Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Issue: HISTORY AND THEORY 47.2 (2008).

Abstracts are available here:


The new editor writes: Welcome to the new online presence of the Journal of Nietzsche Studies. With the development of this site, the Journal takes another major step forward in an exciting period of growth and renewal. Here you'll find continuously developing new content as well as an attractive repository of previously published materials. Beginning with issue 37 (due spring 2009), book reviews and philologica materials will be published online in a searchable, full-text format, as well as in PDF via Project Muse. This change will allow us to publish more content as well as serve as a more timely resource for critical views on the most current research. The co-publishing venture launched here will enable us to publish good work faster and for a larger audience. The editorial team has worked hard to bring this project to fruition. I am particularly grateful to editorial assistant David Cerequas for the design and execution of the site. The reorganization necessary to do the work produced a temporary delay in our regular publication schedule. Please see the announcement concerning our forthcoming combined issue 35/36, which will appear in fall 2008. Subscribers will not lose any issues as a result of this delay. It is also my great pleasure to announce that we have completed our distinguished roster of experts serving on our editorial board. The board includes figures widely recognized for significantly influencing Nietzsche studies during the past thirty years. While their particular interests and approaches diverge, they share a commitment to making the Journal of Nietzsche Studies a venue that serves as an index for the most probing philosophical research, a genuine guide to the literature through its reviews, and a helpful resource for further inquiry. Here is the new URL:

Eagleton, Terry. "The Phenomenal Slavoj Zizek." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT April 23, 2008.

Slavoj Žižek is less a philosopher than a phenomenon. The son of Slovenian Communists, and the representative on earth (so to speak) of the late French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, Žižek has been travelling the globe like an intellectual rock star for the past twenty years, gathering as he goes an immense fan club. He is outrageous, provocative and entertaining. He was, he tells us, tempted to suggest for the dust jacket of one of his books: “In his free time, Žižek likes to surf the internet for child pornography and teach his small son how to pull the legs off spiders.” He has been the subject of an art installation entitled Slavoj Žižek Does Not Exist, has starred in two films (Žižek! and The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema) and appears on one of his own dust jackets lying on Sigmund Freud’s couch beneath an image of female genitalia. His forty or so books, with titles such as The Sublime Object of Ideology, The Ticklish Subject, Enjoy Your Symptom! and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Lacan (But Were Too Afraid To Ask Hitchcock), are dishevelled collages of ideas, ranging from Kant to computer science, St Augustine to Agatha Christie. There seems to be nothing in heaven or earth that is not grist to his intellectual mill. One digression spawns another, until the author seems as unclear as the reader about what he was supposed to be arguing. Moreover, to every reviewer’s horror, Žižek’s books are growing fatter by the year. The Parallax View, almost 400 densely printed pages on everything from biopolitics and Robert Schumann to brain science and Henry James, appeared only two years ago; In Defense of Lost Causes, a book that scoops up Lenin and Heidegger, Christ and Robespierre, Mao and ecology, is an even weightier door-stopper. Slavoj Žižek, then, is Europe’s prime example of a postmodern philosopher. He is a cross between guru and gadfly, sage and showman. In typically postmodern style, his work leaps impudently over the frontiers between high and popular culture, swerving in the course of a paragraph from Kierkegaard to Mel Gibson. Trained as a philosopher in Ljubljana and Paris, he is a film buff, psychoanalytic theorist, amateur theologian and political analyst. He is a member of the Ljubljana Lacanian circle, as improbable an association as the Huddersfield Hegelians. When it comes to politics, he is as adept at unpacking the intricacies of Rousseau or Carl Schmitt as he is at delivering instant journalistic judgements on Parisian rioting, the war on terror, or Turkey’s relations with the European Union. He was once a politician himself back home in Slovenia, and the shadow of the Yugoslavian conflict falls over his mordant commentaries on war, racism, nationalism and ethnic strife. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Aspects of Vision," Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, July 17, 2008.

This conference is dedicated to the exploration of aspects of vision. The aim of this conference is to foster relations among scholars from a variety of different backgrounds and disciplines, whose research incorporates some aspect of vision theory, considered in a broad sense. Without placing strictures on the possible relevance of any specific discipline, it is anticipated that philosophical, psychological, historical and literary approaches will be of import. Preference will be given to submissions which bridge disciplinary boundaries, or are amenable to audiences drawn from various disciplines. Submission Guidelines: We welcome submissions from both faculty and graduate students. The new extended deadline for submissions is May 23rd 2008, though early submissions are encouraged. Please submit an abstract for blind review, of no more than 300 words in Word or RTF format, to the organisers Orla Slattery or Steven Bond , via the following address Submissions should be accompanied by a cover sheet containing the proposed paper title, as well as the author’s name, institutional affiliation and status (if any), and email/postal addresses. Successful applications will be acknowledged by May 30th, 2008. Accepted papers should be no more than 3,000 words, with an expected reading time of thirty minutes, allowing ten to fifteen minutes for discussion. We would like to inform all interested applicants that travel costs and accommodation expenses during the conference are the exclusive responsibility of the participants.

Black, Tim. "Modernism and the Lure of Heresy." SPIKED REVIEW OF BOOKS 12 (2008).

Gay, Peter. The Lure of Heresy: from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond. New York: Norton, 2007. Faced with a term in constant dispute, some critics, in search of the quiet life, content themselves not with a singular definition but with a set of modernisms - as myriad as the categories allow, be it geographical or disciplinary. Others prefer to abstract a principle so general – irony, say – that modernism loses any historical specificity at all. In this regard, Peter Gay’s Modernism is admirably ambitious: it attempts to preserve the particularity of the artworks themselves, be it Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse or Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, while gesturing to that general modernist sensibility they embody. As Gay makes clear in his opening chapter, ‘the manifestation of modernism’ ought to be treated as ‘a single historical epoch’. This, he says elsewhere, ‘dates roughly from Baudelaire and Flaubert to Beckett and beyond to Pop Art and other dangerous blessings’. What the artists, writers, composers and architects share is not only a ‘climate of thought, feeling and opinions’ but two principles in particular: ‘the lure of heresy that impelled their action as they confronted conventional sensibilities’ and a commitment to ‘principled self-scrutiny’. With these two elements marshalling his interpretation of a vast array of cultural artefacts, Gay proceeds to present a narrative of modernism, tracing its history through periods of pugnacious self-confidence and impending defeat. Each artist, each grouping – be it Picasso, the disparagingly named Fauves, or the Hitler-worshipping, Nobel prize-winning Knut Hamsum – becomes a character, better still, a hero in Gay’s epic tale of modernist derring-do. Each of Gay’s dramatis personae exhibit his two key modernist traits – that is, the desire to challenge the cultural establishment (Ezra Pound’s ‘make it new’) and to give expression to hitherto unencountered depths of the self, be it the ‘monologue interieur’ of Joyce or the near pathological self-portraiture of Max Beckmann. . . . Read the rest here:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CFP: "Works of Love," Annual Seminar, Søren Kierkegaard Society of the UK, University of Oxford, May 3, 2008.

The Programme is as follows: 10.30 Arrivals 11.00 James Rodwell (Essex), ‘Reappraising Adorno’s “On Kierkegaard’s Doctrine of Love”’ 11.45 Paul Harris (Essex), ‘Forgiving but not Forgetting: Kierkegaard on Forgiveness and Love’ 12.15-12.45 Patrick Shiel (Cambridge), ‘Kierkegaard and Paul: Romans and Corinthians in Works of Love’ 12.45-14.00 Lunch Break 14.00 John Lippitt (Hertfordshire), ‘Self-Love: What’s the Problem?’ 14.45 Daphne Hampson (Oxford), tba. 15.30 Short break followed by SKUK Society AGM 16.30 Close More information may be available here at the association's website:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Annual Meeting, Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture, University of British Columbia, June 3-5 2008.

Update (April 28, 2008): the Programme has been posted here: November 4, 2007: The Society for the Study of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture (EPTC) invites papers and panel proposals discussing any aspects of existential or phenomenological theory or culture. For example, papers or panel proposals dealing with theoretical or cultural issues in relation to authors such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoeyevsky, Kafka, Beckett, Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers, Levinas, Malraux, Marcel, Buber, Frankl, Sartre, Camus, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir, Irigaray, or Laing are all welcome. Submissions from all disciplines are welcome. EPTC will meet at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, in conjunction with the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities of Canada during 3-5 June 2008. The Congress will bring together some 100 learned associations and more than 9,000 scholars from Canada and the international community for approximately 10 days of interdisciplinary symposia, cultural events, and public discussions. For more information see: 1. Interested authors should submit the following electronically in Rich Text Format: 1. A copy of your paper, not more than 4,500 words, and prepared for anonymous review (identifiable by paper title only). 2. A separate abstract, not more than 100 words, also listing the paper’s title, author’s name, complete mailing address, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address. 2. If you are interested in either presenting a commentary (of not more than 1,000 words) on a paper, or chairing a session, please submit a brief email note indicating as much, including your name, complete mailing address, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and relevant areas of interest. 3. If you are interested in organizing a panel, please submit the following electronically in Rich Text Format: 1. a brief Panel Call for Papers by Wednesday August 1, 2007. Then, by Friday January 11, 2008 please submit: 2. a copy of each participant’s paper, not more than 4,500 words, and prepared for anonymous review (identifiable by paper title only); and 3. a separate abstract, not more than 100 words, also listing the paper’s title, author’s name, complete mailing address, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address for each participant. Each panel organizer is encouraged to ensure both that the papers for his or her proposed panel meet the general standards of academic conferences, and that the panel as a whole is suitable for EPTC; EPTC reserves the right to reject individual papers and panels. Except for item 3.1 (above), the submission deadline for the above materials is Friday January 11, 2008. EPTC is able to waive Congress fees for a few delegates each year. Such awards will be made according to criteria of financial need and quality of paper at the discretion of the conference programme coordinator. Non tenure-steam delegates interested in this award should append a note indicating as much to their submission materials. Submissions should be sent to Professor David Tabachnick, 2008 Program Coordinator. Further information is available here:


Papers include:
  • Benjamin Arditi "On the Political: Schmitt contra Schmitt." 7-28. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Michael Marder "Carl Schmitt's 'Cosmopolitan Restaurant': Culture, Multiculturalism, and Complexio Oppositorum." 29-47. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • David Pan "Carl Schmitt on Culture and Violence in the Political Decision." 49-72. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Johannes Türk "The Intrusion: Carl Schmitt's Non-Mimetic Logic of Art." 73-89. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Hans Sluga "The Pluralism of the Political: from Carl Schmitt to Hannah Arendt." 91-109. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Christian J. Emden "Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, and the Limits of Liberalism." 110-134. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky "Nothing is Political, Everything Can Be Politicized: On the Concept of the Political in Michel Foucault and Carl Schmitt." 135-161. [Excerpt] [PDF]
  • Theo W. A. de Wit Scum of the Earth: Alain Finkielkraut on the Political Risks of a Humanism without Transcendence Telos 142 (Spring 2008): 163-183. [Excerpt] [PDF]
Dowload the entire issue here:

TELOS Issues Available Online (from 2000).

Since 1968, the quarterly journal Telos has provided an international forum for discussions of political, social, and cultural change. It has built a bridge between intellectual debates in Europe and the United States, exploring matters of contemporary concern to both sides of the Atlantic. Over its long history, Telos has promoted the awareness of dissidence in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, debated the state of US-European relations, and examined topics central to post-Communism and the Iraq Wars. Telos offers an exciting exchange of ideas for anyone with an interest in the vital international issues of the day. Visit the archive here:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Marche, Stephen. "Reading the Brain Reading." TORONTO STAR April 19, 2008.

More on cognitive criticism / neuroaesthetics: Vladimir Nabokov said that a work of art shouldn't make you think, it should make you shiver. If the budding field of neuroaesthetics takes off in the way its adherents hope, we may soon be able to chart this shiver on a series of graphs, break its effects down into specific components, isolate the active ingredient of literary greatness, and – who knows? – synthetically produce it. I find the idea attractive. It would save us all the fuss and bother of writing and reading and thinking about writing and reading. Until then, we will continue to have debates like the one raging over the pages of the most recent Times Literary Supplement. Back in September of 2006, novelist A.S. Byatt published an article arguing that neurobiology, and its analysis of synaptic chemical "grammar," might contribute valuable insight to literary criticism. That piece sparked much debate and earlier this month, Raymond Tallis, an professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester, responded with a wonderfully lively attack on her argument: Science has no place in the literary conversation, he says. Neurobiology get lost. He uses the occasion to dismiss a new anthology called Evolutionary and Neurocognitive Approaches to Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts as well. The movement seems to be spreading and Tallis is having none of it. . . . Read the rest here: For further links on this subject, please visit:

McLemee, Scott. "French Theory." INSIDE HIGHER ED April 16, 2008.

Fish and his interlocutors reduce Cusset’s rich, subtle, and paradox-minded book (now arriving in translation) into one more tale of how tenured pseudoradicalism rose to power in the United States. Of course there is always an audience for that sort of thing. And it is true that Cusset – who teaches intellectual history at the Institute d’Etudes Politiques and at Reid Hall/Columbia University, in Paris – devotes some portions of the book to explaining American controversies to his French readers. But that is only one aspect of the story, and by no means the most interesting or rewarding. When originally published five years ago, the cover of Cusset’s book bore the slightly strange words French Theory. That the title of a French book was in English is not so much lost in translation as short-circuited by it. The bit of Anglicism is very much to the point: this is a book about the process of cultural transmission, distortion, and return. The group of thinkers bearing the (American) brand name “French Theory” would not be recognized at home as engaged in a shared project, or even forming a cohesive group. Nor were they so central to cultural and political debate there, at least after the mid-1970s, as they were to become for academics in the United States. So the very existence of a phenomenon that could be called “French Theory” has to be explained. To put it another way: the very category of 'French Theory' itself is socially constructed. Explaining how that construction came to pass is Cusset’s project. He looks at the process as it unfolded at various levels of academic culture: via translations and anthologies, in certain disciplines, with particular sponsors, and so on. Along the way, he recounts the American debates over postmodernism, poststructuralism, and what not. But those disputes are part of his story, not the point of it. While offering an outsider’s perspective on our interminable culture wars, it is more than just a chronicle of them. . . . . Read the whole article here:

Irele, F. Abiola. "Aime Cesaire (1913-2008)." THE ROOT April 22, 2008.

The death last week of Aimé Césaire brings to a definitive close one of the most significant episodes of black literary and intellectual history, that represented by the Negritude movement. With Léon Damas from French Guiana and Léopold Sédar Senghor from Senegal, Cesaire formed a triumvirate who gave voice and form to Negritude as a concept and a movement. After the death of Senghor in 2001, Césaire was the last survivor of an early generation of French-speaking black writers who, in the years between the two World Wars, called into question the French colonial order and challenged the discourse of empire by which it was rationalized. It is safe to say that Cesaire's work represented the most vehement expression of this anti-colonial stance, and indeed the most powerful evocation of the black experience in its full historical scope and emotional range. Read the entire obituary here:

Lederman, Doug. "A Defining Election [on the Decline of the ALSC]." INSIDE HIGHER ED April 25, 2008.

Association elections are rarely the stuff of national news, even when they get nasty, as is sometimes the case. But so too is it uncommon for the election of officers of a group to speak so directly to the status of an entire academic discipline. But such is the case, as some participants see it, in a bitterly contested election unfolding now among members of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. The group thrived for a decade as a “traditionalist” alternative to the Modern Language Association, the primary coalition of English and language professors, which the new group’s members saw as increasingly overtaken by identity politics and cultural studies instead of what the considered substantive literary interpretation. But in recent years ALSC has seen its fortunes decline, as its membership (from over 2,000 in the mid-1990s to about 800 now) and attendance at its annual conference both have flagged. Exactly why the group has struggled is a matter of debate. For some of its founders and leaders, the problem lies in the fact that the association has largely abandoned one of its two original missions, continuing to serve as a forum for genuine literary criticism but generally ceasing to engage in the culture wars as it had early on . . . Read the rest here:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Drabble, Margaret. "Poor Dorothy Wordsworth." TIMES April 23, 2008.

Wilson, Frances. The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth. London: Faber, 2008. Dorothy Wordsworth wrote much and published little, but despite her reticence much has been written about her. Frances Wilson gives us a new and at times startling reading of this enigmatic woman, and does not shy away from discussing what the editor of her letters, Alan G. Hill, described as the “peculiarly insensitive and maladroit” post-Freudian interpretations that have clustered round Dorothy’s relationship with her brother William. Wilson is neither insensitive nor maladroit. She is bold, witty, scholarly and speculative. She is not always respectful, but she is always interesting. She takes on incest, migraines, voyeurism and, at one point, what she describes as a note of “post-coital intensity” in Dorothy’s prose. This gripping narrative presents a character more subtle than the devoted, self-effacing amanuensis of tradition, or the later feminist stereotype. The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth does not claim that Dorothy was a better writer than her brother, or that he repressed her talent by demanding sympathy and giblet pies. What really went on in Dove Cottage remains mysterious, and, as Wilson says, there are parts of the story which we will never know. . . . The rest is here:

Fish, Stanley. "French Theory in America, Part 2." NEW YORK TIMES April 20, 2008.

Well, there’s life in that old dog yet. My editor thought that a column on French theory would elicit a small number of responses from readers interested in continental philosophy. More than 600 comments later, it is clear that terms like deconstruction and postmodernism still have the capacity to produce excitement and outrage. . . . Read the rest here: For Part 1, please visit:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Theories of Recognition and Contemporary French Philosophy: Reopening the Dialogue," École Normale Supérieure & Université de Paris X, May 6-7, 2008.

Les théoriciens de la reconnaissance se sont souvent tournés vers la philosophie française. Le statut et les modalités de cette référence n'ont cependant pas encore reçu l'attention qu'ils méritent. Ces deux journées d'études se donnent précisément pour objectif de mieux cerner les divers rôles que joue la référence à la philosophie française contemporaine dans les théories de la reconnaissance. D'une part, il s'agira d'examiner la manière dont les théoriciens de la reconnaissance se sont inspirés de la philosophie française contemporaine. On a déjà beaucoup étudié les influences de Hegel, de l'Ecole de francfort et de G.H. Mead sur l'élaboration du cadre des théories de la reconnaissance. On s'intéressera ici à l'influence qu'a pu exercer sur les théories de la reconnaissance, la philosophie française de Sartre à Derrida en passant par Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Lyotard et Levinas etc. De profondes divergences peuvent ressortir de l'interprétation des pensées de ces philosophes dans le cadre des théories de la reconnaissance. Il suffit, pour s'en faire une idée, de se rapporter aux références que font A. Honneth et N. Fraser au projet déconstructiviste : A. Honneth, se servant surtout des derniers écrits de Derrida, articule le projet de déconstruction aux éthiques de la sollicitude, du care, introduites notamment par C. Gilligan. N. Fraser, s'appuyant sur les premiers écrits de Derrida, relie le projet déconstructiviste à ce qu'elle appelle « la reconnaissance transformatrice », une politique culturelle anti-essentialiste qui viserait à contrer les inégalités institutionnelles de l'estime sociale en restructurant les relations de reconnaissance afin de déconstruire et de mettre en question l'identité que les individus et les groupes cherchent à faire reconnaître. De même, on peut constater que les interprétations de la pensée foucaldienne par J. Tully, Ch. Taylor, N. Fraser et A. Honneth sont également bien différentes voire sur certains points opposées. Nous visons donc, en un premier temps, à clarifier et à évaluer ces diverses interprétations et utilisations. D'autre part, il s'agira de concevoir un renouvellement du potentiel normatif et politique de la philosophie française contemporaine dont la portée politique est toujours discutée et contestée. Comme le remarque A. Honneth, la critique que fait Habermas de la philosophie française dans les années 80 a eu « un effet très préjudiciable et a placé le rapport franco-allemand sous la rubrique de l'irrationalité versus la rationalité », ce qui a entraîné « une certaine sous-estimation de plus en plus répandue de la tradition française » à tel point que « nous nous trouvons maintenant dans une situation où le dialogue à été interrompu ». Les théoriciens de la reconnaissance nous offrent une occasion de relancer ce dialogue et d'explorer de nouveau la capacité de la philosophie française à avoir trait aux préoccupations de la philosophie politique tout en faisant ressortir son potentiel normatif. For more details, including the programme, please visit the conference homepage here:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Lehrer, Jonah. Proust Was a Neuroscientist. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Whatever else may be said about Proust was a Neuroscientist there is no denying that it is an exuberant piece of writing, as enthusiastic about the magic of neuroscience as it is for the truth of art. The major thesis of this book by Jonah Lehrer is that art anticipates science not just in general insights but, more controversially, in several specific areas such as neuroplasticity and the neurobiology of memory. Lehrer explores the lives and work of eight artists, arguing in each case that their insights revealed, prospectively, the structure and function of the brain. A major lesson arising from this observation is that science must attend to the work of artists if it is to engage with the world as it is experienced. More than that, Lehrer seems convinced, although he does not explicitly say so, that a sufficiently sensitive neuroscience could map the mind. At 25 years of age author Jonah Lehrer is an astonishingly young man to have attempted this sort of grand synthesis. He is well qualified for the task, having completed postgraduate studies in literature, and postdoctororal work in neuroscience with Nobel prizewinner Erich Kandel. In the end Proust was a Neuroscientist must be judged a qualified success. Truth in art does not require the sort of independent verification Lehrer offers, but Lehrer shows that art provides a rich set of heuristics worthy of and amenable to scientific investigation. More than that, Lehrer communicates a passion for both art and science. . . . Read the whole review here: (For a rebuttal of what is rapidly becoming the latest fad in literary criticism, what is sometimes termed 'cognitive criticism,' see Raymond Tallis' essay "The Neuroscience Delusion," a link to which is posted here:

Frazier, Brad. "Review of Edward Grippe's RICHARD RORTY'S NEW PRAGMATISM." METAPYSCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS April 8, 2008.

Grippe, Edward. Richard Rorty's New Pragmatism: Neither Liberal Nor Free. London: Continuum, 2007. In conclusion, one of the most amazing things about Grippe's treatment of Rorty is that he claims to have "pulled some punches" and generally to have "erred on the side of caution when calling Rorty's narrative into question" (147). This passage occurs just after Grippe calls Rorty a sophist and suggests a comparison with Meletus, Socrates's accuser (145-46). It is followed by Grippe's comparing Rorty to a "corner preacher who quotes the Christian Bible" and his implying that the "twentieth century's atrocities and violations of human integrity" will predispose us to reject Rorty's position. Grippe avers that Rorty leaves us weak-kneed before the Nazis because of his rejection of Enlightenment views of reason. In the same section, Grippe asserts that "Rorty's efforts are as hegemonic as the efforts of, for instance, the Crusaders to convert the Muslim 'infidels' in order to have the God utopia on earth" (150). Elsewhere Rorty is likened to a demagogue. I was left wondering which punches Grippe pulled. For persons interested in engaging Rorty in his best and most profound moments and in understanding why he was a world-class philosopher, I suggest that you look elsewhere. . . . Read the rest here:

Jackson, Jeffrey M. "Review of Gabriele Schwab, ed. DERRIDA, DELEUZE, PSYCHOANALYSIS." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS April, 8, 2008.

Schwab, Gabriele, ed. Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis is an edited volume of essays which aims to serve as a tribute to the late Jacques Derrida. The book begins with a translated lecture by Derrida, and generally speaking the essays--apart from the last one--defend different aspects of the Derridean reading of psychoanalysis to critique or situate that of Gilles Deleuze and other prominent philosophers (Foucault, Agamben, Levinas, etc.). The essays reflect a dominant paradigm of Continental Philosophy common in the humanities, and if one works within this paradigm--or has an interest in critiquing it--the volume will definitely be of interest. The editor and the various authors, seem to be making two big claims. First, psychoanalysis is a mode of thought that can help us critically undermine the currently widespread dichotomy--which is said to plague philosophy and critical theory--between the psychological and the political. Second, Jacques Derrida's (and, in some cases, Deleuze's) reading of psychoanalysis provides the proper approach for articulating this potential within psychoanalysis. Granting the first, the second is far from self-evident, and it appears all the more unjustified, given the conspicuous lack of engagement with the psychoanalytic literature. As is common in such philosophical appropriations of Freud, the critics address themselves mainly to Oedipus and other supposedly metaphysical aspects of Freud's early theory, largely ignoring the broader implications of Freud's own writings on culture and aggression. Furthermore, Freud's other interpreters--Klein, Winnicott, Lacan, Adorno, Marcuse, Kristeva, etc.--several of whom pay more attention to Freud's cultural writings, are either merely glossed or omitted entirely from consideration. . . . Read the rest here:

Liston, Heather C. "Review of Joseph Merlino, et al., eds. FREUD AT 150." METAPYSCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS April 1, 2008.

Merlino, Joseph P., Marilyn S. Jacobs, Judy Ann Kaplan, and K. Lynne Moritz, eds. Freud at 150: Twenty-First Century Essays on a Man of Genius. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007. Sigmund Freud was born May 6, 1856. One hundred and fifty years later, on September 15, 2006, the Austrian government sponsored a symposium at its embassy in Washington, D.C., to explore and celebrate the effects this singular man has had on the world in the intervening period. The new book, Freud at 150: 21st Century Essays on a Man of Genius, is largely an outgrowth of that event, and consists of thirty-eight (mostly brief) reflections and analyses by the four editors and twenty-four other distinguished contributors. Relatively light on jargon overall, the book provides a refreshing variety of topics and styles that offer something to the curious newcomer who knows little of Freud's life or work and also to the more experienced student of psychology interested in the most recent interpretations and applications of his work. . . . Although Freud didn't publish The Ego and the Id until 1923, when he was 67 years old, those terms, along with "superego," "projection," and "transference," have long since become household words for nearly all of us, and it is common today for lay people to discuss the Oedipal conflict, sublimation, and the subconscious; and the powerful, warring drives toward sex and death that Freud described as Eros and Thanatos. Anyone who would like to check her understanding of these ideas is advised to read the seven informative and (thankfully) comprehensible chapters by the Viennese college instructor and public relations executive Helmut Strutzmann, who earned his Ph.D. in drama, semiotics, and fine arts. Much of the book, though, goes beyond reviews of Freud's life and principles and does something Freud himself could not do--check the lasting effects of his work some generations down the line. . . . Read the rest here:

Velkley, Richard. "Review of Susan Hahn's CONTRADICTION IN MOTION." NDPR April 22, 2008.

Hahn, Songsuk Susan. Contradiction in Motion: Hegel's Organic Conception of Life and Value. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2007. Hegel famously declares that "Everything in my logic is indebted to Heraclitus" and "Everything is contradictory." Songsuk Susan Hahn's study is a thoughtful and unusual treatment of contradiction in Hegel. It illuminates crucial links between the logical, aesthetic and ethical aspects of Hegel's system, and furthermore is a welcome departure from the prevailing approach to the dialectic as the public-communal constitution and recognition of rational norms, free of ontological claims, in a kind of historicized Kantianism. Hahn observes that Hegel's concept of life is central to the Science of Logic and to the whole of the system, wherein it has undeniable ontological import. Her book, she tells the reader, began with wonder: "What does Hegel mean when he says we must regard concepts as 'living'?" (195). Through investigating the treatment of life in Hegel's Philosophy of Nature she
located the motivation for his doctrine of contradiction in the peculiar logic governing his model of organic wholes and argued that this logic entailed, not a rejection of the law wholesale, but a synthetic reconstruction of our ordinary understanding of the law in its analytic form. (196)
By thus linking the Philosophy of Nature's account of the self-contradictory character of the living to the fundamental speculative science of the Logic, and thereby to all parts of the system, Hahn seeks to construct an "organic-holistic view of nature and cognition" and to offer a new defense of Hegel's doctrine of contradiction (1). Beyond this her aim is to speak "to the timely need for a radical new way of thinking about conflict, contradiction, and conceptual incommensurability, which will explode many of our assumptions about what should count as knowledge" (198). . . . Read the rest here:

Godelek, Kamuran. "Review of Lorenzo Chiesa's SUBJECTIVITY AND OTHERNESS." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS April 22, 2008.

Chiesa, Lorenzo. Subjectivity and Otherness: a Philosophical Reading of Lacan. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. In a speech given in 1955 in Vienna, the birthplace of psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan famously called for a "return to Freud". Lacan saw his mission as one of rescuing the meaning of Freud's texts from his own disciples, and that impulse remained at the heart of his analytic enterprise, one of the twentieth century's seismic intellectual events. On the basis of Freud's discoveries, Lacan outlines a revolutionary theory of the subject and, despite his relentless attacks against philosophy, repeatedly invites it to collaborate with psychoanalysis in order to build on his groundbreaking investigations. It is Chiesa's belief that "unfortunately such a call has largely gone unheard ... and that especially in light of the recent and widespread debate over a return of the subject in contemporary European philosophy, Lacan's psychoanalytic theory of subjectivity must be reconsidered as an innovative point of reference ... and must carefully be expounded (p. 6). The principal aim of Chiesa in this book, therefore, is to analyze the evolution of the concept of subjectivity in the works of Jacques Lacan by countering both a call from some "pro-Lacanians" for an end to the exegesis of his work and the dismissal of it by "anti-Lacanians" who hold it to be impenetrable. Against both sides, he offers a thorough and fruitful philosophical analysis of Lacan's theory of the subject. More specifically, it endeavors to carry out a detailed reading of the Lacanian subject in its necessary relation to otherness according to the three orders of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real. In each phase, the subject is defined against a different order of otherness: the Imaginary in the first phase, the Symbolic in the second, and the Real in the third. Cutting against the grain of much recent Lacan scholarship, Chiesa emphasizes the continuity underlying the three phases of Lacan's theory of subjectivity. And he shows how in each successive stage, the older theory is recuperated and incorporated into the new one. . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Life is a (Greek) Tragedy II," Finnish Institute at Athens, February 9-10, 2009.

Greek tragedy is performed on stage today more frequently than ever since antiquity. Hence, over the past few decades, the attention of scholars has been drawn to the reception of ancient dramas. Reception studies offer a new and extremely interesting approach to ancient tragedy, and provide the means to consider it from a fresh perspective. The first part of this colloquium was held in Helsinki on 10 May 2007. It concentrated on the questions of textual analysis and translation of ancient drama, the requirements of dramaturgy in staging ancient drama, as well as on the need for collaboration between scholars and theatre professionals. This second colloquium, Life is a (Greek) Tragedy II, provides a venue for young scholars of ancient drama to discuss and receive feedback on their research. The aim of this colloquium is to examine different aspects of reception of ancient drama – in literature, on the stage from ancient times to the present, and in translations.

Papers (c. 20-30 min.) are invited on the following topics (these themes are directive, and the subjects of the papers may vary; all papers discussing ancient drama and/or its reception will be considered for presentation):

  • Reception in antiquity. How did the ancient audience receive the plays? Transition from Greek to Roman stage.
  • The use and ideological variation of ancient drama in general or in an individual play.
  • Translations: translation as a rewriting and recreation of an ancient play.
  • The translator’s role as a receiver of the ancient text and creator of a rereading of the play. Requirements of dramaturgy.
  • What makes a good dramatization of an ancient drama for modern performance?
  • Ancient drama on stage: the original performance and modern adaptations.
  • The claim of authenticity?
  • What makes a performance?
  • The role of the text in a performance of an ancient play: is the text a minor factor in the process of creating a performance or a kind of performance itself?
  • The creation of the space of performance: social, political, philosophical context.

The colloquium is organised by the Finnish Institute at Athens and the Centre of Excellence of the Academy of Finland Ancient Greek Written Sources. Anyone interested in participating and/or presenting a paper in the colloquium, please contact us for more information via e-mail by 2 June 2008.

Martti Leiwo ( and Sanna-Ilaria Kittelä (

Monday, April 21, 2008

Green-Lewis, Jennifer, et al. "Teaching Beauty." INSIDE HIGHER ED April 21, 2008.

Alexander Nehamas says that beauty of any kind is “a call to look more attentively.” Readers of poetry, lovers of music, gardeners gardening — all people who engage actively with beauty by paying close and lasting attention to it know this to be true. Yet because, in recent decades, we have misperceived the value of beauty, literary scholars have neglected the crucial work of thinking through our relationship with beautiful forms, and have failed to teach our students about the way that relationship sustains and enlightens us. Who would ever enter a classroom and invite their students to consider the beauty of a work because, as Nicolas Malebranche puts it, “Attentiveness is the natural prayer of the soul"? The word “soul” doesn’t get much exercise in English departments any more, and neither do concepts associated with it — inspiration, consolation, communality, transcendence, love. What do these have to do nowadays with the study of literature? In our public neglect of such concepts in favor of the political and the material, our answer is clear: nothing. . . . Read the rest here:

Steinberg, Justin. "Spinoza's Political Philosophy." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY April 21, 2008.

At least in anglophone countries, Spinoza's reputation as a political thinker is eclipsed by his reputation as a rationalist metaphysician. Nevertheless, Spinoza was a penetrating political theorist whose writings have enduring significance. In his two political treatises, Spinoza advances a number of forceful and original arguments in defense of democratic governance, freedom of thought and expression, and the subordination of religion to the state. On the basis of his naturalistic metaphysics, Spinoza also offers trenchant criticisms of ordinary conceptions of right and duty. And his account of civil organization, grounded in psychological realism, stands as an important contribution to the development of constitutionalism and the rule of law. . . . Read the rest here:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goldstein, Patrick. "The End of the Critic." LOS ANGELES TIMES April 8, 2008.

There was a time when critics were our arbiters of culture, the ultimate interpreters of intellectual discourse. When I was growing up, eager to write about the arts, it was just as important to read Pauline Kael, Frank Rich and Lester Bangs as it was to see a Robert Altman film, a David Mamet play or listen to the latest Elvis Costello album. Critics gave art its context, explained its meaning and guided us to new discoveries. As a flood of stories in recent weeks has shown, those days are going, going, gone. Critics today are viewed as cultural dinosaurs on the verge of extinction. Most of the attention lately has focused on the demise of film critics. The Salt Lake Tribune's Sean P. Means actually posted a list Wednesday of film critics, now totaling 28, who have lost or decided to leave their jobs in the last two years, including such notables as Newsweek's David Ansen, the New York Daily News' Jack Mathews and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Wilmington. Critics are being downsized all over the place, whether it's in classical music, dance, theater or other areas in the arts. While economics are clearly at work here -- seeing their business model crumble, many newspapers simply have decided they can't afford a full range of critics anymore -- it seems clear that we're in an age with a very different approach to the role of criticism. . . . Read the rest here:,1,3248359.story.

David, Philip. "A Curse on Mean-Spirited Intellectuals, and Literary Scholars Above All." MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE (Spring 2008).

It is probably because when I was a young beginner, trying to write about literature, I did not feel encouraged or appreciated. Those were days of high theory in literary studies: it was naïve to be interested in realism, in emotion, in the human content of literature as I was. "Nobody came," says Thomas Hardy of the plight of his own young idealist, "because nobody does." But I was very pleased when a friend recently sent me a book of literary criticism that he said I would like, and I did. This is rare: I am sick of university teachers treating literature as though it were a branch of something else—Social Studies, Gender Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Political Studies. The book was by Brigid Lowe and is called "Victorian Fiction and the Insights of Sympathy". . . . Read the rest here:

Tallis, Raymond. "The Neuroscience Delusion." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (2008).

Not long ago A. S. Byatt published a TLS Commentary (“Observe the Neurones”, September 22, 2006) in which she purported to explain why, since she discovered John Donne’s poetry as a schoolgirl in the 1950s, she had found him “so very exciting”. She discussed some of his most compelling love poems and in places showed the kind of sensitive attention to the writer’s language and intention that we look for in a good, that is to say helpful, critic. This made it puzzling, indeed exasperating, that the primary concern of her piece was to explain the poems and their effect on her by appealing to contemporary neurophysiology. She took up this theme again in a shorter piece, on the novel, last year (November 30). The literary critic as neuroscience groupie is part of a growing trend. . . . Read the rest here: (See also

"Coloquio Internacional Merleau-Ponty, 1908-2008," Universidad de Zaragoza, October 22-24, 2008.

El Departamento de Filosofía de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Zaragoza, en colaboración con el Institut Français de Saragosse y la Embajada de Francia en España, pretende organizar el que será el Coloquio central de los actos de conmemoración del aniversario del nacimiento de Maurice Merleau-Ponty en España. Further information is here:

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Nietzsche in New York," CUNY Graduate Center, May 1-3, 2008.

"Nietzsche in New York" (NiNY) is an annual meeting of scholars whose research focuses on Nietzsche's philosophy and related areas. It is intended to be a productive, interactive event where we help each other define problems and ways of addressing them. NiNY aims to build a community that provides one of the only opportunities in the United States for specialists and researchers in allied sub-fields to discuss Nietzsche (and related topics) over the course of several days. The primary goals are to share information and give and receive helpful criticism of recent and new research. The following suggests ways in which persons might participate:
  • Read a portion of a larger paper or new book.
  • Outline a new research stream.
  • Provide detailed information about new publications (articles, collections, monographs).
  • Discuss plans for a future publication.
  • Solicit advice and criticism on a new research plan or recent publication.
  • Lead a discussion of a particular passage from Nietzsche's works, set of passages, or interpretation(s) thereof that have some particular philosophical relevance that you'll sketch for us.

Papers and presentations need not be strictly limited to discussion of Nietzsche; works on areas of contemporary philosophy to which Nietzsche is relevant are certainly welcome.

The conference homepage is here:

Brandreth, Gyles. "The Brand of Oscar Wilde." TIMES April 6, 2008.

Wilde, it seems, is our contemporary. He died in Paris 108 years ago, a near-friendless exile, impoverished, shunned, disgraced. Today, he is world-famous and universally admired. There are 1,000 lipstick impressions on his tomb. He would not have quarrelled with the attention: he was a pioneer of celebrity culture. “If you wish for reputation and fame in the world,” he advised, “take every opportunity of advertising yourself. Remember the Latin saying, ‘Fame springs from one’s own house.’ ” At theatrical first nights, as a matter of policy, during the 10 minutes before the curtain was due to rise, he would make a series of brief appearances around the auditorium - in the dress circle, in the stalls, in the boxes on either side of the stage. He wore outlandish clothes; he said outrageous things. He set out to get himself noticed. He was. . . . How come? In his day, Wilde - iconoclastic, bisexual, Irish - found fame and, briefly, fortune by dint of genius, charm and application. In his own time, he was an outsider and an exotic. Now he’s one of us. We understand his craving for celebrity. We share his obsession with youth. (“Youth is the one thing worth having,” he wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray.) Gay or straight, we are easy with his sexuality. Indeed, so prejudiced are we in his favour, we tend to overlook the fact that most of the young men in whom he took an interest were little more than boys. At the time of his arrest and imprisonment for homosexual offences in 1895, all but a handful of his contemporaries abandoned him. To us, his downfall adds to his allure. Ours is the age of the misery memoir. The greater your trauma - the more disturbing your childhood - the faster you climb the bestseller list. In 2008, Oscar would have made a packet. Alongside the public humiliation, he knew private heartache. He had a philandering father, a drunken brother and a favourite younger sister, Isola, who died when she was 10. He carried a lock of her hair for the rest of his life. (He also had two half-sisters who burnt to death in a domestic fire.) At a familial level, the real tragedy of his life was that, from the moment of his disgrace, he was prevented from seeing either of his young sons. (Wilde had many faults, but he was a devoted father.) . . .

Read the rest here:

Robertson, Michael. "Reading Whitman Religiously." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION April 11, 2008.

In December 1890, the elderly Walt Whitman received in the mail an unusual Christmas greeting from his admirer William Sloane Kennedy, a Harvard Divinity School dropout turned journalist. "Do you suppose a thousand years from now people will be celebrating the birth of Walt Whitman as they are now the birth of Christ?" Kennedy asked cheekily. "If they don't," he added, "the more fools they." Kennedy's question was brazen, but it was probably not entirely unexpected. Starting in the 1860s, Whitman attracted a diverse group of adherents who regarded him less as a great poet, an American successor to Wordsworth, than as a great spiritual leader, a successor to the Buddha and Jesus. John Burroughs, the 19th century's most popular nature writer, published two books and dozens of essays on Whitman, all with one central message: Whitman's "Leaves of Grass is primarily a gospel and is only secondarily a poem." Burroughs scoffed at the notion of classing Whitman with "minstrels and edifiers"; he belonged among the "prophets and saviours." Leaves of Grass offers "a religion to live by and to die by," according to Thomas Biggs Harned, a prominent attorney and one of Whitman's literary executors. "I can never think of Whitman as a mere literary man. He is a mighty spiritual force." Those responses to Whitman may sound strange to 21st-century ears, trained by decades of aesthetically oriented criticism to ignore poetry's religious dimensions. However, in the 19th century, many readers were receptive to the concept of the poet-prophet. As organized religion began to lose its cultural authority in the face of challenges from Enlightenment philosophers, biblical scholarship, and scientific discoveries, poets filled the spiritual void for many readers. William Blake, creator of elaborate private mythologies that cast the human imagination as the universe's divine creative force, was the first English-language poet to be widely regarded as a prophet. . . .

Read the rest here:

PUB: Tomaselli, Sylvana. "Mary Wollstonecraft." (STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY).

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1798) was a moral and political theorist whose analysis of the condition of women in modern society retains much of its original radicalism. One of the reasons her pronouncements on the subject remain challenging is that her reflections on the status of the female sex were part of an attempt to come to a comprehensive understanding of human relations within a civilization increasingly governed by acquisitiveness. Her first publication was on the education of daughters, but she went on to write about politics, history and various aspects of philosophy in a number of different genres that included critical reviews, translations, pamphlets, and novels. Best known for her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), her influence went beyond the substantial contribution to feminism she is mostly remembered for and extended to shaping the art of travel writing as a literary genre and, through her account of her journey through Scandinavia, she had an impact on the Romantic movement. . . .

Read the rest here:

CFP: "The Enlightenment: Critique, Myth and Utopia," Finnish Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of Helsinki, October 17-18, 2008.

The Enlightenment (Aufklärung, les Lumières, upplysningen) has been claimed to mark the beginning of modern European era. This symposium on the traditions(s) of the Enlightenment and on its reception wishes to pose questions like the following:
  • Do the inheritance and myths of the Enlightenment still have influence (even when questioned)?
  • Is knowledge based on observation and Reason?
  • Is reason universal?
  • Is it possible to govern nature with knowledge?
  • Are societies built on the will of the citizens?
  • Did the philosophers of the Enlightenment actually answer yes to these questions? Or are these questions just an expression of our present-day prejudices and myths on the Enlightenment?
  • How and when were the contemporary received views about the Enlightenment formed, and what purposes did they serve or do serve now?
  • Who are today the supporters and the enemies of the Enlightenment?
  • How has contemporary research contributed to renewing our views on what the Enlightenment actually was about?

The symposium arranged by the Finnish Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies ( will offer an interdisciplinary forum for contemporary discussions and research. Firstly, the key texts of the Enlightenment and the changes of society implied by them have raised novel interest. The French and German Enlightenment philosophies are crucial in discussions about critique and emancipation. Secondly, these aims and metaphors have been accompanied by the concepts of moral communality which stem especially from the Scottish Enlightenment. They have become topical in debates concerning globalisation, multiculturalism and the limits of tolerance. The third theme that motivates this seminar is the relationship between the Enlightenment and religion. For a long time it was held that the rift between religion and society came about during the Enlightenment. Did this really happen? The Speakers and Sessions: The first day of the symposium consists of four plenary lectures by invited keynote speakers. One of the keynote speakers is professor Miguel Benítez from the University of Seville. He is known as one of the central authorities on the radical Enlightenment distributed in the form of clandestine philosophical manuscripts. In addition to numerous articles on clandestine philosophical literature, Benítez has published La Face cachée des Lumières: Recherches sur les manuscrits philosophiques clandestins de l'âge classique (1996) and L?Oeuvre libertine de Bonaventure de Fourcroy (2005).The second day is devoted to sessions with papers (20 min each). The speakers may freely propose the themes; yet the following themes are encouraged:

  • The development of the themes and commonplaces of the Enlightenment in 18th century philosophical, literary and political discussions.
  • How was the 'thesis' of the Enlightenment manifested (cf. Kant, Was ist Aufklärung?) and how did these manifestations change after the 18th century?
  • What role have the 19th- and 20th-century representations of the Enlightenment played in later research and general opinion?
  • How do national differences show in the contemporary legacy of the Enlightenment. What was and is the significance of the Enlightenment in Sweden and Finland?
  • The Enlightenment as a utopia in the 18th century and after.

Organizing Committee: Minna Ahokas (Univ. of Helsinki), Timo Kaitaro (Univ. of Helsinki), Petter Korkman (Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies), Kari Saastamoinen (Univ. of Helsinki) and Charlotta Wolff (Univ. of Helsinki).

Deadline for abstracts: 31st May 2008. Please send an abstract (max. 200 words) of your proposition for a paper in the workshops to Timo Kaitaro (

CFP: "Darwin's Reach: a Celebration of Darwin's Legacy across Academic Disciplines," Hofstra University, March 12-14, 2009.

A major interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Charles Robert Darwin in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. Visit the conference homepage at

Aime Cesaire Dies at 94.

By HERVE BRIVAL From Associated Press FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) Aime Cesaire, a poet honored throughout the French-speaking world and a crusader for West Indian rights, has died at 94. Cesaire died Thursday after at a Fort-de-France hospital where he was being treated for heart problems and other ailments, said government spokeswoman Marie Michele Darsieres. He was one of the most celebrated cultural figures in the Caribbean and was revered in his native Martinique, which sent him to France's parliament for nearly half a century and repeatedly elected him mayor of the capital. Cesaire helped found the Black Student journal in Paris in the 1930s that launched the idea of "negritude," urging blacks to cultivate pride in their heritage. His 1950 "Discourse on Colonialism" became a classic of French political literature. French Culture Minister Christine Albanel said Cesaire "imbued the French language with his liberty and his revolt." "He made (the French language) beat to the rhythm of his spells, his cries, his appeals to overcome oppression, invoking the soul of subjugated peoples to urge the living to raise themselves up," she said. His best known works included the essay "Negro I am, Negro I Will Remain" and the poem Notes From a Return to the Native Land. Cesaire was born June 26, 1913, in Basse-Pointe, Martinique and moved to France for high school and university studies. He graduated from one of the country's most elite institutes, the Ecole Normale Superieure. Cesaire returned to Martinique during World War II and taught at a high school in Fort-de-France, where he served as mayor from 1945 to 2001, except for a blip in 1983-84. Even political rivals paid him homage. French President Nicolas Sarkozy successfully led a campaign last year to change the name of Martinique's airport in honor of Cesaire, despite the poet's refusal to meet him in the run-up to the 2007 French elections. Cesaire endorsed Sarkozy's Socialist rival, Segolene Royal. Cesaire complained that Sarkozy had endorsed a 2005 French bill citing the "positive role" of colonialism. Cesaire spoke ardently against the measure's language, and it was later removed after complaints from former French colonies and France's overseas territories. "I remain faithful to my beliefs and remain inflexibly anti-colonialist, "Cesaire said in a statement at the time. Sarkozy on Thursday praised Cesaire as "a great poet" and a "great humanist." "As a free and independent spirit, throughout his whole life he embodied the fight for the recognition of his identity and the richness of his African roots," Sarkozy said. "Through his universal call for the respect of human dignity, consciousness and responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed peoples." Royal called him "an eminent symbol of a mixed-race France" and urged that he be buried in the Pantheon, where French heroes from Victor Hugo to Marie and Pierre Curie are interred. "A great voice has died out, that of a man of conviction, of creation, of testimony, who awakened consciousness throughout his life, blasted apart hypocrisies, brought hope to all who were humiliated, and was a tireless fighter for human dignity," Royal said. Cesaire was the honorary president of her support committee during the presidential campaign. Cesaire was affiliated with the French Communist Party early in his career but became disillusioned in the 1950s and founded the Martinique Progressive Party in 1958. He later allied with the Socialist Party in France's National Assembly, where he served from 1946-1956 and 1958-1993. Associated Press writer Angela Doland in Paris, France, contributed to this report. (Thanks to Jane Bryce for the information.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Larkin, William. "Review of Aaron Preston's ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY: THE HISTORY OF AN ILLUSION." NDPR April 15, 2008.

Aaron Preston has written an extremely clear and richly provocative book on the nature of analytic philosophy (hereafter, AP). To provide a point of entry into his investigation, he initially characterizes AP as connected to a "particular philosophical outlook" that secured the attention and the loyalty of academic philosophers both in places that mattered . . . and in numbers large enough to generate the kind of regular and widespread discussion that would both require the coining of a new term and explain that term's subsequent entrenchment as one of the most familiar in the philosophical lexicon (2). The philosophical outlook in question, Preston will argue, has been traditionally conceived of as centered on the linguistic thesis that "philosophy is wholly or largely a matter of linguistic analysis." (31) The primary aim of Analytic Philosophy: the History of an Illusion is to explain the "rather peculiar career" of AP as traditionally conceived; in particular, its rapid rise and fall and its continuing regional dominance. (3) Preston's main conclusion is that this peculiar career can be explained by the fact that AP was never a philosophical school defined by the linguistic thesis but a social movement that arose when scientism gave rise to a pair of illusions concerning the linguistic thesis. . . . Read the rest here:

Edinburgh Festival of Legal Theory, School of Law, University of Edinburgh, May 28-June 1, 2008.

The Festival is being held at the School of Law, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh. Events include:

Some guidance on accomodation options has also been prepared.

Further information may be found here:

CFP: "Carnival, 'People's Art' and Taking Back the Streets," York University and University of Toronto, July 30-August 3, 2008.

Spreading from Trinidad through the Caribbean, to Brazil, the United States and Canada, England, as well as Germany, and with analogues in Brazil, the United States and elsewhere, Carnival has developed into one of the most important global expressions of popular identity. Both as celebration, and as resistance art, it builds on the collision of cultures of Christian European colonizers and enslaved West Africans. The claiming of public space in the use of the street is a statement of presence that is as much political as artistic. Organized to coincide with the Caribana Festival on the streets of Toronto, this conference addresses such important issues as Globalization and Commercialization, the formation of Diasporas, the origins and development of Carnival, Gender and Racism, the nature of Postcolonialism today. Held as part of the Caribana Festival and Parade, and with the International Steelpan Association, the conference encourages merging theory with practice. The conference will explore the social, political and cultural aspects of Carnival and street theatre, as well as themes of exclusion/otherness, exoticism and cross-cultural acceptance, connections across the Diaspora, and comparisons between Carnival in Africa, the Caribbean, South and North America, Europe and the UK. Papers that address any aspect of these areas are welcome. While taking African Carnival and its spread across the Caribbean to other continents as its base, this conference is also intended to focus on the widest socio-cultural aspects of this performative street art: the negotiation of hybrid identity in the post-colonial context; anthropological views of historical developments, the politics of carnival and street theatre, the economics and commercial pressures. Suggested topics for papers include, but are not limited to: * Carnival and theatricality * Images of Africa / Carnival in Africa * The Trinidad Carnival Tradition * Myth, Magic and Ritual * Economics and Carnival * Social Activism & Street Theatre * Popular Art, Globalization & Copyright * Gender, Sexuality, Satire * Caribana: history, performance * New Orleans Mardi Gras * Cross-Cultural Influence: Brazil, Bolivia, Berlin * Notting Hill Carnival There are seminars for which papers may be submitted, on the following topics: * Cultural Rights in a Transnational Festival * Carnival in Literature * Anthropological Approaches to Carnival There is also still the opportunity to propose other seminar topics Submissions: Prospective participants should submit abstracts of between 100 and 300 words, for individual papers, seminars or workshops, by the FINAL deadline of MAY 15th 2008. Abstracts should be sent by email to Abstracts must include the title of the paper or presentation, the name(s) of presenter(s); institutional affiliation; email address, phone & Fax numbers. Students should identify themselves as New Scholars. Special Features: * Presentation of a performance piece by Eintou Springer * Major Exhibition of Carnival Art * Kings and Queens Competition and Caribana Parade * Steelpan Music and Panels * Presentation of Carnival Videos Workshops on: * Producing Carnival * Carnival Design * Street Theatre * Calypso CONTACT: Prof. Christopher Innes, Canada Research Chair, 125 Winters College, York University Tel. (416) 736-5142. The conference website is found here:

deVries, Willem. "Review of Paul Redding's ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND THE RETURN OF HEGELIAN THOUGHT." NDPR April 18, 2008.

Redding, Paul. Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. Analytic philosophy [AP] began, the stories tell us, in a reaction against "Hegelian thought," specifically, the neo-Hegelianism of late 19th century Britain. Russell and Moore overthrew the doctrines of internal relations, of the falsehood of the partial and the truth only of the whole, and of the fundamentally spiritual nature of the world. Most important, they brought into philosophy the new logic that had revolutionized a discipline that hadn't changed significantly since Aristotle invented it. Russell (particularly) promulgated a 'shadow Hegel,' a distorted, even mythical image that justified his philosophical patricide, and he sold it effectively for the rest of his life. After the Cambridge Two slew the Hegelian father and liberated philosophy from his oppressive regime, Hegel and Absolute Idealism became taboo, mentionable only with disgust, scorn, and ritualistic excoriation. Though AP is regularly accused of being not just ahistorical, but anti-historical, there is an identifiable canon of historical philosophers that (most) analysts think it is profitable and good (though perhaps not necessary) to read and ponder. Indeed, there has been some very good history of philosophy done by analytically trained scholars working on Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, etc. But Hegel is not in the canon, and is still widely stigmatized in analytic circles. For the last 30 years (since Charles Taylor's 1975 Hegel), there has been talk of a rapprochement between AP and Hegelian thought. But Hegel's entry into the Anglo-American canon made only halting progress. In Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought Paul Redding spells out the latest case for thinking that (at last) the barriers that put Hegel beyond the analytic pale are breaking down. . . . Read the whole review here:

"On Knowledge: at the Origins of the Analytic-Continental Split," Department of Philosophy, Leiden University, May 6, 2008.

(All Talks in: Wijkplaats 4.005, Leiden University) Session I Chair: Göran Sundholm (Leiden) 9:30-11:00: Marietje van der Schaar (Leiden) "Husserl and Heyting on knowledge and assertion" 11:00-11:15: coffee 11:20-12:50: Wim Christiaens (Gent) "Cassirer, Heidegger and the Enlightenment" 13:00-14:30 Lunch: TBA Session II Chair: Fred Muller (Erasmus, Rotterdam) 14:40-16:10: Lieven Decock (VU, Amsterdam) "From a linguistic point of view: Carnap and Quine on the analytic-synthetic distinction" 16:10-16-30: Coffee 16:30-18:00 Alan Richardson (UBC) "On Taking Logical Empiricism as a Science Seriously: Metrology, Metalogic, and the Technologies of Philosophy." All are welcome, but if you wish to attend we ask that you RSV by April 28, 2008 at: Eric Schliesser (

Monday, April 14, 2008

Himmelmann, Beatrix. "Review of Robert B. Louden's THE WORLD WE WANT." NDPR April 13, 2008.

Louden, Robert B. The World We Want: How and Why the Ideals of the Enlightenment Still Elude Us. Oxford: OUP, 2007. This book does not join in the chorus of still influential intellectual circles trying to convince us that the Enlightenment project not only failed, but that it was doomed to fail because it was inevitably linked up with an inherent self-destructive dialectic. As Horkheimer and Adorno pointed out in their famous attack, Enlightenment promises of freedom of thought, liberties ruling individual life, progress of knowledge and welfare, the evolution of moral attitudes and therefore the prospect of humanity's triumph changes into something negative and destructive as soon as we attempt to realize these ideals. According to Horkheimer and Adorno, the Enlightenment ends up in violence and becomes "totalitarian" when it ceases to be critical reflection and turns into practical engagement. This line of argumentation has been picked up by many present day critics, among them anti-liberals like MacIntyre, certain disciples of Nietzsche and Foucault as well as adherents of deconstruction. In contrast to this account, Robert B. Louden holds that the ideals of the Enlightenment are still relevant for us today. He does not share the view so often repeated since the emergence of the idea of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century that these ideals are hopelessly optimistic, naïve and therefore shallow, if not dangerous. Louden refers in this regard to Ernst Cassirer, who finished his classic study The Philosophy of the Enlightenment shortly before he left Germany in 1933. Like Cassirer, Louden emphasizes the practical impetus that inspired the protagonists of Enlightenment. Thought was taken to have the power and the task of shaping life itself. Philosophy was not supposed to be limited to dissecting analysis alone but considered to have practical impact as well. Louden is interested in exactly this question: what has happened to Enlightenment ideals in the course of historical developments that followed their proclamation? Has mankind actually been willing to continue striving for their realization? If so, how and to what extent has this striving been successful? And in case either certain aims of Enlightenment thinkers have been rejected or failure to achieve them has to be admitted, what are the reasons for either the one or the other? Does human nature simply resist at least some of the ambitious ends upheld by the Enlightenment? Should we therefore give them up? Have there been means chosen in order to bring Enlightenment ideals into being that can be proved wrong, so that we might stick to the aims but change the ways of pursuing them? . . . Read the whole review here:

"The Intentionality of Phenomenology and the Phenomenology of Intentionality," University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, April 28-29, 2008.

Monday 28th April: 14.00-14.15 Introduction Prof. Massimo Neri, Director of the Department; Chair: Clotilde Calabi (University of Milan) 14.15-15.45 Uriah Kriegel (University of Arizona and University of Sydney) Phenomenal Intentionality and the Normativity of Intentional Ascription 15-45-17.15 Manidipa Sen (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) On the Very Distinction between the Phenomenal and the Intentional 17.15-17.45 Coffee break Chair: Annalisa Coliva (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) 17.45-19.15 Gianfranco Soldati (University of Fribourg) Phenomenal Error Tuesday 29th April: Morning session Chair: Michelle Montague (University of Oxford) 9.15-10.45 Frederick Kroon (University of Auckland) Phenomenal Intentionality and the Role of Intentional Objects 10.45-11.15 Coffee break Chair: Carola Barbero (University of Modena - Reggio Emilia and Universityof Turin) 11.15-12.45 Galen Strawson (University of Reading and City University of New York) Cognitive Phenomenology and Intentionality Afternoon session Chair: Elisabetta Sacchi (University of Modena - Reggio Emilia and S.Raffaele University, Milan) 14.00-15.30 Alberto Voltolini (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) The Mark of the Mental There is no conference fee. For more details contact Alberto Voltolini, tel. +39/0522/523239; email:

Kirsch, Adam. "The Stern German." NEW YORK SUN April 9, 2008.

Claussen, Detlev. Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. Walking near the Metropolitan Museum not long ago, I saw a young man, about the right age for a graduate student, wearing a T-shirt that declared “I (heart) Adorno.” I’m not sure how ironically the slogan was intended, but it perfectly captures the ambiguity that still surrounds Theodor Adorno’s name, nearly 40 years after his death. On the one hand, he is the kind of intellectual who has not just readers but fans, who define themselves in part by their allegiance to him. The breadth and absolutism of his judgments, the way he seems to peer down on all of culture and history from the heights of theory, inspire a cultish devotion that more modest thinkers neither attract nor desire. Adorno’s critical theory, which allows its wielder to discover the stigmata of history in even the most trivial products of culture, is especially attractive in our post-ideological age, when Marxist cultural analysis is more plausible than Marxist economics. (For examples, see any issue of the magazine n+1, where Adorno is a tutelary spirit.) Even the famous difficulty of Adorno’s prose, which retains in English the auratic abstractness of German, helps to increase his allure. As with the guru who sits at the top of a mountain, his teaching is made more seductive by the hardships the seeker encounters along the way. . . . Read the rest here:

Williams, Jeffrey J. "M. H. Abrams: a Life in Criticism." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION April 18, 2008.

In literary studies, M. H. Abrams is an iconic name. It appeared as "general editor" for 40 years on nearly nine million copies of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and has also, in a detail that only scholars would know, led the indexes of many a critical book for a half-century. (In fact, one scholar I know cited "Aarlef" just to avoid that custom.) In addition, Abrams, now 95, stamped the study of Romantic literature: His book The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1953) was ranked 25th in the Modern Library's list of the 100 most important nonfiction books of the 20th century, and he was a prime participant in debates over literary theory, especially deconstruction, during the 1970s and 80s. Last summer I interviewed Abrams . . . Read the entire article here:

Fish, Stanley. "French Theory in America." NEW YORK TIMES April 6, 2008.

Cusset, François. French Theory: Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze & Cie et les mutations de la vie intellectuelle aux États-Unis. Paris: La Découverte, 2003. French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008. The book’s author is Francois Cusset, who sets himself the tasks of explaining, first, what all the fuss was about, second, why the specter of French theory made strong men tremble, and third, why there was never really anything to worry about. Certainly mainstream or centrist intellectuals thought there was a lot to worry about. They agreed with Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, who complained that the ideas coming out of France amounted to a “rejection of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment” even to the point of regarding “science as nothing more than a ‘narration’ or a ‘myth’ or a social construction among many others.” This is not quite right; what was involved was less the rejection of the rationalist tradition than an interrogation of its key components: an independent, free-standing, knowing subject, the “I” facing an independent, free-standing world. The problem was how to get the “I” and the world together, how to bridge the gap that separated them ever since the older picture of a universe everywhere filled with the meanings God originates and guarantees had ceased to be compelling to many. . . . Read the entire entry here:


Foucault, Michel. Moi, Pierre Rivière, ayant égorgé ma mère, ma soeur et mon frère . . . Un cas de parricide au XiXe siècle. Paris: Gallimard, 1973. I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother . . .: a Case of Parricide in the Nineteenth Century. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1982. For information on the new movie (in French), please visit:

Aboulafia, Mitchell. "George Herbert Mead." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY.

George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), American philosopher and social theorist, is often classed with William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey as one of the most significant figures in classical American pragmatism. Dewey referred to Mead as “a seminal mind of the very first order” (Dewey, 1932, xl). Yet by the middle of the twentieth-century, Mead's prestige was greatest outside of professional philosophical circles. He is considered by many to be the father of the school of Symbolic Interactionism in sociology and social psychology, although he did not use this nomenclature. Perhaps Mead's principal influence in philosophical circles occurred as a result of his friendship with John Dewey. There is little question that Mead and Dewey had an enduring influence on each other, with Mead contributing an original theory of the development of the self through communication. This theory has in recent years played a central role in the work of Jürgen Habermas. While Mead is best known for his work on the nature of the self and intersubjectivity, he also developed a theory of action, and a metaphysics that emphasizes emergence and temporality, in which the past and future are viewed through the lens of the present. Although the extent of Mead's reach is considerable, he never published a monograph. His most famous work, Mind, Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, was published after his death and is a compilation of student notes and selections from unpublished manuscripts. . . . Read the rest of this entry here:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Philosophy, Practices and the Practice of Philosophy," Université de Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne, December 8, 2007; March 15, 2008; May 10, 2008.

Philosophy is often regarded as an essentially speculative discipline, opposed in this respect to the realm of practices. But in numerous cases, it is not possible to extract philosophy from its relationship to a practice or a set of practices. One might, for instance, think of metaphysics whose very development has sometimes been seen as depending on the state of our scientific knowledge. Or, similarly, in ethics the relation to practice has a direct influence on the methodology that is deployed. This closeness of philosophy to practices is so pervasive that some have gone as far as to suggest that philosophy itself might be a type of practice, thereby reviving a conception of philosophy that was more familiar to the Ancients, or even nothing but a form of action. This questioning of the relation between philosophy and practices is all the more striking today that knowledge is no longer considered as something given, resting on putative a priori foundations as provided by philosophy. If it is not from philosophy that knowledge gains its foundations, what then could be philosophy’s role if not that of being a practice of some kind? It is therefore ultimately in a methodological relation to knowledge, and not as a foundational prolegomenon, that philosophy can find its rightful place as a practice within a web of practices. We propose three one-day conferences that will each examine an aspect of the relationship between philosophy and practices understood in a broad sense. The first day, on the theme “Science, a Model for Metaphysics?”, asks to what extent the practice of science impacts metaphysical constructions. The second day, "Goethe-Lichtenberg-Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Psychology, Natural Sciences," examines the interface between philosophy as a practice, psychology and natural science through a dialogue between Goethe, Lichtenberg and Wittgenstein. The third day, "Ethics without Principles: the Diversity of Contexts of Moral Particularism," on the diversity of contexts of moral particularism, asks how practices might ground ethics in the absence of foundations by principles. Further information is here:

Halteman, Matthew. "Review of Mark Dooley and Liam Kavanagh, THE PHILOSOPHY OF DERRIDA." NDPR April 7, 2008.

Dooley and Kavanagh succeed in a number of important respects. They offer a brisk but wide-ranging rendition of the increasingly popular narrative in which the seemingly disparate emphases of Derrida's "early" and "later" work are unified by an underlying continuity. Highlights along the way include an informative take on Derrida's relationships to Freud, Husserl, and Heidegger, and a more insightful and even-handed treatment of Rorty's interpretation of Derrida than is typical. Accompanying these strengths, however, are a number of problems that, according to reviewers, have also challenged other recent introductions to Derrida. Such problems include the taking of a somewhat insular approach that hesitates to subject Derrida's guiding assumptions to critical scrutiny, an underdeveloped assessment of alleged points of contact between "Derrida and analytic philosophy," and an account of Derrida on "ethics" and "politics" that leaves these central terms ill-defined and pays insufficient attention to the difference between doing ethical or political philosophy and inquiring into the conditions of possibility for doing ethical or political philosophy. . . . Read the rest here:

"Tragedy and Archaic Greek Thought," School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, June 13-15, 2008.

The aim of the conference is to explore the relation (be it complementary or antithetical) between Greek tragedy and Archaic thought, i.e. the broad nexus of ideas, both traditional and philosophical, that the genre and its audience may be said to have inherited from the Archaic period, broadly defined – ideas such as the justice of the gods and the prospect of their envy, the instability of human fortune, the principle of alternation, hybris and ate, inherited guilt, the influence of Presocratic thinkers, etc. We believe this relation is due for a fresh exploration. More information may be found here:

CFP: "Transformation and the Dynamics of (Radical) Change," Queen's University Belfast, November 28-29, 2008.

Transformation is a seemingly ubiquitous concept within the field of political theory and philosophy. Whilst some idealize transformation as a source for progress and the improvement of the human condition, others frame it as a disruptive and unsettling process which can damage the social, political and natural elements of our world. However, although specific instances of transformation (such as the transformation of states or of ideologies) receive attention within broader political theories, the concept itself remains a ‘black box’: an axiom that is used frequently and in diverse ways, but lacks a background discourse to ground its value and meaning. The purpose of this conference will be to stimulate such a discourse, by posing the following core questions: o What does ‘transformation’ mean in the context of political theory and philosophy? o How is the concept used, and for what reasons? o What are the normative implications of the process of transformation? o In what fields or areas of inquiry is the concept most significant? Why? Is it inappropriate in some fields? o Where should a critique of the concept begin? What should it entail? All participants will be asked to orient their paper towards one, or more, of these questions. However, it is hoped that submissions from a variety of disciplinary approaches, schools of thought and research areas will be received. Submissions on the following themes will be especially welcome: 1) Factors and actors in transformation: Pluralism, nationalism, individualism, collectivism, recognition, complexity. 2) Forces of transformation: Globalization, economic change, social change, processes, transformation in (and of) history, conflict. 3) Objects and subjects of transformation: a) ideas, norms, values, ideology; the concept of transformation itself b) state and sovereignty; government; governance; social structures and processes c) environment and nature d) human beings (including the self) 4) evaluations of transformation: theories, approaches, critiques and the possibility of a broader discourse on transformation . Further information on the conference may be found here:

"Reduction and Elimination in Philosophy and the Sciences," 31st International Wittgenstein Symposium, ALWS, Austria, August 10-16, 2008.

Sections: 1. Wittgenstein 2. Logical Analysis 3. Theory Reduction 4. Nominalism 5. Naturalism & Physicalism 6. SupervenienceWorkshops: Ontological Reduction & Dependence; Neologicism. Invited Speakers: Albert ANGLBERGER (Salzburg) William BECHTEL (San Diego) Ansgar BECKERMANN (Bielefeld) Johan van BENTHEM (Amsterdam/Stanford) Alexander BIRD (Bristol) Elke BRENDEL (Mainz) Otávio BUENO (Miami) John P. BURGESS (Princeton) Elena CASTELLANI (Florence) David CHALMERS (Canberra) Igor DOUVEN (Leuven) Philip EBERT (Stirling) Paul EGRÉ (Paris) Ludwig FAHRBACH (Konstanz) Hartry FIELD (New York) Jerry FODOR (Rutgers) Kenneth GEMES (London) Volker HALBACH (Oxford) Stephan HARTMANN (London) Alison HILLS (Oxford) Leon HORSTEN (Leuven/Bristol) Conference information may be found here:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tayler, Christopher. "The Mask that Eats the Face [More on Naipaul]." GUARDIAN April 5, 2008.

As Patrick French reminds his readers in this authorised biography, people have been trying to nail down the central paradox of VS Naipaul's writing for nearly 50 years. Profiling the author of A House for Mr Biswas (1961) in the Trinidad Guardian, Derek Walcott put it this way: "Naipaul seems, on first acquaintance, to have alienated himself from all the problems of our society and particularly those of his race. But the books are almost contradictions of the man." Karl Miller, assessing The Mimic Men (1967), described him as "someone with conservative leanings who none the less writes movingly about the poor and aspiring, a compassionate man who is also fastidious and severe". A reviewer of Naipaul's most recent novel, Magic Seeds (2004), noted his "characteristic mixture of tough-minded materialist analysis and atavistic horror". But perhaps Linton Kwesi Johnson's is now the majority view: "He's a living example of how art transcends the artist 'cos he talks a load of shit but still writes excellent books.". . . . Read the rest here:,,2270896,00.html.

Theroux, Paul. "New Biography Reveals the True Monster in V. S. Naipaul." TIMES April 6, 2008.

Ten years ago I published Sir Vidia’s Shadow, depicting V. S. Naipaul as a grouch, a skinflint, tantrum-prone, with race on the brain. He was then, and continued to be, an excellent candidate for anger management classes, sensitivity training, psychotherapy, marriage guidance, grief counselling and driving lessons – none of which he pursued. Now comes Patrick French’s authorised biography of the man, The World Is What It Is, which makes all these points and many more. It seems that I didn’t know the half of all the horrors. When the lawyers were shown the type-script of my own book, they were all over me. “Look at this – ‘violent, unstable, depressive’ – Naipaul could prove malice!” And the trump card of the QC, with his lists of deletions and revisions: “Do you know what it will cost you if he sues you?” . . . Read the rest here:

Weilnbock, Harald. "'The Trauma Must Remain Inaccessible to Memory': Trauma Melancholia and Other (Ab-)Uses of Trauma Concepts in Literary Theory."

Eurozine March 19, 2008. The concept of psycho-trauma has gained widespread currency in literary theory in recent years. Yet what might be sign of hope for a more interdisciplinary approach to psycho-trauma on closer inspection turns out to be ambiguous, according Harald Weilnböck. Literary theory, he writes, often distorts what psycho-trauma means in clinical terms and, while gaining interdisciplinary cachet, repeats patterns of self-protection and transference. In the first instalment of this long and thought-provoking essay, the fictional Dr Goodheart puzzles over Manfred Weinberg's assertion that "trauma must remain inaccessible to memory". Such statements contradict Dr Goodheart's clinical experience that enabling patients to access their memory is essential to successful therapy. Reading Elisabeth Bronfen's essay on Hitchcock's Marnie, Dr Goodheart's consternation grows. Bronfen, he suspects, romanticises psycho-trauma in order to provoke the given gender order and, in linking trauma with pleasure, implicitly licences the acting out of destructive patterns of interaction. Read the rest here:

Dugan, Timothy. "Review of Simon Goldhill's HOW TO STAGE A GREEK TRAGEDY TODAY." BRYN MAWR CLASSICAL REVIEW 34 (March 2008)

Goldhill, Simon. How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007. It isn't often that we see the idiom "How to" prefacing the title of an academic study. In that sense, Simon Goldhill's no-nonsense How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today, is singular, but in more important ways such as organization and utility, Goldhill's book is equally impressive. In his introduction Goldhill identifies six production values that confront "any company that chooses to produce a Greek tragedy" (3). These issues are the organizing principle and chapter headings of the book. . . . Read the rest here:

French, Patrick. "Leaving the Ghetto [on Naipaul]." NEW STATESMAN April 3, 2008.

When V. S. Naipaul published his slim, grumpy memoir A Writer's People late last year, assorted reviewers took the chance to denounce him. It was a familiar spectacle, the lion in winter having chunks torn from him by writers who would not have attacked him in his prime. In Naipaul's case, his determined self-construction during five decades in print was a provocation in itself: who was this Trinidadian man who lived as a knight of the shires and denounced multiculturalism as "multi-culti"? He said, or was said to have said, that Africa had no future, Islam was a calamity, France was fraudulent and interviewers were monkeys. How dare he support Hindu nationalism? If Zadie Smith - optimistic and presentable - was a white liberal's dream, Naipaul was the nightmare. For a successful immigrant writer to take the positions he did was seen as a special kind of treason, a betrayal of what should be a purely literary genius. "Great art, dreadful politics," complained Terry Eagleton. . . . Read the rest here:

Massie, Allan. "Living for Literature: Review of THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS by Patrick French." LITERARY REVIEW (April 2008).

French, Patrick. The World is What It is: the Authorized Biography Of V. S. Naipaul. London: Picador, 2008. The bare outline of the life is well known: the poor childhood in Trinidad, the influence of his father (a journalist and writer of short stories), the scholarship to Oxford, the depression and resentments from which he suffered, the early struggles and efforts to be published, the critical success of his first novels (a success not matched by their sales), and the blossoming of his reputation until we eventually arrive at Sir Vidia Naipaul, winner of pretty well every literary prize going, including the Nobel, and the most distinguished living writer of English. Success of this sort takes more than talent. It is also an act of will, and Naipaul's . . . Read the whole review here:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Griffin, Nicholas. "Review of Gregory Landini's WITTGENSTEIN'S APPRENTICESHIP WITH RUSSELL." NDPR April 4, 2008.

Landini, Gregory. Wittgenstein's Apprenticeship with Russell. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. The prevailing consensus about the early Wittgenstein is that, around 1913, having learnt everything Russell had to teach him, he turned his back on Russell's philosophy -- on Russell's problems, as well as his solutions to them -- and set off in his own direction to land up, eventually, with the Tractatus. Where he landed up, we are not quite sure -- for there is absolutely no consensus about how the Tractatus should be understood -- but most commentators do agree that it was a place far from Russell; a position so remote from Russell that Russell's own work was essentially irrelevant to it and that Russell himself failed utterly to understand it. This view is forcefully controverted in almost every detail by Landini's new book. . . . Read the whole review here: