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  • Reading John Milton: How to Persist in Troubled Times
    - Stephen B. Dobranski
    on June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    A captivating biography that celebrates the audacious, inspiring life and works of John Milton, revealing how he speaks to our times. John Milton is unrivalled—for the music of his verse and the breadth of his learning. In this brisk, topical, and engaging biography, Stephen B. Dobranski brushes the scholarly dust from the portrait of the artist to reveal Milton's essential humanity and his unwavering commitment to ideals—freedom of religion and the right and responsibility of all persons to think for themselves—that are still relevant and necessary in our times. Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, is considered by many to be English poetry's masterpiece. Samuel Johnson, not one for effusive praise, claimed that from Milton's "books alone the Art of English Poetry might be learned." But Milton's renown rests on more than his artistic achievements. In a time of convulsive political turmoil, he justified the killing of a king, pioneered free speech, and publicly defended divorce. He was, in short, an iconoclast, an independent, even revolutionary, thinker. He was also an imperfect man—acrimonious, sometimes mean. Above all, he understood adversity. Afflicted by blindness, illness, and political imprisonment, Milton always sought to "bear up and steer right onward" through life's hardships. Dobranski looks beyond Milton's academic standing, beyond his reputation as a dour and devout purist, to reveal the ongoing power of his works and the dauntless courage that he both wrote about and exemplified.

  • The Critique of Nonviolence: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Philosophy
    - Mark Christian Thompson
    on June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    How does Martin Luther King, Jr., understand race philosophically and how did this understanding lead him to develop an ontological conception of racist police violence? In this important new work, Mark Christian Thompson attempts to answer these questions, examining ontology in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy. Specifically, the book reads King through 1920s German academic debates between Martin Heidegger, Rudolf Bultmann, Hans Jonas, Carl Schmitt, Eric Voegelin, Hannah Arendt, and others on Being, gnosticism, existentialism, political theology, and sovereignty. It further examines King's dissertation about Tillich, as well other key texts from his speculative writings, sermons, and speeches, positing King's understanding of divine love as a form of Heideggerian ontology articulated in beloved community. Tracking the presence of twentieth-century German philosophy and theology in his thought, the book situates King's ontology conceptually and socially in nonviolent protest. In so doing, The Critique of Nonviolence reads King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963) with Walter Benjamin's "Critique of Violence" (1921) to reveal the depth of King's political-theological critique of police violence as the illegitimate appropriation of the racialized state of exception. As Thompson argues, it is in part through its appropriation of German philosophy and theology that King's ontology condemns the perpetual American state of racial exception that permits unlimited police violence against Black lives.

  • Religion: Rereading What Is Bound Together
    - Michel Serres Translated by Malcolm DeBevoise
    on June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    With this profound final work, completed in the days leading up to his death, Michel Serres presents a vivid picture of his thinking about religion—a constant preoccupation since childhood—thereby completing Le Grand Récit, the comprehensive explanation of the world and of humanity to which he devoted the last twenty years of his life. Themes from Serres's earlier writings—energy and information, the role of the media in modern society, the anthropological function of sacrifice, the role of scientific knowledge, the problem of evil—are reinterpreted here in the light of the Old Testament accounts of Isaac and Jonah and a variety of Gospel episodes, including the Three Wise Men of the Epiphany, the Transfiguration, Peter's denying Christ, the Crucifixion, Emmaus, and the Pentecost. Monotheistic religion, Serres argues, resembles mathematical abstraction in its dazzling power to bring together the real and the virtual, the natural and the transcendent; but only in its Christian embodiment is it capable of binding together human beings in such a way that partisan attachments are dissolved and a new era of history, free for once of the lethal repetition of collective violence, can be entered into.

  • Love against Substitution: Seventeenth-Century English Literature and the Meaning of Marriage
    - Eric B. Song
    on June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    Are we unique as individuals, or are we replaceable? Seventeenth-century English literature pursues these questions through depictions of marriage. The writings studied in this book elevate a love between two individuals who deem each other to be unique to the point of being irreplaceable, and this vocabulary allows writers to put affective pressure on the meaning of marriage as Pauline theology defines it. Stubbornly individual, love threatens to short-circuit marriage's function in directing intimate feelings toward a communal experience of Christ's love. The literary project of testing the meaning of marriage proved to be urgent work throughout the seventeenth century. Monarchy itself was put on trial in this century, and so was the usefulness of marriage in linking Christian belief with the legitimacy of hereditary succession. Starting at the end of the sixteenth century with Edmund Spenser, and then exploring works by William Shakespeare, William Davenant, John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson, and Aphra Behn, Eric Song offers a new account of how notions of unique personhood became embedded in a literary way of thinking and feeling about marriage.

  • How to Live at the End of the World: Theory, Art, and Politics for the Anthropocene
    - Travis Holloway
    on June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    Assessing the dawn of the Anthropocene era, a poet and philosopher asks: How do we live at the end of the world? The end of the Holocene era is marked not just by melting glaciers or epic droughts, but by the near universal disappearance of shared social enterprise: the ruling class builds walls and lunar shuttles, while the rest of us contend with the atrophy of institutional integrity and the utter abdication of providing even minimal shelter from looming disaster. The irony of the Anthropocene era is that, in a neoliberal culture of the self, it is forcing us to consider ourselves as a collective again. For those of us who are not wealthy enough to start a colony on Mars or isolate ourselves from the world, the Anthropocene ends the fantasy of sheer individualism and worldlessness once and for all. It introduces a profound sense of time and events after the so-called "end of history" and an entirely new approach to solidarity. How to Live at the End of the World is a hopeful exploration of how we might inherit the name "Anthropocene," renarrate it, and revise our way of life or thought in view of it. In his book on time, art, and politics in an era of escalating climate change, Holloway takes up difficult, unanswered questions in recent work by Donna Haraway, Kathryn Yusoff, Bruno Latour, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Isabelle Stengers, sketching a path toward a radical form of democracy—a zoocracy, or, a rule of all of the living.

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