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Action, Contemplation, and Happiness
An Essay on Aristotle
C. D. C. Reeve
Harvard University Press, 2012

The notion of practical wisdom is one of Aristotle’s greatest inventions. It has inspired philosophers as diverse as Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Elizabeth Anscombe, Michael Thompson, and John McDowell. Now a leading scholar of ancient philosophy offers a challenge to received accounts of practical wisdom by situating it in the larger context of Aristotle’s views on knowledge and reality.

That happiness is the end pursued by practical wisdom is commonly agreed. What is disputed is whether happiness is to be found in the practical life of political action, in which we exhibit courage, temperance, and other virtues of character, or in the contemplative life, where theoretical wisdom is the essential virtue. C. D. C. Reeve argues that the dichotomy is bogus, that these lives are in fact parts of a single life, which is the best human one. In support of this view, he develops innovative accounts of many of the central notions in Aristotle’s metaphysics, epistemology, and psychology, including matter and form, scientific knowledge, dialectic, educatedness, perception, understanding, political science, practical truth, deliberation, and deliberate choice. These accounts are based directly on freshly translated passages from many of Aristotle’s writings. Action, Contemplation, and Happiness is an accessible essay not just on practical wisdom but on Aristotle’s philosophy as a whole.

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The Activity of Being
An Essay on Aristotle’s Ontology
Aryeh Kosman
Harvard University Press, 2013

Understanding “what something is” is a project that has long occupied philosophers. Perhaps no thinker in the Western tradition has had more influence on how we approach this question than Aristotle, whose Metaphysics remains the locus classicus of rigorous examinations into the nature of being. Now, in an elegantly argued new study, Aryeh Kosman reinterprets Aristotle’s ontology and compels us to reexamine some of our most basic assumptions about the great philosopher’s thought.

For Aristotle, to ask “what something is” is to inquire into a specific mode of its being, something ordinarily regarded as its “substance.” But to understand substance, we need the concept of energeia—a Greek term usually translated as “actuality.” In a move of far-reaching consequence, Kosman explains that the correct translation of energeia is not “actuality” but “activity.” We have subtly misunderstood the Metaphysics on this crucial point, says Kosman. Aristotle conceives of substance as a kind of dynamic activity, not some inert quality. Substance is something actively being what it is.

Kosman demonstrates how this insight significantly alters our understanding of a number of important concepts in Aristotelian thought, from accounts of motion, consciousness, and essence to explanations of the nature of animal and divine being. Whether it is approached as an in-depth introduction to Aristotle’s metaphysics or as a highly original reassessment sure to spark debate, there can be no argument that The Activity of Being is a major contribution to our understanding of one of philosophy’s most important thinkers.

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The Animal Rights Struggle
An Essay in Historical Sociology
Christophe Traïni
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
Since the early nineteenth century, numerous campaigns have denounced the mistreatment of animals. Originally published in French as La cause animale, this book compares the British and French histories of the animal-protection movement to retrace its origins and assess its impact up to the present day. As Christophe Traïni shows, the struggle for animal rights-inextricably linked to the rise of philanthropy and established long before the birth of the ecology movement-developed out of several important social and political processes, including changes in sensibilities and socially approved emotions, new definitions of what constitutes legitimate violence, and the influence of religious beliefs.
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The Authoritarian State (CW4)
An Essay on the Problem of the Austrian State
Eric Voegelin, Edited & Intro by Gilbert Weiss, Translated by Ruth Hein, & Historical Commentary by Erika Weinzierl
University of Missouri Press, 1999

Published in Vienna in 1936, The Authoritarian State by Eric Voegelin has remained virtually unknown to the public until now. Sales of the German edition were halted following the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938, and the entire printing was later destroyed by wartime bombing. In this volume, Voegelin offers a critical examination of the most prominent European theories of state and constitutional law of the period while providing a political and historical analysis of the Austrian situation. He discusses the dismissal of Parliament in 1933, the civil war, the murder of Federal Chancellor Dollfuss, the adoption of the "Authoritarian Constitution" of 1934, and the predicament of being sandwiched between Hitler and Mussolini.

A radical critique of Hans Kelsen's pure theory of law lies at the heart of this work, marking Voegelin's definitive departure from Neo-Kantian epistemology. For the first time, Voegelin elaborates on the important distinction between theoretical concepts and political symbols as a basis for explaining the nontheoretical and speculative character of ideologies, both left and right. He shows that total and authoritarian are symbols of ideological self-interpretation that have no theoretical value, a distinction basic to his later work in The New Science of Politics.

Available for the first time in English, The Authoritarian State is a valuable addition to the Voegelin canon and to the field of intellectual history in general.

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The Barren Sacrifice
An Essay on Political Violence
Paul Dumouchel
Michigan State University Press, 2015
According to political theory, the primary function of the modern state is to protect its citizens—both from each other and from external enemies. Yet it is the states that essentially commit major forms of violence, such as genocides, ethnic cleansings, and large-scale massacres, against their own citizens. In this book Paul Dumouchel argues that this paradoxical reversal of the state’s primary function into violence against its own members is not a mere accident but an ever-present possibility that is inscribed in the structure of the modern state. Modern states need enemies to exist and to persist, not because they are essentially evil but because modern politics constitutes a violent means of protecting us against our own violence. If they cannot—if we cannot—find enemies outside the state, they will find them inside. However, this institution is today coming to an end, not in the sense that states are disappearing, but in the sense that they are increasingly failing to protect us from our own violence. That is why the violent sacrifices that they ask from us, in wars and even in times of peace, have now become barren.
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The Barthes Effect
The Essay as Reflective Text
Réda BensmaïaTranslated by Pat FedkiewForeword by Michèle H. Richman
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

The Barthes Effect was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The author acknowledges the essay as an eccentric phenomenon in literary history, one that has long resisted entry into the taxonomy of genres, as it concentrates on four works by Roland Barthes: The Pleasure of the Text, A Lover's Discourse, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, and Camera Lucida. Maintains that with Barthes the essay achieves a status of its own, as reflective text.

". . . a study rigorously conscious of the critical maneuvers it executes and, more importantly, questions as critical practice . . . " Bensmaïa's strategy produces a successful investigation of the interstices and slippages of meaning which Barthes addressed in his work." SubStance

Reda Bensmaia is associate professor in the departments of French and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, and translator Pat Fedkiew, a graduate student in French at Minnesota. Michele Richman is associate professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Reading Georges Bataille: Beyond the Gift.

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Black Power Ideologies
An Essay in African American Political Thought
John T. McCartney
Temple University Press, 1993

In a systematic survey of the manifestations and meaning of Black Power in America, John McCartney analyzes the ideology of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s and places it in the context of both African-American and Western political thought. He demonstrates, though an exploration of historic antecedents, how the Black Power versus black mainstream competition of the sixties was not unique in American history. Tracing the evolution of black social and political movements from the 18th century to the present, the author focuses on the ideas and actions of the leaders of each major approach.

Starting with the colonization efforts of the Pan-Negro Nationalist movement in the 18th century, McCartney contrasts the work of Bishop Turner with the opposing integrationist views of Frederick Douglass and his followers. McCartney examines the politics of accommodation espoused by Booker T. Washington; W.E.B. Du Bois's opposition to this apolitical stance; the formation of the NAACP, the Urban League, and other integrationist organizations; and Marcus Garvey's reawakening of the separatist ideal in the early 20th century. Focusing on the intense legal activity of the NAACP from the 1930s to the 1960s, McCartney gives extensive treatment to the moral and political leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his challenge from the Black Power Movement in 1966.

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The Broken World of Sacrifice
An Essay in Ancient Indian Ritual
J. C. Heesterman
University of Chicago Press, 1993
In this book, J. C. Heesterman attempts to understand the origins and nature of Vedic sacrifice—the complex compound of ritual practices that stood at the center of ancient Indian religion.

Paying close attention to anomalous elements within both the Vedic ritual texts, the brahmanas, and the ritual manuals, the srautasutras, Heesterman reconstructs the ideal sacrifice as consisting of four moments: killing, destruction, feasting, and contest. He shows that Vedic sacrifice all but exclusively stressed the offering in the fire—the element of destruction—at the expense of the other elements. Notably, the contest was radically eliminated. At the same time sacrifice was withdrawn from society to become the sole concern of the individual sacrificer. The ritual turns in on the individual as "self-sacrificer" who realizes through the internalized knowledge of the ritual the immortal Self. At this point the sacrificial cult of the fire recedes behind doctrine of the atman's transcendence and unity with the cosmic principle, the brahman.

Based on his intensive analysis Heesterman argues that Vedic sacrifice was primarily concerned with the broken world of the warrior and sacrificer. This world, already broken in itself by the violence of the sacrificial contest, was definitively broken up and replaced with the ritrualism of the single, unopposed sacrificer. However, the basic problem of sacrifice—the riddle of life and death—keeps breaking too surface in the form of incongruities, contradictions, tensions, and oppositions that have perplexed both the ancient ritual theorists and the modern scholar.
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Cinemachines
An Essay on Media and Method
Garrett Stewart
University of Chicago Press, 2020
The hero stands on stage in high-definition 3-D while doubled on a crude pixel screen in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Alien ships leave Earth by dissolving at the conclusion of Arrival.  An illusory death spiral in Vertigo transitions abruptly to a studio set, jolting the spectator. These are a few of the startling visual moments that Garrett Stewart examines in Cinemachines, a compelling, powerful, and witty book about the cultural and mechanical apparatuses that underlie modern cinema.
            Engaging in fresh ways with revelatory special effects in the history of cinematic storytelling—from Buster Keaton’s breaching of the film screen in Sherlock Jr. to the pixel disintegration of a remotely projected hologram in Blade Runner 2049—Stewart’s book puts unprecedented emphasis on technique in moving image narrative. Complicating and revising the discourse on historical screen processes, Cinemachines will be crucial reading for anyone interested in the evolution of the movies from a celluloid to a digital medium.
 
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Crafting Presence
The American Essay and the Future of Writing Studies
Nicole B. Wallack
Utah State University Press, 2016
Essays are central to students’ and teachers’ development as thinkers in their fields. In Crafting Presence, Nicole B. Wallack develops an approach to teaching writing with the literary essay that holds promise for writing students, as well as for achieving a sense of common purpose currently lacking among professionals in composition, creative writing, and literature.
 
Wallack analyzes examples drawn primarily from volumes of The Best American Essays to illuminate the most important quality of the essay as a literary form: the writer’s “presence.” She demonstrates how accounting for presence provides a flexible and rigorous heuristic for reading the contexts, formal elements, and purposes of essays. Such readings can help students learn writing principles, practices, and skills for crafting myriad presences rather than a single voice.
 
Crafting Presence holds serious implications for writing pedagogy by providing new methods to help teachers and students become more insightful and confident readers and writers of essays. At a time when liberal arts education faces significant challenges, this important contribution to literary studies, composition, and creative writing shows how an essay-centered curriculum empowers students to show up in the world as public thinkers who must shape the “knowledge economy” of the twenty-first century.
 
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Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?
An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination
Paul Veyne
University of Chicago Press, 1988
"[Veyne's] present book has some kinship with his sprightly theoretical work Comment on ecrit l'histoire; and he declares that its aim was to provoke reflection on the way our conception of truth is built up and changes over the centuries. . . . The style is brilliant and exhilarating."—Jasper Griffin, Times Literary Supplement
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An Essay on African Philosophical Thought
Kwame Gyekye
Temple University Press, 1995

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An Essay on Calcareous Manures
Edmund Ruffin
Harvard University Press

The publication in 1832 of An Essay on Calcareous Manures initiated an era of agricultural reform in the ante-bellum South. By 1850 Edmund Ruffin, seconded by John Taylor of Carolina, had effected a transformation of the economy of the upper South from poverty to agricultural prosperity. The essay's importance is not only regional, for in its four editions it presented Ruffin's theories to farmers who were facing the same problems of soil exhaustion in other parts of America. This small book, with its uncompromisingly descriptive title, is a landmark in the history of soil chemistry in the United States.

Ruffin read widely in the literature, mainly European, of agricultural chemistry, and in the 1820's he experimented with ways to make planting pay on his own tidewater Virginia lands. On the basis of his own research and frustrating experience as a farmer, he maintained that the capacity, of soil for enrichment by plant and animal manure is only relative to the original fertility of the soil. In other words, organic manures can only restore earth to what it was prior to cultivation. If land originally lacked the mineral ingredients essential to fertility, it would yield sparingly as long as the minerals were absent.

Ruffin found that uncultivated land in his part of Virginia lacked calcium carbonate, and that most of this same poor soil contained vegetable acid, the cause of its sterility. His solution was to plow in calcareous manure that is, earth containing calcium carbonate thus neutralizing the acid. When Ruffin first had his slaves dig up marl from one of the beds of fossilized shells that underlie much of coastal Virginia, and directed them to apply it to a test patch of his land, which was then planted with corn, he increased his yield by 40 per cent. This amazingly successful experiment led to others, and became what a contemporary of Ruffin called "the first systematic attempt wherein a plain, practical, unpretending farmer...has undertaken to examine into the real composition of the soils which he possesses and has to cultivate."

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Essay on Classification
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz
Harvard University Press

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An Essay on Contraction
André Fuhrmann
CSLI, 1996
Subject: Philosophy; Belief and Doubt; Logic
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Essay on Exoticism
An Aesthetics of Diversity
Victor Segalen
Duke University Press, 2002
The “Other”—source of fear and fascination; emblem of difference demonized and romanticized. Theories of alterity and cultural diversity abound in the contemporary academic landscape. Victor Segalen’s early attempt to theorize the exotic is a crucial reference point for all discussions of alterity, diversity, and ethnicity.
Written over the course of fourteen years between 1904 and 1918, at the height of the age of imperialism, Essay on Exoticism encompasses Segalen’s attempts to define “true Exoticism.” This concept, he hoped, would not only replace nineteenth-century notions of exoticism that he considered tawdry and romantic, but also redirect his contemporaries’ propensity to reduce the exotic to the “colonial.” His critique envisions a mechanism that appreciates cultural difference—which it posits as an aesthetic and ontological value—rather than assimilating it: “Exoticism’s power is nothing other than the ability to conceive otherwise,” he writes.
Segalen’s pioneering work on otherness anticipates and informs much of the current postcolonial critique of colonial discourse. As such Essay on Exoticism is essential reading for both cultural theorists or those with an interest in the politics of difference and diversity.
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An Essay on Facts
Kenneth Russel Olson
CSLI, 1987
The notion of fact, as a metaphysical category, is of fairly recent vintage. As a result, perhaps, it has not received the attention that has been accorded more traditional concepts. The present study, which integrates historical exposition with philosophical analysis, aims to help rectify this situation. The first chapter delimits the subject matter by distinguishing the metaphysical sense of the word "fact" from various epistemic and semantic ones, in the process distinguishing facts from propositions. Chapter Two is chiefly historical. The pressures that led to the positing of facts in the latter half of the nineteenth century are discussed in the context of the history of the the doctrine of relations, beginning with Aristotle and the Scholastics. Chapter Three takes up what the author considers the main argument in favor of admitting facts, which is due to F. H. Bradley. The fourth and final chapter considers several versions of a well-known argument against facts due originally to Frege and Church and examines the pros and cons of various ways of getting around it.
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An Essay on Negation
For a Linguistic Anthropology
Paolo Virno
Seagull Books, 2018
A vital addition to Seagull’s growing Italian List that focuses on leftist Italian thought, bringing famous as well as little-known yet crucial voices into the English language.

As speaking animals, we continuously make use of an unassuming grammatical particle, without suspecting that what is at work in its inconspicuousness is a powerful apparatus, which orchestrates language, signification, and the world at large. What particle might this be? The word not.

In Essay on Negation, Paolo Virno argues that the importance of the not is perhaps comparable only to that of money—that is, the universality of exchange. Negation is what separates verbal thought from silent cognitive operations, such as feelings and mental images. Speaking about what is not happening here and now, or about properties that are not referable to a given object, the human animal deactivates its original neuronal empathy, which is prelinguistic; it distances itself from the prescriptions of its own instinctual endowment and accesses a higher sociality, negotiated and unstable, which establishes the public sphere. In fact, the speaking animal soon learns that the negative statement does not amount to the linguistic double of unpleasant realities or destructive emotions: while it rejects them, negation also names them and thus includes them in social life. Virno sees negation as a crucial effect of civilization, one that is, however, also always exposed to further regressions. Taking his cue from a humble word, the author is capable of unfolding the unexpected phenomenology of the negating consciousness.
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An Essay on Philosophical Method
R.G. Collingwood
St. Augustine's Press, 2011

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An Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species
Samuel Stanhope Smith
Harvard University Press

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Essay on the Geography of Plants
Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland
University of Chicago Press, 2010
The legacy of Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) looms large over the natural sciences. His 1799–1804 research expedition to Central and South America with botanist Aimé Bonpland set the course for the great scientific surveys of the nineteenth century, and inspired such essayists and artists as Emerson, Goethe, Thoreau, Poe, and Church.

The chronicles of the expedition were published in Paris after Humboldt’s return, and first among them was the 1807 “Essay on the Geography of Plants.” Among the most cited writings in natural history, after the works of Darwin and Wallace, this work appears here for the first time in a complete English-language translation. Covering far more than its title implies, it represents the first articulation of an integrative “science of the earth, ” encompassing most of today’s environmental sciences.  Ecologist Stephen T. Jackson introduces the treatise and explains its enduring significance two centuries after its publication.
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Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Dartmouth College Press, 2009
"J.J. was born for music," Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of himself, "not to be consumed in its execution, but to speed its progress and make discoveries about it. His ideas on the art and about the art are fertile, inexhaustible." Rousseau was a practicing musician and theorist for years before publication of his first Discourse, but until now scholars have neglected these ideas. This graceful translation remedies both those failings by bringing together the Essay, which John T. Scott says "most clearly displays the juncture between Rousseau's musical theory and his major philosophical works," with a comprehensive selection of the musical writings. Many of the latter are responses to authors like Rameau, Grimm, and Raynal, and a unique feature of this edition is the inclusion of writings by these authors to help establish the historical and ideological contexts of Rousseau's writings and the intellectual exchanges of which they are a part. With an introduction that provides historical background, traces the development of Rousseau's musical theory, and shows that these writings are not an isolated part of his oeuvre but instead are animated by the same "system," this volume fashions a much-needed portal through which literary scholars, musicologists, historians, and political theorists can enter into an important but hitherto overlooked chamber of Rousseau's vast intellectual palace.
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Essayists on the Essay
Montaigne to Our Time
Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French
University of Iowa Press, 2012

The first historically and internationally comprehensive collection of its kind, Essayists on the Essay is a path-breaking work that is nothing less than a richly varied sourcebook for anyone interested in the theory, practice, and art of the essay. This unique work includes a selection of fifty distinctive pieces by American, Canadian, English, European, and South American essayists from Montaigne to the present—many of which have not previously been anthologized or translated—as well as a detailed bibliographical and thematic guide to hundreds of additional works about the essay.

From a buoyant introduction that provides a sweeping historical and analytic overview of essayists’ thinking about their genre—a collective poetics of the essay—to the detailed headnotes offering pointed information about both the essayists themselves and the anthologized selections, to the richly detailed bibliographic sections, Essayists on the Essay is essential to anyone who cares about the form.

This collection provides teachers, scholars, essayists, and readers with the materials they need to take a fresh look at this important but often overlooked form that has for too long been relegated to the role of service genre—used primarily to write about other more “literary” genres or to teach young people how to write. Here, in a single celebratory volume, are four centuries of commentary and theory reminding us of the essay’s storied history, its international appeal, and its relationship not just with poetry and fiction but also with radio, film, video, and new media.

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Expressions of Judgment
An Essay on Kant’s Aesthetics
Eli Friedlander
Harvard University Press, 2014

The Critique of Judgment—the third and final work in Kant’s critical system—laid the groundwork of modern aesthetics when it appeared in 1790. Eli Friedlander’s reappraisal of this seminal accomplishment reformulates and elucidates Kant’s thought in order to reveal the inner unity of the Third Critique.

Expressions of Judgment emphasizes the internal connection of judgment and meaning in Kant’s aesthetics, showing how the pleasure in judging is intimately related to our capacity to draw meaning from our encounter with beauty. Although the meaningfulness of aesthetic judgment is most evident in the response to art, the appreciation of nature’s beauty has an equal share in the significant experience of our world. Friedlander’s attention to fundamental dualities underlying the Third Critique—such as that of art and nature—underscores how its themes are subordinated systematically to the central task Kant sets himself: that of devising a philosophical blueprint for the mediation between the realms of nature and freedom.

This understanding of the mediating function of judgment guides Friedlander in articulating the dimensions of the field of the aesthetic that opens between art and nature, the subject and the object, knowledge and the will, as well as between the individual and the communal. Expressions of Judgment illuminates the distinctness as well as the continuity of this important late phase in Kant’s critical enterprise, providing insights for experienced scholars as well as new students of philosophy.

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The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre
An Anthology of Explorations in Creative Nonfiction
Sean Prentiss
Michigan State University Press, 2014
Though creative nonfiction has been around since Montaigne, St. Augustine, and Seneca, we’ve only just begun to ask how this genre works, why it functions the way it does, and where its borders reside. But for each question we ask, another five or ten questions roil to the surface. And each of these questions, it seems, requires a more convoluted series of answers. What’s more, the questions students of creative nonfiction are drawn to during class discussions, the ones they argue the longest and loudest, are the same ideas debated by their professors in the hallways and at the corner bar. In this collection, sixteen essential contemporary creative nonfiction writers reflect on whatever far, dark edge of the genre they find themselves most drawn to. The result is this fascinating anthology that wonders at the historical and contemporary borderlands between fiction and nonfiction; the illusion of time on the page; the mythology of memory; poetry, process, and the use of received forms; the impact of technology on our writerly lives; immersive research and the power of witness; a chronology and collage; and what we write and why we write.

Contributors: Nancer Ballard, H. Lee Barnes, Kim Barnes, Mary Clearman Blew, Joy Castro, Robin Hemley, Judith Kitchen, Brenda Miller, Ander Monson, Dinty W. Moore, Sean Prentiss, Lia Purpura, Erik Reece, Jonathan Rovner, Bob Shacochis, and Joe Wilkins.
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Fear of Small Numbers
An Essay on the Geography of Anger
Arjun Appadurai
Duke University Press, 2006
The period since 1989 has been marked by the global endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance capital and liberal ideas of constitutional rule, and the active expansion of human rights. Why, then, in this era of intense globalization, has there been a proliferation of violence, of ethnic cleansing on the one hand and extreme forms of political violence against civilian populations on the other?

Fear of Small Numbers is Arjun Appadurai’s answer to that question. A leading theorist of globalization, Appadurai turns his attention to the complex dynamics fueling large-scale, culturally motivated violence, from the genocides that racked Eastern Europe, Rwanda, and India in the early 1990s to the contemporary “war on terror.” Providing a conceptually innovative framework for understanding sources of global violence, he describes how the nation-state has grown ambivalent about minorities at the same time that minorities, because of global communication technologies and migration flows, increasingly see themselves as parts of powerful global majorities. By exacerbating the inequalities produced by globalization, the volatile, slippery relationship between majorities and minorities foments the desire to eradicate cultural difference.

Appadurai analyzes the darker side of globalization: suicide bombings; anti-Americanism; the surplus of rage manifest in televised beheadings; the clash of global ideologies; and the difficulties that flexible, cellular organizations such as Al-Qaeda present to centralized, “vertebrate” structures such as national governments. Powerful, provocative, and timely, Fear of Small Numbers is a thoughtful invitation to rethink what violence is in an age of globalization.

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Frames of Friction
Black Genealogies, White Hegemony, and the Essay as Critical Intervention
Carsten Junker
Campus Verlag, 2010

In Frames of Friction, Carsten Junker maps out a dazzling panorama of critical cultural debatesfrom the twentieth century to explore the ways in which African American speakers and writers established their authority and gained recognition. Taking into account the latest ideas from gender studies and African American studies, as well as current essay theory, Junker juxtaposes the ways in which African American authors and speakers from the 1920s to the 1970s debated critical topics with their white and Jewish contemporaries in order to emphasize the dialogic nature of the essay form. Ultimately, Junker hones in on the genre of essay itself, arguing that it is repeatedly questioned and reconstituted during times of social change.

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Free Verse
An Essay on Prosody
Charles O. Hartman
Northwestern University Press, 1996
To make sense of "free verse" in theory of in practice, the study of prosody—the function of rhythm in poetry—must be revised and rethought. In Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody, Charles Hartman develops a theory of prosody that includes the most characteristic form of twentieth-century poetry.
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Freedom's Moment
An Essay on the French Idea of Liberty from Rousseau to Foucault
Paul M. Cohen
University of Chicago Press, 1997
What kind of freedom, and what kind of individual, has the French Revolutionary tradition sought to propagate? Paul Cohen finds a distinctly French articulation of freedom in the texts and lives of eight renowned cultural critics who lived between the eighteenth century and the present day.

Arranged not according to the lives and times of its protagonists but to the narrative themes and structures they held in common, Cohen’s study discerns a single master narrative of liberty in modern France. He captures these radicals, whose tradition bids them to resist the authority of power structures and public opinion. They denounce bourgeois and utilitarian values, the power of Church and State, and the corrupting influence of everyday politics, and they dream of a revolutionary rupture, a fleeting instant of sometimes violent but always meaningful transgression.

An eloquent and insightful work on French political culture, Freedom's Moment also helps explain how France, even as it has oscillated between political stagnation and crisis, has held onto its faith that liberty, equality, and fraternity remain within its grasp.

Examines the ideas of Rousseau, Robespierre, Stendahl, Michelet, Bergson, Peguy, Sartre, and Foucault.
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Gardens
An Essay on the Human Condition
Robert Pogue Harrison
University of Chicago Press, 2008

Humans have long turned to gardens—both real and imaginary—for sanctuary from the frenzy and tumult that surrounds them. Those gardens may be as far away from everyday reality as Gilgamesh’s garden of the gods or as near as our own backyard, but in their very conception and the marks they bear of human care and cultivation, gardens stand as restorative, nourishing, necessary havens.

With Gardens, Robert Pogue Harrison graces readers with a thoughtful, wide-ranging examination of the many ways gardens evoke the human condition. Moving from from the gardens of ancient philosophers to the gardens of homeless people in contemporary New York, he shows how, again and again, the garden has served as a check against the destruction and losses of history.  The ancients, explains Harrison, viewed gardens as both a model and a location for the laborious self-cultivation and self-improvement that are essential to serenity and enlightenment, an association that has continued throughout the ages. The Bible and Qur’an; Plato’s Academy and Epicurus’s Garden School; Zen rock and Islamic carpet gardens; Boccaccio, Rihaku, Capek, Cao Xueqin, Italo Calvino, Ariosto, Michel Tournier, and Hannah Arendt—all come into play as this work explores the ways in which the concept and reality of the garden has informed human thinking about mortality, order, and power.

Alive with the echoes and arguments of Western thought, Gardens is a fitting continuation of the intellectual journeys of Harrison’s earlier classics, Forests and The Dominion of the Dead. Voltaire famously urged us to cultivate our gardens; with this compelling volume, Robert Pogue Harrison reminds us of the nature of that responsibility—and its enduring importance to humanity.

"I find myself completely besotted by a new book titled Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, by Robert Pogue Harrison. The author . . . is one of the very best cultural critics at work today. He is a man of deep learning, immense generosity of spirit, passionate curiosity and manifold rhetorical gifts."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

"This book is about gardens as a metaphor for the human condition. . . . Harrison draws freely and with brilliance from 5,000 years of Western literature and criticism, including works on philosophy and garden history. . . . He is a careful as well as an inspiring scholar."—Tom Turner, Times Higher Education

"When I was a student, my Cambridge supervisor said, in the Olympian tone characteristic of his kind, that the only living literary critics for whom he would sell his shirt were William Empson and G. Wilson Knight.  Having spent the subsequent 30 years in the febrile world of academic Lit. Crit. . . . I’m not sure that I’d sell my shirt for any living critic.  But if there had to be one, it would unquestionably be Robert Pogue Harrison, whose study Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, published in 1992, has the true quality of literature, not of criticism—it stays with you, like an amiable ghost, long after you read it.

“Though more modest in scope, this new book is similarly destined to become a classic. It has two principal heroes: the ancient philosopher Epicurus . . . and the wonderfully witty Czech writer Karel Capek, apropos of whom it is remarked that, whereas most people believe gardening to be a subset of life, ‘gardeners, including Capek, understand that life is a subset of gardening.’”—Jonathan Bate, The Spectator

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Gardens
An Essay on the Human Condition
Robert Pogue Harrison
University of Chicago Press, 2008

Humans have long turned to gardens—both real and imaginary—for sanctuary from the frenzy and tumult that surrounds them. Those gardens may be as far away from everyday reality as Gilgamesh’s garden of the gods or as near as our own backyard, but in their very conception and the marks they bear of human care and cultivation, gardens stand as restorative, nourishing, necessary havens.

With Gardens, Robert Pogue Harrison graces readers with a thoughtful, wide-ranging examination of the many ways gardens evoke the human condition. Moving from from the gardens of ancient philosophers to the gardens of homeless people in contemporary New York, he shows how, again and again, the garden has served as a check against the destruction and losses of history.  The ancients, explains Harrison, viewed gardens as both a model and a location for the laborious self-cultivation and self-improvement that are essential to serenity and enlightenment, an association that has continued throughout the ages. The Bible and Qur’an; Plato’s Academy and Epicurus’s Garden School; Zen rock and Islamic carpet gardens; Boccaccio, Rihaku, Capek, Cao Xueqin, Italo Calvino, Ariosto, Michel Tournier, and Hannah Arendt—all come into play as this work explores the ways in which the concept and reality of the garden has informed human thinking about mortality, order, and power.

Alive with the echoes and arguments of Western thought, Gardens is a fitting continuation of the intellectual journeys of Harrison’s earlier classics, Forests and The Dominion of the Dead. Voltaire famously urged us to cultivate our gardens; with this compelling volume, Robert Pogue Harrison reminds us of the nature of that responsibility—and its enduring importance to humanity.

"I find myself completely besotted by a new book titled Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, by Robert Pogue Harrison. The author . . . is one of the very best cultural critics at work today. He is a man of deep learning, immense generosity of spirit, passionate curiosity and manifold rhetorical gifts."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

"This book is about gardens as a metaphor for the human condition. . . . Harrison draws freely and with brilliance from 5,000 years of Western literature and criticism, including works on philosophy and garden history. . . . He is a careful as well as an inspiring scholar."—Tom Turner, Times Higher Education

"When I was a student, my Cambridge supervisor said, in the Olympian tone characteristic of his kind, that the only living literary critics for whom he would sell his shirt were William Empson and G. Wilson Knight.  Having spent the subsequent 30 years in the febrile world of academic Lit. Crit. . . . I’m not sure that I’d sell my shirt for any living critic.  But if there had to be one, it would unquestionably be Robert Pogue Harrison, whose study Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, published in 1992, has the true quality of literature, not of criticism—it stays with you, like an amiable ghost, long after you read it.

“Though more modest in scope, this new book is similarly destined to become a classic. It has two principal heroes: the ancient philosopher Epicurus . . . and the wonderfully witty Czech writer Karel Capek, apropos of whom it is remarked that, whereas most people believe gardening to be a subset of life, ‘gardeners, including Capek, understand that life is a subset of gardening.’”—Jonathan Bate, The Spectator

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Genius Loci
An Essay on the Meanings of Place
John Dixon Hunt
Reaktion Books, 2022
From literature to landscape architecture, an expansive, contemplative exploration of the significance of place.
 
For ancient Romans, genius loci was literally “the genius of the place,” the presiding divinity who inhabited a site and gave it meaning. While we are less attuned to divinity today, we still sense that a place has significance. In this book, eminent garden historian John Dixon Hunt explores genius loci in many settings, including contemporary land art, the paintings of Paul and John Nash, travel writers such as Henry James, Paul Theroux, and Lawrence Durrell on Provence, Mexico, and Cyprus, and landscape architects who invent new meanings for a site. This book is a nuanced, thoughtful exploration of how places become more significant to us through the myriad ways we see, talk about, and remember them.
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History and Theory after the Fall
An Essay on Interpretation
Fred Weinstein
University of Chicago Press, 1990
In this ambitious work, Fred Weinstein confronts the obstacles that have increasingly frustrated our attempts to explain social and historical reality. Traditionally, we have relied on history and social theory to describe the ways people understand the world they live in. But the ordering explanations we have always used—derived from the classical social theories originally forged by Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, Durkheim, Freud—have collapsed.

In the wake of this collapse or "fall," the rival claims of fiction, psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, and history have created the dilemma of radical relativism, the prospect of multiple interpretations of any complex historical event. The basic strategy of social theory and the social sciences—the search for underlying unities—proves so inherently contradictory and has provided so little in the way of reliable knowledge of social and historical relationships that to many critics it seems no longer worth pursuing.

Weinstein enters the debate by rejecting any search for underlying structural unities, dynamic or social, through which historians have attempted to find continuity with the past. He looks instead to ideological processes, to the construction of successive and changing versions of reality that mediate between the power of fantasy on the one side and the power of the social world on the other. He argues further that the need to use ideological constructs in this way accounts for the heterogeneous and changing content of social movements and for the persistent need people have always had for authoritative leaders, even in democratized societies. He suggests that people have historically been able to take a step away from leaders only by substituting the possession of objects such as property or money. This book is a breakthrough in poststructuralist theory that is sure to stimulate considerable discussion, especially about the shape of the social sciences and the future of historical interpretation.
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How the Soviet Union Disappeared
An Essay on the Causes of Dissolution
Wisla Suraska
Duke University Press, 1998
Many theories have been offered to explain the disintegration of the Soviet Union, yet none sufficiently explain the speed and profundity of the empire’s collapse. In this powerful polemic, Wisla Suraska disputes popular interpretations of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and explains how theories, such as totalitarian theory, have failed to examine the exigencies of arbitrary government. At the center of Suraska’s own theories on the Soviet collapse is her claim that it came about not simply because it was an economically declining country that contained too many nationalities but because it was despotic and that despotism is unworkable in modern societies.
Using numerous secondary sources, recently published memoir literature, and new archival research, Suraska’s multidimensional study delves into the many factors involved in the dissolution of the Soviet empire—the role of Gorbachev and his contest with Yeltsin, the weakness of the Soviet state, and the poverty of ideas that informed perestroika. She also examines the complex relationship between the Communist Party, the KGB, and the military; the way Gorbachev dealt with the German question; and the rise of post-Marxist thought in the Soviet Union. Whether discussing how insufficient control over coercive forces or the growing strength of provincial barons impacted the collapse, Suraska furthers her argument that the explosion of nationalisms in the Soviet Union was as much activated by the breakdown of central structures as it actually contributed to the final demolition of the regime. In the end, How the Soviet Union Disappeared reveals Gorbachev’s perestroika as having been nothing short of a radical attempt to rebuild power that the Soviet center had lost in the post-Stalinist period.
In its questioning of the assumptions of most previous scholarship and discourse on the Soviet Union, this book will be of interest to Sovietologists, political scientists, and students of communism and nationalism.
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Imaginative Horizons
An Essay in Literary-Philosophical Anthropology
Vincent Crapanzano
University of Chicago Press, 2003
How do people make sense of their experiences? How do they understand possibility? How do they limit possibility? These questions are central to all the human sciences. Here, Vincent Crapanzano offers a powerfully creative new way to think about human experience: the notion of imaginative horizons. For Crapanzano, imaginative horizons are the blurry boundaries that separate the here and now from what lies beyond, in time and space. These horizons, he argues, deeply influence both how we experience our lives and how we interpret those experiences, and here sets himself the task of exploring the roles that creativity and imagination play in our experience of the world.
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Internal Evidence and Elizabethan Dramatic Authorship
An Essay in Literary History and Method
S. Schoenbaum
Northwestern University Press, 1966
Internal Evidence and Elizabethan Dramatic Authorship provides one the earliest attempts to write a theoretical method for evidence within plays to help determine authorship or to help distinguish the work of one author from another. Samuel Schoenbaum’s study remains valuable, for the attempt to attribute unattributed plays to one or another author remains an ongoing conversation within early modern scholarship today.
 
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John Keats
Poetry Manuscripts at Harvard: A Facsimile Edition, With an Essay on the Manuscripts by Helen Vendler
John Keats
Harvard University Press, 1990

After more than a century of study, we know more about John Keats than we do about most writers of the past, but we still cannot fully grasp the magical processes by which he created some of the most celebrated poems in all of English literature. This volume, containing 140 photographs of Keats’s own manuscripts, offers the most concrete evidence we have of the way in which his thoughts and feelings were transmuted into art.

The rough first drafts in particular are full of information about what occurred, if not in Keats’s mind, at least on paper when he had pen in hand: the headlong rush of ideas coming so fast that he had no time to punctuate or even form the letters of his words; the stumbling places where he had to begin again several times before the words resumed their flow; the efforts to integrate story, character, and theme with the formal requirements of rhyme and meter. Each revision teaches the inquiring reader something about Keats’s poetic practice.

Several of the manuscripts are unique authoritative sources, while others constitute our best texts among multiple existing versions. They reveal much about the maturation of the poet’s creativity during four years of his brief life, between “On Receiving a Curious Shell” (1815) and “To Autumn” (1819). Above all, they show us what is lost when penmanship yields to the printed page: what Helen Vendler, in her insightful essay on the manuscripts, calls “the living hand of Keats.” These sharply reproduced facsimiles provide compelling visual evidence of a mortal author in the act of composing immortal works.

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Justice as Translation
An Essay in Cultural and Legal Criticism
James Boyd White
University of Chicago Press, 1990
White extends his conception of United States law as a constitutive rhetoric shaping American legal culture that he proposed in When Words Lose Their Meaning, and asks how Americans can and should criticize this culture and the texts it creates. In determining if a judicial opinion is good or bad, he explores the possibility of cultural criticism, the nature of conceptual language, the character of economic and legal discourse, and the appropriate expectations for critical and analytic writing. White employs his unique approach by analyzing individual cases involving the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution and demonstrates how a judge translates the facts and the legal tradition, creating a text that constructs a political and ethical community with its readers.

"White has given us not just a novel answer to the traditional jurisprudential questions, but also a new way of reading and evaluating judicial opinions, and thus a new appreciation of the liberty which they continue to protect."—Robin West, Times Literary Supplement

"James Boyd White should be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, solely on the strength of this book. . . . Justice as Translation is an important work of philosophy, yet it is written in a lucid, friendly style that requires no background in philosophy. It will transform the way you think about law."—Henry Cohen, Federal Bar News & Journal

"White calls us to rise above the often deadening and dreary language in which we are taught to write professionally. . . . It is hard to imagine equaling the clarity of eloquence of White's challenge. The apparently effortless grace of his prose conveys complex thoughts with deceptive simplicity."—Elizabeth Mertz, Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities

"Justice as Translation, like White's earlier work, provides a refreshing reminder that the humanities, despite the pummelling they have recently endured, can be humane."—Kenneth L. Karst, Michigan Law Review
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Kant’s Final Synthesis
An Essay on the Opus postumum
Eckart Förster
Harvard University Press, 2000

This is the first book in English devoted entirely to Kant’s Opus postumum and its place in the Kantian oeuvre. Over the last few decades, the importance of this text for our understanding of Kant’s philosophy has emerged with increasing clarity.

Although Kant began it in order to solve a relatively minor problem within his philosophy, his reflections soon forced him to readdress virtually all the key problems of his critical philosophy: the objective validity of the categories, the dynamical theory of matter, the natures of space and time, the refutation of idealism, the theory of the self and its agency, the question of living organisms, the doctrine of the practical postulates and the idea of God, the unity of theoretical and practical reason, and the idea of transcendental philosophy itself. In the end Kant was convinced that these problems, some of which had preoccupied him throughout his career, could finally be brought to a coherent and adequate solution and integrated into a single philosophical conception.

As Eckart Förster shows in his penetrating study, Kant’s conviction deserves not only our intellectual respect but also our undivided philosophical attention. Förster provides detailed analyses of the key problems of Kant’s Opus postumum and also relates them to Kant’s major published writings. In this way he provides unique insights into the extraordinary continuity and inner dynamics of Kant’s transcendental philosophy as it progresses toward its final synthesis.

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Kant’s Methodology
An Essay in Philosophical Archeology
Charles P. Bigger
Ohio University Press, 1995

Kant’s revolution in methodology limited metaphysics to the conditions of possible experience. Since, following Hume, analysis—the “method of discovery” in early modern physics—could no longer ground itself in sense or in God’s constituting reason a new arché, “origin” and “principle,” was required, which Kant found in the synthesis of the productive imagination, the common root of sensibility and understanding. Charles Bigger argues that this imaginative “between” recapitulates the ancient Gaia myth which, as used by Plato in the Timaeus, offers a way into this originary arché. Since it depends on myth and the “likely story” rather than on a self-certain apprehension of Being, this facilitates an imaginative approach to the natural sciences which, through its synthetic a priori formations, can claim to be Kantian.

Bigger explores Kant’s ethics as an alternative to metaphysics that holds open the prospect of a Good beyond Being—and phenomenology—whose traces nevertheless appear in original synthesis. Though wary of its reductive implications, Bigger uses Derrida’s difference, a medial, feminine arché, as a way into this creative and procreative metaxu (between). As Emmanuel Levinas suggests, this is Plato’s gap [chaos] between being and becoming, whose possibility, beyond both, lies in chora and the Good. This Open also presents the possibility for a new, yet still Kantian, understanding of the formal and material conditions for the natural sciences.

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Love Song for the Life of the Mind
An Essay on the Purpose of Comedy
Gene Fendt
Catholic University of America Press, 2007
Love Song for the Life of the Mind develops the view of comedy that, the author argues, would have been set out in Aristotle's missing second book of Poetics. As such it is both a philosophical and a historical argument about Aristotle; and the theory of comedy it elucidates is meant to be trans-historically and trans-culturally accurate.
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Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies
An Essay on Comedies
Stuart M. Tave
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Through dreams and shadows and strangeness, through blinding charms and eye-opening counter-charms, through moments of mortification and laughter—thus Stuart M. Tave traces the journey of the lovers, clowns, and fairies who populate comedies from A Midsummer Night's Dream to Waiting for Godot. Tave avoids the pitfalls of theory, taking instead a close look at particular works to give us a sense of the relations between certain dramas and novels that are called comedies. The result is a wonderfully readable book that renews our delight in the enchanting possibilities of literature.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, in its "perfection," is Tave's point of departure. Its characters fall neatly into the three groups of Tave's title and fulfill to perfection their functions of desire, foolishness, and power. From the magical concord of Shakespeare's resolution, Tave moves to works whose character face ever greater difficulties in reaching a happy conclusion. From Jonson and Austen to Chekhov and Beckett, he meets comedies on their own terms, illuminating the complex and individual genius of each. A masterpiece of practical criticism, Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies rediscovers the pleasure of reading comedies.
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The Made-Up Self
Impersonation in the Personal Essay
Carl H. Klaus
University of Iowa Press, 2010

The human presence that animates the personal essay is surely one of the most beguiling of literary phenomena, for it comes across in so familiar a voice that it’s easy to believe we are listening to the author rather than a textual stand-in. But the “person” in a personal essay is always a written construct, a fabricated character, its confessions and reminiscences as rehearsed as those of any novelist. In this first book-length study of the personal essay, Carl Klaus unpacks this made-up self and the manifold ways in which a wide range of essayists and essays have brought it to life.

By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay—the I of the essayist—Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction. He develops this key idea by explaining how structure, style, and voice determine the nature of a persona and our perception of it in the works of such essayists as Michel de Montaigne, Charles Lamb, E. B. White, and Virginia Woolf. Realizing that this persona is shaped by the force of culture and the impress of personal experience, he explores the effects of both upon the point of view, content, and voice of such essayists as George Orwell, Nancy Mairs, Richard Rodriguez, and Alice Walker. Throughout, in full command of the history of the essay, he calls up numerous passages in which essayists themselves acknowledge the element of impersonation in their work, drawing upon the perspectives of Joan Didion, Edward Hoagland, Joyce Carol Oates, Leslie Marmon Silko, Scott Russell Sanders, Annie Dillard, Vivian Gornick, Loren Eiseley, James Baldwin, and a host of other literary guides.

Finally, adding yet another layer to the made-up self, Klaus succumbs to his addiction to the personal essay by placing some of the different selves that various essayists have called forth in him within the essays that he has crafted so carefully for this book. Making his way from one essay to the next with a persona variously learned, whimsical, and poignant, he enacts the palimpsest of ways in which the made-up self comes to life in the work of a single essayist. Thus over the course of this highly original, beautifully structured study, the personal essay is revealed to be more complex than many readers have supposed. With its lively analyses and illuminating examples, The Made-Up Self will speak to anyone who wishes to understand—or to write—personal essays.

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Malraux
An Essay in Political Criticism
David Wilkinson
Harvard University Press

The career of André Malraux has run the political gamut, from Communist to Gaullist alliances. Malraux has been (occasionally simultaneously) aesthete, agitator, and bureaucrat. He is also generally acknowledged to be one of this century’s major novelists and art critics.

In this study, David Wilkinson attempts to discern and define Malraux’s political concepts. The character and unity of those concepts, he argues, is primarily to be found in Malraux’s direct and indirect declarations on the act of creation, the philosophy of art, and the nature of the artist.

“Malraux’s thought is not simple,” Mr. Wilkinson warns in his Preface. “His writing is unsystematic; and his politics has at all times to be disentangled from the intricacies of a genre other than political thought.” In an intensive examination of Malraux’s fiction, essays, and speeches, Mr. Wilkinson delineates Malraux’s conviction that the deepest human needs are those which are cultural rather than, say, economic. The aspirations that were once satisfied by religion are, in a secular world, fulfilled by artistic creation; this creativity, in turn, is fostered by the recognition and appreciation of the objects of culture from all ages and regions, and it therefore devolves upon the state to take as one of its central activities the massive dissemination of these objects.

Mr. Wilkinson’s approach—a chronological dissection of the political themes implicit in Malraux’s work—illuminates the essential continuity and significance of Malraux’s thought and reveals a man who is complex but comprehensible.

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Medusa's Hair
An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience
Gananath Obeyesekere
University of Chicago Press, 1981
The great pilgrimage center of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has become in recent years the spiritual home of a new class of Hindu-Buddhist religious devotees. These ecstatic priests and priestesses invariably display long locks of matted hair, and they express their devotion to the gods through fire walking, tongue-piercing, hanging on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.

The increasing popularity of these ecstatics poses a challenge not only to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the official religion of Sri Lanka) but also, as Gananath Obeyesekere shows, to the traditional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing initially on one symbol, matted hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the conventional distinction between personal and cultural symbols is inadequate and naive. His detailed case studies of ecstatics show that there is always a reciprocity between the personal-psychological dimension of the symbol and its public, culturally sanctioned role. Medusa's Hair thus makes an important theoretical contribution both to the anthropology of individual experience and to the psychoanalytic understanding of culture. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative significance of belief in spirits, and a host of related issues concerning possession states and religiosity, this book marks a provocative advance in psychological anthropology.
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The Mental and the Physical
The Essay and a Postscript
Herbert Feigl
University of Minnesota Press, 1967

The Mental and the Physical was first published in 1967. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Professor Feigl's essay "The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'" has provoked a great deal of comment, criticism, and discussion since it first appeared as a part of the content of Volume II of the Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science about ten years ago. Now Professor Feigl takes account of the critical discussions and presents his own comments with respect to the most important points raised in the criticisms. The essay itself is presented here in full, along with the postscript. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science has called the essay "a 'super-colossal' survey of the mind-body problem." In its review of the earlier book containing the essay, Thought said: "This essay deserves careful reading by every philosopher concerned with genuine philosophical dialogue."

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Mid-Ch’ing Rice Markets and Trade
An Essay in Price History
Han-sheng Chuan and Richard A. Kraus
Harvard University Press, 1975
This analysis of the market sector of the Chinese economy during the middle years of the Ch'ing period is based primarily on price data culled from memorials from government officials to the Ch'ing emperor. A discussion of the nature of inter-provincial rice trade and the transport and financial systems that were developed to support the market sector is preceded by a thorough estimation of the reliability of the Ch'ing price-reporting system. The authors discuss not only how these memorials containing price information were compiled and who was responsible for submitting them to the throne, but whether the prices reported in the memorials were representative of free market prices.
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Motive and Intention
An Essay in the Appreciation of Action
Roy Lawrence
Northwestern University Press, 1972
Motive and Intention is a critique of certain conceptual foundations of the description and judgment of human action. Drawing on sources such as narrative history, Roy Lawrence analyzes examples of such assessments and provides and independent base for appraising familiar and tenacious theoretical presumptions. In so doing he illuminates many persistent issues of common interest in the social science
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The Mysterious Science of the Law
An Essay on Blackstone's Commentaries
Daniel J. Boorstin
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Referred to as the "bible of American lawyers," Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England shaped the principles of law in both England and America when its first volume appeared in 1765. For the next century that law remained what Blackstone made of it. Daniel J. Boorstin examines why Commentaries became the most essential knowledge that any lawyer needed to acquire. Set against the intellectual values of the eighteenth century-and the notions of Reason, Nature, and the Sublime—Commentaries is at last fitted into its social setting. Boorstin has provided a concise intellectual history of the time, illustrating all the elegance, social values, and internal contradictions of the Age of Reason.
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The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie
An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750-1850
Sarah Maza
Harvard University Press, 2003

Who, exactly, were the French bourgeoisie? Unlike the Anglo-Americans, who widely embraced middle-class ideals and values, the French--even the most affluent and conservative--have always rejected and maligned bourgeois values and identity.

In this new approach to the old question of the bourgeoisie, Sarah Maza focuses on the crucial period before, during, and after the French Revolution, and offers a provocative answer: the French bourgeoisie has never existed. Despite the large numbers of respectable middling town-dwellers, no group identified themselves as bourgeois. Drawing on political and economic theory and history, personal and polemical writings, and works of fiction, Maza argues that the bourgeoisie was never the social norm. In fact, it functioned as a critical counter-norm, an imagined and threatening embodiment of materialism, self-interest, commercialism, and mass culture, which defined all that the French rejected.

A challenge to conventional wisdom about modern French history, this book poses broader questions about the role of anti-bourgeois sentiment in French culture, by suggesting parallels between the figures of the bourgeois, the Jew, and the American in the French social imaginary. It is a brilliant and timely foray into our beliefs and fantasies about the social world and our definition of a social class.

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Name and Image
An Essay on Walter Benjamin
Gianni Carchia
Seagull Books, 2024
An insightful study of Walter Benjamin, one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, by the Italian philosopher Gianni Carchia.
 
Name and Image crystalizes Gianni Carchia’s lifelong pursuit of the infinite philosophical object in the method and thought of one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century: Walter Benjamin. This intellectual biography touches upon the philosophy of language, historiography, aesthetics, temporality, and transcendental philosophy.
 
The book has the singular distinction of being both Gianni Carchia’s first and last work. In the spring of 1999, shortly before the resurgence of the disease that would lead to his death, Carchia began revising the graduate thesis he had defended at the University of Turin in 1971 with the title Truth and Language in the Young Walter Benjamin. At age twenty-four, the young scholar already demonstrated the incisive, axiomatic style of a master. The final version, retitled Name and Image, would become his testament. With a remarkable inversion, beginning and end seem to conjoin here in an authentically philosophical act, as though all the motifs of Carchia’s late thought—the conception of philosophy as event and witness, critique of method, and messianic finality—resonated together for the first time in this youthful text. The physiognomy of Benjamin that opens the work is the self-portrait of a figure who stands out ever more as one of the most just voices in twentieth-century Italian philosophy.
 
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The Newman Brothers
An Essay in Comparative Intellectual Biography
William Robbins
Harvard University Press

The mid-nineteenth century was a period of extraordinary intellectual excitement and tension and nowhere is this more vividly illustrated than in the divergent careers of Cardinal Newman and his brother Francis. Both were men of considerable mental powers and high moral purpose. They shared a devotion to the search for religious truth and spiritual values, yet their intellectual development drove them further and further apart until they came to represent the two opposing philosophical positions of their age.

Professor Robbins' study of the brothers reveals in a new and striking way the master currents of the period which carried these symbolical figures in such different directions. With considerable psychological insight he traces their early lives from the common evangelical zeal of their adolescence through their striking careers at Oxford. He then follows the famous story of John Henry Newman's difficult and hesitating journey of conscience which led him to break with the Church of England and embrace the rigid dogma of Rome. He contrasts it with the almost unknown progress of Francis Newman from the life of an evangelical and missionary to become an apostle of all those liberal, rationalist ideas which his brother had rejected with such vehemence and to doubt the very bases of the christian faith.

Cardinal Newman's life has already been explored in many books but Professor Robbins draws on illuminating new material. He quotes from many unpublished letters between the brothers and from the works of Francis which few but he have read for two generations.

The weight of scholarship behind this book makes it an important study for students of nineteenth-century literature, philosophy and religion, while the general reader should find this a lucid and compelling account of the interplay of sharply contrasting ideas and personalities.

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Of Humans, Pigs, and Souls
An Essay on the Yagwoia "Womba" Complex
Jadran Mimica
HAU, 2020
For the Yagwoia-Angan people of Papua New Guinea, womba is a malignant power with the potential to afflict any soul with cravings for pig meat and human flesh. Drawing on long-term research among the Yagwoia, and in an analysis informed by phenomenology and psychoanalysis, Jadran Mimica explores the womba complex in its local cultural-existential determinations and regional permutations. He attends to the lived experience of this complex in relation to the wider context of mortuary practices, feasting, historical cannibalism, and sorcery. His account of womba illuminates the moral meanings of Yagwoia selfhood and associated senses of subjectivity and agency. Mimica concludes by reflecting on the recent escalation of concerns with witchcraft and sorcery in Papua New Guinea, specifically in relation to a new wave of Christian evangelism occurring in partnership with the state. 
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Palace of Books
Roger Grenier
University of Chicago Press, 2014
For decades, French writer, editor, and publisher Roger Grenier has been enticing readers with compact, erudite books that draw elegant connections between the art of living and the work of art. Under Grenier’s wry gaze, clichés crumble, and offbeat anecdotes build to powerful insights.

With Palace of Books, he invites us to explore the domain of literature, its sweeping vistas and hidden recesses. Engaging such fundamental questions as why people feel the need to write, or what is involved in putting one’s self on the page, or how a writer knows she’s written her last sentence, Grenier marshals apposite passages from his favorite writers:  Chekhov, Baudelaire, Proust, James, Kafka, Mansfield and many others. Those writers mingle companionably with tales from Grenier’s half-century as an editor and friend to countless legendary figures, including Albert Camus, Romain Gary, Milan Kundera, and Brassai,.

Grenier offers here a series of observations and quotations that feel as spontaneous as good conversation, yet carry the lasting insights of a lifetime of reading and thinking. Palace of Books is rich with pleasures and surprises, the perfect accompaniment to old literary favorites, and the perfect introduction to new ones.
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Paracritical Hinge
Essay, Talks, Notes, Interviews
Nathaniel Mackey
University of Iowa Press, 2018

Paracritical Hinge is a collection of varied yet interrelated pieces highlighting Nathaniel Mackey’s multifaceted work as writer and critic. It embraces topics ranging from Walt Whitman’s interest in phrenology to the marginalization of African American experimental writing; from Kamau Brathwaite’s “calibanistic” language practices to Federico García Lorca’s flamenco aesthetic of duende and its continuing repercussions; from H. D.’s desert measure and coastal way of knowing to the altered spatial disposition of Miles Davis’s trumpet sound; from Robert Duncan’s serial poetics to diasporic syncretism; from the lyric poem’s present-day predicaments to gnosticism. Offering illuminating commentary on these and other artists including Amiri Baraka, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Wilson Harris, Jack Spicer, John Coltrane, Jay Wright, and Bob Kaufman, Paracritical Hinge also sheds light on Mackey’s own work as a poet, fiction writer, and editor.

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Place for Us
Essay on the Broadway Musical
D. A. Miller
Harvard University Press, 1998

It used to be a secret that, in its postwar heyday, the Broadway musical recruited a massive underground following of gay men. But though this once silent social fact currently spawns jokes that every sitcom viewer is presumed to be in on, it has not necessarily become better understood.

In Place for Us, D. A. Miller probes what all the jokes laugh off: the embarrassingly mutual affinity between a "general" cultural form and the despised "minority" that was in fact that form's implicit audience. In a style that is in turn novelistic, memorial, autobiographical, and critical, the author restores to their historical density the main modes of reception that so many gay men developed to answer the musical's call: the early private communion with original cast albums, the later camping of show tunes in piano bars, the still later reformatting of these same songs at the post-Stonewall disco. In addition, through an extended reading of Gypsy, Miller specifies the nature of the call itself, which he locates in the postwar musical's most basic conventions: the contradictory relation between the show and the book, the mimetic tendency of the musical number, the centrality of the female star. If the postwar musical may be called a "gay" genre, Miller demonstrates, this is because its regular but unpublicized work has been to indulge men in the spectacular thrills of a femininity become their own.

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Prescribing the Life of the Mind
An Essay on the Purpose of the University, the Aims of Liberal Education, the Competence of Citizens, and the Cultivation of Practical Reason
Charles W. Anderson
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
A distinguished political philosopher with years of experience teaching in undergraduate liberal arts programs, Anderson shows how the ideal of practical reason can reconcile academia’s research aims with public expectations for universities: the preparation of citizens, the training of professionals, the communication of a cultural inheritance. It is not good enough, he contends, to simply say that the university should stick to the great books of the classic tradition, or to denounce this tradition and declare that all important questions are a matter of personal or cultural choice.  By applying the methods of practical reason, instead, teachers and students will think critically about the essential purposes of any human activity and the underlying arguments of any text.
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Presence and Social Obligation
An Essay on the Share
James Ferguson
Prickly Paradigm Press, 2021
In precarious and tumultuous times, schemes of social support, including cash transfers, are increasingly indispensable. Yet the inadequacy of the nation-state frame of membership that such schemes depend on is becoming evermore evident, as non-citizens form a growing proportion of the populations that welfare states attempt to govern. In Presence and Social Obligation, James Ferguson argues that conceptual resources for solving this problem are closer to hand than we might think. Drawing on a rich anthropology of sharing, he argues that the obligation to share never depends only on membership, but also on presence: on being “here.” Presence and Social Obligation strives to demonstrate that such obligatory sharing based on presence can be observed in the way that marginalized urban populations access state services, however unequally, across the global South. Examples show that such sharing with non-nationals is not some sort of utopian proposal but part of the everyday life of the modern service-delivering state. Presence and Social Obligation is a critical yet refreshing approach to an ever-growing way of being together.
 
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The Princes of Naranja
An Essay in Anthrohistorical Method
By Paul Friedrich
University of Texas Press, 1987

In this groundbreaking study, Paul Friedrich looks closely at the strong men of the Tarascan Indian village of Naranja: their leadership, friendship, kinship, and violent local politics (over a time depth of one generation), and ways to understand such phenomena. What emerges is an acutely observed portrait of the men who form the very basis of the grass-roots power structure in Mexico today.

Of interest to historians, sociologists, and political scientists, as well as Latin Americanists and anthropologists, The Princes of Naranja is a sequel to Friedrich's now classic Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village. It begins with biographical character studies of seven leaders—peasant gunmen, judges, politicos; here the book will grip the reader and provoke strong emotional response, from laughter to horror. A middle section places these "princes" in relation to each other, and to the contexts of village society and the larger entities of which it forms a part. Friedrich's synthesis of anthropology, local (mainly oral) history, macrohistory, microsociology, psychology, and literature gives new insight into the structure of Mexican politics from the local level up, and provides a model for other scholars doing analogous work in other parts of the world, especially in the developing world. The concluding section raises vital questions about the dynamic relations between the fieldworker, fieldwork, field notes, the villagers, the writing of a fieldwork-based book, and, implicitly, the audience for such books.

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Protestant--Catholic--Jew
An Essay in American Religious Sociology
Will Herberg
University of Chicago Press, 1983
"The most honored discussion of American religion in mid-twentieth century times is Will Herberg's Protestant-Catholic-Jew. . . . [It] spoke precisely to the mid-century condition and speaks in still applicable ways to the American condition and, at its best, the human condition."—Martin E. Marty, from the Introduction

"In Protestant-Catholic-Jew Will Herberg has written the most fascinating essay on the religious sociology of America that has appeared in decades. He has digested all the relevant historical, sociological and other analytical studies, but the product is no mere summary of previous findings. He has made these findings the basis of a new and creative approach to the American scene. It throws as much light on American society as a whole as it does on the peculiarly religious aspects of American life. Mr. Herberg. . . illumines many facets of the American reality, and each chapter presents surprising, and yet very compelling, theses about the religious life of this country. Of all these perhaps the most telling is his thesis that America is not so much a melting pot as three fairly separate melting pots."—Reinhold Niebuhr, New Yorks Times Book Review
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The Public and Its Problems
An Essay in Political Inquiry
John Dewey
Ohio University Press, 2016

More than six decades after John Dewey’s death, his political philosophy is undergoing a revival. With renewed interest in pragmatism and its implications for democracy in an age of mass communication, bureaucracy, and ever-increasing social complexities, Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems, first published in 1927, remains vital to any discussion of today’s political issues.

This edition of The Public and Its Problems, meticulously annotated and interpreted with fresh insight by Melvin L. Rogers, radically updates the previous version published by Swallow Press. Rogers’s introduction locates Dewey’s work within its philosophical and historical context and explains its key ideas for a contemporary readership. Biographical information and a detailed bibliography round out this definitive edition, which will be essential to students and scholars both.

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Puppet
An Essay on Uncanny Life
Kenneth Gross
University of Chicago Press, 2011

The puppet creates delight and fear. It may evoke the innocent play of childhood, or become a tool of ritual magic, able to negotiate with ghosts and gods. Puppets can be creepy things, secretive, inanimate while also full of spirit, alive with gesture and voice. In this eloquent book, Kenneth Gross contemplates the fascination of these unsettling objects—objects that are also actors and images of life.

The poetry of the puppet is central here, whether in its blunt grotesquery or symbolic simplicity, and always in its talent for metamorphosis. On a meditative journey to seek the idiosyncratic shapes of puppets on stage, Gross looks at the anarchic Punch and Judy show, the sacred shadow theater of Bali, and experimental theaters in Europe and the United States, where puppets enact everything from Baroque opera and Shakespearean tragedy to Beckettian farce. Throughout, he interweaves accounts of the myriad faces of the puppet in literature—Collodi’s cruel, wooden Pinocchio, puppetlike characters in Kafka and Dickens, Rilke’s puppet-angels, the dark puppeteering of Philip Roth’s Micky Sabbath—as well as in the work of artists Joseph Cornell and Paul Klee. The puppet emerges here as a hungry creature, seducer and destroyer, demon and clown. It is a test of our experience of things, of the human and inhuman. A book about reseeing what we know, or what we think we know, Puppet evokes the startling power of puppets as mirrors of the uncanny in life and art.

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A Reading of Mansfield Park
An Essay in Critical Synthesis
Avrom Fleishman
University of Minnesota Press, 1967
A Reading of Mansfield Park was first published in 1967.Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park has been examined in a number of scholarly contexts and has been vigorously debated according to divergent ethical and political views. In this new study of the work, Professor Fleishman provides a full and unified reading of the novel by employing methods and synthesizing insights drawn from several fields of knowledge - history and sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology. By combining several perspectives within a single study, he attempts to avoid the pitfalls of partial readings.After an introductory discussion of his method in relation to current trends in literary criticism, the author reviews past criticism of Mansfield Park. In the chapters which follow he discusses the novel’s historical background and its response to social, political, and economic issues of the day; the psychological structure of the characters and its bearing on an ethical evaluation of them; and the mythological parallels which, he finds, impart a sound framework and universal significance to the plot. In the final chapter he places the work within the tradition of English fiction, in an effort to estimate its enduring value.
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The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium
An Essay in Natural History
Juan Pimentel
Harvard University Press, 2017

One animal left India in 1515, caged in the hold of a Portuguese ship, and sailed around Africa to Lisbon—the first of its species to see Europe for more than a thousand years. The other crossed the Atlantic from South America to Madrid in 1789, its huge fossilized bones packed in crates, its species unknown. How did Europeans three centuries apart respond to these two mysterious beasts—a rhinoceros, known only from ancient texts, and a nameless monster? As Juan Pimentel explains, the reactions reflect deep intellectual changes but also the enduring power of image and imagination to shape our understanding of the natural world.

We know the rhinoceros today as “Dürer’s Rhinoceros,” after the German artist’s iconic woodcut. His portrait was inaccurate—Dürer never saw the beast and relied on conjecture, aided by a sketch from Lisbon. But the influence of his extraordinary work reflected a steady move away from ancient authority to the dissemination in print of new ideas and images. By the time the megatherium arrived in Spain, that movement had transformed science. When published drawings found their way to Paris, the great zoologist Georges Cuvier correctly deduced that the massive bones must have belonged to an extinct giant sloth. It was a pivotal moment in the discovery of the prehistoric world.

The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium offers a penetrating account of two remarkable episodes in the cultural history of science and is itself a vivid example of the scientific imagination at work.

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A Rule of Property for Bengal
An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement
Ranajit Guha
Duke University Press, 1996
A Rule of Property for Bengal is a classic work on the history of colonial India. First published in 1963, and long unavailable in this country, it is an essential text in the areas of colonial and postcolonial studies. In this book, Ranajit Guha examines the British establishment of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal—the first major administrative intervention by the British in the region and an effort to impose a western notion of private property on the Bengal countryside. Guha’s study of the intellectual origins, goals, and implementation of this policy provides an in-depth view of the dynamics of colonialism and reflects on the lasting effect of that dynamic following the formal termination of colonial rule.
By proclaiming the Permanent Settlement in 1793, the British hoped to promote a prosperous capitalist agriculture of the kind that had developed in England. The act renounced for all time the state’s right to raise the assessment already made upon landowners and thus sought to establish a system of property that was, in the British view, necessary for the creation of a stable government. Guha traces the origins of the Permanent Settlement to the anti-feudal ideas of Phillip Francis and the critique of feudalism provided by physiocratic thought, the precursor of political economy. The central question the book asks is how the Permanent Settlement, founded in anti-feudalism and grafted onto India by the most advanced capitalist power of the day became instrumental in the development of a neo-feudal organization of landed property and in the absorption and reproduction of precapitalist elements in a colonial regime.
Guha’s examination of the British attempt to mold Bengal to the contours of its own society without an understanding of the traditions and obligations upon which the Indian agrarian system was based is a truly pioneering work. The implications of A Rule of Property for Bengal remain rich for the current discussions from the postcolonialist perspective on the meaning of modernity and enlightenment.
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A Self Made of Words
Crafting a Distinctive Persona in Nonfiction Writing
Carl H. Klaus
University of Iowa Press, 2013
Confident or fretful, solemn or sassy, tough or tender, casual or formal: the self you project in writing—your persona—is the byproduct of numerous decisions you make about what to say and how to say it. Though any single word or phrase or sentence might make little difference within the scope of an entire essay or book, collectively they create an impression of who you are or seem to be—an impression that’s sure to influence how readers respond to your work. Thus it’s essential to take charge of how you come across on the page, to craft an appropriate persona for whatever you’re writing, whether it’s a personal essay, a blog, a technical report, a letter to the editor, or a memoir. In this wise and ingenious little guide, noted essayist Carl Klaus shows you how to adapt your self to the needs of such varied nonfiction, by varying his own persona to illustrate the distinctive effect produced by each aspect and element of writing.

Klaus divides his book into two parts: first, an introduction to the nature and function of a persona, then a survey of the most important elements of writing that contribute to the character of a persona, from point of view and organization to diction and sentence structure. Both parts contain exercises that will give you practice in developing a persona of your choice. Challenging and stimulating, each of his exercises focuses on a distinctly different aspect of composition and style, so as to help you develop the skills of a versatile and personable writer. By focusing on the most important ways of projecting your self in nonfiction prose, you can learn to craft a distinctive self in your writing.
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Spanish Women Writers and the Essay
Gender, Politics, and the Self
Kathleen M. Glenn and Mercedes Mazquirán de Rodríguez
University of Missouri Press, 1998

Never before has a book examined Spanish women and their mastery of the essay. In the groundbreaking collection Spanish Women Writers and the Essay, Kathleen M. Glenn and Mercedes Mazquiarán de Rodríguez help to rediscover the neglected genre, which has long been considered a "masculine" form. Taking a feminist perspective, the editors examine why Spanish women have been so drawn to the essay through the decades, from Concepción Arenal's nineteenth-century writings to the modern works of Rosa Montero.

Spanish women, historically denied a public voice, have discovered an outlet for their expression via the essay. As essayists, they are granted the authority to address subjects they personally deem important, discuss historical and sociopolitical issues, and denounce female subordination. This genre, which attracts a different audience than does the novel or poem, allows Spanish women writers to engage in a direct dialogue with their readers.

Featuring twelve critical investigations of influential female essayists, Spanish Women Writers and the Essay illustrates Spanish women writers' command of the genre, their incorporation of both the ideological and the aesthetic into one concise form, and their skillful use of various strategies for influencing their readers. This fascinating study, which provides English translations for all quotations, will appeal to anyone interested in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish literature, comparative literature, feminist criticism, or women's studies.

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Spinoza’s Metaphysics
An Essay in Interpretation
E. M. Curley
Harvard University Press, 1969

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The Strife of Systems
An Essay on the Grounds and Implications of Philosophical Diversity
Nicholas Rescher
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985

The disagreement of philosophers is notorious. In this book, Rescher develops a theory that accounts for this conflict and shows how the basis for philosophical disagreement roots in divergent 'cognitive values'-values regarding matters such as importance, centrality, and priority. In light of this analysis, Rescher maintains that, despite this inevitable discord, a skeptical or indifferentist reaction to traditional philosophy is not warranted, seeing that genuine value-conflicts are at issue. He argues that philosophy is an important and worthwhile enterprise, notwithstanding its inability to achieve rationally constrained consensus on the issues. Given the nature of the enterprise, consensus is not a realistic goal, and failure to achieve it is not a defect. Accordingly, Rescher argues against the revisionist views proposed by Richard Rorty and Robert Nozick. His discussions are devoted to providing a clear view of why philosophical problems arise and how philosophers address them.

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The System of Professions
An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor
Andrew Abbott
University of Chicago Press, 1988
In The System of Professions Andrew Abbott explores central questions about the role of professions in modern life: Why should there be occupational groups controlling expert knowledge? Where and why did groups such as law and medicine achieve their power? Will professionalism spread throughout the occupational world? While most inquiries in this field study one profession at a time, Abbott here considers the system of professions as a whole. Through comparative and historical study of the professions in nineteenth- and twentieth-century England, France, and America, Abbott builds a general theory of how and why professionals evolve.
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To Save the Phenomena
An Essay on the Idea of Physical Theory from Plato to Galileo
Pierre Duhem
University of Chicago Press, 1969

Duhem's 1908 essay questions the relation between physical theory and metaphysics and, more specifically, between astronomy and physics–an issue still of importance today. He critiques the answers given by Greek thought, Arabic science, medieval Christian scholasticism, and, finally, the astronomers of the Renaissance.

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Torture and Dignity
An Essay on Moral Injury
J. M. Bernstein
University of Chicago Press, 2015
In this unflinching look at the experience of suffering and one of its greatest manifestations—torture—J. M. Bernstein critiques the repressions of traditional moral theory, showing that our morals are not immutable ideals but fragile constructions that depend on our experience of suffering itself. Morals, Bernstein argues, not only guide our conduct but also express the depth of mutual dependence that we share as vulnerable and injurable individuals.  
           
Beginning with the attempts to abolish torture in the eighteenth century, and then sensitively examining what is suffered in torture and related transgressions, such as rape, Bernstein elaborates a powerful new conception of moral injury. Crucially, he shows, moral injury always involves an injury to the status of an individual as a person—it is a violent assault against his or her dignity. Elaborating on this critical element of moral injury, he demonstrates that the mutual recognitions of trust form the invisible substance of our moral lives, that dignity is a fragile social possession, and that the perspective of ourselves as potential victims is an ineliminable feature of everyday moral experience. 
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The Veil of Isis
An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature
Pierre Hadot
Harvard University Press, 2006

Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker Heraclitus supposedly uttered the cryptic words "Phusis kruptesthai philei." How the aphorism, usually translated as "Nature loves to hide," has haunted Western culture ever since is the subject of this engaging study by Pierre Hadot. Taking the allegorical figure of the veiled goddess Isis as a guide, and drawing on the work of both the ancients and later thinkers such as Goethe, Rilke, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger, Hadot traces successive interpretations of Heraclitus' words. Over time, Hadot finds, "Nature loves to hide" has meant that all that lives tends to die; that Nature wraps herself in myths; and (for Heidegger) that Being unveils as it veils itself. Meanwhile the pronouncement has been used to explain everything from the opacity of the natural world to our modern angst.

From these kaleidoscopic exegeses and usages emerge two contradictory approaches to nature: the Promethean, or experimental-questing, approach, which embraces technology as a means of tearing the veil from Nature and revealing her secrets; and the Orphic, or contemplative-poetic, approach, according to which such a denuding of Nature is a grave trespass. In place of these two attitudes Hadot proposes one suggested by the Romantic vision of Rousseau, Goethe, and Schelling, who saw in the veiled Isis an allegorical expression of the sublime. "Nature is art and art is nature," Hadot writes, inviting us to embrace Isis and all she represents: art makes us intensely aware of how completely we ourselves are not merely surrounded by nature but also part of nature.

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The Victim and its Masks
An Essay on Sacrifice and Masquerade in the Maghreb
Abdellah Hammoudi
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Each year, in a solemn Sunni Muslim feast, the Ait Mizane of southern Morocco reenact the story of Abraham as a ritual sacrifice, a symbolic observance of their submission to the divine. After this sober ceremony comes a bacchanalian masquerade which seems to violate every principle the sacrifice affirmed. Because of the apparent contradiction between sacrifice and masquerade, observers have described the two as entirely separate events. This book reunites them as a single ritual process within Islamic tradition.
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The Virtues of Hypocrisy
An Essay on Toleration
Andrew Sabl
Harvard University Press

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Voices of Dissent
An Essay
Romila Thapar
Seagull Books, 2020
Written by one of India’s best-known public intellectuals,  this book is essential reading for anyone interested in India’s fascinating history as well as the direction in which the nation is headed.

People have argued since time immemorial. Disagreement is a part of life, of human experience. But we now live in times when any form of protest in India is marked as anti-Indian and met with arguments that the very concept of dissent was imported into India from the West. As Romila Thapar explores in her timely historical essay, however, dissent has a long history in the subcontinent, even if its forms have evolved through the centuries.
 
In Voices of Dissent: An Essay, Thapar looks at the articulation of nonviolent dissent and relates it to various pivotal moments throughout India’s history. Beginning with Vedic times, she takes us from the second to the first millennium BCE, to the emergence of groups that were jointly called the Shramanas—the Jainas, Buddhists, and Ajivikas. Going forward in time, she also explores the views of the Bhakti sants and others of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and brings us to a major moment of dissent that helped to establish a free and democratic India: Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha. Then Thapar places in context the recent peaceful protests against India’s new, controversial citizenship law, maintaining that dissent in our time must be opposed to injustice and supportive of democratic rights so that society may change for the better.  
 

 
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Walter Benjamin for Children
An Essay on his Radio Years
Jeffrey Mehlman
University of Chicago Press, 1993

In light of the legendary difficulty of Walter Benjamin's works, it is a strange and intriguing fact that from 1929 to 1933 the great critic and cultural theorist wrote—and broadcast—numerous scripts, on the order of fireside chats, for children. Invited to speak on whatever subject he considered appropriate, Benjamin talked to the children of Frankfurt and Berlin about the destruction of Pompeii, an earthquake in Lisbon, and a railroad disaster at the Firth of Tay. He spoke about bootlegging and swindling, cataclysm and suicide, Faust and Cagliostro. In this first sustained analysis of the thirty surviving scripts, Jeffrey Mehlman demonstrates how Benjamin used the unlikely forum of children's radio to pursue some of his central philosophical and theological concerns.



In

Walter Benjamin for Children

, readers will encounter a host of intertextual surprises: an evocation of the flooding of the Mississippi informed by the argument of "The Task of the Translator;" a discussion of scams in stamp-collecting that turns into "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction;" a tale of bootlegging in the American South that converges with the best of Benjamin's essays on fiction. Mehlman superimposes a dual series of texts dealing with catastrophe, on the one hand, and fraud, on the other, that resonate with the false-messianic theology of Sabbatianism as it came to focus the attention and enthusiasm of Benjamin's friend Gershom Scholem during the same years. The radio scripts for children, that is, offer an unexpected byway, on the eve of the apocalypse, into Benjamin's messianic preoccupations.



A child's garden of deconstruction, these twenty-minute talks—from the perspective of childhood, before an invisible audience, on whatever happened to cross the critic's mind—are also by their very nature the closest we may ever come to a transcript of a psychoanalysis of Walter Benjamin. Particularly alive to that circumstance, Mehlman explores the themes of the radio broadcasts and brilliantly illuminates their hidden connections to Benjamin's life and work.



This lucid analysis brings to light some of the least researched and understood aspects of Walter Benjamin's thought. It will interest and provoke literary theorists and philosophers of culture, as well as anyone who hopes to understand one of this century's most suggestive and  perplexing critics.

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What Do Gay Men Want?
An Essay on Sex, Risk, and Subjectivity
David M. Halperin
University of Michigan Press, 2010

“Compelling, timely, and provocative. The writing is sleek and exhilarating. It doesn’t waste time telling us what it will do or what it has just done—it just does it.”
—Don Kulick, Professor of Anthropology, New York University

How we can talk about sex and risk in the age of barebacking—or condomless sex—without invoking the usual bogus and punitive clichés about gay men’s alleged low self-esteem, lack of self-control, and other psychological “deficits”? Are there queer alternatives to psychology for thinking about the inner life of homosexuality? What Do Gay Men Want? explores some of the possibilities.

Unlike most writers on the topic of gay men and risky sex, David Halperin liberates gay male subjectivity from psychology, demonstrating the insidious ways in which psychology’s defining opposition between the normal and the pathological subjects homosexuality to medical reasoning and revives a whole set of  unexamined moral assumptions about “good” sex and “bad” sex.

In particular, Halperin champions neglected traditions of queer thought, including both literary and popular discourses, by drawing on the work of well-known figures like Jean Genet and neglected ones like Marcel Jouhandeau. He shows how the long history of of gay men’s uses of “abjection” can offer an alternative, nonmoralistic model for thinking about gay male subjectivity, something which is urgently needed in the age of barebacking.

Anyone searching for nondisciplinary ways to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS among gay men—or interested in new modes of thinking about gay male subjectivity—should read this book.

David M. Halperin is W. H. Auden Collegiate Professor of the History and Theory of Sexuality, Professor of English, Professor of Women’s Studies, Professor of Comparative Literature, and Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan.

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What Is Archaeology?
An Essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research
Paul Courbin
University of Chicago Press, 1988
Paul Courbin puts forward a penetrating and eloquent critique of the New Archeology, a movement of primarily American and British archaeologists that began in the 1960s and continues today. The New Archeologists dropped the "ae" spelling, symbolizing their intent to put the field on a modern and scientific footing. They questioned the bases, the objectives, and consequently the methods of traditional archaeology.

Courbin examines this movement, its latent philosophy, its methods and their application, its theories, and its results. He declares that the record shows a devastating failure. The New Archeologists, he contends, may have developed scientific hypotheses, but in most cases they failed to carry out what is necessary to test their theories, thus contradicting the very goals they had set for the discipline.

Reevaluating the field as a whole, Courbin asks, What is archaeology? He distinguishes it from such related fields as history and anthropology, emphatically arguing that the primary task of archaeology is what the archaeologist alone can accomplish: the establishment of facts—stratigraphies, time sequences, and identification tools, bones, potsherds, and so on. When archaeological findings lead to historical or anthropological conclusions, as they very often do, archaeologists must be aware that this involves a specific change in their work; they are no longer archaeologists proper. The archaeologist's work, Courbin stresses, is not a humble auxiliary of anthropology or history, but the foundation upon which historians and anthropologists of ancient civilizations will build and without which their theories cannot but collapse. What Is Archaeology? was originally published in French in 1982.
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William Ellery Channing
An Essay on the Liberal Spirit in America
Andrew Delbanco
Harvard University Press, 1981
This is a vivid portrayal of the man who led the movement toward liberal religion in America. Andrew Delbanco traces the development of Channing’s thinking on the relation of man to God and nature, on the reality of evil, on the autonomy of the individual. He reveals Channing’s hope and doubt concerning America’s contribution to human progress. And he recounts Channing’s emergence as a major voice in the antislavery movement—after a complex hesitation to embrace the cause. This is a study of the religious, literary, and political concerns of a man and his time. It will well serve all students of nineteenth-century American thought.
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Women's Words
Essay on French Singularity
Mona Ozouf
University of Chicago Press, 1997
In her controversial book Women's Words, Mona Ozouf argues that French feminism lacks the rancor and resentment of its counterparts in England and America and explains why this placid, even timid brand of feminism is uniquely French.

Ozouf uses the woman's portrait, traditionally a male genre, to portray ten French women of letters whose lives span the period from the eve of the French Revolution to the resurgence of the feminist movement in the late twentieth century. She studies the letters and memoirs of Mme du Deffand, Mme de Charrière, Mme Roland, Mme de Staël, Mme de Rémusat, George Sand, Hubertine Auclert, Colette, Simone Weil, and Simone de Beauvoir. Rejecting the male constructions of femininity typical of this genre, Ozouf restores these women's voices in order to study their own often-conflicted attitudes toward education, marriage, motherhood, sex, and work, as well as the dilemma of writing in a literary world that did not support women's work.

Ozouf claims that a uniquely French feminism informed these women's lives, one that stems from the great egalitarian spirit of the French Revolution and is more tolerant of difference than its American counterparts. She argues that as a result, modern French culture has not isolated women from men in the same ways as American and British cultures have done.
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front cover of Write Your Way In
Write Your Way In
Crafting an Unforgettable College Admissions Essay
Rachel Toor
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Writing, for most of us, is bound up with anxiety. It’s even worse when it feels like your whole future—or at least where you’ll spend the next four years in college—is on the line. It’s easy to understand why so many high school seniors put off working on their applications until the last minute or end up with a generic and clichéd essay.

The good news? You already have the “secret sauce” for crafting a compelling personal essay: your own experiences and your unique voice.
 
The best essays rarely catalog how students have succeeded or achieved. Good writing shows the reader how you’ve struggled and describes mistakes you’ve made. Excellent essays express what you’re fired up about, illustrate how you think, and illuminate the ways you’ve grown.

More than twenty million students apply to college every year; many of them look similar in terms of test scores, grades, courses taken, extracurricular activities. Admissions officers wade through piles of files. As an applicant, you need to think about what will interest an exhausted reader. What can you write that will make her argue to admit you instead of the thousands of other applicants?

A good essay will be conversational and rich in vivid details, and it could only be written by one person—you. This book will help you figure out how to find and present the best in yourself. You’ll acquire some useful tools for writing well—and may even have fun—in the process.
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