During the many years that they were separated by the perils of the American Revolution, John and Abigail Adams exchanged hundreds of letters. Writing to each other of public events and private feelings, loyalty and love, revolution and parenting, they wove a tapestry of correspondence that has become a cherished part of American history and literature.
With Abigail and John Adams, historian G. J. Barker-Benfield mines those familiar letters to a new purpose: teasing out the ways in which they reflected—and helped transform—a language of sensibility, inherited from Britain but, amid the revolutionary fervor, becoming Americanized. Sensibility—a heightened moral consciousness of feeling, rooted in the theories of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Adam Smith and including a “moral sense” akin to the physical senses—threads throughout these letters. As Barker-Benfield makes clear, sensibility was the fertile, humanizing ground on which the Adamses not only founded their marriage, but also the “abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity” they and their contemporaries hoped to plant at the heart of the new nation. Bringing together their correspondence with a wealth of fascinating detail about life and thought, courtship and sex, gender and parenting, and class and politics in the revolutionary generation and beyond, Abigail and John Adams draws a lively, convincing portrait of a marriage endangered by separation, yet surviving by the same ideas and idealism that drove the revolution itself.
A feast of ideas that never neglects the real lives of the man and woman at its center, Abigail and John Adams takes readers into the heart of an unforgettable union in order to illuminate the first days of our nation—and explore our earliest understandings of what it might mean to be an American.
"We have in this book a Rosetta stone for mediating, or translating, African musical behavior and aesthetics."—Andrew Tracey, African Music
"John Miller Chernoff, who spent 10 years studying African drumming, has a flair for descriptive writing, and his first-person narratives should be easily understood by any reader, while ringing unmistakably true for the reader who has also been to West Africa."—Roderick Knight, Washington Post Book World
"Ethnomusicologists must be proud that their discipline has produced a book that will, beyond doubt, rank as a classic of African studies."—Peter Fryer, Research in Literatures
"A marvelous book. . . . Not many scholars will ever be able to achieve the kind of synthesis of 'doing' and 'writing about' their subject matter that Chernoff has achieved, but he has given us an excellent illustration of what is possible."—Chet Creider, Culture
"Chernoff develops a brilliant and penetrating musicological essay that is, at the same time, an intensely personal and even touching account of musical and cultural discovery that anyone with an interest in Africa can and should read. . . . No other writing comes close to approaching Chernoff's ability to convey a feeling of how African music 'works'"—James Koetting, Africana Journal
"Four stars. One of the few books I know of that talks of the political, social, and spiritual meanings of music. I was moved. It was so nice I read it twice."—David Byrne of "Talking Heads"
The companion cassette tape has 44 examples of the music discussed in the book. It consists of field recordings illustrating cross-rhythms, multiple meters, call and response forms, etc.
During the eighteenth century, some of the most popular British poetry showed a responsiveness to animals that anticipated the later language of animal rights. Such poems were widely cited in later years by legislators advocating animal welfare laws like Martin’s Act of 1822, which provided protections for livestock. In The Animal Claim, Tobias Menely links this poetics of sensibility with Enlightenment political philosophy, the rise of the humanitarian public, and the fate of sentimentality, as well as longstanding theoretical questions about voice as a medium of communication.
In the Restoration and eighteenth century, philosophers emphasized the role of sympathy in collective life and began regarding the passionate expression humans share with animals, rather than the spoken or written word, as the elemental medium of community. Menely shows how poetry came to represent this creaturely voice and, by virtue of this advocacy, facilitated the development of a viable discourse of animal rights in the emerging public sphere. Placing sensibility in dialogue with classical and early-modern antecedents as well as contemporary animal studies, The Animal Claim uncovers crucial connections between eighteenth-century poetry; theories of communication; and post-absolutist, rights-based politics.
G. J. Barker-Benfield documents the emergence of the culture of sensibility that transformed British society of the eighteenth century. His account focuses on the rise of new moral and spiritual values and the struggle to redefine the group identities of men and women. Drawing on the full spectrum of eighteenth-century thought from Adam Smith to John Locke, from the Earl of Shaftesberry to Dr. George Cheyne, and especially Mary Wollstonecraft, Barker-Benfield offers an innovative and compelling way to understand how Britain entered the modern age.
The Powers of Sensibility: Aesthetic Politics through Adorno, Foucault, and Rancière explores the role aesthetic resources can play in an emancipatory politics. Michael Feola engages both critical theory and unruly political movements to challenge familiar anxieties about the intersection of politics and aesthetics. He shows how perception, sensibility, and feeling may contribute vital resources for conceptualizing citizenship, agency, and those spectacles that increasingly define global protest culture.
Feola provides insightful engagements with the works of Adorno, Foucault, and Rancière as well as a survey of contemporary debates on aesthetics and politics. He uses this aesthetic framework to develop a more robust account of political agency, demonstrating that politics is not reducible to the exchange of views or the building of institutions, but rather incorporates public modes of feeling, seeing, and hearing (or not-seeing and not-hearing). These sensory modes must themselves be transformed in the work of emancipatory politics.
The book explores the core question: what does the aesthetic offer that is missing from the official languages of politics, citizenship, and power? Of interest to readers in the fields of critical theory, political theory, continental philosophy, and aesthetics, The Powers of Sensibility roots itself within the classical tradition of critical theory and yet uses these resources to speak to a variety of contemporary political movements.
Empiricism today implies the dispassionate scrutiny of facts. But Jessica Riskin finds that in the French Enlightenment, empiricism was intimately bound up with sensibility. In what she calls a "sentimental empiricism," natural knowledge was taken to rest on a blend of experience and emotion.
Riskin argues that sentimental empiricism brought together ideas and institutions, practices and politics. She shows, for instance, how the study of blindness, led by ideas about the mental and moral role of vision and by cataract surgeries, shaped the first school for the blind; how Benjamin Franklin's electrical physics, ascribing desires to nature, engaged French economic reformers; and how the question of the role of language in science and social life linked disputes over Antoine Lavoisier's new chemical names to the founding of France's modern system of civic education.
Recasting the Age of Reason by stressing its conjunction with the Age of Sensibility, Riskin offers an entirely new perspective on the development of modern science and the history of the Enlightenment.
Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition includes numerous color reproductions that vividly recreate Jane Austen's world. This will be an especially welcome addition to the library of any Janeite.