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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.

Romance and History
(Ed.), Jon Whitman. 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.
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.
Towards the Ethics of Form in Fiction
Toker, Leona. Towards the Ethics of Form in Fiction. Ohio University Press, 2010. Print.Abstract

In Towards the Ethics of Form in Fiction, Leona Toker deals with narratives that explore cultural remissions and the conditions they set for the reader's experience of self-liberation. She is particularly interested in the Bahktinian carnivalesque, the literary mode that subverts and liberates a narrative's dominant atmosphere in festive or grim ways.

Tales of Bluebeard and His Wives from Late Antiquity to Postmodern Times
Barzilai, Shuli. Tales of Bluebeard and His Wives from Late Antiquity to Postmodern Times. London: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Natan Sharansky, Defending Identity
Wolosky, Shira, and Natan Sharansky. Natan Sharansky, Defending Identity. 2008. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

If the history of the twentieth century can be seen as a successful struggle to expand personal freedoms, then the history of the twenty-first century will be seen as a contest to assert cultural, ethnic, or religious identities. From the crisis in Europe where identity is seen as inimical to democratic freedoms, to the threats to identity posed by postmodern relativism and Marxism, to the corrosive dullness of identity-less cosmopolitanism, Sharansky conducts a philosophical tour of nations, regions and cities whose futures rest precariously on the struggle for identity. His purpose throughout is to recover this most valuable and essential political emotion, one that can reaffirm and underpin democratic societies. Together, identity and democracy assert a powerful and benign sense of purpose; divided, at odds with each other, they invite fundamentalism and rootlessness.

Psychotherapy and the Everyday Life
Budick, Emily Miller, and Rami Aronzon. Psychotherapy and the Everyday Life. 2008. Print.Abstract


Tracing the Aesthetic Principle in Conrad's Novels
Levin, Yael. Tracing the Aesthetic Principle in Conrad's Novels. London: Palgrave, 2008. Print.Abstract

Review Excerpts

"Levin s concept of the otherwise present -the continued and continual oscillation between absence and presence-proves to be immensely productive for the reader of Joseph Conrad s fiction. Her book gripped me from first to last page: it is engagingly but compellingly written, and chock-full of striking, surprising, and ultimately convincing insights into Conrad s texts. Tracing the Aesthetic Principle in Conrad s Novels is an outstanding book that should be read by every serious student of Conrad." -- Jeremy Hawthorn, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

"This is one of the most suggestive and genuinely innovative works of Conrad criticism for some time. Levin develops her concept of the otherwise present through close readings of a range of Conrad s works from Lord Jim to neglected later works such as Suspense. Through attention to the thematics of spectrality - to guilt, shame, desire, hope and their otherwise present projections - and an engagement with some of Conrad s characteristic methods of story-telling, Levin demonstrates the flexibility and the rich hermeneutic and narratological possibilities of the concept both within and beyond Conrad studies. See otherwise, see better. " -- Robert Hampson, Head of the Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London

Ethics and the Beast: A Speciesist Argument for Animal Liberation
Zamir, Tzachi. Ethics and the Beast: A Speciesist Argument for Animal Liberation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. Print.
The Measureless Time of Joyce, Deleuze and Derrida
Borg, Ruben. The Measureless Time of Joyce, Deleuze and Derrida. London: Continuum, 2007. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the Physics Aristotle describes time as something that either does not exist or exists barely and in an obscure manner. Ruben Borg argues that an attempt to grapple with this problem informs the narrative structure, imagery and complex rhetorical strategies of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. By examining the relation between time and processes of figuration in Joyce’s fiction, this study engages with the challenges of grasping time as a multiplicity that resists representation and objective measurement. Joyce’s lexical and rhetorical inventions are viewed as an attempt to describe time’s characteristic movement in terms of waste, measureless excess or fading.



Review Excerpts

If, as Ruben Borg masterfully shows, Joyce’s ambition was to write a history of time with Finnegans Wake, it could not be a “short history of time,” something like a universal history, nor even a very long and dark and tangled story about an Irish family. It would have to be an almost infinite and unimaginable experience, a radical attempt to make us relive the origins of language. With a rare blend of literary and philosophical expertise, Borg unfolds hitherto unexplored dimensions of the Wake and inscribes it definitively in a discursive tradition marked by the clash of warring brothers (like Shem and Shaun): Bruno and Vico, Bergson and Heidegger, Derrida and Deleuze.

Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania


That time is an obscure if not impossible object for thought is, in Borg’s analysis, the central problematic that structures Finnegans Wake. He argues that it is Joyce's attempt to present the “unthinkable form of time” that motivated many of the Wake's formal innovations. In making this claim, Borg deftly balances lucid formal analysis with a mastery of relevant and quite extensive philosophical history, showing how literary innovation yields conceptual insights that have eluded more conventional discourses. Linking Finnegans Wake to post-structuralist theories of temporality and subjectivity enables Borg to rethink recent theoretical articulations of what it means to be “posthuman” — a category whose importance continues to be felt across many fields.

Borg’s book prompts us to think through the theological tradition that historically precedes and grounds the somewhat recent conception of the “posthuman,” and this may be the most provocative of the many contributions made by The Measureless Time of Joyce, Deleuze and Derrida. [...] In addition, the study is unique for deftly adapting Katherine Hayles’s more recent category of the “posthuman” to questions of time and narratology. Borg's elegant prose integrates a masterful understanding of the Wake with an equally impressive command of the relevant history of philosophy. He makes a compelling case for reading Finnegans Wake as a unique site in which the unthinkable structure of time itself can be thought.

Andrew Gaedtke, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



The rational scheme on which the book is organised will facilitate a deeper understanding of the basic epistemological questions at stake within deconstructionism itself (in spite of the complexity usually associated with the works of Derrida and Deleuze), accentuating how powerful their thought is when applied to literary critique.

Overall, this book is an outstanding post-structuralist work that shows how self-knowledge, which is in many points of view the very first task of philosophy, necessarily entails a compromise with rhetorics, as well as with a supplement of materiality.

Beatrice Boatto, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice