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Zone Books

Object Lessons from Art and Science

Imagine a world without things. There would be nothing to describe, nothing to explain, remark, interpret, or complain about. Without things, we would stop speaking; we would become as mute as things are alleged to be. In nine original essays, internationally renowned historians of art and of science seek to understand how objects become charged with significance without losing their gritty materiality. True to the particularity of things, each of the essays singles out one object for close attention: a Bosch drawing, the freestanding column, a Prussian island, soap bubbles, early photographs, glass flowers, Rorschach blots, newspaper clippings, paintings by Jackson Pollock. Each is revealed to be a node around which meanings accrete thickly. But not just any meanings: what these things are made of and how they are made shape what they can mean. Neither the pure texts of semiotics nor the brute objects of positivism, these things are saturated with cultural significance. Things become talkative when they fuse matter and meaning; they lapse into speechlessness when their matter and meanings no longer mesh.

Each of the nine evocative objects examined in this book had its historical moment, when the match of this thing to that thought seemed irresistible. At these junctures, certain things become objects of fascination, association, and endless consideration; they begin to talk. Things that talk fleetingly realize the dream of a perfect language, in which words and world merge.

Aby Warburg (1866-1929) is best known as the originator of the discipline of iconology and as the founder of the institute that bears his name. His followers included such celebrated art historians of the twentieth century as Erwin Panofsky, Edgar Wind, and Fritz Saxl. But his heirs developed, for the most part, a domesticated iconology based on the interpretation of symbolic material. As Phillippe-Alain Michaud shows in this important book, Warburg's own project was remote from any positivist or neo-Kantian ambitions. Nourished on the work of Nietzsche and Burckhardt, Warburg fashioned a "critical iconology" to reveal the irrationality of the image in Western culture. Opposing the grand teleological narratives of art inaugurated by Vasari, Warburg's method operated through historical anachronisms and discontinuities. Using "montage-collision" to create textless collections of images, he brought together pagan artifacts and masterpieces of Florentine Renaissance art, ancient Near East astrology and the Lutheran Reformation, Mannerist festivals and the sacred dances of Native Americans. Michaud insists that for Warburg, the practice of art history was the discovery within the art work itself of fracture, contradictions, tensions, and the energies of magic, empathy, totemism, and animism. Challenging normative accounts of Western European classicism, Warburg located the real sources of the Renaissance in the Dionysian spirit, in the expression of movement and dance, in the experience of trance personified in the frenzied nymph or ecstatic maenad.

Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion is not only a book about Warburg but a book written with him; Michaud uses Warburg's intuitions and discoveries to analyze other categories of imagery, including the daguerreotype, the chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey, early cinema, and the dances of Loie Fuller. It will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the origins of modern art history and the visual culture of modernity.

Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics

Already translated into six languages, Francois Jullien's In Praise of Blandness has become a classic. Appearing for the first time in English, this groundbreaking work of philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, and sinology is certain to stir readers to think and experience what may at first seem impossible: the richness of a bland sound, a bland meaning, a bland painting, a bland poem. In presenting the value of blandness through as many concrete examples and original texts as possible, Jullien allows the undifferentiated foundation of all things—blandness itself—to appear. After completing this book, readers will reevaluate those familiar Western lines of thought where blandness is associated with a lack—the undesirable absence of particular, defining qualities.

Jullien traces the elusive appearance and crucial value of blandness from its beginnings in the Daoist and Confucian traditions to its integration into literary and visual aesthetics in the late-medieval period and beyond. Gradually developing into a positive quality in Chinese aesthetic and ethical traditions, the bland comprises the harmonious and unnameable union of all potential values, embodying a reality whose very essence is change and providing an infinite opening into the breadth of human expression and taste.

More than just a cultural history, In Praise of Blandness invites those both familiar and unfamiliar with Chinese culture to explore the resonances of the bland in literary, philosophical, and religious texts and to witness how all currents of Chinese thought—Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism—converge in harmonious accord.

The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages

Destroyed faces, dissolved human shapes, invisible enemies: violence and anonymity go hand in hand. The visual representation of extreme physical violence makes real people nameless exemplars of horror—formless, hideous, defaced. In Defaced, Valentin Groebner explores the roots of the visual culture of violence in medieval and Renaissance Europe and shows how contemporary visual culture has been shaped by late medieval images and narratives of violence. For late medieval audiences, as with modern media consumers, horror lies less in the "indescribable" and "alien" than in the familiar and commonplace.

From the fourteenth century onward, pictorial representations became increasingly violent, whether in depictions of the Passion, or in vivid and precise images of torture, execution, and war. But not every spectator witnessed the same thing when confronted with terrifying images of a crucified man, misshapen faces, allegedly bloodthirsty conspirators on nocturnal streets, or barbarian fiends on distant battlefields. The profusion of violent imagery provoked a question: how to distinguish the illegitimate violence that threatened and reversed the social order from the proper, "just," and sanctioned use of force? Groebner constructs a persuasive answer to this question by investigating how uncannily familiar medieval dystopias were constructed and deconstructed. Showing how extreme violence threatens to disorient, and how the effect of horror resides in the depiction of minute details, Groebner offers an original model for understanding how descriptions of atrocities and of outrageous cruelty depended, in medieval times, on the variation of familiar narrative motifs.

Strategies of Meaning in China and Greece

In what way do we benefit from speaking of things indirectly? How does such a distancing allow us better to discover—and describe—people and objects? How does distancing produce an effect? What can we gain from approaching the world obliquely? In other words, how does detour grant access?

Thus begins Francois Jullien's investigation into the strategy, subtlety, and production of meaning in ancient and modern Chinese aesthetic and political texts and events. Moving between the rhetorical traditions of ancient Greece and China, Jullien does not attempt a simple comparison of the two civilizations. Instead, he uses the perspective provided by each to gain access into a culture considered by many Westerners to be strange—"It's all Chinese to me"—and whose strangeness has been eclipsed through the assumption of its familiarity. He also uses the comparison to shed light on the role of Greek thinking in Western civilization.

Jullien rereads the major texts of Chinese thought—The Book of Songs, Confucius's Analects, and the work of Mencius and Lao-Tse. He addresses the question of oblique, indirect, and allusive meaning in order to explore how the techniques of detour provide access to subtler meanings than are attainable through direct approaches. Indirect speech, Jullien concludes, yields a complex mode of indication, open to multiple perspectives and variations, infinitely adaptable to particular situations and contexts. Concentrating on that which is not said, or which is spoken only through other means, Jullien traces the benefits and costs of this rhetorical strategy in which absolute truth is absent.

Politics and Art Historical Method in the 1930s

This book introduces to an English-language audience the writings of the so-called New Vienna School of art history. In the 1930s Hans Sedlmayr (1896-1984) and Otto Pächt (1902-1988) undertook an ambitious extension of the formalist art historical project of Alois Riegl (1858-1905). Sedlmayr and Pächt began with an aestheticist conception of the autonomy and irreducibility of the artistic process. At the same time they believed they could read entire cultures and worldviews in the work of art. The key to this contextualist alchemy was the concept of "structure," a kind of deep formal property that the work of art shared with the world. Sedlmayr and Pächt’s project immediately caught the attention of thinkers like Walter Benjamin who were similarly impatient with traditional empiricist scholarship. But the new project had its dark side. Sedlmayr used art history as a vehicle for a sweeping critique of modernity that soon escalated into nationalist and outright fascist polemic, even while Pächt, a Jew, was forced into exile. Sedlmayr and the whole scholarly project of Strukturanalyse were sharply repudiated by Meyer Schapiro and later Ernst Gombrich.

After an introductory essay, the book opens with two selections from Riegl. Following this are essays by Sedlmayr, Pächt, Guido Kaschnitz-Weinberg, and Fritz Novotny, all dating from the 1930s. The book closes with the divergent responses of Benjamin (1933) and Schapiro (1936). The difference of opinion between these two key voices raises again the question of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the method, and reveals the analogies between the New Vienna School project and the antiempiricist cultural histories of our own time. The book also contains an extensive bibliography.

The Life and Adventures of a Couple

What do biologists mean when they say that to live is to react? Why was the term abreaction invented and later abandoned by the first generation of psychoanalysts? What is meant by reactionary politics? These are but a few of the questions the internationally renowned scholar Jean Starobinski answers in his conceptual history of the word pair, action and reaction.

Not simply a history of ideas, Action and Reaction is also a semantic and philological history, a literary history, a history of medicine, and a history of the biological sciences. By concentrating on the moment when scientific language and ordinary language diverge, Starobinski uncovers a genealogy of the human and natural sciences through their usage of action and reaction as metaphors. Newton's law—to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—becomes a point of departure for an exploration of the lexical and metaphorical traces left in its wake. Starobinski analyzes the scientific, literary, and political effects of the use of the terms action and reaction to describe and explain the material universe, the living body, historical events, and psychological behavior. In what he calls a "polyphonic score"—a kind of mosaic—he uses his subject to offer new insights into the work of philosophers (Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, Nietzsche, Jaspers), scientists (Newton, Bichat, Bernard, Bernheim, Freud), and writers (Diderot, Constant, Balzac, Poe, Valry). Ultimately, the book explores the power and danger of metaphorical language and questions the convergence and collapse of scientific and moral explanations of the universe.

Two Thousand Years of History

Though the genocide of 1994 catapulted Rwanda onto the international stage, English-language historical accounts of the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa—which encompasses Burundi, eastern Congo, Rwanda, western Tanzania, and Uganda—are scarce. Drawing on colonial archives, oral tradition, archeological discoveries, anthropologic and linguistic studies, and his thirty years of scholarship, Jean-Pierre Chrétien offers a major synthesis of the history of the region, one still plagued by extremely violent wars. This translation brings the work of a leading French historian to an English-speaking audience for the first time.

Chrétien retraces the human settlement and the formation of kingdoms around the sources of the Nile, which were "discovered" by European explorers around 1860. He describes these kingdoms' complex social and political organization and analyzes how German, British, and Belgian colonizers not only transformed and exploited the existing power structures, but also projected their own racial categories onto them. Finally, he shows how the independent states of the postcolonial era, in particular Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda, have been trapped by their colonial and precolonial legacies, especially by the racial rewriting of the latter by the former.

Today, argues Chrétien, the Great Lakes of Africa is a crucial region for historical research—not only because its history is fascinating but also because the tragedies of its present are very much a function of the political manipulations of its past.

Siegfried Kracauer's biography of the composer Jacques Offenbach is a remarkable work of social and cultural history. First published in German in 1937 and in English translation in 1938, the book uses the life and work of Offenbach as a focal point for a broad and penetrating portrayal of Second Empire Paris. Offenbach's immensely popular operettas have long been seen as part of the larger historical amnesia and escapism that pervaded Paris in the aftermath of 1848. But Kracauer insists that Offenbach's productions must be understood as more than glittering distractions. The fantasy realms of such operettas as La Belle Hélène were as one with the unreality of Napoleon III's imperial masquerade, but they also made a mockery of the pomp and pretense surrounding the apparatuses of power. At the same time, Offenbach's dreamworlds were embedded with a layer of utopian content that can be seen as an indictment of the fraudulence and corruption of the times. This edition includes Kracauer's preface to the original German edition, translated into English for the first time, and a critical foreword by Gertrud Koch.

The Witness and the Archive

In this book the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben looks closely at the literature of the survivors of Auschwitz, probing the philosophical and ethical questions raised by their testimony.

"In its form, this book is a kind of perpetual commentary on testimony. It did not seem possible to proceed otherwise. At a certain point, it became clear that testimony contained at its core an essential lacuna; in other words, the survivors bore witness to something it is impossible to bear witness to. As a consequence, commenting on survivors' testimony necessarily meant interrogating this lacuna or, more precisely, attempting to listen to it. Listening to something absent did not prove fruitless work for this author. Above all, it made it necessary to clear away almost all the doctrines that, since Auschwitz, have been advanced in the name of ethics."
Giorgio Agamben

On Memory and Forgetting in Ancient Athens

Athens, 403 B.C.E. The bloody oligarchic dictatorship of the Thirty is over, and the democrats have returned to the city victorious. Renouncing vengeance, in an act of willful amnesia, citizens call for—if not invent—amnesty. They agree to forget the unforgettable, the "past misfortunes," of civil strife or stasis. More precisely, what they agree to deny is that stasis—simultaneously partisanship, faction, and sedition—is at the heart of their politics.

Continuing a criticism of Athenian ideology begun in her pathbreaking study The Invention of Athens, Nicole Loraux argues that this crucial moment of Athenian political history must be interpreted as constitutive of politics and political life and not as a threat to it. Divided from within, the city is formed by that which it refuses. Conflict, the calamity of civil war, is the other, dark side of the beautiful unitary city of Athens. In a brilliant analysis of the Greek word for voting, diaphora, Loraux underscores the conflictual and dynamic motion of democratic life. Voting appears as the process of dividing up, of disagreement—in short, of agreeing to divide and choose. Not only does Loraux reconceptualize the definition of ancient Greek democracy, she also allows the contemporary reader to rethink the functioning of modern democracy in its critical moments of internal stasis.

A picture universally recognized, endlessly scrutinized and described, incessantly copied, adapted, lampooned: does Leonardo's near-ruined Last Supper still offer anything new to be seen or to be said? This book is a resounding Yes to both questions. With direct perception—-and with attention paid to the work of earlier scholars and to the criticism embodied in the production of copyists over the past five hundred years—Leo Steinberg demonstrates that Leonardo's mural has been consistently oversimplified. This most thought-out picture in Western art, painted in the 1490s on the north wall of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, is a marvel of compressed meanings. Its subject is not one arrested moment, but successiveness and duration. It is not only Christ's announcement of the forthcoming betrayal, but in equal measure the institution of the Eucharist. More than the spur of the moment animates the disciples, and more than perspective determines their housing. Though Leonardo's geometry obeys all rules, it responds as well to Christ's action at center, as if in emanation from the prime mover. The picture is simultaneously narrative and sacramental. As its protagonist is two-natured, as the twofold event of this night is both human submission and divine dispensation—-so the entire picture is shown to have been conceived in duplexity: a sublime pun.

Meanwhile, the unending disagreement as to what exactly is represented, what the depicted actions express, how and where this assembly is seated—-all these still-raging disputes are traced to a single mistaken assumption: that Leonardo intended throughout to be unambiguous and clear, and that any one meaning necessarily rules out every other.

As Steinberg reveals an abundance of significant interrelations previously overlooked, Leonardo's masterpiece regains the freshness of its initial conception and the power to fascinate.

The four studies in this book center on the Western obsession with the nature of personal identity. Focusing on the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but with an eye toward antiquity and the present, Caroline Walker Bynum explores the themes of metamorphosis and hybridity in genres ranging from poetry, folktales, and miracle collections to scholastic theology, devotional treatises, and works of natural philosophy. She argues that the obsession with boundary-crossing and otherness was an effort to delineate nature's regularities and to establish a strong sense of personal identity, extending even beyond the grave. She examines historical figures such as Marie de France, Gerald of Wales, Bernard Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante, as well as modern fabulists such as Angela Carter, as examples of solutions to the perennial question of how the individual can both change and remain constant. Addressing the fundamental question for historians—that of change—Bynum also explores the nature of history writing itself.

The Na of China

The Na of China, farmers in the Himalayan region, live without the institution of marriage. Na brothers and sisters live together their entire lives, sharing household responsibilities and raising the women's children. Because the Na, like all cultures, prohibit incest, they practice a system of sometimes furtive, sometimes conspicuous nighttime encounters at the woman's home. The woman's partners—she frequently has more than one—bear no economic responsibility for her or her children, and "fathers," unless they resemble their children, remain unidentifiable.

This lucid ethnographic study shows how a society can function without husbands or fathers. It sheds light on marriage and kinship, as well as on the position of women, the necessary conditions for the acquisition of identity, and the impact of a communist state on a society that it considers backward.

Although the work of Pierre Francastel (1900-1970) has long carried the label "sociology of art," it bears little resemblance to anything conventionally sociological. For too long Francastel has been unavailable to English-language readers, and hence known only through erroneous and secondhand characterizations. This translation of Art and Technology should open the way for a rediscovery and reconsideration of this brilliant, often misunderstood thinker. Unlike adherents of the dominant schools of Anglo-American and German art history, Francastel was not obsessed with establishing a quasi-scientific methodology as the basis for his studies. But as art history itself is being reshaped by the culture of technology, his nuanced meditations from the 1950s on the intricate intersection of technology and art gain heightened value. The concrete objects that Francastel examines are for the most part from the architecture and design of the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Through them he engages his central problem: the abrupt historical collision between traditional symbol-making activities of human society and the appearance in the nineteenth century of unprecedented technological and industrial capabilities and forms. Francastel's vision of the indeterminate, shifting relation between the aesthetic and the technological will be of crucial interest to anyone interested in the history of art, architecture, and design.

Selected Essays

Culture in Practice collects the academic and political writings from the 1960s through the 1990s of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins. More than a compilation, Culture in Practice unfolds as an intellectual autobiography. The book opens with Sahlins's early general studies of culture, economy, and human nature. It then moves to his reportage and reflections on the war in Vietnam and the antiwar movement, the event that most strongly affected his thinking about cultural specificity. Finally, it offers his more historical and globally aware works on indigenous peoples, especially those of the Pacific islands.

Sahlins exposes the cultural specificity of the West, developing a critical account of the distinctive ways that we act in and understand the world. The book includes a play/review of Robert Ardrey's sociobiology, essays on "native" consumption patterns of food and clothes in America and the West, explorations of how two thousand years of Western cosmology affect our understanding of others, and ethnohistorical accounts of how cultural orders of Europeans and Pacific islanders structured the historical experiences of both. Throughout, Sahlins offers his own way of thinking about the anthropological project. To transcend critically our native categories in order to understand how other peoples have historically constructed their modes of existence—even now, in the era of globalization—is the great challenge of contemporary anthropology.

Politics and Art Historical Method in the 1930s


This book introduces to an English-language audience the writings of the so-called New Vienna School of art history. In the 1930s Hans Sedlmayr (1896-1984) and Otto Pächt (1902-1988) undertook an ambitious extension of the formalist art historical project of Alois Riegl (1858-1905). Sedlmayr and Pächt began with an aestheticist conception of the autonomy and irreducibility of the artistic process. At the same time they believed they could read entire cultures and worldviews in the work of art. The key to this contextualist alchemy was the concept of "structure," a kind of deep formal property that the work of art shared with the world.

Sedlmayr and Pächt's project immediately caught the attention of thinkers like Walter Benjamin who were similarly impatient with traditional empiricist scholarship. But the new project had its dark side. Sedlmayr used art history as a vehicle for a sweeping critique of modernity that soon escalated into nationalist and outright fascist polemic, even while Pächt, a Jew, was forced into exile. Sedlmayr and the whole scholarly project of Strukturanalyse were sharply repudiated by Meyer Schapiro and later Ernst Gombrich.

After an introductory essay, the book opens with two selections from Riegl. The next section includes two essays by Sedlmayr, two by Pächt, and one each by Guido Kaschnitz-Weinberg and Fritz Novotny, all dating from the 1930s. The book closes with the divergent responses of Benjamin (1933) and Schapiro (1936). The difference of opinion between these two key voices raises again the question of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the method, and reveals the analogies between the New Vienna School project and the antiempiricist cultural histories of our own time. The book also contains an extensive bibliography.


The Anthropology of Incest

The sharing of a sexual partner between relatives has always been taboo. In this stunning work, anthropologist Françoise Héritier charts the incest prohibition throughout history, from the strict decrees of Leviticus to modern civil codes, and finds a secondary type of incest, which she calls the incest of two sisters. The term refers not to incest between two sisters, or between two sisters and their mother, but to a love triangle of sorts in which the transfer of bodily fluids among sexual partners, two of whom are related to each other, creates undeniable bonds. Drawing on her field work in West African societies where the bans against two sisters are particularly stringent and on various cultural practices (such as milk kinship), Héritier fashions a complex "mechanics of fluids" in which blood, milk, and semen form the basis for kinship and prohibition. The intricate connections among the social, the natural, and the bodily emerge, fully apparent, and kinship studies are seen in a new light, one that illuminates the primacy of the symbolic.

At the heart of medical history is a deep enigma. The true structure and workings of the human body are, we casually assume, everywhere the same, a universal reality. But then we look into the past, and our sense of reality wavers: accounts of the body in diverse medical traditions often seem to describe mutually alien, almost unrelated worlds.

The Expressiveness of the Body meditates on the contrasts between the human body described in classical Greek medicine and the body as envisaged by physicians in ancient China. It asks how this most basic of human realities came to be conceived by two sophisticated civilizations in radically diverging ways. And it seeks answers in fresh and unexpected topics, such as the history of tactile knowledge, the relationship between ways of seeing and ways of listening, and the evolution of bloodletting.

The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette


In The Wicked Queen, Chantal Thomas presents the history of the mythification of one of the most infamous queens in all history, whose execution still fascinates us today. Almost as soon as Marie-Antoinette, archduchess of Austria, was brought to France as the bride of Louis XVI in 1771, she was smothered in images. In a monarchy increasingly under assault, the charm and horror of her feminine body and her political power as a foreign intruder turned Marie-Antoinette into an alien other. Marie-Antoinette's mythification, argues Thomas, must be interpreted as the misogynist demonization of women's power and authority in revolutionary France.

In a series of pamphlets written from the 1770s until her death in 1793, Marie-Antoinette is portrayed as a spendthrift, a libertine, an orgiastic lesbian, and a poisoner and infant murderess. In her analyses of these pamphlets, seven of which appear here in translation for the first time, Thomas reconstructs how the mounting hallucinatory and libelous discourse culminated in the inevitable destruction of what had become the counterrevolutionary symbol par excellence. The Wicked Queen exposes the elaborate process by which the myth of Marie-Antoinette emerged as a crucial element in the successful staging of the French Revolution.


Selected Writings

"Crossing Boundaries is not only characteristic of the physical moves I have undertaken (or had to undertake) in the course of my life: it is also distinctive of the interdisciplinary travels I have engaged in ever since I started to write."
—Albert O. Hirschman, from Crossing Boundaries

During the last half century, Albert O. Hirschman has single-handedly redefined the scope and limits of political economy, in theory and in practice. His contributions as both a scholar and an economic advisor have definitively shaped an innovative program for social change and economic development. Gathered here for the first time in one volume are recent writings of interdisciplinary range, erudite sophistication, and limitless curiosity.

In two essays on commensality and the "invention" of democracy in classical Greece, and on the workings and making of the Marshall Plan, Hirschman shows how his personal and political experience allow him to forge new connections between the past and the present, between intellectual life and lived experience. The third piece, "Trespassing," is an interview Hirschman gave in Italian in 1993, which he has translated and edited for this volume. Although in the past Hirschman has resisted autobiographical meditation, here he recounts—with frankness, humor, and insight—some of the most compelling and formative moments of his life divided between the "European" and the "American" years. Not only does he discuss how his personal experiences have shaped and influenced his thinking about economic and social development, democracy and capitalism, he also reveals the "key terms" of his scholarship—concepts he is constantly rethinking, subverting, and reinventing.


Fiction, Fantasy, and Perversion from Fin-de-Siècle France
Edited by Asti Hustvedt

In France at the end of the nineteenth century, progress and material prosperity coincided with widespread alarm about disease and decay. The obsessions of our own culture as the twentieth century came to a close resonate strikingly with those of the last fin-de-siècle: crime, pollution, sexually transmitted diseases, gender confusion, moral depravity, alcoholism, and tobacco and drug use were topics of popular discussion then as now.

The Decadent Reader is a collection of novels and stories from fin-de-siècle France that celebrate decline, aestheticize decay, and take pleasure in perversity. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy, and the deviant, the decadent writers attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived to be the chief enemy of art. Barbey d'Aurevilly, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Jean Lorrain, Guy de Maupassant, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Catulle Mendès, Rachilde, Jean Moréas, Octave Mirbeau, Joséphin Péladan, and Remy de Gourmont looted the riches of their culture for their own purposes. In an age of medicine, they borrowed its occult mysteries rather than its positivism. From its social Darwinism, they found their monsters: sadists, murderers, transvestites, fetishists, prostitutes, nymphomaniacs, and hysterics. And they reveled in them, completely upending the conventions of romance and sentimentality. The Decadent Reader, which includes critical essays on all of the authors, many novels and stories that have never before appeared in English, and familiar works set in a new context, offers a compelling portrait of fin-de-siècle France.

Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany


The Visual and the Visionary adds a new dimension to the study of female spirituality, with its nuanced account of the changing roles of images in medieval monasticism from the twelfth century to the Reformation. In nine essays embracing the histories of art, religion, and literature, Jeffrey Hamburger explores the interrelationships between the visual arts and female spirituality in the context of the cura monialium, the pastoral care of nuns. Used as instruments of instruction and inspiration, images occupied a central place in debates over devotional practice, monastic reform, and mystical expression. Far from supplementing a history of art from which they have been excluded, the images made by and for women shaped that history decisively by defining novel modes of religious expression, above all, the relationship between sight and subjectivity. With this book, the study of female piety and artistic patronage becomes an integral part of the general history of medieval art and spirituality.


Affirmative Action


Why has affirmative action become the lightning rod for conflicts over racial inequality in the United States? Have color-blind legal and political doctrines intensified or ameliorated America's racial divisions? Race and Representation invites the reader to enter a debate on a matter of the greatest moment for American universities, politics, and public life. Focusing on the politically driven decision of California's governor and the Board of Regents of the University of California to end affirmative action at the university, the subsequent enactment of an amendment to the California Constitution prohibiting the state from engaging in affirmative action, and court decisions in Texas that used the federal Constitution to prohibit affirmative action at state universities, the contributors to this volume incisively assess the current state of the tumultuous controversy over affirmative action.


Wonders and the Order of Nature is about the ways in which European naturalists from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment used wonder and wonders, the passion and its objects, to envision themselves and the natural world. Monsters, gems that shone in the dark, petrifying springs, celestial apparitions—these were the marvels that adorned romances, puzzled philosophers, lured collectors, and frightened the devout. Drawing on the histories of art, science, philosophy, and literature, Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park explore and explain how wonder and wonders fortified princely power, rewove the texture of scientific experience, and shaped the sensibility of intellectuals. This is a history of the passions of inquiry, of how wonder sometimes inflamed, sometimes dampened curiosity about nature's best-kept secrets. Refracted through the prism of wonders, the order of nature splinters into a spectrum of orders, a tour of possible worlds.

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