I have three aims in this essay. I want to offer an example of an interdisciplinary historical inquiry combining literary criticism with the relatively new field of critical legal studies. I intend to use this historical inquiry to argue that the ambiguity of literary texts might better be understood in terms of an era’s social contradictions rather than in terms of the inherent qualities of literary language or rhetoric and, conversely, that a text’s ambiguity can help us expose the contradictions (...) masked by an era’s dominant ideology. I try to prove my assertion by applying my method to Herman Melville’s three most famous short works—“Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” and Bill Budd, Sailor—works dealing with the law and lawyers and widely acknowledged as ambiguous.1 I will base my critical inquiry into these stories on Melville’s relationship with his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw, who, while sitting as the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts from 1830 to 1860, wrote some of the most important opinions in what Roscoe Pound has called “the formative era of American law.”2Before I get started, I should clarify what this study does not entail. By using Shaw and his legal decisions in conjunction with Melville’s fiction, I am not conducting a positivistic influence study. My method will not depend on the positivist assumption that Shaw’s legal opinions can be used to illuminate Melville’s texts only when his direct knowledge of Shaw’s opinions can be proved. Nor will I limit myself to a traditional psychoanalytic reading: my emphasis is on political and social issues, and too often these issues are deflected by translating them into psychological ones. At the same time, I recognize that critics concerned with political and social issues too often neglect questions raised by a writer’s individual situation. I compare Shaw to Melville not to reduce Melville’s politics to psychology but to prevent a political study from neglecting the political implications of psychology, to remind us—as the title of Fredric Jameson’s book The Political Unconscious reminds us—that psychological questions always have political implications. 1. See Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby,” and Billy Budd, Sailor, “Billy Budd, Sailor” and Other Stories, ed. Harold Beaver ; all further references to these works will be included in the text.2. See Roscoe Pound, The Formative Era of American Law . For discussions of Melville and Lemuel Shaw, see Charles Roberts Anderson, Melville in the South Seas, Columbia University Studies in English and Comparative Literature, no. 138 , pp. 432-33; Charles H. Foster, “Something in Emblems: A Reinterpretation of Moby-Dick,” New England Quarterly 34 : 3-35; Robert L. Gale, “Bartleby—Melville’s Father-in-Law,” Annali sezione Germanica, Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli 5 : 57-72; Keith Huntress, “ ‘Guinea” of White-Jacket and Chief Justice Shaw,” American Literature 43 : 639-41; Carolyn L. Karcher, Shadow over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race and Violence in Melville’s America , pp. 9-11 and 40; John Stark, “Melville, Lemuel Shaw, and ‘Bartleby,’ “ in Bartleby, the Inscrutable: A Collection of Comentary on Herman Melville’s Tale “Bartleby the Scrivener,” ed. M. Thomas Inge , all further references to this work, abbreviated JA, will be included in the text. Brook Thomas teaches English and American literature at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He is the author of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Book of Many Happy Returns and is at work on a study of the relations between law and literature in antebellum America. (shrink)
Historiography in a metaphysical mode Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-17 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9524-6 Authors Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, CETCOPRA/Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, 17 Rue de la Sorbonne, 75231 Paris Cedex05, France Jan Golinski, Department of History, University of New Hampshire, 20 Academic Way, Durham, NH 03824, USA Lissa L. Roberts, Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies (STePS), University of Twente, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands John McEvoy, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Journal Metascience (...) Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
Looking at the emergence recently of a New Hegelianism (Badiou, Bhaskar, Jameson, Žižek), in which Hegel’s dialectic is variously reassessed for its political and philosophical resistance to the prevailing ‘weak nihilisms’ of left and right, I argue with Žižek and Jameson against Badiou and Bhaskar for Hegel as, essentially, a philosopher of the ‘productive return’ and failure. In this sense, what emerges is a picture of Hegel as a profoundly nonlinear historical thinker, in which loss, dissolution, breakdown and the excremental (...) prevail. This means that the received notion of Hegel as a crude historicist is deeply problematic. But, more importantly, it means that Hegelian dialectic can find a renewed anti-teleological and non-synchronistic identity within the Marxist tradition. Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 72-98 Authors JohnRoberts, University of Wolverhampton Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 12 Journal Issue Volume 12, Number 1 / 2013. (shrink)
After modernism and postmodernism, it is argued, the everyday supposedly is where a democracy of taste is brought into being - the place where art goes to recover its customary and collective pleasures, and where the shared pleasures of popular culture are indulged, from celebrity magazines to shopping malls. JohnRoberts argues that this understanding of the everyday downgrades its revolutionary meaning and philosophical implications. Bringing radical political theory back to the centre of the discussion, he shows how (...) notions of cultural democratization have been oversimplified. Asserting that the everyday should not be narrowly identified with the popular, Roberts critiques the way in which the concept is now overly associated with consumption and 'ordinariness'. Engaging with the work of key thinkers including, Lukacs, Arvatov, Benjamin, Lefebvre, Gramsci, Barthes, Vaneigem, and de Certeau, Roberts shows how the concept of the everyday continues to be central to debates on ideology, revolution and praxis. He offers a lucid account of different approaches that developed over the course of the twentieth century, making this an ideal book for anyone looking for a politicised approach to cultural theory. JohnRoberts is a Senior Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of The Art of Interruption: Realism, Photography and the Everyday (Manchester University Press, 1997) and The Philistine Controversy (Verso, with Dave Beech, 2002), plus other books and numerous articles, in Radical Philosophy and elsewhere. (shrink)
Theorists critique photography for "objectifying" its subjects and manipulating appearances for the sake of art. In this bold counterargument, JohnRoberts recasts photography's violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic technique as part of a complex "social ontology" that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions behind appearances. The photographer must "arrive unannounced" and "get in the way of the world," Roberts argues, committing photography to the truth-claims of the spectator over the self-interests and sensitivities of the subject. Yet (...) even though the violating capacity of the photograph results from external power relations, the photographer is still faced with an ethical choice: whether to advance photography's truth-claims on the basis of these powers or to diminish or veil these powers to protect the integrity of the subject. Photography's acts of intrusion and destabilization, then, constantly test the photographer at the point of production, in the darkroom, and at the computer, especially in our 24-hour digital image culture. In this game-changing work, Roberts refunctions photography's place in the world, politically and theoretically restoring its reputation as a truth-producing medium. (shrink)
Arguably the biggest challenge in analyzing English tense is to account for the double access interpretation, which arises when a present tensed verb is embedded under a past attitude—e.g., "John said that Mary is pregnant". Present-under-past does not always result in a felicitous utterance, however—cf. "John believed that Mary is pregnant". While such oddity has been noted, the contrast has never been explained. In fact, English grammars and manuals generally prohibit present-under-past. Work on double access, on the other (...) hand, has either disregarded the oddity (e.g., Abusch 1997: 39) or treated it as a reflex of a particular dialect (e.g., Kratzer 1998: 14). The goal of the paper is to argue—based on a corpus study—that a present-under-past sentence is grammatical, but modulated by two, interacting pragmatic phenomena: cessation and parentheticality. (shrink)
"M. F. Simone Roberts's A Poetics of Being-Two is animated by a lively and engaging voice, drawing readers in with a sense of serious purpose working (delightfully) in tandem with a sense of humor. Roberts's aesthetics and her close readings of Yves Bonnefoy, St-John Perse, and Jorie Graham clearly demonstrate the literary effectiveness of Irigarayan sexual difference as an analytic trope, even as they emphasize the philosophical and political possibilities sexual difference opens up for feminism, environmentalism, and (...) all levels of contemporary cultural critique and activism."—Gail M. Schwab, Hofstra University -/- In An Ethics of Sexual Difference, Irigaray calls for a new poetics in the sense of both art and life. Rather than a critique from within philosophy, A Poetics of Being-Two tests Irigaray's ethics by extending it to other sites of cultural production. Where Irigaray's method finds stirrings and repressions of sexual difference in philosophy, this project explores that tension in poetics. Building from Irigaray's ethics, the book describes a poetics of being-two as concerns gendered subjectivity in literary poetics and then traces the on-going emergence of a poetics of being-two in the post-symbolist poetic tradition. Irigaray scholars will be interested in the sustained interpolation of Irigaray's ethical concepts as principles for a critical aesthetics and in their hermeneutic application in reading a literary tradition. Readers in comparative literature will find the first sustained feminist engagements with the major French poets Bonnefoy and Perse and an elucidation of their influence on the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham. (shrink)
Draft version of essay. ABSTRACT: Benjamin Whichcote developed a distinctive account of human nature centered on our moral psychology. He believed that this view of human nature, which forms the foundation of “Cambridge Platonism,” showed that the demands of reason and faith are not merely compatible but dynamically supportive of one another. I develop an interpretation of this oft-neglected and widely misunderstood account of human nature and defend its viability against a key objection.