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Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present

Space, Mobility, Aesthetics

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Edited by Esther Peeren, Hanneke Stuit and Astrid Van Weyenberg

This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present. Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.

The Perverse Art of Reading

On the phantasmatic semiology in Roland Barthes’ Cours au Collège de France

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Kris Pint

‘I sincerely believe that at the origin of teaching such as this we must always locate a fantasy’. This provoking remark was the starting point of the four lecture courses Roland Barthes taught as professor of literary semiology at the Collège de France. In these last years of his life, Barthes developed a perverse reading theory in which the demonic stupidity of the fantasy becomes an active force in the creation of new ways of thinking and feeling.
The perverse art of reading offers the first extensive monograph on these lecture courses. The first part examines the psychoanalytical and philosophical intertexts of Barthes’ ‘active semiology’ (Lacan, Kristeva, Winnicott, Nietzsche, Deleuze and Foucault), while the second part discusses his growing attention for the intimate, bodily involvement in the act of reading. Subsequently, this study shows how Barthes’ phantasmatic reading strategy radically reviews the notions of space, detail and the untimely in fiction, as well as the figure of the author and his own role as a teacher.
It becomes clear that the interest of Barthes’ lecture courses goes well beyond semiology and literary criticism, searching the answer to the ethical question par excellence: how to become what one is, how to live a good life.

La fascination du Commandeur

Le sacré et l’écriture en France à partir du débat-Bataille

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Christophe Halsberghe

À partir d’une approche contrastive de l’œuvre de Georges Bataille, La fascination du Commandeur montre que la pensée française, tout au long du XXe siècle, a tergiversé entre deux expériences du sacré : l’une immédiate, à même le corps, l’autre symbolisée, passant par l’écriture.
Dans le contexte d’une Troisième République faisant du sacré un moyen de recentrement national, Bataille reste tributaire de Durkheim et de Mauss par les difficultés qu’il rencontre à reconnaître au sacré une dimension langagière. Ses principaux interlocuteurs — Breton, Caillois, Leiris, Paulhan, Blanchot, Lacan — ne manquent pas d’ailleurs de l’interpeller sur ce point, même si certains d’entre eux se montreront à leur tour indécis sur la question. D’autres, tel Sartre, évacuent ostensiblement l’écriture mais sans en accomplir le deuil. En somme, il y va à chaque fois du credo esthétique de Proust qui tôt ou tard apparaîtra pour chacun comme une véritable figure de Commandeur.
Après la mort de Bataille, le débat demeure d’actualité : l’expérience langagière du sacré animera des débats en psychanalyse (Lacan, Lyotard, Deleuze et Guattari), en philosophie (Derrida, Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe), en littérature (Blanchot), tout comme elle déterminera l’avant-gardisme d’après-guerre, notamment avec le groupe Tel Quel.

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Edited by Maria Margaroni and Effie Yiannopoulou

This collection of essays investigates the convergence between the postmodern politics of mobility and a politics of metaphor, a politics, in other words, in the context of which the production and displacement of meaning(s) constitute the major stakes. Ranging from discussions of re-territorialization, multiculturalism, “digisporas” and transnational politics and ethics, to September 11th, the Pentagon’s New Map, American legislation on Chinese immigration, Gianni Amelio’s film Lamerica, Keith Piper’s online installations and Doris Salcedo’s Atrabiliarios, the collection aims to follow three different theoretical trajectories. First, it seeks to rethink our concepts of mobility in order to open them up to the complexity that structures the thoughts and practices of a global order. Second, it critically examines the privileged position of concepts and metaphors of mobility within postmodern theory. In juxtaposing conflictual theoretical formulations, the book sets out to present the competing responses that fuel academic debates around this issue. Finally, it evaluates the influence of our increasingly mobile conceptual frameworks and everyday experience on the redefinition of politics that is currently under way, especially in the context of Post-Marxist theory. Its hope is to contribute to the production of alternative political positions and practices that will address the conflicting desires for attachment and movement marking postmodernity.

Vasily Sesemann

Experience, Formalism, and the Question of Being

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Thorsten Botz-Bornstein

Born in Vyborg in 1884 by parents of German descent, Vasily (Wilhelm) Sesemann grew up and studied in St. Petersburg. A close friend of Viktor Zhirmunsky and Lev P. Karsavin, Sesemann taught from the early 1920s until his death in 1963 at the universities of Kaunas and Vilnius in Lithuania (interrupted only by his internment in a Siberian labor camp from 1950 to 1956).
Botz-Bornstein’s study takes up Sesemann’s idea of experience as a dynamic, constantly self-reflective, ungraspable phenomenon that cannot be objectified. Through various studies, the author shows how Sesemann develops an outstanding idea of experience by reflecting it against empathy, Erkenntnistheorie (theory of knowledge), Formalism, Neo-Kantianism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Bergson’s philosophy. Sesemann’s thought establishes a link between Formalist thoughts about dynamics and a concept of Being reminiscent of Heidegger.
The book contains also translations of two essays by Sesemann as well as of an essay by Karsavin.

Discern(e)ments

Deleuzian Aesthetics / Esthétiques deleuziennes

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Edited by Joost de Bloois, Sjef Houppermans and Frans-Willem Korsten

A bilingual collection of essays on the aesthetics of Gilles Deleuze, Discern(e)ments highlights what is at stake in Deleuzian philosophy of art. It traces the reception of Deleuzian thought in a broad range of disciplines and gauges its use-value in each of them. Following the dynamics between structure and becoming that punctuates Deleuzian aesthetics, Discern(e)ments sketches and erases boundaries between methods and traditions in philosophy and art theory, as well as in literary, performance and film studies. Offering both numerous case-studies as well as theoretical outlines, Discern(e)ments engages faculties, disciplines and criticisms not in a mere exchange of points of view, but in heterogenesis mapping out further discernments in Deleuzian aesthetics.

The Inner Scar

The Mysticism of Georges Bataille

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Andrew Hussey

Since his death in 1962, Georges Bataille has acquired the status of one of the most influential thinkers of the age. The fact that this reputation has been established by the likes of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers appears to confirm Bataille as a precursor of the postmodernist condition.
Few contemporary accounts of Bataille's thought have however engaged with those aspects of his thinking which are influenced by his interest in mysticism. This is an omission which is all the more striking given that Bataille considered his thought to be not only opposite to all philosophical traditions originating in the Enlightenment but also a form of speculation intricately related to the religious exigencies of the Christian Medieval period. This book presents the first major study in English of how Bataille's 'mystical' practices and texts interact with the outer worlds of politics, social relations and externalised discourse which Bataille sets up as the antipodes of his 'inner experience.' From this starting point, Andrew Hussey argues that the inner experience of limits in Bataille's work, the movement which he terms 'transgression', is, unlike the textual drams cherished by his postmodernist admirers, a non-metaphorical, even visceral event.

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Roland A. Champagne

Reading a text is an ethical activity for Emmanuel Levinas. His moral philosophy considers written texts to be natural places to discover relations of responsibility in Western philosophical systems which are marked by extreme violence and totalizing hatred. While ethics is understood to mean a relationship with the other and reading is the appropriation of the other to the self, readings according to Levinas naturally entail relationships with the other. Levinas's own writings are often frought with the struggle between his own maleness, the concerns of feminism, and the Judaism that marks his contributions to the debates of the Talmud. This book uses male feminism as its perspective in presenting the applications of Levinas's ethical vision to texts whose readings have presented moral dilemmas for women readers. Levinas's philosophical theories can provide keys to unlock the difficulties of these texts whose readings will provide models of reading as ethical acts beginning with the ethical contract in Song of Songs where the assumption of a woman writer begins the elaboration of issues that sets a male reader as her other. From the reader's vantage point of seeing the self as other, other issues of male feminism become increasingly poignant, ranging from the solicitude of listening to Céline (Chapter 2), the responsibility for noise in Nizan (Chapter 3), the asymmetrical pattern of face-to-face relationships in Maupassant (Chapter 4), the sovereignty of laughter in Bataille and Zola (Chapter 5), the call of the other in Italo Svevo (Chapter 6), the Woman as Other in Breton (Chapter 7), the ethical self in Drieu la Rochelle (Chapter 8), the response to Hannah Arendt (Chapter 9), and the vulnerability of Bernard-Henri Lévy (Chapter 10). The male feminist reader is thus the incarnation of the struggle at the core of the issues outlined by Levinas for the act of reading as an ethical endeavor.

The Margins of Meaning

Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language & Text

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Robin Melrose

The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and by his seminal work, The Margins of Philosophy. The study of meaning in the past thirty years has focused on core meaning, and largely ignored the margins of meaning, where much of the power of language is to be found. The present work seeks to shift this focus by taking a postmodern approach that sees meaning as an accretion of verbal, social, cultural and personal sign systems, with fluid boundaries that shrink or expand with each meaner.
Chapter 1 begins with a brief examination of present-day approaches to meaning, and goes on to a deconstruction of four twentieth century linguists. Chapter 2 takes as its starting point two aspects of the 20th century scientific paradigm, non-deterministic causation and relativity, and considers a number of thinkers who have worked within this paradigm. A major aim of this work is to convince students and teachers of literary theory, cultural studies and feminist theory of the validity of a linguistics of indeterminacy, so Chapter 3 focuses on an analytical approach that models indeterminacy in language, and Chapter 4 applies the model to a newspaper editorial, a Wallace Stevens' poem, and an extract from a Patrick White novel.

La interpretación abierta

Introducción a la hermenéutica literaria contemporánea

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Mario J. Valdés

Este libro tiene tres objetivos complementarios; primero, reiterar brevemente las premisas filosóficas de la hermenéutica contemporánea y la aportación de nuestra época a la tradición crítica que empieza con Juan Luís Vives (s. XVI), recibe un impulso de Giambattista Vico (s. XVII), de Wilhelm von Humboldt (s. XVIII) y con la obra de F.E.D. Schleiermacher se impone una dirección nueva de interpretación cultural. Aunque la hermenéutica del s. XIX es dominada por Wilhelm Dilthey y su concepto de las ciencias humanas, es en el s. XX que la hermenéutica filosófica ha tenido su mayor desenvolvimiento, empezando con Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas y Ricoeur. La tradición hermenéutica de Vives a Ricoeur es uno de los grandes movimientos intelectuales a través de más de cuatro siglos. El segundo objetivo es examinar la ontología del texto literario en relación con la ontología del texto crítico y, al emprender esta deliberación dialéctica, examinar también la relación de Derrida con Ricoeur en cuanto a premisas compartidas y diferencias profundas. El tercer, y último, propósito de este libro es demostrar las consecuencias de estas observaciones filosóficas en la crítica literaria. En breve, este libro propone que la interpretación literaria es una comunicación de la experiencia estética, es decir, la crítica literaria es básicamente una celebración de la creación estética. Se comentan textos de Borges y Paz.