Vibrant Matter

Author: Jane Bennett
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822391623
Release Date: 2009-12-14
Genre: Philosophy

In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events. Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy.

A World of Becoming

Author: William E. Connolly
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822348795
Release Date: 2011-01-17
Genre: Political Science

Considers how non-linear notions of causality and time--where multiple, interacting, and partially open systems coexist--could transform the way we imagine political action.

New Materialisms

Author: Diana Coole
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822392996
Release Date: 2010-08-19
Genre: Political Science

New Materialisms brings into focus and explains the significance of the innovative materialist critiques that are emerging across the social sciences and humanities. By gathering essays that exemplify the new thinking about matter and processes of materialization, this important collection shows how scholars are reworking older materialist traditions, contemporary theoretical debates, and advances in scientific knowledge to address pressing ethical and political challenges. In the introduction, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost highlight common themes among the distinctive critical projects that comprise the new materialisms. The continuities they discern include a posthumanist conception of matter as lively or exhibiting agency, and a reengagement with both the material realities of everyday life and broader geopolitical and socioeconomic structures. Coole and Frost argue that contemporary economic, environmental, geopolitical, and technological developments demand new accounts of nature, agency, and social and political relationships; modes of inquiry that privilege consciousness and subjectivity are not adequate to the task. New materialist philosophies are needed to do justice to the complexities of twenty-first-century biopolitics and political economy, because they raise fundamental questions about the place of embodied humans in a material world and the ways that we produce, reproduce, and consume our material environment. Contributors Sara Ahmed Jane Bennett Rosi Braidotti Pheng Cheah Rey Chow William E. Connolly Diana Coole Jason Edwards Samantha Frost Elizabeth Grosz Sonia Kruks Melissa A. Orlie

Materiality

Author: Daniel Miller
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822386711
Release Date: 2005-06-27
Genre: Social Science

Throughout history and across social and cultural contexts, most systems of belief—whether religious or secular—have ascribed wisdom to those who see reality as that which transcends the merely material. Yet, as the studies collected here show, the immaterial is not easily separated from the material. Humans are defined, to an extraordinary degree, by their expressions of immaterial ideals through material forms. The essays in Materiality explore varied manifestations of materiality from ancient times to the present. In assessing the fundamental role of materiality in shaping humanity, they signal the need to decenter the social within social anthropology in order to make room for the material. Considering topics as diverse as theology, technology, finance, and art, the contributors—most of whom are anthropologists—examine the many different ways in which materiality has been understood and the consequences of these differences. Their case studies show that the latest forms of financial trading instruments can be compared with the oldest ideals of ancient Egypt, that the promise of software can be compared with an age-old desire for an unmediated relationship to divinity. Whether focusing on the theology of Islamic banking, Australian Aboriginal art, derivatives trading in Japan, or textiles that respond directly to their environment, each essay adds depth and nuance to the project that Materiality advances: a profound acknowledgment and rethinking of one of the basic properties of being human. Contributors. Matthew Engelke, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Bill Maurer, Lynn Meskell, Daniel Miller, Hirokazu Miyazaki, Fred Myers, Christopher Pinney, Michael Rowlands, Nigel Thrift

Thoreau s Nature

Author: Jane Bennett
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 0742521419
Release Date: 2002
Genre: Literary Criticism

Thoreau's Nature: Ethics, Politics, and the Wild explores how Thoreau crafted a life open to "the Wild," a term that marks the startling element of foreignness in every object of experience, however familiar. Thoreau's encounters with nature, Bennett argues, allowed him to resist his all-too-human tendency toward intellectual laziness, social conformity, and political complacency. Bennett pursues this theme by constructing a series of dialogues between Thoreau and our contemporaries: Foucault on identity and power, Haraway on the nature/culture of division, Hollywood celebrities on the Walden Woods Project, the National Endowment for the Humanities on politics and art, and Kafka on the question of political idealism. The pertinence to the late 20th century of Thoreau's pursuit of independent judgment, ecological foresight, and moral nobility becomes apparent through these engagements.

Becoming Undone

Author: Elizabeth Grosz
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822350712
Release Date: 2011-09-12
Genre: Science

In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related concepts—life, politics, and art—by exploring the implications of Charles Darwin’s account of the evolution of species. Challenging characterizations of Darwin’s work as a form of genetic determinism, Grosz shows that his writing reveals an insistence on the difference between natural selection and sexual selection, the principles that regulate survival and attractiveness, respectively. Sexual selection complicates natural selection by introducing aesthetic factors and the expression of individual will, desire, or pleasure. Grosz explores how Darwin’s theory of sexual selection transforms philosophy, our understanding of humanity in its male and female forms, our ideas of political relations, and our concepts of art. Connecting the naturalist’s work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as forms of competing and coordinating modes of openness. Although feminists have been suspicious of the concepts of nature and biology central to Darwin’s work, Grosz proposes that his writings are a rich resource for developing a more politicized, radical, and far-reaching feminist understanding of matter, nature, biology, time, and becoming.

Meeting the Universe Halfway

Author: Karen Barad
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 082233917X
Release Date: 2007-07-11
Genre: Science

A theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, Karen Barad elaborates her theory of agential realism, a schema that is at once a new epistemology, ontology, and ethics.

A Sense of Things

Author: Bill Brown
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226076317
Release Date: 2010-12-28
Genre: Literary Criticism

In May 1906, the Atlantic Monthly commented that Americans live not merely in an age of things, but under the tyranny of them, and that in our relentless effort to sell, purchase, and accumulate things, we do not possess them as much as they possess us. For Bill Brown, the tale of that possession is something stranger than the history of a culture of consumption. It is the story of Americans using things to think about themselves. Brown's captivating new study explores the roots of modern America's fascination with things and the problem that objects posed for American literature at the turn of the century. This was an era when the invention, production, distribution, and consumption of things suddenly came to define a national culture. Brown shows how crucial novels of the time made things not a solution to problems, but problems in their own right. Writers such as Mark Twain, Frank Norris, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Henry James ask why and how we use objects to make meaning, to make or remake ourselves, to organize our anxieties and affections, to sublimate our fears, and to shape our wildest dreams. Offering a remarkably new way to think about materialism, A Sense of Things will be essential reading for anyone interested in American literature and culture.

A History of Ecology and Environmentalism in Spanish American Literature

Author: Scott M. DeVries
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781611485165
Release Date: 2013-09-05
Genre: Literary Criticism

This book traces the development of ecology and environmentalism in Spanish American literature. It provides a historical and literary context for the recent and expanding interest in reading, analyzing and especially teaching Latin America’s environmental literature.

Material Feminisms

Author: Stacy Alaimo
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 9780253013606
Release Date: 2008-01-02
Genre: Philosophy

Harnessing the energy of provocative theories generated by recent understandings of the human body, the natural world, and the material world, Material Feminisms presents an entirely new way for feminists to conceive of the question of materiality. In lively and timely essays, an international group of feminist thinkers challenges the assumptions and norms that have previously defined studies about the body. These wide-ranging essays grapple with topics such as the material reality of race, the significance of sexual difference, the impact of disability experience, and the complex interaction between nature and culture in traumatic events such as Hurricane Katrina. By insisting on the importance of materiality, this volume breaks new ground in philosophy, feminist theory, cultural studies, science studies, and other fields where the body and nature collide.

The Enchantment of Modern Life

Author: Jane Bennett
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400884537
Release Date: 2016-11-22
Genre: Philosophy

It is a commonplace that the modern world cannot be experienced as enchanted--that the very concept of enchantment belongs to past ages of superstition. Jane Bennett challenges that view. She seeks to rehabilitate enchantment, showing not only how it is still possible to experience genuine wonder, but how such experience is crucial to motivating ethical behavior. A creative blend of political theory, philosophy, and literary studies, this book is a powerful and innovative contribution to an emerging interdisciplinary conversation about the deep connections between ethics, aesthetics, and politics. As Bennett describes it, enchantment is a sense of openness to the unusual, the captivating, and the disturbing in everyday life. She guides us through a wide and often surprising range of sources of enchantment, showing that we can still find enchantment in nature, for example, but also in such unexpected places as modern technology, advertising, and even bureaucracy. She then explains how everyday moments of enchantment can be cultivated to build an ethics of generosity, stimulating the emotional energy and honing the perceptual refinement necessary to follow moral codes. Throughout, Bennett draws on thinkers and writers as diverse as Kant, Schiller, Thoreau, Kafka, Marx, Weber, Adorno, and Deleuze. With its range and daring, The Enchantment of Modern Life is a provocative challenge to the centuries-old ''narrative of disenchantment,'' one that presents a new ''alter-tale'' that discloses our profound attachment to the human and nonhuman world.

Carnal Knowledge

Author: Estelle Barrett
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 9781780762661
Release Date: 2013-01-08
Genre: Art

Carnal Knowledge is an outcome of the renewed energy and interest in moving beyond the discursive construction of reality to understand the relationship between what is conceived of as reality and materiality, described as the "material turn." It draws together established and emerging writers, whose research spans dance, music, film, fashion, design, photography, literature, painting and stereo-immersive VR, to demonstrate how art allows us to map the complex relations between nature and culture, between the body, language and knowledge. These writings are unique in the field because they represent the authors' commitment to a new materialism through the creative arts. The questions they address include: Does the material turn in the creative arts take a different turn from continental epistemology, philosophy and the humanities? How does the agency of matter, the material nature of artistic practice and the notion of "truth to materials" affect what we understand as the "new materialism?" In engaging with these questions the book offers perspectives on the emergence of this exciting fresh field of new materialism.

Bodily Natures

Author: Stacy Alaimo
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 9780253004833
Release Date: 2010-10-25
Genre: Philosophy

How do we understand the agency and significance of material forces and their interface with human bodies? What does it mean to be human in these times, with bodies that are inextricably interconnected with our physical world? Bodily Natures considers these questions by grappling with powerful and pervasive material forces and their increasingly harmful effects on the human body. Drawing on feminist theory, environmental studies, and the sciences, Stacy Alaimo focuses on trans-corporeality, or movement across bodies and nature, which has profoundly altered our sense of self. By looking at a broad range of creative and philosophical writings, Alaimo illuminates how science, politics, and culture collide, while considering the closeness of the human body to the environment.

Other Things

Author: Bill Brown
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226283166
Release Date: 2016-01-08
Genre: Literary Criticism

From the pencil to the puppet to the drone—the humanities and the social sciences continue to ride a wave of interest in material culture and the world of things. How should we understand the force and figure of that wave as it shapes different disciplines? Other Things explores this question by considering a wide assortment of objects—from beach glass to cell phones, sneakers to skyscrapers—that have fascinated a range of writers and artists, including Virginia Woolf, Man Ray, Spike Lee, and Don DeLillo. The book ranges across the literary, visual, and plastic arts to depict the curious lives of things. Beginning with Achilles’s Shield, then tracking the object/thing distinction as it appears in the work of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Lacan, Bill Brown ultimately focuses on the thingness disclosed by specific literary and artistic works. Combining history and literature, criticism and theory, Other Things provides a new way of understanding the inanimate object world and the place of the human within it, encouraging us to think anew about what we mean by materiality itself.

New Materialism

Author: Rick Dolphijn
Publisher: Open Humanitites Press
ISBN: 1607852810
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Materialism