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The current erotic landscape is contradictory: While the West sees greater sexual and erotic freedom than ever, there is also a movement to restrict the behaviour of various sexual minorities. Expanding and Restricting the Erotic addresses the way in which the erotic has been constrained and freed, both historically and at present. Topics range from the troubling way in which the mainstream media represents the erotic, to the concept of friends with benefits. Other chapters explore female eroticism, from contemporary female hip hop artists to Latin American women seeking to express their eroticism in the midst of sexual repression. Medieval and Early Modern medical conceptions of the female body are explored, as are ancient Greek erotic practices. Finally, the controversial area of teenage girls’ erotic representation is analysed.
Volume Editor: Kanta Dihal
The question of evil is one of the oldest and most intensely studied topics in intellectual history. In fiction, legend and mythology the boundary between good and evil is often depicted as clear-cut, at least to the reader or listener, who is supposed to understand such tales as lessons and warnings. Evil is something that must be avoided by the hero in some cases and vanquished in others; it is either the exact opposite of the expected good behaviour, or its complete absence. Even so, for the characters in these didactic fictions, it turns out to be deceptively easy to fall to the infernal, ‘dark’ side. This volume draws on the expertise of an interdisciplinary group of contributors to chart events and deeds of an ‘evil’ nature that have been lived in the (recent) past and have become part of history, from individual to institutionalised evil.
Author: Scott DeShong
In Encountering Ability, Scott DeShong considers how ability and its correlative, disability, come into existence. Besides being articulated as physical, social, aesthetic, political, and specifically human, ability signifies and is signified such that signification itself is always in question. Thus the language of ability and the ability of language constitute discourse that undermines foundations, including any foundation for discourse or ability. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s theory of primary differentiation and Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of ethical relationality, Encountering Ability finds implications of music, theology, and cursing in the signification of ability, and also examines various literary texts, including works by Amiri Baraka and Marguerite Duras.
Fauna-criticism, Ethics and the Representation of Animals in Spanish American Fiction and Poetry
In Creature Discomfort: Fauna-criticism, Ethics, and the Representation of Animals in Spanish American Fiction and Poetry, Scott M. DeVries uncovers a tradition in Spanish American literature where animal-ethical representations anticipate many of the most pressing concerns from present debates in animal studies. The author documents moments from the corpus that articulate long-standing positions such as a defense of animal rights or advocacy for liberationism, that engage in literary philosophical meditations concerning mind theory and animal sentience, and that anticipate current ideas from Critical Animal Studies including the rejection of hierarchical differentiations between the categories human and nonhuman.

Creature Discomfort innovates the notion of “fauna-criticism” as a new literary approach within animal studies; this kind of analysis emphasizes the reframing of literary history to expound animal ethical positions from literary texts, both those that have been considered canonical as well as those that have long been neglected. In this study, DeVries employs fauna-criticism to examine nonhuman sentience, animal interiority, and other ethical issues such as the livestock and pet industries, circuses, zoos, hunting, and species extinction in fictional narrative and poetry from the nineteenth century, modernista, Regional, indigenista, and contemporary periods of Spanish American literature.

Volume Editors: Maria Boletsi and Christian Moser
The figure of the barbarian has captivated the Western imagination from Greek antiquity to the present. Since the 1990s, the rhetoric of civilization versus barbarism has taken center stage in Western political rhetoric and the media. But how can the longevity and popularity of this opposition be accounted for? Why has it become such a deeply ingrained habit of thought that is still being so effectively mobilized in Western discourses?
The twenty essays in this volume revisit well-known and obscure chapters in barbarism's genealogy from new perspectives and through contemporary theoretical idioms. With studies spanning from Greek antiquity to the present, they show how barbarism has functioned as the negative outside separating a civilized interior from a barbarian exterior; as the middle term in-between savagery and civilization in evolutionary models; as a repressed aspect of the civilized psyche; as concomitant with civilization; as a term that confuses fixed notions of space and time; or as an affirmative notion in philosophy and art, signifying radical change and regeneration.
Proposing an original interdisciplinary approach to barbarism, this volume includes both overviews of the concept's travels as well as specific case studies of its workings in art, literature, philosophy, film, ethnography, design, and popular culture in various periods, geopolitical contexts, and intellectual traditions. Through this kaleidoscopic view of the concept, it recasts the history of ideas not only as a task for historians, but also literary scholars, art historians, and cultural analysts.
Why we read literature and why we should read literature are age-old questions that have, in recent years, gained unprecedented scope and intensity, against the backdrop of what has been perceived as a world-wide crisis in the humanities. While scholars frequently discuss different types of value separately, in this volume values of literature are approached in the plural: we argue that the ethical, aesthetic, cognitive, affective, social, historical, and existential values of literature should be explored in connection with each other. The three parts of the book explore the relationship between ethics and aesthetics; the cognitive, affective, and social values of literature; and the construction and questioning of literary values in society. Throughout the book, we discuss the different things literature can do – ranging from affirmation of social dogmas to its capacities for self-questioning and challenging of moral certainties – through the dynamic interplay of its ethical and aesthetic, cognitive and affective aspects. Literature not only reflects and draws on the values of the historical world from which it stems; it also actively addresses, challenges, and transforms those values and explores new ways to understand value. Through these complementary processes, literature engages in its own distinctively literary forms of value inquiry.
This book reconstructs the cornerstones of Jesus’s moral teachings about how to lead a good, even exemplary, human life. It does so in a way that is compatible with the most prominent, competing versions of the historical Jesus. The work also contrast Jesus’ understanding of the best way to lead our lives with that of Friedrich Nietzsche. Both Jesus and Nietzsche were self-consciously moral revolutionaries. Jesus refashioned the imperatives of Jewish law to conform to what he was firmly convinced was the divine will. Nietzsche aspired to transvalue the dominant values of his time —which themselves were influenced greatly by Christianity— in service of what he took to be a higher vision. The interplay of these radical versions of the good human life, seasoned with critical commentary emerging from modern findings in the sciences and humanities, opens possibilities and lines of inquiry that can inform our choices in answering that enduring, paramount question, “How should we live our lives?”
Volume Editors: Jakob Lothe and Jeremy Hawthorn
While Plato recommended expelling poets from the ideal society, W. H. Auden famously declared that poetry makes nothing happen. The 19 contributions to the present book avoid such polarized views and, responding in different ways to the “ethical turn” in narrative theory, explore the varied ways in which narratives encourage readers to ponder matters of right and wrong. All work from the premise that the analysis of narrative ethics needs to be linked to a sensitivity to esthetic (narrative) form. The ethical issues are accordingly located on different levels. Some are clearly presented as thematic concerns within the text(s) considered, while others emerge through (or are generated by) the presentation of character and event by means of particular narrative techniques. The objects of analysis include such well-known or canonical texts as Biblical Old Testament stories, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk. Others concentrate on less-well-known texts written in languages other than English. There are also contributions that investigate theoretical issues in relation to a range of different examples.
Mysticism, scepticism, Buddhism, art and poetry
Author: John Danvers
Through an analysis of many different examples, Danvers articulates a new way of thinking about mysticism and scepticism, not as opposite poles of the philosophical spectrum, but as two fields of enquiry with overlapping aims and methods. Prompted by a deep sense of wonder at being alive, many mystics and sceptics, like the Buddha, practice disciplines of doubt in order to become free of attachment to fixed appearances, essences and viewpoints, and in doing so they find peace and equanimity. They develop ways of living with impermanence and the unexpected by letting go of adherence to dogmatic beliefs and by suspending judgement. In common with many artists and poets they act as agents of uncertainty, actively disturbing the routines and habits of day-to-day thought and behaviour in order to demonstrate how to maintain a sense of balance and spontaneity in the midst of life’s difficulties. Topics explored include: being and self as process; mysticism and language; scepticism and dogmatism; Buddhism, interdependence and emptiness; Daoism and impermanence; dialectics of doubt in art and poetry. Written in a lively and accessible style, accompanied by drawings and photographs by the author, this volume is aimed at scholars, artists, teachers, and anyone interested in philosophy, religion, art, poetry and ways of being.
Volume Editors: Robert Reid and Joe Andrew
Perhaps more than any other nineteenth-century Russian writer, Dostoevskii’s continuing popularity rests on his contemporary relevance. The prophetic streak in his creativity gives him the same lasting appeal as dystopian novelists such as Zamiatin and Orwell whom he influenced and whose ethical concerns he anticipated. Religious themes are prominent in his work, too, and, though he was a believer, his interest seems to lie in the tension between faith and unbelief, which was felt as keenly in the Russia of his time as in our own. The nature of Dostoevskii’s art also continues to be debated. The older tendency to disparage his literary method has given way to a recognition of the originality of his techniques, without which his ideological concerns would not have emerged with such thought-provoking clarity. The chapters which comprise this volume address these issues in a range of Dostoevskii’s works, from shorter classics, such as House of the Dead and Notes from Underground to great novels such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. This work will be of use to scholars and students of Dostoevskii at all levels as well as to those with an interest in nineteenth-century literature more generally.