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Just Literature: Philosophical Criticism and Justice
Zamir, Tzachi. Just Literature: Philosophical Criticism and Justice. New York: Routledge, 2019. Print.Abstract

In Just Literature, Tzachi Zamir introduces the idea of 'philosophical criticism' as an innovative approach to interpreting literary texts. 

Throughout the book, Zamir uses the theme of justice as a case study for his new critical approach. By using ‘philosophical criticism’, Zamir posits that a stronger grasp of the idea of justice can increase one’s understanding of literature, and thus its value. He offers philosophical readings of works by Dante, Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, J. M. Coetzee and Philip Roth to explore the relationship between aesthetic and epistemic value. Zamir argues that, while literature and philosophy remain separate entities, examining the two in tandem may help inform the study of both. 

Offering an inventive twist on an established dynamic, this book is essential reading for any student or scholar of literature or philosophy.

Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps: An Intercontexual Reading
Toker, Leona. Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps: An Intercontexual Reading. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. Print.Abstract
Devoted to the ways in which Holocaust literature and gulag literature provide contexts for each other, Leona Toker shows how the prominent features of one shed light on the veiled features and methods of the other. Toker views these narratives and texts against the background of historical information about the Soviet and the Nazi regimes of repression. Writers at the center of this work include Varlam Shalamov, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Ka-Tzetnik, and others including Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Evgeniya Ginzburg, and Jorge Semprun illuminate the discussion. Toker’s twofold analysis concentrates on the narrative qualities of the works as well as how each text documents the writer’s experience. She provides insight into how fictionalized narrative can double as historical testimony, how references to events might have become obscure owing to the passage of time and the cultural diversity of readers, and how these references form new meaning in the text. Toker is well-known as a skillful interpreter of gulag literature, and this text presents new thinking about how gulag literature and Holocaust literature enable a better understanding about testimony in the face of evil. 
Fantasies of Self-Mourning: Modernism, the Posthuman and the Finite
Borg, Ruben. Fantasies of Self-Mourning: Modernism, the Posthuman and the Finite. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2019. Print.Abstract
In Fantasies of Self-Mourning Ruben Borg describes the formal features of a posthuman, cyborgian imaginary at work in modernism. The book’s central claim is that modernism invents the posthuman as a way to think through the contradictions of its historical moment. Borg develops a posthumanist critique of the concept of organic life based on comparative readings of Pirandello, Woolf, Beckett, and Flann O’Brien, alongside discussions of Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Marker, Béla Tarr, Ridley Scott and Mamoru Oshii. The argument draws together a cluster of modernist narratives that contemplate the separation of a cybernetic eye from a human body—or call for a tearing up of the body understood as a discrete organic unit capable of synthesizing desire and sense perception.
Shakespeare's Hamlet: Philosophical Perspectives
Zamir, Tzachi. Shakespeare's Hamlet: Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Print.Abstract
Does philosophy gain or lose when it is embedded within literature or embodied by drama? Does literary criticism gain or lose when it turns to literary works as occasions for abstract reflection? Leading literary scholars and philosophers interrogate philosophical dimensions of Shakespeare's Hamlet with these urgent questions in view.
Scholars probe Hamlet's own insights, assess the significance of philosophy's literary-dramatic framing by this play, and trace the philosophically-relevant underpinnings revealed by historical transformations in Hamlet's reception. They focus on the play's thematizations of subjectivity, knowledge, sex, grief, self-theatricalization.
Examining Shakespeare's play from a philosophical standpoint sharpens the questions the play itself so famously poses: What counts as a proper response to injustice upon realizing that whatever one does, there can be no undoing of the initial wrong? What do our commitments to the dead amount to? How to persist in infusing significance into action while grasping the degradation of death and our own replaceability? Scholars at the forefront of their fields tackle these and other questions from a wide range of viewpoints, illuminating the central concerns of one of Shakespeare's masterpieces.
Thomas Hardy's Elegiac Prose and Poetry: Codes of Bereavement
Benziman, Galia. Thomas Hardy's Elegiac Prose and Poetry: Codes of Bereavement. London: Palgrave, 2018. Print.Abstract
This book examines the transition from traditional to modern elegy through a close study of Thomas Hardy’s oeuvre and its commitment to mourning and remembrance. Hardy is usually read as an avowed elegist who writes against the collective forgetfulness typical of the late-Victorian era. But Hardy, as argued here, is dialectically implicated in the very cultural and psychological amnesia that he resists, as her book demonstrates by expanding the corpus of study beyond the spousal elegies (the “Poems of 1912-1913”) to include a wide variety of poems, novels and short stories that deal with bereavement and mourning. Locating the modern aspect of Hardy’s elegiac writing in this ambivalence and in the subversion of memory as unreliable, the book explores the textual moments at which Hardy challenges binary dichotomies such as forgetting vs. remembering, narcissism vs. unselfish commitment, grief vs. betrayal, the work of mourning vs. melancholia, presence vs. absence. The book's analysis allows us to relate Hardy’s elegiac poetics, and particularly his description of the mourner as a writer, to shifting late-Victorian conceptualizations of death, memory, art, science and gender relations.
Ascent: Philosophy and Paradise Lost
Zamir, Tzachi. Ascent: Philosophy and Paradise Lost. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Print.
Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority
Borg, Ruben, Paul Fagan John McCourt (Eds.). Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority. Cork: Cork University Press, 2017. Print.Abstract

With its penchant for dissecting rehearsed attitudes and subverting expectations, Flann O’Brien’s writing displays an uncanny knack for comic doubling and self-contradiction. Focusing on the satirical energies and anti-authoritarian temperament invested in his style, Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority interrogates the author's clowning with linguistic, literary, legal, bureaucratic, political, economic, academic, religious and scientific powers in the sites of the popular, the modern and the traditional.


By taking O’Brien’s riotous clashes with diverse manifestations of authority as an entry point, the volume draws together disparate elements of the writer's work. Each chapter reflects on some aspect of his iconoclastic impulses; on the impertinent send-ups of pretension and orthodoxy to be found in his fiction, columns, and writing for stage and screen; on the very nature of his comedic inspiration.... Among the topics addressed are O’Brien’s satirical use of the pseudonym, the cliché and the Irish language; his irreverent repackaging of inherited myths, sacred texts and formative canons; and his refusal of literary and ideological closure.


The emerging picture is of a complex literary project that is always, in some way, a writing against the weight of received wisdoms and inherited sureties. Together, these essays invite us to reconsider O’Brien’s profile as, at once, a local comedian, a critic of provincial attitudes, a formal innovator and an inimitable voice in the twentieth-century avant-garde. Most pressingly, Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority compels us to consider the many ways in which O’Brien’s texts bring into sharp relief the kinship between comic genius and an anti-authoritarian temperament.

V.S. Naipaul: Displacement and Autobiography
Levy, Judith. V.S. Naipaul: Displacement and Autobiography. London: Routledge, 2015. Print.
Romance and History
Whitman, Jon (ed.). Romance and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Print.Abstract

To what extent can imaginative events be situated in time and history? From the medieval to the early modern period, this question is intriguingly explored in the expansive literary genre of romance. This collective study, edited by Jon Whitman, is the first systematic investigation of that formative process during more than four hundred years. While concentrating on changing configurations of romance itself, the volume examines a number of important related reference points, from epic to chronicle to critical theory. Recalling but qualifying conventional approaches to the three 'matters' of Rome, Britain, and France, the far-reaching inquiry engages major works in a variety of idioms, including Latin, French, English, German, Italian, and Spanish. With contributions from a range of internationally distinguished scholars, this unique volume offers a carefully coordinated framework for enriching not only the reading of romance, but also the understanding of changing attitudes toward the temporal process at large.

The Subject of Holocaust Fiction
Budick, Emily M. The Subject of Holocaust Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. Print.Abstract

Emily Miller Budick, The Subject of Holocaust Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

Acts: Theater, Philosophy and the Performing Self
Zamir, Tzachi. Acts: Theater, Philosophy and the Performing Self. University of Michigan Press, 2014. Print.Abstract

Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self

Why do people act? Why are other people drawn to watch them? How is acting as a performing art related to role-playing outside the theater? As the first philosophical study devoted to acting, Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self sheds light on some of the more evasive aspects of the acting experience— such as the import of the actor's voice, the ethical unease sometimes felt while embodying particular sequences, and the meaning of inspiration. Tzachi Zamir explores acting’s relationship to everyday role-playing through a surprising range of examples of “lived acting,” including pornography, masochism, and eating disorders. By unearthing the deeper mobilizing structures that underlie dissimilar forms of staged and non-staged role-playing, Acts offers a multi-layered meditation on the percolation from acting to life.

The book engages questions of theatrical inspiration, the actor’s “energy,” the difference between acting and pretending, the special role of repetition as part of live acting, the audience and its attraction to acting, and the unique significance of the actor’s voice. It examines the embodied nature of the actor’s animation of a fiction, the breakdown of the distinction between what one acts and who one is, and the transition from what one performs into who one is, creating an interdisciplinary meditation on the relationship between life and acting.

“A vibrant and vital addition to existing studies of acting/performance from an engaged philosophical perspective. Zamir traces the connections between acting and ‘energy,’ ‘intensity,’ and ‘inspiration’ before returning to the question of embodiment, a term with especially complicated conceptual baggage. All of this is imbricated deftly with Zamir’s citation of commentaries from actors and acting teachers/thinkers alike, grounding the work in material practice with a writerly grace rarely found in texts on the philosophy of acting. Zamir’s later turn to the question of ethics and to pornography is both bold and brilliant.”
—Patrick Anderson, University of California, San Diego

“Zamir’s account of acting is grounded in his own experience, deeply informed by his substantial background in philosophy and performance studies. The result is something new: an account of acting that is attuned to many issues currently being hashed out in performance studies and firmly attached to issues of major import in philosophy.”
—James Hamilton, Kansas State University

“Zamir uses a series of fascinating special topics and case studies to make a valuable and highly unique contribution to scholarship in the philosophy of art, theatre, and performance studies.”
—David Z. Saltz, University of Georgia

Tzachi Zamir is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University.

Praise / Awards

  • "The resulting book is subtle, careful, has a wealth of good examples, and is responsive and responsible to a wide range of philosophical and nonphilosophical literatures. One of the most remarkable things about the book is the breadth of concerns it addresses.That it does so carefully and responsibly—is a real achievement."
    -- Philosophical Quarterly
  • "[Acts is] an agenda-setting study, and it is among the most rewarding and original works in contemporary philosophy of art."
    --- The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly
  • "As an investigation into the philosophical foundations and ethical implications of what Zamir calls 'the most popular approach to actor instruction in the English-speaking world,' Acts is sure to assume a prominent place in the literature on performance and philosophy. Without ever overlooking the ethical quandaries of the actor’s craft, Zamir gives full-bodied testament to the power of acting in revealing our fullest selves."
    --- Theatre Journal
  • "[Acts] is a remarkably rich, dense, comprehensive, and breathtakingly insightful book on the experience and nature of the “acts” one undertakes and undergoes as both an actor and as a person in the world outside of theatre."
    --Aili Bresnahan,  Philosophers' Magazine
  • "There is much to admire about Zamir’s book — his deft handling of language familiar to rather different theoretical traditions, his breadth of vision, his combination of philosophical care and theoretical ambition. Zamir’s book achieves something that is rare in philosophy: it’s a good read; it’s daring; it doesn’t bleed with an allegiance to any particular philosophical tradition; it is inspired, creative, and sensitive to actors’ understanding of their art. I’d even go so far as to say that with Acts Zamir has really embodied the role of philosopher and given us a lively performance."
    --Nick Riggle, Notre Dame Philosophical Review
  • Tzachi Zamir’s Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self offers an expansive philosophical treatment of acting that moves through the domains of traditional dramatic theatre to the realm of everyday life.
    --Will Daddario, The Drama Review

- See more at: https://www.press.umich.edu/6610419/acts/?s=description#sthash.UPuwcucY....

Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies
Borg, Ruben, Paul Fagan, and Werner Huber (Eds.). Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies. Cork: Cork University Press, 2014. Print.Abstract

Challenging the narrative that Flann O'Brien wrote two good novels and then retired to the inferior medium of journalism (as Myles na gCopaleen), Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies engages with overlooked shorter, theatrical, and non-fiction works and columns ('John Duffy's Brother', 'The Martyr's Crown', 'Two in One') alongside At Swim-Two-BirdsThe Third Policeman, and An Béal Bocht. The depth and consistency of O'Nolan's comic inspiration that emerges from this scholarly engagement with his broader body of work underlines both the imperative and opportunity of reassessing O'Brien's literary legacy.

Feminist Theory Across Disciplines
Wolosky, Shira. Feminist Theory Across Disciplines. London: Routledge, 2013. Print.Abstract

Defying traditional definitions of public and private as gendered terms, and broadening discussion of women’s writing in relation to feminist work done in other fields, this study addresses American women’s poetry from the seventeenth to late-twentieth century. Engaging the fields of literary criticism, anthropology, psychology, history, political theory, religious culture, cultural studies, and poetics, this study provides entry into some of the founding feminist discussions across disciplines, moving beyond current scholarship to pursue an interpretation of feminism’s defining interests and assumptions in the context of women’s writing. The author emphasizes and explores how women’s writing expresses their active participation in community and civic life, emerging from and shaping a woman’s selfhood as constituted through relationships, not only on the personal level, but as forming community commitments. This distinctive formation of the self finds expression in women’s voices and other poetic forms of expression, with the aesthetic power of poetry itself bringing different arenas of human experience to bear on each other in mutual interrogation and reflection. Women poets have addressed the public world, directly or through a variety of poetic structures and figures, and in doing so they have defined and expressed specific forms of selfhood engaged in and committed to communal life.

Knowledge and Pain
Toker, Leona. Knowledge and Pain. (et al). 2012. Print.
The Riddles of Harry Potter: Secret Passages and Interpretive Quests
Wolosky, Shira. The Riddles of Harry Potter: Secret Passages and Interpretive Quests. London: Palgrave, 2012. Print.
Narratives of Child Neglect in Romantic and Victorian Literature 
Benziman, Galia. Narratives of Child Neglect in Romantic and Victorian Literature . London: Palgrave, 2011. Print.Abstract
Contextualizing the topos of the neglected child within a variety of discourses, this book challenges the assumption that the early nineteenth century witnessed a clear transition from a Puritan to a liberating approach to children and demonstrates that oppressive assumptions survive in major texts considered part of the Romantic cult of childhood.
Biblical Paradigms in Medieval English Literature
Besserman, Lawrence. Biblical Paradigms in Medieval English Literature. 2011. Print.
Poetry and public discourse in nineteenth-century America
Wolosky, Shira. Poetry and public discourse in nineteenth-century America. London: Palgrave, 2010. Print.Abstract

Poetry and Public Discourse explores nineteenth- century poetry as it addresses and engages in major concerns of American cultural life. It focuses on gender, biblical politics, Revolutionary discourses and racial, sectional, and religious identities, as these contend and negotiate with each other in the shaping of a pluralist democratic polity. Nineteenth-century American poetry, far from being the self-reflective art object of twentieth-century aesthetic theory, offers a rhetorical arena in which civic, economic, and religious trends intersect with each other in mutual definition and investigation. Poetry emerges as a core impulse in the formation of American identity and cultural definition

Rethinking Labour in Africa, Past and Present
Schler, Lynn, Louise Bethlehem, and Galia Sabar. Rethinking Labour in Africa, Past and Present. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.
Kant and Milton
Budick, Sanford. Kant and Milton. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 2010. Print.