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Showing posts from July, 2013

July Notes and Thoughts

It's sunny, I've just finished plunging through the complete poetical works of Byron and of Shelley, as well as completing my philosophy for the summer, Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. I've got plenty of thoughts on Shelley, which need to percolate for a little longer, but here's a few other things I've been thinking about. Just jottings more than anything else, on the anti-formal imperative in theory; on haptics, optics and aesthetics; and Francois Laruelle.

1. It's cardinal that modern continental philosophy prefers fluidity, edges, deconstructions, spacings and hybridity (etc.) to forms, centres and stability. Most recently I've been encountering this in A Thousand Plateaus although of course it's there in deconstruction and, well, pretty much everywhere (including as a permeating assumption of much literary criticism). Perhaps precisely because Deleuze and Guattari are so insistent on the 'rhizomatic' (fluid, multiple) over …

Monograph Challenge #14: Idleness, Contemplation and the Aesthetic

Slightly an odd one this week, since I interviewed (incidentally, along with a current Exeter colleague) for a two year sabbatical cover post at Dundee against the author of this monograph. Even more oddly, soon after I had been contracted in Ireland, a man I half-recognised in a bright orange wig approached me in a Falmouth beer garden, who turned out to be the very same Richard Adelman visiting Cornwall for a friend's birthday party! Anyway, I can certainly say that it was no shame to lose out to him in Dundee, because this is a really excellent study.

Title: Richard Adelman, Idleness, Contemplation and the Aesthetic, 1750-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Methodology: Historicist, intellectual history
Critical Context: Diverse. David Simpson, major Coleridge scholars, especially those working on the German connection (e.g. Michael John Kooy)
Thesis: The opposition between labour/activity and idleness can be rooted in a series of concerns about morality and society …

Monograph Challenge #13: Literature and Medicine in 19th Century Britain

Beginning to think I should slyly retitle this the 34 monograph challenge, but at least the summer is here now!

Title: James McLaren Caldwell, Literature and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Methodology: Broadly medical humanities, does draw on philosophical hermeneutics (especially Ricoeur)
Critical Context: Historians of medicine (Roy Porter, G.S. Rousseau, Cunningham/Jardine), Michel Foucault's theory of the clinic
Thesis: The period was deeply influenced by what Caldwell terms 'Romantic materialism', a dialectical approach in which the physical sciences and medicine provide one perspective, but moral philosophy, imagination, the mental, doctrines of spirit and even forms of theism provide a complementary one. Truth is articulated by the productive interplay of these two perspectives.

In a Nutshell: Caldwell argues that the dialectical heart of Romantic materialism is a legacy of natural theology, which understood Christian…