front cover of What Proust Heard
What Proust Heard
Novels and the Ethnography of Talk
Michael Lucey
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Michael Lucey offers a linguistic anthropological analysis of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
What happens when we talk? This deceptively simple question is central to Marcel Proust’s monumental novel In Search of Lost Time. Both Proust’s narrator and the novel that houses him devote considerable energy to investigating not just what people are saying or doing when they talk, but also what happens socioculturally through their use of language. Proust, in other words, is interested in what linguistic anthropologists call language-in-use.

Michael Lucey elucidates Proust’s approach to language-in-use in a number of ways: principally in relation to linguistic anthropology, but also in relation to speech act theory, and to Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology. The book also includes an interlude after each of its chapters that contextualizes Proust’s social-scientific practice of novel writing in relation to that of a number of other novelists, earlier and later, and from several different traditions, including Honoré de Balzac, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Nathalie Sarraute, and Rachel Cusk. Lucey is thus able to show how, in the hands of quite different novelists, various aspects of the novel form become instruments of linguistic anthropological analysis. The result introduces a different way of understanding language to literary and cultural critics and explores the consequences of this new understanding for the practice of literary criticism more generally. 

front cover of What's Your Sign for Pizza?
What's Your Sign for Pizza?
An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language
Ceil Lucas
Gallaudet University Press, 2019

front cover of When Words Lose Their Meaning
When Words Lose Their Meaning
Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community
James Boyd White
University of Chicago Press, 1984
Through fresh readings of texts ranging from Homer's Iliad, Swift's Tale of a Tub, and Austen's Emma through the United States Constitution and McCulloch v. Maryland, James Boyd White examines the relationship between an individual mind and its language and culture as well as the "textual community" established between writer and audience. These striking textual analyses develop a rhetoric—a "way of reading" that can be brought to any text but that, in broader terms, becomes a way of learning that can shape the reader's life.

"In this ambitious and demanding work of literary criticism, James Boyd White seeks to communicate 'a sense of reading in a new and different way.' . . . [White's] marriage of lawyerly acumen and classically trained literary sensibility—equally evident in his earlier work, The Legal Imagination—gives the best parts of When Words Lose Their Meaning a gravity and moral earnestness rare in the pages of contemporary literary criticism."—Roger Kimball, American Scholar

"James Boyd White makes a state-of-the-art attempt to enrich legal theory with the insights of modern literary theory. Of its kind, it is a singular and standout achievement. . . . [White's] selections span the whole range of legal, literary, and political offerings, and his writing evidences a sustained and intimate experience with these texts. Writing with natural elegance, White manages to be insightful and inciteful. Throughout, his timely book is energized by an urgent love of literature and law and their liberating potential. His passion and sincerity are palpable."—Allan C. Hutchinson, Yale Law Journal

"Undeniably a unique and significant work. . . . When Words Lose Their Meaning is a rewarding book by a distinguished legal scholar. It is a showcase for the most interesting sort of inter-disciplinary work: the kind that brings together from traditionally separate fields not so much information as ideas and approaches."—R. B. Kershner, Jr., Georgia Review

front cover of Words and Worlds
Words and Worlds
A Lexicon for Dark Times
Veena Das and Didier Fassin, editors
Duke University Press, 2021
Born in a time of anxiety, Words and Worlds examines some of the disquieting challenges that societies now face. Through an inquiry into a political lexicon of commonsense words, ranging from democracy and revolution to knowledge and authority, from inequality and toleration to war and power, the contributors to this book trouble the self-evidence of these terms, bringing into view the hidden transcripts and unexpected trajectories of many settled ideas, such as the human sense of belonging or the call for openness and transparency in research and public life. The case studies conducted over five continents with the tools of eight different disciplines challenge the ethnocentric assumptions, false moralism, and cultural prejudices that underlie much discussion on corruption or even the virtue invested in resilience. The critique of the ubiquitous use of crisis to characterize our times shows how this framing obscures the unjust conditions of existence and the violence of everyday life. Together the essays in this volume offer a fresh look at the deeply connected worlds we inhabit in solidarity and in discord.

Contributors. Banu Bargu, Veena Das, Alex de Waal, Didier Fassin, Peter Geschiere, Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Caroline Humphrey, Ravi Kanbur, Julieta Lemaitre, Uday S. Mehta, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Pugh, Elizabeth F. Sanders, Todd Sanders

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