"[Bachelard] is neither a self-confessed and tortured atheist like Satre, nor, like Chardin, a heretic combining a belief in God with a proficiency in modern science. But, within the French context, he is almost as important as they are because he has a pseudo-religious force, without taking a stand on religion. To define him as briefly as possible – he is a philosopher, with a professional training in the sciences, who devoted most of the second phase of his career to promoting that aspect of human nature which often seems most inimical to science: the poetic imagination ..." – J.G. Weightman,The New York Times Review of Books
For much of the twentieth century, French intellectual life was dominated by theoreticians and historians of mentalité. Traditionally, the study of the mind and of its limits and capabilities was the domain of philosophy, however in the first decades of the twentieth century practitioners of the emergent human and social sciences were increasingly competing with philosophers in this field: ethnologists, sociologists, psychologists and historians of science were all claiming to study 'how people think'. Scholars, including Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, Léon Brunschvicg, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Lucien Febvre, Abel Rey, Alexandre Koyré and Hélène Metzger were all investigating the mind historically and participating in shared research projects. Yet, as they have since been appropriated by the different disciplines, literature on their findings has so far failed to recognise the connections between their research and their importance in intellectual history. In this exemplary book, Cristina Chimisso reconstructs the world of these intellectuals and the key debates in the philosophy of mind, particularly between those who studied specific mentalities by employing prevalently historical and philological methods, and those who thought it possible to write a history of the mind, outlining the evolution of ways of thinking that had produced the modern mentality. Dr Chimisso situates the key French scholars in their historical context and shows how their ideas and agendas were indissolubly linked with their social and institutional positions, such as their political and religious allegiances, their status in academia, and their familial situation. The author employs a vast range of original research, using philosophical and scientific texts as well as archive documents, correspondence and seminar minutes from the period covered, to recreate the milieu in which these relatively neglected scholars made advances in the history of philosophy and science, and produced
Maurice Blanchot is arguably the key figure after Sartre in exploring the relation between literature and philosophy. Blanchot developed a distinctive, limpid form of essay writing; these essays, in form and substance, left their imprint on the work of the most influential French theorists. The writings of Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida are unimaginable without Blanchot. Published in French in 1949, The Work of Fire is a collection of twenty-two essays originally published in literary journals. Certain themes recur repeatedly: the relation of literature and language to death; the significance of repetition; the historical, personal, and social function of literature; and simply the question what is at stake in the fact that something such as art or literature exists? Among the authors discussed are Kafka, Mallarme;, Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Sartre, Gide, Pascal, Vale;ry, Hemingway, and Henry Miller.
This volume, which collects Northrop Frye's writings on the theory of literary criticism from the middle period of his career, includes one of Frye's own favourites, The Critical Path (1971). A highly important marker of Frye's career, The Critical Path openly addresses topics that he had previously been reluctant to discuss as fully, including the importance of literature to society, the responsibilities of critics, and the deeper rationales for studying literature. Filled with insightful texts that indicate his transition from literary critic to a theorist of language, myth, and human culture, this edition helps to illuminate many of the ideas and arguments that would appear later in The Great Code and Words with Power. Accompanied by the rigorous scholarship for which the series is renowned, this is another valuable contribution to literary criticism and theory.
Body, Image, and Space in the Historical Avant-Gardes
Author: Gabriele Brandstetter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Performing Arts
When it was first published in Germany in 1995, Poetics of Dance was already seen as a path-breaking publication, the first to explore the relationships between the birth of modern dance, new developments in the visual arts, and the renewal of literature and drama in the form of avant-garde theatrical and movement productions of the early twentieth-century. Author Gabriele Brandstetter established in this book not only a relation between dance and critical theory, but in fact a full interdisciplinary methodology that quickly found foothold with other areas of research within dance studies. The book looks at dance at the beginnings of the 20th century, the time during which modern dance first began to make its radical departure from the aesthetics of classical ballet. Brandstetter traces modern dance's connection to new innovations and trends in visual and literary arts to argue that modern dance is in fact the preeminent symbol of modernity. As Brandstetter demonstrates, the aesthetic renewal of dance vocabulary which was pursued by modern dancers on both sides of the Atlantic - Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller, Valeska Gert and Oskar Schlemmer, Vaslav Nijinsky and Michel Fokine - unfurled itself in new ideas about gender and subjectivity in the arts more generally, thus reflecting the modern experience of life and the self-understanding of the individual as an individual. As a whole, the book makes an important contribution to the theory of modernity.
Architecture and Fire develops a conceptual reassessment of architectural conservation through the study of the intimate relationship between architecture and fire. Stamatis Zografos expands on the general agreement among many theorists that the primitive hut was erected around fire – locating fire as the first memory of architecture, at the very beginning of architectural evolution. Following the introduction, Zografos analyses the archive and the renewed interest in the study of archives through the psychoanalysis of Jacques Derrida. He moves on to explore the ambivalent nature of fire, employing the conflicting philosophies of Gaston Bachelard and Henri Bergson to do so, before discussing architectural conservation and the relationship between listed buildings, the function of archives, and the preservation of memories from the past. The following chapter investigates how architecture evolves by absorbing and accommodating fire, while the penultimate chapter examines the critical moment of architectural evolution: the destruction of buildings by fire, with a focus on the tragic disaster at London’s Grenfell Tower in 2017. Zografos concludes with thoughts on Freud’s drive theory. He argues the practice of architectural conservation is an expression of the life drive and a simultaneous repression of the death drive, which suggests controlled destruction should be an integral part of the conservation agenda. Architecture and Fire is founded in new interdisciplinary research navigating across the boundaries of architecture, conservation, archival theory, classical mythology, evolutionary theory, thermodynamics, philosophy and psychoanalysis. It will be of interest to readers working in and around these disciplines.
From Wordsworth to Tolstoy, Pater, and Barrett Browning
Author: Martin Bidney
Publisher: SIU Press
Category: Literary Criticism
After explaining his new methodology, Bidney identifies and discusses epiphanies in the works of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walter Pater, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Taking his cue from the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, Bidney postulates that any writer’s epiphany pattern usually shows characteristic elements (earth, air, fire, water), patterns of motion (pendular, eruptive, trembling), and/or geometric shapes. Bachelard’s analytic approach involves studying patterns of perceived experience—phenomenology—but unlike most phenomenologists, Bidney does not speculate on internal processes of consciousness. Instead, he concentrates on literary epiphanies as objects on the printed page, as things with structures that can be detected and analyzed for their implications. Bidney, then, first identifies each author’s paradigm epiphany, finding that both the Romantics and the Victorians often label such a paradigm as a vision or dream, thereby indicating its exceptional intensity, mystery, and expansiveness. Once he identifies the paradigm and shows how it is structured, he traces occurrences of each writer’s epiphany pattern, thus providing an inclusive epiphanic portrait that enables him to identify epiphanies in each writer’s other works. Finally, he explores the implications of his analysis for other literary approaches: psychoanalytical, feminist, influence-oriented or intertextual, and New Historical.