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Mythodologies: Methods in Medieval Studies, Chaucer, and Book History

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ISBN: 9781947447561 9781947447578 Year: Pages: 292 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0202.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:31
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Mythodologies challenges the implied methodology in contemporary studies in the humanities. We claim, at times, that we gather facts or what we will call evidence, and from that form hypotheses and conclusions. Of course, we recognize that the sum total of evidence for any argument is beyond comprehension; therefore, we construct, and we claim, preliminary hypotheses, perhaps to organize the chaos of evidence, or perhaps simply to find it; we might then see (we claim) whether that evidence challenges our tentative hypotheses. Ideally, we could work this way. Yet the history of scholarship and our own practices suggest we do nothing of the kind. Rather, we work the way we teach our composition students to write: choose or construct a thesis, then invent the evidence to support it. This book has three parts, examining such methods and pseudo-methods of invention in medieval studies, bibliography, and editing. Part One, “Noster Chaucer,” looks at examples in Chaucer studies, such as the notion that Chaucer wrote iambic pentameter, and the definition of a canon in Chaucer. “Our” Chaucer has, it seems, little to do with Chaucer himself, and in constructing this entity, Chaucerians are engaged largely in self-validation of their own tradition. Part Two, “Bibliography and Book History,” consists of three studies in the field of bibliography: the recent rise in studies of annotations; the implications of presumably neutral terminology in editing, a case-study in cataloguing. Part Three, “Cacophonies: A Bibliographical Rondo,” is a series of brief studies extending these critiques to other areas in the humanities. It seems not to matter what we talk about: meter, book history, the sex life of bonobos. In all of these discussions, we see the persistence of error, the intractability of uncritical assumptions, and the dominance of authority over evidence.

Transparent Things: A Cabinet

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ISBN: 9780615790374 Year: Pages: 88 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0026.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History of arts
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:44
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For too long, the Earth has been used to ground thought instead of bending it; such grounding leaves the planet as nothing but a stage for phenomenology, deconstruction, or other forms of anthropocentric philosophy. In far too much continental philosophy, the Earth is a cold, dead place enlivened only by human thought—either as a thing to be exploited, or as an object of nostalgia. Geophilosophy seeks instead to question the ground of thinking itself, the relation of the inorganic to the capacities and limits of thought. This book constructs an eclectic variant of geophilosophy through engagements with digging machines, nuclear waste, cyclones and volcanoes, giant worms, secret vessels, decay, subterranean cities, hell, demon souls, black suns, and xenoarcheaology, via continental theory (Nietzsche, Schelling, Deleuze, et alia) and various cultural objects such as horror films, videogames, and weird Lovecraftian fictions, with special attention to Speculative Realism and the work of Reza Negarestani. In a time where the earth as a whole is threatened by ecological collapse, On an Ungrounded Earth generates a perversely realist account of the earth as a dynamic engine materially invading and upsetting our attempts to reduce it to merely the ground beneath our feet.

Of Great Importance

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ISBN: 9781947447486 9781947447493 Year: Pages: 136 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0195.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Of Great Importance is Nachoem Wijnberg’s 16th volume of poetry. One of the most prominent living Dutch writers, Wijnberg’s poetry is known for its deceptively plain language and his poems, according to the poet himself, can be read well by anyone who can read a newspaper. The poems in Of Great Importance engage with statecraft, economics, and world history, lyricizing taxes and debts, stocks and flows, citizenship and labor contracts, notaries and accountants, factories and strikes, freedoms and fundamental rights, banks and railroads, property rights and codes of honor, sieges and treaties, gods and generals, how to make money and how to win elections, when to declare war and when to found a new state. Wijnberg’s engagement with these and other related topics is based on his belief that economics, politics, and history — and all of the tangled relations therein, no matter how asymmetrical — concern how people live together, and his poetry is a creative form of historiography that attends to tracing the theater of an affective commonwealth, in which he builds upon the best work of those thinkers and poets who came before — including Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Heinrich Heine, Czesław Miłosz, and especially C.P. Cavafy. Ultimately, Wijnberg understands that “Something important that changes the world only happens if there is a lever with a fulcrum you cannot know enough about,” and yet his poetry gorgeously illuminates this fulcrum.

Centaurs, Rioting in Thessaly: Memory and the Classical World

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ISBN: 9781947447400 9781947447417 Year: Pages: 116 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0192.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Religion
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:32
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This book treads new paths through the labyrinths of our human thought. It meanders through the darkness to encounter the monsters at the heart of the maze: Minotaurs, Centaurs, Automata, Makers, Humans. One part of our human thought emerges from classical Ionia and Greek civilisation more generally. We obsessively return to that thought, tread again its pathways, re-enact its stories, repeat its motifs and gestures. We return time and time again to construct and re-construct the beings which were part of its cosmology and mythology – stories enacted from a classical world which is itself at once imaginary and material. The “Never Never Lands” of the ancient world contain fabulous beasts and humans and landscapes of desire and violence. We encounter the rioting Centaurs there and never again cease to conjure them up time and time again through our history. The Centaur mythologies display a fascination with animals and what binds and divides human beings from them. The Centaur hints ultimately at the idea of the genesis of civilisation itself. The Labyrinth, constructed by Daedalus, is itself a prison and a way of thinking about making, designing, and human aspiration. Designed by humans it offers mysteries that would be repeated time and time again – a motif which is replicated through human history. Daedalus himself is an archetype for creation and mastery, the designer of artefacts and machines which would be the beginning of forays into the total domination of nature. Centaurs, Labyrinths, Automata offer clues to the origins and ultimately the futures of humanity and what might come after it.

Critique of Sovereignty, Book 1: Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty

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ISBN: 9780692282403 Year: Pages: 112 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0114.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:38
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Using the Western tradition of metaphysical and political thought as a backdrop, Critique of Sovereignty (a work in 4 volumes) re-examines the concept of sovereignty in order to better understand why our ethical values and technical capacities often seem so divorced from our lived realities. On the one hand, ostensibly self-enclosed entities like the nation-state and the person are rhetorically bolstered as sites of technical agency and/or moral responsibility. On the other hand, these same entities appear fragile — if not purely fictional — in relation to ever ongoing tidal processes such as the migration, diffusion, and conglomeration of bodies, capital, ideas, etc. While some of our institutions might work some of the time, they always seem to work differently than we like to think they do. Accordingly, the forging of more humane institutions might very well entail if not require ways of thinking that strive to undo the self-imagined binds, exceptions, and sureties of thought for the sake of embracing a continuity with all that withers, decays, and falls away. Book I, “Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty,” compares the varied interpretations of sovereignty given by a range of 20th-century political theorists (Maritain, Foucault, Derrida, Schmitt, Agamben, Hardt, and Negri) with Jean Bodin’s initial outline of the concept, rendered at the outset of modern political thought in the 16th century. The analytic framework of sovereignty encountered in these comparative readings provides an initial point of departure for unfolding a method of critique appropriate to the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is an ideal starting point for a critique of the deadlocks between thought and reality for a simple reason: it doesn’t actually exist. When it serves as a guide to action, sovereignty may be regarded as a particularly captivating fantasy. The closer it appears, the further it recedes, and, too often, the more vigorously it is pursued.

On Style: An Atelier

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ISBN: 9780615934020 Year: Pages: 154 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0055.0.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:42
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Scholarship in medieval studies of the past 20 or so years has offered some provocative experiments in, and elegant exempla of, style. Scholars such as Anne Clark Bartlett, Kathleen Biddick, Catherine Brown, Brantley Bryant, Michael Camille, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, James Earl, L.O. Aranye Fradenburg, Roberta Frank, Amy Hollywood, Cary Howie, C. Stephen Jaeger, Eileen Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, Peggy McCracken, Paul Strohm, David Wallace, and Paul Zumthor, among others, have blended the conventions of academic writing with those of fiction, drama, memoir, comedy, polemic, and lyricism, and/or have developed what some would describe as elegant, and arresting (and in some cases, deliciously difficult) prose styles. As these registers merge, they can produce what has been called a queer historiographical encounter (or in queer theorist Elizabeth Freeman’s terms, “an erotohistoriography”), a “poetics of intensification,” and even a “new aestheticism.” The work of these scholars has also opened up debates (some rancorous) that often install what the editors of this volume feel are false binaries between form and content, feeling and thinking, affect and rigor, poetry and history, attachment and critical distance, enjoyment and discipline, style and substance. As Anna Klosowska writes in her contribution to this volume, The question of style, as it applies to medieval studies, is precisely the overcoming of that dichotomy between Nature and Man: a third element. And when the critique proceeds through the denunciation of the inimitability of someone’s style, as if it were the third sex, ungenerative, queer, sterile, sodomitic, lesbian, etc., the critic unconsciously puts his finger on exactly what style is; but that critic is mistaken about the style’s supposedly non-generative powers. In fact, style, neither fact nor theory but facilitating the transition between the two, is … the generative principle itself.

Medieval Hackers

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ISBN: 9780692352465 Year: Pages: 180 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0088.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Media and communication
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:40
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Medieval Hackers calls attention to the use of certain vocabulary terms in the Middle Ages and today: commonness, openness, and freedom. Today we associate this language with computer hackers, some of whom believe that information, from literature to the code that makes up computer programs, should be much more accessible to the general public than it is. In the medieval past these same terms were used by translators of censored texts, including the bible. Only at times in history when texts of enormous cultural importance were kept out of circulation, including our own time, does this vocabulary emerge. Using sources from Anonymous’s Fawkes mask to William Tyndale’s Bible prefaces, Medieval Hackers demonstrates why we should watch for this language when it turns up in our media today. This is important work in media archaeology, for as Kennedy writes in this book, the “effluorescence of intellectual piracy” in our current moment of political and technological revolutions “cannot help but draw us to look back and see that the enforcement of intellectual property in the face of traditional information culture has occurred before….We have seen that despite the radically different stakes involved, in the late Middle Ages, law texts traced the same trajectory as religious texts. In the end, perhaps religious texts serve as cultural bellwethers for the health of the information commons in all areas. As unlikely as it might seem, we might consider seriously the import of an animatronic [John] Wyclif, gesturing us to follow him on a (potentially doomed) quest to preserve the information commons.

Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics

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ISBN: 9781947447448 9781947447455 Year: Pages: 204 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0197.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Music
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:31
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Trouble Songs is a hybrid serial work that tracks the appearance of the word “trouble” in 20th- and 21st-century American music. It reads (and sings) songs and poems, with reference to cultural events ranging from the death of a pop singer to the growth of popular resistance movements. The trouble singer invokes the word “trouble” in place of actual trouble—the song is a spell that conjures trouble (from bad luck and disaffection to infidelity, impotence, destitution, and the specter of death) in a temporary form that can be dis-spelled, if only for the length of the song. Singer and song also open a critical space for making trouble, for stirring the heart and mind. This space is a disjunction in time (and a superimposition of events) where singer and listener collaborate on meaning (un/)making as they temporarily transform trouble.

dôNrm'-lä-püsl

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ISBN: 9780692374511 Year: Pages: 102 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0183.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:32
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There have been many iterations of the Joan of Arc story: “testimonies,” books, and films have attempted to capture the drama of one of history’s most famous gender warriors. But few, if any, have been undertaken by an author who met her subject matter with such recognition and insight, a fellow warrior, a rebel in kind. kari edwards, a transgender activist and key figure in the Bay Area experimental writing scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s, was provocative and prescient in her concern for the way that language inflects, inflicts, and regulates gender norms. Her persistent efforts to break linguistic binaries and barriers have given her texts an ongoing urgency after her untimely death in 2006. This book brings to life an important document discovered in the late poet’s archive at the Poetry Collection at the University of Buffalo. The several notebooks and partial typescript (as well as various plans and notes) of edwards’ unfinished dôNrm’-lä-püsl, uncovered by Tina Žigon, offer an intriguing glimpse of a major new direction in edwards’ work, one in which her avant-garde instincts are channeled through rigorous research on this medieval figure. In this retelling – better to say “remixing” – of Joan of Arc’s fateful trial and martyrdom, we find the major theme so richly laced throughout edwards’ oeuvre: the courageous (but also depressingly mundane) struggle against the stifling regulation of language, appearance, and norms. edwards’s Joan of Arc, even in its incomplete and abbreviated form (which Žigon calls a “possible version” of edwards’s manuscript), offers an exciting engagement with one of the medieval period’s most challenging and mysterious figures.

Make and Let Die: Untimely Sovereignties

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ISBN: 9780988234048 Year: Pages: 258 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0136.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:36
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his collection of essays by one of medieval studies’ most brilliant historians argues that the analysis and critique of biopower, as conventionally defined by Michel Foucault and then widely assumed in much contemporary theory of sovereignty, is a sovereign mode of temporalization caught up in the very time-machine it ostensibly seeks to expose and dismantle. For Michel Foucault, biopower (epitomized in his maxim “to make live and to let die”) is the defining sign of the modern, and he famously argued that the task of political philosophy was to cut off the head of the classical (premodern) sovereign, the one “who made die and let live.” Entrapped by his supersessionary thinking on the question, Foucault argued that the maxim of “to make live and let die” of modern sovereignty superseded a premodern sovereignty characterized by the contrasting power “to make die and let live.” The essays collected in Biddick’s book (some reprinted and some published here for the first time) argue that Foucault spoke too soon about the supposed “then” of the classical sovereign and the modern “now,” and this became painfully apparent in his analysis of Nazism in his later lectures, Society Must be Defended. There Foucault groped to articulate an anguishing paradox: How could it be that the Nazis, as the ultimate biopolitical sovereign machine, would insist on an archaic (premodern) mode of sovereignty in their death camps? Here is how he posed the question in that lecture: “How can the power of death, the function of death, be exercised in a political system centered upon biopower?” Foucault left this question hanging.

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