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post tenebras

Post Tenebras Lex: Preuves et propagande dans l’historiographie engagée de Simon Goulart (1543-1628)

Amy Graves-Monroe
Droz, 2012

Post tenebras lex proposes a study of the nature, the origin, the use, the function, the circulation and the meaning of testimony in Calvinist historiography during the period of the Wars of Religion. The two main axes of inquiry are history and testimony, and, by extension, the judicial paradigm that, under the pressure of the need to justify the legitimacy of the Protestant cause, comes to link them together. The documents that Simon Goulart compiles in the Mémoires de Charles IX and the Mémoires de la Ligue are part of a concerted effort of international propaganda that plays on the retransmission of the current events of the period to offer a ‘history of the present’ by repurposing pamphlet literature. At the center of the world of printers, print culture and textual practices during the period, Simon Goulart illustrates the ways of memory and memorialization according the convictions of his movement. This study examines a tiny corner of the world of print culture and the Reformation, but it proposes to illuminate, among all of the ways of writing history and conceiving of current events in the present during the Renaissance, a way that Calvinists told their story, expressed their convictions, and convinced their readers.


Tragically Speaking: On the Use and Abuse of Theory for Life

Kalliopi Nikolopoulou
University of Nebraska Press (Symploke Series in Contemporary Theory), 2012

From German idealism onward, Western thinkers have sought to revalue tragedy, invariably converging at one cardinal point: tragic art risks aestheticizing real violence. Tragically Speaking critically examines this revaluation, offering a new understanding of the changing meaning of tragedy in literary and moral discourse. It questions common assumptions about the Greeks’ philosophical relation to the tragic tradition and about the ethical and political ramifications of contemporary theories of tragedy.

Starting with the poet Friedrich Hölderlin and continuing to the present, Kalliopi Nikolopoulou traces how tragedy was translated into an idea (“the tragic”) that was then revised further into the “beyond the tragic” of postmetaphysical contemporary thought. While recognizing some of the merits of this revaluation, Tragically Speaking concentrates on the losses implicit in such a turn. It argues that by translating tragedy into an idea, these rereadings effected a problematic subordination of politics to ethics: the drama of human conflict gave way to philosophical reflection, bracketing the world in favor of the idea of the world. Where contemporary thought valorizes absence, passivity, the Other, rhetoric, writing, and textuality, the author argues that their “deconstructed opposites” (presence, will, the self, truth, speech, and action, all of which are central to tragedy) are equally necessary for any meaningful discussion of ethics and politics.

the risk of war

The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

Vasiliki P. Neofotistos
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012

The Risk of War focuses on practices and performances of everyday life across ethnonational borders during the six-month armed conflict in 2001 between Macedonian government forces and the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA)—a conflict initiated by the NLA with the proclaimed purpose of securing greater rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia and terminated by the internationally brokered Ohrid Framework Agreement. Anthropologist Vasiliki P. Neofotistos provides an ethnographic account of the ways middle- and working-class Albanian and Macedonian noncombatants in Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje, went about their daily lives during the conflict, when fear and uncertainty regarding their existence and the viability of the state were intense and widespread.

Neofotistos finds that, rather than passively observing the international community’s efforts to manage the political crisis, members of the Macedonian and Albanian communities responded with resilience and wit to disruptive and threatening changes in social structure, intensely negotiated relationships of power, and promoted indeterminacy on the level of the everyday as a sense of impending war enfolded the capital. More broadly, The Risk of War helps us better understand how postindependence Macedonia has managed to escape civil bloodshed despite high political volatility, acute ethno-nationalist rivalries, and unrelenting external pressures exerted by neighboring countries.

feminst aesthetics

Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism

Ewa Plonowska Ziarek
Columbia University Press, 2012

Ewa Ziarek fully articulates a feminist aesthetics, focusing on the struggle for freedom in women’s literary and political modernism and the devastating impact of racist violence and sexism. She examines the contradiction between women’s transformative literary and political practices and the oppressive realities of racist violence and sexism, and she situates these tensions within the entrenched opposition between revolt and melancholia in studies of modernity and within the friction between material injuries and experimental aesthetic forms. Ziarek’s political and aesthetic investigations concern the exclusion and destruction of women in politics and literary production and the transformation of this oppression into the inaugural possibilities of writing and action. Her study is one of the first to combine an in-depth engagement with philosophical aesthetics, especially the work of Theodor W. Adorno, with women’s literary modernism, particularly the writing of Virginia Woolf and Nella Larsen, along with feminist theories on the politics of race and gender. By bringing seemingly apolitical, gender-neutral debates about modernism’s experimental forms together with an analysis of violence and destroyed materialities, Ziarek challenges both the anti-aesthetic subordination of modern literature to its political uses and the appreciation of art’s emancipatory potential at the expense of feminist and anti-racist political struggles.

chang and eng reconnected

Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture

Cynthia Wu
Temple University Press, 2012

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker have fascinated the world since the nineteenth century. In her captivating book, Chang and Eng Reconnected, Cynthia Wu traces the “Original Siamese Twins” through the terrain of American culture, showing how their inseparability underscored tensions between individuality and collectivity in the American popular imagination.

Using letters, medical documents and exhibits, literature, art, film, and family lore, Wu provides a trans-historical analysis that presents the Bunkers as both a material presence and as metaphor. She also shows how the twins figure in representations of race, disability, and science in fictional narratives about nation building.

As astute entrepreneurs, the twins managed their own lives; nonetheless, as Chang and Eng Reconnected shows, American culture has always viewed them through the multiple lenses of difference.


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