What can Roger Rabbit tell us about the Second Gulf War? What can a woman married to the Berlin Wall tell us about posthumanism and inter-subjectivity? What can DJ Shadow tell us about the end of history? What can our local bus route tell us about the fortification of the West? What can Reality TV tell us about the crisis of contemporary community? And what can unauthorized pictures of Osama Bin Laden tell us about new methods of popular propaganda? These are only some of the thought-provoking questions raised in Avoiding the Subject, which highlights the feedback-loops between philosophy, technology, and politics in today's mediascape.
In Black Women, Identity, and Cultural Theory, Kevin Everod Quashie explores the metaphor of the “girlfriend” as a new way of understanding three central concepts of cultural studies: self, memory, and language. He considers how the work of writers such as Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Dionne Brand, photographer Lorna Simpson, and many others, inform debates over the concept of identity. Quashie argues that these authors and artists replace the notion of a stable, singular identity with the concept of the self developing in a process both communal and perpetually fluid, a relationship that functions in much the same way that an adult woman negotiates with her girlfriend(s). He suggests that memory itself is corporeal, a literal body that is crucial to the process of becoming. Quashie also explores the problem language poses for the black woman artist and her commitment to a mastery that neither colonizes nor excludes.
The analysis throughout interacts with schools of thought such as psychoanalysis, postmodernism, and post-colonialism, but ultimately moves beyond these to propose a new cultural aesthetic, one that ultimately aims to center black women and their philosophies.
For the first time, this volume brings to the study of China the theoretical concerns and methods of contemporary critical cultural studies. Written by historians, art historians, anthropologists, and literary critics who came of age after the People's Republic resumed scholarly ties with the United States, these essays yield valuable new insights not only for China studies but also, by extension, for non-Asian cultural criticism.
Contributors investigate problems of bodiliness, engendered subjectivities, and discourses of power through a variety of sources that include written texts, paintings, buildings, interviews, and observations. Taken together, the essays show that bodies in China have been classified, represented, discussed, ritualized, gendered, and eroticized in ways as rich and multiple as those described in critical histories of the West. Silk robes, rocks, winds, gestures of bowing, yin yang hierarchies, and cross-dressing have helped create experiences of the body specific to Chinese historical life. By pointing to multiple examples of reimagining subjectivity and renegotiating power, the essays encourage scholars to avoid making broad generalizations about China and to rethink traditional notions of power, subject, and bodiliness in light of actual Chinese practices. Body, Subject, and Power in China is at once an example of the changing face of China studies and a work of importance to the entire discipline of cultural studies.
Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) is heralded as the greatest painter of the Romantic movement in Germany, and Europe’s first truly modern artist. His mysterious and melancholy landscapes, often peopled with lonely wanderers, are experiments in a radically subjective artistic perspective—one in which, as Freidrich wrote, the painter depicts not “what he sees before him, but what he sees within him.” This vulnerability of the individual when confronted with nature became one of the key tenets of the Romantic aesthetic.
Now available in a compact, accessible format, this beautifully illustrated book is the most comprehensive account ever published in English of one of the most fascinating and influential nineteenth-century painters.
“This is a model of interpretative art history, taking in a good deal of German Romantic philosophy, but founded always on the immediate experience of the picture. . . . It is rare to find a scholar so obviously in sympathy with his subject.”—Independent
Changing the Subject explores ways of engaging across difference. In this first book-length study of the concept of empathy from a rhetorical perspective, Lisa Blankenship frames the classical concept of pathos in new ways and makes a case for rhetorical empathy as a means of ethical rhetorical engagement. The book considers how empathy can be a deliberate, conscious choice to try to understand others through deep listening and how language and other symbol systems play a role in this process that is both cognitive and affective.
Departing from agonistic win-or-lose rhetoric in the classical Greek tradition that has so strongly influenced Western thinking, Blankenship proposes that we ourselves are changed (“changing the subject” or the self) when we focus on trying to understand rather than simply changing an Other. This work is informed by her experiences growing up in the conservative South and now working as a professor in New York City, as well as the stories and examples of three people working across profound social, political, class, and gender differences: Jane Addams’s activist work on behalf of immigrants and domestic workers in Gilded Age Chicago; the social media advocacy of Brazilian rap star and former maid Joyce Fernandes for domestic worker labor reform; and the online activist work of Justin Lee, a queer Christian who advocates for greater understanding and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in conservative Christian churches.
A much-needed book in the current political climate, Changing the Subject charts new theoretical ground and proposes ways of integrating principles of rhetorical empathy in our everyday lives to help fight the temptations of despair and disengagement. The book will appeal to students, scholars, and teachers of rhetoric and composition as well as people outside the academy in search of new ways of engaging across differences.
Drawing on the theoretical work of Jacques Lacan, Marshall W. Alcorn Jr. formulates a systematic explanation of the function and value of desire in writing instruction.
Alcorn argues that in changing the subject matter of writing instruction in order to change student opinions, composition instructors have come to adopt an insufficiently complex understanding of subjectivity. This oversimplification hinders attempts to foster cultural change. Alcorn proposes an alternative mode of instruction that makes effective use of students’ knowledge and desire. The resulting freedom in expression—personal as well as political—engenders the recognition, circulation, and elaboration of desire necessary for both human communication and effective politics.
Responding to James Berlin’s reconception of praxis in the classroom, Theresa Ebert’s espousal of disciplined instructions, and Lester Faigley’s introduction of a postmodern theory of subjectivity, Alcorn follows both Lacan and Slavoj Žižek in insisting desire be given free voice and serious recognition. In composition as in politics, desire is the ground of agency. Competing expressions of desire should generate a dialectic in social-epistemic discourse that encourages enlightenment over cynicism and social development over authoritarian demands.
With clarity and personal voice, Alcorn explains how discourse is rooted in primitive psychological functions of desire and responds to complex cultural needs. In its theoretical scope this book describes a new pedagogy that links thought to emotion and the personal to the social.
For Raymond Geuss, philosophers’ attempts to bypass normal ways of thinking—to point out that the question being asked is itself misguided—represents philosophy at its best. By provoking people to think differently, philosophers make clear that we are not fated to live within the stifling systems of thought we inherit. We can change the subject.
In Changing the Subject:Writing Women across the African Diaspora, K. Merinda Simmons argues that, in first-person narratives about women of color, contexts of migration illuminate constructions of gender and labor. These constructions and migrations suggest that the oft-employed notion of “authenticity” is not as useful a classification as many feminist and postcolonial scholars have assumed. Instead of relying on so-called authentic feminist journeys and heroines for her analysis, Simmons calls for a self-reflexive scholarship that takes seriously the scholar’s own role in constructing the subject.
The starting point for this study is the nineteenth-century Caribbean narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831). Simmons puts Prince’s narrative in conversation with three twentieth-century novels: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, and Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. She incorporates autobiography theory to shift the critical focus from the object of study—slave histories—to the ways people talk about those histories and to the guiding interests of such discourses. In its reframing of women’s migration narratives, Simmons’s study unsettles theoretical certainties and disturbs the very notion of a cohesive diaspora.
Renowned scholar of medieval literature, Lee Patterson, presents a compelling vision of the shape and direction of Geoffrey Chaucer’s entire career in Chaucer and the Subject of History.
Chaucer's interest in individuality was strikingly modern. At the same time he was profoundly aware of the pressures on individuality exerted by the past and by society—by history. This tension between the subject and history is Patterson's topic. He begins by showing how Chaucer’s understanding of history as a subject for poetry—a world to be represented and a cultural force affecting human action—began to take shape in his poems on classical themes, especially in Troilus and Criseyde. Patterson's extended analysis of this profound yet deeply conflicted exploration of the relationship between "history" and "the subject" provides the basis for understanding Chaucer's shift to his contemporary world in the Canterbury Tales. There, in the shrewdest and most wide-ranging analysis of late medieval society we possess, Chaucer investigated not just the idea of history but the historical world intimately related to his own political and literary career.
Patterson's chapters on individual tales clarify and confirm his provocative arguments. He shows, for example, how the Knight's Tale represents the contemporary crisis of governance in terms of a crisis in chivalric identity itself; how the Miller’s Tale reflects the social pressures and rhetoric of peasant movements generally and the Rising of 1381 in particular; and how the tales of the Merchant and Shipman register the paradoxical placement of a bourgeois class lacking class identity. And Patterson's brilliant readings of the Wife of Bath’s Tale—"the triumph of the subject"—and the Pardoner’s Tale —"the subject of confession"—reveal how Chaucer reworked traditional materials to accomplish stunning innovations that make visible unmistakably social meanings. Chaucer and the Subject of History is a landmark book, one that will shape the way that Chaucer is read for years to come.
Discerning The Subject
Paul Smith University of Minnesota Press, 1988 Library of Congress PN94.S65 1988 | Dewey Decimal 801.950904
"Smith's prose is filled with rich insights and original thinking...with informed, cogent arguments capable of altering the course of disciplinary thinking. this ability to affirm and encourage internal heterogeneity and contradiction while simultaneously struggling for external solidarity in maintaining a strong social and political conscience could serve as an exemplary identity for the future of English studies." John Clifford, College English
"Smith has brought together and scrutinized a wide range of issues and arguments in an intellectually and politically challenging way." Thomas E. Lewis, MMLA Journal
"Paul Smith expertly treats the status of the 'subject' in critical and political discourse, and carefully explores possibilities for individual initiative, resistance, and social change as these are articulated by major literary and cultural theorists." William E. Cain, The South Carolina Review
"Discerning the Subject will set the standard for discussions in 'theory' for some time to come. Books with the range and sophistication of Smith's perform a powerful promise for the future of theoretical discourse and practice in the humanities." Alan Kennedy, Dalhousie Review
The unprecedented mass manipulation, mass death, and trauma of World War II created a heightened interest in technology and totalitarianism among European and American intellectuals. The Disposition of the Subject explores Theodor Adorno's attempt to hinder further atrocity through philosophical analysis of technology and of its contribution to totalitarianisms of various kinds: political, aesthetic, epistemological.
Urban sprawl is omnipresent in America and has left many citizens questioning their ability to stop it. In Distant Publics, Jenny Rice examines patterns of public discourse that have evolved in response to development in urban and suburban environments. Centering her study on Austin, Texas, Rice finds a city that has simultaneously celebrated and despised development.
Rice outlines three distinct ways that the rhetoric of publics counteracts development: through injury claims, memory claims, and equivalence claims. In injury claims, rhetors frame themselves as victims in a dispute. Memory claims allow rhetors to anchor themselves to an older, deliberative space, rather than to a newly evolving one. Equivalence claims see the benefits on both sides of an issue, and here rhetors effectively become nonactors.
Rice provides case studies of development disputes that place the reader in the middle of real-life controversies and evidence her theories of claims-based public rhetorics. She finds that these methods comprise the most common (though not exclusive) vernacular surrounding development and shows how each is often counterproductive to its own goals. Rice further demonstrates that these claims create a particular role or public subjectivity grounded in one’s own feelings, which serves to distance publics from each other and the issues at hand.
Rice argues that rhetoricians have a duty to transform current patterns of public development discourse so that all individuals may engage in matters of crisis. She articulates its sustainability as both a goal and future disciplinary challenge of rhetorical studies and offers tools and methodologies toward that end.
The Empty Garden draws a portrait of Milton as a cultural and religious critic who, in his latest and greatest poems, wrote narratives that illustrate the proper relationships among the individual, the community, and God. Rushdy argues that the political theory implicit in these relationships arises from Milton’s own drive for self-knowledge, a kind of knowledge that gives the individual freedom to act in accordance with his or her own understanding of God’s will rather than the state’s. Rushdy redefines Milton’s creative spirit in a way that encompasses his poetic, political, and religious careers.
Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies No. 70
The Female as Subject reveals the rich and lively world of literate women in Japan from 1600 through the early twentieth century. Eleven essays by an international group of scholars from Europe, Japan, and North America examine what women of different social classes read, what books were produced specifically for women, and the genres in which women themselves chose to write. The authors explore the different types of education women obtained and the levels of literacy they achieved, and they uncover women’s participation in the production of books, magazines, and speeches. The resulting depiction of women as readers and writers is also enhanced by thirty black-and-white illustrations. For too long, women have been largely absent from accounts of cultural production in early modern Japan. By foregrounding women, the essays in this book enable us to rethink what we know about Japanese society during these centuries. The result is a new history of women as readers, writers, and culturally active agents. The Female as Subject is essential reading for all students and teachers of Japan during the Edo and Meiji periods. It also provides valuable comparative data for scholars of the history of literacy and the book in East Asia.
Authoritative and accessible, this book is a concise and comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of religion. It shows how philosophers have used the tools of philosophy to examine the validity of religious ideas and values.
Distinguished North American, British, and Australian authors explain how philosophers of the past and present have approached key concepts of religious faith: Does God exist? Can God’s existence be proved? If so, what might God be like? Is there life after death? Is faith in an unseen God rationally tenable at all in a post-Enlightenment, postmodern, scientific age in which different faith traditions coexist and make claims to the ownership of eternal truths?
This book is an essential reader and reference for scholars, teachers, and students of religion and for anyone who seeks to answer key questions challenging the life of faith today.
Postmodern Spiritual Practices: The Construction of the Subject and the Reception of Plato in Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault, by Paul Allen Miller, argues that a key element of postmodern French intellectual life has been the reception of Plato. This fact has gone underappreciated in the Anglophone world due to a fundamental division in culture. Until very recently, the concerns of academic philosophy and philology have had little in common. On the one hand, this is due to analytic philosophy’s self-confinement to questions of epistemology, speech act theory, and philosophy of science. As such, it has had little to say about the relation between antique and contemporary modes of thought.
On the other hand, blindness to the merits of postmodern thought is also due to Anglo-American philology’s own parochial instincts. Ensconced within a nineteenth-century model of Alterumswissenschaft, only a minority of classicists have made forays into philosophical, psychoanalytic, and other speculative modes of inquiry. The result has been that postmodern French thought has largely been the province of scholars of modern languages.
A situation thus emerges in which most classicists do not know theory, and so cannot appreciate the scope of these thinkers’ contribution to our understanding of the genealogy of Western thought, while most theorists do not know the Platonic texts and their contexts that ground them. This book bridges this gap, offering detailed and theoretically informed readings of French postmodernism’s chief thinkers’ debts to Plato and the ancient world.
Like the complex systems of man-made power lines that transmit electricity and connect people and places, feminist alliances are elaborate networks that have the potential to provide access to institutional power and to transform relations. In Power Lines, Aimee Carrillo Rowe explores the formation and transformative possibilities of transracial feminist alliances. She draws on her conversations with twenty-eight self-defined academic feminists, who reflect on their academic careers, alliances, feminist struggles, and identifications. Based on those conversations and her own experiences as an Anglo-Chicana queer feminist researcher, Carrillo Rowe investigates when and under what conditions transracial feminist alliances in academia work or fail, and how close attention to their formation provides the theoretical and political groundwork for a collective vision of subjectivity.
Combining theory, criticism, and narrative nonfiction, Carrillo Rowe develops a politics of relation that encourages the formation of feminist alliances across racial and other boundaries within academia. Such a politics of relation is founded on her belief that our subjectivities emerge in community; our affective investments inform and even create our political investments. Thus experience, consciousness, and agency must be understood as coalitional rather than individual endeavors. Carrillo Rowe’s conversations with academic feminists reveal that women who restrict their primary allies to women of their same race tend to have limited notions of feminism, whereas women who build transracial alliances cultivate more nuanced, intersectional, and politically transformative feminisms. For Carrillo Rowe, the institutionalization of feminism is not so much an achievement as an ongoing relational process. In Power Lines, she offers a set of critical, practical, and theoretical tools for building and maintaining transracial feminist alliances.
Although in recent years scholars have explored the cultural construction of masculinity, they have largely ignored the ways in which masculinity intersects with other categories of identity, particularly those of race and ethnicity. The essays in Race and the Subject of Masculinities address this concern and focus on the social construction of masculinity—black, white, ethnic, gay, and straight—in terms of the often complex and dynamic relationships among these inseparable categories. Discussing a wide range of subjects including the inherent homoeroticism of martial-arts cinema, the relationship between working-class ideologies and Elvis impersonators, the emergence of a gay, black masculine aesthetic in the works of James Van der Zee and Robert Mapplethorpe, and the comedy of Richard Pryor, Race and the Subject of Masculinities provides a variety of opportunities for thinking about how race, sexuality, and "manhood" are reinforced and reconstituted in today’s society. Editors Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel have gathered together essays that make clear how the formation of masculine identity is never as obvious as it might seem to be. Examining personas as varied as Eddie Murphy, Bruce Lee, Tarzan, Malcolm X, and Andre Gidé, these essays draw on feminist critique and queer theory to demonstrate how cross-identification through performance and spectatorship among men of different races and cultural backgrounds has served to redefine masculinity in contemporary culture. By taking seriously the role of race in the making of men, Race and the Subject of Masculinities offers an important challenge to the new studies of masculinity.
Contributors. Herman Beavers, Jonathan Dollimore, Richard Dyer, Robin D. G. Kelly, Christopher Looby, Leerom Medovoi, Eric Lott, Deborah E. McDowell, José E. Muñoz, Harry Stecopoulos, Yvonne Tasker, Michael Uebel, Gayle Wald, Robyn Wiegman
“Mental hygiene” films developed for classroom use touted vigilance, correct behavior, morality, and model citizenship. They also became powerful tools for teaching literacy skills and literacy-based behaviors to young people following the Second World War.
In this study, Kelly Ritter offers an extensive theoretical analysis of the alliance of the value systems inherent in mental hygiene films (class-based ideals, democracy, patriotism) with writing education—an alliance that continues today by way of the mass digital technologies used in teaching online. She further details the larger material and cultural forces at work in the production of these films behind the scenes and their effects on education trends.
Through her examination of literacy theory, instructional films, policy documents, and textbooks of the late 1940s to mid–1950s, Ritter demonstrates a reliance on pedagogies that emphasize institutional ideologies and correctness over epistemic complexity and de-emphasize the role of the student in his or her own learning process. To Ritter, these practices are sustained in today’s pedagogies and media that create a false promise of social uplift through formalized education, instead often resulting in negative material consequences.
When it was first published in 1989, Susan Miller’ s Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer established a landmark pedagogical approach to composition based on the importance of the writer and the act of writing in the history of rhetoric. Widely used as an introduction to rhetoric and composition theory for graduate students, the volume was the first winner of the W. Ross Winterowd Award from JAC and is still one of the most frequently cited books in the field.
This first paperback edition includes a new introductory chapter in which Miller addresses changes in the field since the first edition, outlines new research, and surveys positions she no longer supports. A new foreword by Thomas P. Miller assesses the proven impact of Rescuing the Subject on the field of rhetoric and composition.
Situating modern composition theory in the historical context of rhetoric, Miller notes that throughout the eighteenth century, rhetoric referred to oral, not written, discourse. By contrast, her history of rhetoric contends oral and written discourse were related from the beginning. Taking a thematic rather than chronological approach, she shows how actual acts of writing comment on both rhetoric and composition.
Miller also asserts that contemporary composition study is the necessary cultural outcome of changing conditions for producing discourse, describing the history of rhetoric as the gradual and unstable relocation of discourse in conventions that only written language can create. She maintains teachers and historians of rhetoric must recognize that the contemporary writing they analyze and teach demands their attention to a “ textual rhetoric” that allows theorizing the writer as always symbolically a student of situated meanings.
The Subject and Other Subjects theorizes the differences among ethical, aesthetic, and political conceptions of identity. When a person is called beautiful, why does it strike us as an objectification? Is a person whom we consider to be an exemplary person still a person, and not an example? Can one person conceive what it means to have the perspective of a community? This study treats these thorny issues in the context of recent debates in cultural studies, feminism, literary criticism, narrative theory, and moral philosophy concerning the nature and directions of multiculturalism, post-modernity, and sexual politics.
Tobin Siebers raises a series of questions that "cross the wires" among ethical, aesthetic, and political definitions of the self, at once exposing our basic assumptions about these definitions and beginning the work of reconceiving them. The Subject and Other Subjects will broaden our ideas about the strange interplay between subjects and objects (and other subjects!) that characterizes modern identity, and so provoke lively debate among anthropologists, art historians, literary theorists, philosophers, and others concerned with how the question of the subject becomes entangled with ethics, aesthetics, and politics. As Siebers argues, the subject is in fact a tangled network of subjectivities, a matrix of identities inconceivable outside of symbols and stories.
Tobin Siebers is Professor of English at the University of Michigan, and author of Cold War Criticism and the Politics of Skepticism; Morals and Stories; The Ethics of Criticism; The Romantic Fantastic; and The Mirror of Medusa.
Challenging prevailing theories regarding the birth of the subject, Catherine M. Soussloff argues that the modern subject did not emerge from psychoanalysis or existential philosophy but rather in the theory and practice of portraiture in early-twentieth-century Vienna. Soussloff traces the development in Vienna of an ethics of representation that emphasized subjects as socially and historically constructed selves who could only be understood—and understand themselves—in relation to others, including the portrait painters and the viewers. In this beautifully illustrated book, she demonstrates both how portrait painters began to focus on the interior lives of their subjects and how the discipline of art history developed around the genre of portraiture.
Soussloff combines a historically grounded examination of art and art historical thinking in Vienna with subsequent theories of portraiture and a careful historiography of philosophical and psychoanalytic approaches to human consciousness from Hegel to Sartre and from Freud to Lacan. She chronicles the emergence of a social theory of art among the art historians of the Vienna School, demonstrates how the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka depicted the Jewish subject, and explores the development of pictorialist photography. Reflecting on the implications of the visualized, modern subject for textual and linguistic analyses of subjectivity, Soussloff concludes that the Viennese art historians, photographers, and painters will henceforth have to be recognized as precursors to such better-known theorists of the subject as Sartre, Foucault, and Lacan.
In this pioneering book, Louiza Odysseos argues that debates about ethnic conflict, human rights, and the viability of multicultural communities all revolve around the question of coexistence. Yet, issues of coexistence have not been adequately addressed by international relations. Instead of being regarded as a question, “coexistence” is a term whose meaning is considered self-evident.
The Subject of Coexistence traces the institutional neglect of coexistence to the ontological commitments of international relations as a modern social science predicated on conceptions of modern subjectivity. This reliance leads to the assumption that coexistence means little more than the social and political copresence of individuals, a premise that occludes the roles of otherness in the constitution of the self. Countering this reliance necessitates the examination of how existence itself is coexistential from the start.
Odysseos opens up the possibility of a coexistential ontology, drawing on Martin Heidegger and his interlocutors, in which selfhood can be rethought beyond subjectivism, reinstating coexistence as a question for global politics—away from the restrictive discursive parameters of the modern subject.
Louiza Odysseos is senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Sussex.
In the Middle Ages, religious crusaders took up arms, prayed, bade farewell to their families, and marched off to fight in holy wars. These Christian soldiers also created accounts of their lives through lyric poetry, putting words to the experience of personal sacrifice and pious struggle associated with holy war. The crusaders affirmed their commitment to fighting to claim a distant land while revealing their feelings as they left behind their loved ones, homes, and earthly duties. Their poems and related visual works offer us insight into the crusaders’ lives and values at the boundaries of earthly and spiritual duties, body and soul, holy devotion and courtly love.
In The Subject of Crusade, Marisa Galvez offers a nuanced view of holy war and crusade poetry, placing these lyric works into a wider conversation with religion and culture. Arguing for an interdisciplinary treatment of crusade lyric, she shows how such poems are crucial for understanding the crusades as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon. Placing them in conversation with chronicles, knightly handbooks, artworks, and confessional and pastoral texts, she identifies a particular “crusade idiom” that emerged out of the conflict between pious and earthly duties. Galvez fashions an expanded understanding of the creative works made by crusaders to reveal their experiences, desires, ideologies, and reasons for taking up the cross.
Subject Of Documentary
Michael Renov University of Minnesota Press, 2004 Library of Congress PN1995.9.D6R44 2004 | Dewey Decimal 070.18
The documentary, a genre as old as cinema itself, has traditionally aspired to objectivity. Whether making ethnographic, propagandistic, or educational films, documentarians have pointed the camera outward, drawing as little attention to themselves as possible. In recent decades, however, a new kind of documentary has emerged in which the filmmaker has become the subject of the work. Whether chronicling family history, sexual identity, or a personal or social world, this new generation of nonfiction filmmakers has defiantly embraced autobiography. In The Subject of Documentary, Michael Renov focuses on how documentary filmmaking has become an important means for both examining and constructing selfhood. By looking at key figures in documentary filmmaking as well as noncanonical video art and avant-garde artists, Renov broadens the definition of what counts as documentary, and explores the intersection of the personal and political, considering how memory can create a way into asking troubling questions about identity, oppression, and resiliency. Offering historical context for the explosion of personal nonfiction filmmaking in the 1980s and 1990s, Renov analyzes films in which the subjectivity of the filmmaker is expressly defined in relation to political struggle or historical trauma, from Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool to Jonas Mekas's Lost, Lost, Lost. And, looking beyond the traditional documentary, Renov contemplates such nontraditional modes of autobiographical practice as the essay film, the video confession, and the personal Web page.Unique in its attention to diverse expressions of personal nonfiction filmmaking, The Subject of Documentary forges a new understanding of the heightened role and function of subjectivity in contemporary documentary practice.Michael Renov is professor of critical studies at the USC School of Cinema-Television. He is the editor of Theorizing Documentary and the coeditor of Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices (Minnesota, 1996) and Collecting Visible Evidence (Minnesota, 1999).
As a woman wielding public authority, Elizabeth I embodied a paradox at the very center of sixteenth-century patriarchal English society. Louis Montrose’s long-awaited book, The Subject of Elizabeth, illuminates the ways in which the Queen and her subjects variously exploited or obfuscated this contradiction.
Montrose offers a masterful account of the texts, pictures, and performances in which the Queen was represented to her people, to her court, to foreign powers, and to Elizabeth herself. Retrieving this “Elizabethan imaginary” in all its richness and fascination, Montrose presents a sweeping new account of Elizabethan political culture. Along the way, he explores the representation of Elizabeth within the traditions of Tudor dynastic portraiture; explains the symbolic manipulation of Elizabeth’s body by both supporters and enemies of her regime; and considers how Elizabeth’s advancing age provided new occasions for misogynistic subversions of her royal charisma.
This book, the remarkable product of two decades of study by one of our most respected Renaissance scholars, will be welcomed by all historians, literary scholars, and art historians of the period.
The subject of murder has always held a particular fascination for us. But, since at least the nineteenth century, we have seen the murderer as different from the ordinary citizen—a special individual, like an artist or a genius, who exists apart from the moral majority, a sovereign self who obeys only the destructive urge, sometimes even commanding cult followings. In contemporary culture, we continue to believe that there is something different and exceptional about killers, but is the murderer such a distinctive type? Are they degenerate beasts or supermen as they have been depicted on the page and the screen? Or are murderers something else entirely?
In The Subject of Murder, Lisa Downing explores the ways in which the figure of the murderer has been made to signify a specific kind of social subject in Western modernity. Drawing on the work of Foucault in her studies of the lives and crimes of killers in Europe and the United States, Downing interrogates the meanings of media and texts produced about and by murderers. Upending the usual treatment of murderers as isolated figures or exceptional individuals, Downing argues that they are ordinary people, reflections of our society at the intersections of gender, agency, desire, and violence.
Subject to Colonialism provides a much needed revisionist perspective on the way twentieth-century Africa is viewed and analyzed among scholars. Employing literary, historical, and anthropological techniques, Gaurav Desai attempts to generate a new understanding of issues that permeate discussions of Africa by disrupting the centrality of postcolonial texts and focusing instead on the cultural and intellectual production of colonial Africans. In particular, Desai calls for a reevaluation of the “colonial library”—that set of representations and texts that have collectively “invented” Africa as a locus of difference and alterity. Presenting colonialism not as a singular, monolithic structure but rather as a practice frought with contradictions and tensions, Desai works to historicize the foundation of postcolonialism by decentering both canonical texts and privileged categories of analysis such as race, capitalism, empire, and nation. To achieve this, he focuses on texts that construct or reform—rather than merely reflect—colonialism, placing explicit emphasis on processes, performances, and the practices of everyday life. Reading these texts not merely for the content of their assertions but also for how they were created and received, Desai looks at works such as Jomo Kenyatta’s ethnography of the Gikuyu and Akiga Sai’s history of the Tiv and makes a particular plea for the canonical recuperation of African women’s writing. Scholars in African history, literature, and philosophy, postcolonial studies, literary criticism, and anthropology will welcome publication of this book.
If any anthropologist living today can illuminate our dim understanding of death’s enigma, it is Robert Desjarlais. With Subject to Death, Desjarlais provides an intimate, philosophical account of death and mourning practices among Hyolmo Buddhists, an ethnically Tibetan Buddhist people from Nepal. He studies the death preparations of the Hyolmo, their specific rituals of grieving, and the practices they use to heal the psychological trauma of loss. Desjarlais’s research marks a major advance in the ethnographic study of death, dying, and grief, one with broad implications. Ethnologically nuanced, beautifully written, and twenty-five years in the making, Subject to Death is an insightful study of how fundamental aspects of human existence—identity, memory, agency, longing, bodiliness—are enacted and eventually dissolved through social and communicative practices.
A figure of reflexivity, narcissism describes a relation between self and other mediated through the mirror or reflection. As such, the concept might help us to consider how what we come to know as the other, or the object, is always the result of a process of image-making. It is in this suggestive sense that narcissism interests Caroline Rupprecht in Subject to Delusions.
Because "the other," or the object, is constructed, Rupprecht finds in narcissism the possibility of rewriting notions of identity. She then pursues this possibility through modern literary texts in which narcissism acts as a structuring principle--works by the expressionist poet Henriette Hardenberg, the American avant-garde novelist Djuna Barnes, and the surrealist writer Unica Zürn--reading each within the critical framework of the evolution of the idea of narcissism in psychoanalytic theory. All written by women, these works also raise questions of gender and sexuality. Moreover, because each of these authors belonged to or was influenced by a particular literary movement, Rupprecht's analysis advances our understanding of the poetics of these movements and of the movement of modernism itself. Underlying all is a deep engagement with psychoanalytic theory. Drawing on Freud, his contemporaries and rivals, Jacques Lacan, Melanie Klein, and many other theorists, Rupprecht interrogates preconceived notions of identity and subjectivity through her readings of the "transgressive potential" of narcissism as it is enacted in the texts under study. Bringing the works of literary modernism and psychoanalysis together in an innovative and provocative way, her book succeeds in enhancing our sense of both, and in clarifying the complex role of narcissism in our cultural narrative.
Revolutionary thinking around gender and race merged with new film technologies to usher in a wave of women's documentaries in the 1970s. Driven by the various promises of second-wave feminism, activist filmmakers believed authentic stories about women would bring more people into an imminent revolution. Yet their films soon faded into obscurity. Shilyh Warren reopens this understudied period and links it to a neglected era of women's filmmaking that took place from 1920 to 1940, another key period of thinking around documentary, race, and gender. Drawing women’s cultural expression during these two explosive times into conversation, Warren reconsiders key debates about subjectivity, feminism, realism, and documentary and their lasting epistemological and material consequences for film and feminist studies. She also excavates the lost ethnographic history of women's documentary filmmaking in the earlier era and explores the political and aesthetic legacy of these films in more explicitly feminist periods like the Seventies. Filled with challenging insights and new close readings, Subject to Reality sheds light on a profound and unexamined history of feminist documentaries while revealing their influence on the filmmakers of today.
They Change the Subject
Douglas A. Martin University of Wisconsin Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3563.A72355T47 2005
Treacherously comic and poignant, the autobiographical stories in They Change the Subject follow a young man’s quest for identity through love and desire. Sustained by a single voice, the stories simultaneously offer a fractured novel and stand, powerfully, on their own. At the center of each tale is the heightened, visceral possibility of unexpected emotional encounters—from an escort’s dates in Manhattan hotels to a photo shoot that doubles as seduction. Always pushing toward a bigger shiver of passion, Martin’s young-man-on-the-make learns how to adapt his persona to suit his lovers’ needs and tries to embrace his own experience—and his self—by becoming the purest object of desire.
In The Vanishing Christopher Pye combines psychoanalytic and cultural theory to advance an innovative interpretation of Renaissance history and subjectivity. Locating the emergence of the modern subject in the era’s transition from feudalism to a modern societal state, Pye supports his argument with interpretations of diverse cultural and literary phenomena, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear, witchcraft and demonism, anatomy theaters, and the paintings of Michelangelo. Pye explores the emergence of the early modern subject in terms of a range of subjectivizing mechanisms tied to the birth of a modern conception of history, one that is structured around a spatial and temporal horizon—a vanishing point. He also discusses the distinctly economic character of early modern subjectivity and how this, too, is implicated in our own modern modes of historical understanding. After explaining how the aims of New Historicist and Foucauldian approaches to the Renaissance are inseparably linked to such a historical conception, Pye demonstrates how the early modern subject can be understood in terms of a Lacanian and Zizekian account of the emerging social sphere. By focusing on the Renaissance as a period of remarkable artistic and cultural production, he is able to illustrate his points with discussions of a number of uniquely fascinating topics—for instance, how demonism was intimately related to a significant shift in law and symbolic order and how there existed at the time a “demonic” preoccupation with certain erotic dimensions of the emergent social subject. Highly sophisticated and elegantly crafted, The Vanishing will be of interest to students of Shakespeare and early modern culture, Renaissance visual art, and cultural and psychoanalytic theory.
Catholic institutions of higher learning are at a crossroads: How can they remain true to their roots while recognizing that many of their administrations, faculties, and student bodies have little connection with the tradition? How can these institutions remain competitive while maintaining a relationship to the Church?
During the past several years Catholic theologian John C. Haughey, SJ, has conducted groundbreaking research on these questions. He has done this in tandem with a team of Catholic scholars from around the United States. Haughey has also conducted numerous workshops with faculty at a dozen Catholic colleges and universities to learn firsthand about their research and teaching aspirations. Those relationships and conversations provide the foundation for this book’s many insights.
In Where Is Knowing Going? Haughey explores what constitutes the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities. Going beyond a doctrinal understanding of Catholic identity to one that engages and is engaged by the intellectual tradition of Catholicism, Haughey does not find that the issue of Catholic identity is adequately dealt with by marketing the distinctive identities of institutions in terms of their founding religious orders or saints. He provides a sure-handed process whereby the pursuits of individual faculty can be better aligned with the formal mission of the institution.