A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy by James J. Bono, Tim Dean, Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, 9780823229208

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This book brings together an international roster of renowned scholars from disciplines including philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary studies to address the conceptual foundations of the humanities and the question of their future. What notions of the future, of the human, and of finitude underlie recurring anxieties about the humanities in our current geopolitical situation? How can we think about the unpredictable and unthought dimensions of praxis implicit in the very notion of futurity?The essays here argue that the uncertainty of the future represents both an opportunity for critical engagement and a matrix for invention. Broadly conceived, the notion of invention, or cultural poiesis, questions the key assumptions and tasks of a whole range of practices in the humanities, beginning with critique, artistic practices, and intellectual inquiry, and ending with technology, emancipatory politics, and ethics. The essays discuss a wide range of key figures (e.g., Deleuze, Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray), problems (e.g., becoming, kinship and the foreign, disposable populationswithin a global political economy, queerness and the death drive, the parapoetic, electronic textuality, invention and accountability, political and social reform in Latin America), disciplines and methodologies (philosophy, art and art history, visuality, political theory, criticism and critique, psychoanalysis, gender analysis, architecture, literature, art). The volume should be required reading for all who feel a deep commitment to the humanities, its practices, and its future.

Publisher reviews

This book provides a fabulous line up of original and thought-provokingwriters on a topic of vital importance. As the pressure to conform isbeing increasingly felt on all sides--even in areas that we couldpreviously assume were immune from it -- the future, indeed the veryviability, of the humanities confronts us with urgent questions. Thisvolume eloquently raises those questions, and does them more thanjustice.-Tina Chanter While arbitrary and dire decisions about our planet are made every day by presidents, generals, bankers and CEOs, those who work in the humanities have a role to play-first, that of caring for words and their nuances, like the difference between futurityand the future,historicityand history,and then, by questioning their applications to current issues. All these vibrant essays, written by some of the finest minds of today's academia, suggest that the spatial closure that transforms the world into a global prison of sameness not only can but must be undone by a rupture ushered in by the heterogeneity of futurity.Such a new future, less a tense or a time-span than a mode of critical examination, still rhymes with new styles of architecture,and still hopes to bring about a much needed change of heart.-Jean-Michel Rabat Opens a battlefront and conversation that is likely to preoccupy the next generation.-Tom Cohen



About the author

JAMES J. BONO is Associate Professor of History and of Medicine at the University at Buffalo. TIM DEAN is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo. EWA PLONOWSKA ZIAREK is Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature and Founding Director of the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo.


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