs across the centuries, Anderson reveals the ways in which both believers and detractors have honored and preserved the memory of the martyrs in this "afterlife," and how their powerful story has been continually reinterpreted in the collective imagination over the centuries. As rival shrines rose to honor the martyrs on either side of the U.S.-Canadian border, these figures would both unite and deeply divide natives and non-natives, francophones and anglophones, Protestants and Catholics, Canadians and Americans, forging a legacy as controversial as it has been enduring.
Fascination with ancient Egypt is a recurring theme in Western culture, and here Brian Curran uncovers its deep roots in the Italian Renaissance, which embraced not only classical art and literature but also a variety of other cultures that modern readers don’t tend to associate with early modern Italy. Patrons, artists, and spectators of the period were particularly drawn, Curran shows, to Egyptian antiquity and its artifacts, many of which found their way to Italy in Roman times and exerted an influence every bit as powerful as that of their more familiar Greek and Roman counterparts.
Curran vividly recreates this first wave of European Egyptomania with insightful interpretations of the period’s artistic and literary works. In doing so, he paints a colorful picture of a time in which early moderns made the first efforts to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, and popes and princes erected pyramids and other Egyptianate marvels to commemorate their own authority. Demonstrating that the emergence of ancient Egypt as a distinct category of historical knowledge was one of Renaissance humanism’s great accomplishments, Curran’s peerless study will be required reading for Renaissance scholars and anyone interested in the treasures and legacy of ancient Egypt.
When Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE, the force of the explosion blew the top right off the mountain, burying nearby Pompeii in a shower of volcanic ash. Ironically, the calamity that proved so lethal for Pompeii's inhabitants preserved the city for centuries, leaving behind a snapshot of Roman daily life that has captured the imagination of generations.
The experience of Pompeii always reflects a particular time and sensibility, says Ingrid Rowland. From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town explores the fascinating variety of these different experiences, as described by the artists, writers, actors, and others who have toured the excavated site. The city's houses, temples, gardens--and traces of Vesuvius's human victims--have elicited responses ranging from awe to embarrassment, with shifting cultural tastes playing an important role. The erotic frescoes that appalled eighteenth-century viewers inspired Renoir to change the way he painted. For Freud, visiting Pompeii was as therapeutic as a session of psychoanalysis. Crown Prince Hirohito, arriving in the Bay of Naples by battleship, found Pompeii interesting, but Vesuvius, to his eyes, was just an ugly version of Mount Fuji. Rowland treats readers to the distinctive, often quirky responses of visitors ranging from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain to Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman.
Interwoven throughout a narrative lush with detail and insight is the thread of Rowland's own impressions of Pompeii, where she has returned many times since first visiting in 1962.
Sweden’s early film industry was dominated by Swedish Biograph (Svenska Biografteatern), home to star directors like Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. It is nostalgically remembered as the generative site of a nascent national artform, encapsulating a quintessentially Nordic aesthetic—the epicenter of Sweden’s cinematic Golden Age. In The Life and Afterlife of Swedish Biograph, veteran film scholar Jan Olsson takes a hard look at this established, romanticized narrative and offers a far more complete, complex, and nuanced story.
Nearly all of the studio’s original negatives were destroyed in an explosion in 1941, but Olsson’s comprehensive archival research shows how the company operated in a commercial, international arena, and how it was influenced not just by Nordic aesthetics or individual genius but also by foreign audiences’ expectations, technological demands, Hollywood innovations, and the gritty back-and-forth between economic pressures, government interference, and artistic desires. Olsson’s focus is wide, encompassing the studio’s production practices, business affairs, and cinematographic conventions, as well as the latter-day archival efforts that both preserved and obscured parts of Swedish Biograph’s story, helping construct the company’s rosy legacy. The result is a necessary rewrite to Swedish film historiography and a far fuller picture of a canonical film studio.
Renowned contributors use the late work of this crucial figure to open new speculations on "materiality."
A "material event," in one of Paul de Man’s definitions, is a piece of writing that enters history to make something happen. This interpretation hovers over the publication of this volume, a timely reconsideration of de Man’s late work in its complex literary, critical, cultural, philosophical, political, and historical dimensions.
A distinguished group of scholars responds to the problematic of "materialism" as posed in Paul de Man’s posthumous final book, Aesthetic Ideology. These contributors, at the forefront of critical theory, productive thinking, and writing in the humanities, explore the question of "material events" to illuminate not just de Man’s work but their own. Prominent among the authors here is Jacques Derrida, whose extended essay “Typewriter Ribbon: Limited Inc (2)” returns to a celebrated episode in Rousseau’s Confessions that was discussed by de Man in Allegories of Reading.
The importance of de Man’s late work is related to a broad range of subjects and categories and-in Derrida’s provocative reading of de Man’s concept of "materiality"-the politico-autobiographical texts of de Man himself. This collection is essential reading for all those interested in the present state of literary and cultural theory.
Contributors: Judith Butler, UC Berkeley; T. J. Clark, UC Berkeley; Jacques Derrida, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and UC Irvine; Barbara Johnson, Harvard U; Ernesto Laclau, U of Essex; Arkady Plotnitsky, Purdue U; Laurence A. Rickels, UC Santa Barbara; and Michael Sprinker.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year
A Tablet Book of the Year
Marking a departure in our understanding of Christian views of the afterlife from 250 to 650 CE, The Ransom of the Soul explores a revolutionary shift in thinking about the fate of the soul that occurred around the time of Rome’s fall. Peter Brown describes how this shift transformed the Church’s institutional relationship to money and set the stage for its domination of medieval society in the West.
“[An] extraordinary new book…Prodigiously original—an astonishing performance for a historian who has already been so prolific and influential…Peter Brown’s subtle and incisive tracking of the role of money in Christian attitudes toward the afterlife not only breaks down traditional geographical and chronological boundaries across more than four centuries. It provides wholly new perspectives on Christianity itself, its evolution, and, above all, its discontinuities. It demonstrates why the Middle Ages, when they finally arrived, were so very different from late antiquity.”
—G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books
“Peter Brown’s explorations of the mindsets of late antiquity have been educating us for nearly half a century…Brown shows brilliantly in this book how the future life of Christians beyond the grave was influenced in particular by money.
—A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
Cambodian history is Cold War history, asserts Y-Dang Troeung in Refugee Lifeworlds. Constructing a genealogy of the afterlife of the Cold War in Cambodia, Troeung mines historical archives and family anecdotes to illuminate the refugee experience, and the enduring impact of war, genocide, and displacement in the lives of Cambodian people.
Troeung, a child of refugees herself, employs a method of autotheory that melds critical theory, autobiography, and textual analysis to examine the work of contemporary artists, filmmakers, and authors. She references a proverb about the Cambodian kapok tree that speaks to the silences, persecutions, and modes of resistance enacted during the Cambodian Genocide, and highlights various literary texts, artworks, and films that seek to document and preserve Cambodian histories nearly extinguished by the Khmer Rouge regime.
Addressing the various artistic responses to prisons and camps, issues of trauma, disability, and aphasia, as well as racism and decolonialism, Refugee Lifeworlds repositions Cambodia within the broader transpacific formation of the Cold War. In doing so, Troeung reframes questions of international complicity and responsibility in ways that implicate us all.
Undead Science examines the story of cold fusion, one of the most publicized scientific controversies of the late twentieth century. In 1989 two Utah-based “discoverers” claimed to have developed an electrochemical process that produced more energy than was required to initiate the process. Finding no other explanation, the researchers described their findings as some kind of nuclear reaction. If they were correct, an important new energy source would have been found. Objections surfaced quickly, and in the year that followed, hundreds of scientists worldwide attempted to reproduce these results. Most, though not all, failed, and the controversy became increasingly antagonistic. By 1990, general scientific opinion favored the skeptics and experimental work went into a steep decline. Nevertheless, many scientists continue to do research in what Bart Simon calls this “undead science.”
Simon argues that in spite of widespread skepticism in the scientific community, there has been a continued effort to make sense of the controversial phenomenon. Researchers in well-respected laboratories continue to produce new and rigorous work. In this manner, cold fusion research continues to exist long after the controversy has subsided, even though the existence of cold fusion is circumscribed by the widespread belief that the phenomenon is not real.
The survival of cold fusion signals the need for a more complex understanding of the social dynamics of scientific knowledge making, the boundaries between experts, intermediaries, and the lay public, and the conceptualization of failure in the history of science and technology.
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