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Bet the Farm
The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America
Beth Hoffman
Island Press, 2021
“Eloquent and detailed…precise and well-thought-out...Read her book — and listen.” — Jane Smiley, The Washington Post.

Beth Hoffman was living the good life: she had a successful career as a journalist and professor, a comfortable home in San Francisco, and plenty of close friends and family. Yet in her late 40s, she and her husband decided to leave the big city and move to his family ranch in Iowa—all for the dream of becoming a farmer, to put into practice everything she had learned over decades of reporting on food and agriculture. There was just one problem: money. 

Half of America's two million farms made less than $300 in 2019. Between rising land costs, ever-more expensive equipment, the growing uncertainty of the climate, and few options for health care, farming today is a risky business. For many, simply staying afloat is a constant struggle.

Bet the Farm chronicles this struggle through Beth’s eyes as a beginning farmer. She must contend with her father-in-law, who is reluctant to hand over control of the land. Growing oats is good for the environment but ends up being very bad for the wallet. And finding somewhere, in the midst of COVID-19, to slaughter grass-finished beef is a nightmare. The couple also must balance the books, hoping that farming isn’t a romantic fantasy that takes every cent of their savings.  

Even with a decent nest egg and access to land, making ends meet at times seems impossible. And Beth knows full well that she is among the privileged. If Beth can’t make it, how can farmers who confront racism, lack access to land, or don’t have other jobs to fall back on? Bet the Farm is a first-hand account of the perils of farming today and a personal exploration of more just and sustainable ways of producing food.
 
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The Birth of Sense
Generative Passivity in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy
Don Beith
Ohio University Press, 2018

In The Birth of Sense, Don Beith proposes a new concept of generative passivity, the idea that our organic, psychological, and social activities take time to develop into sense. More than being a limit, passivity marks out the way in which organisms, persons, and interbodily systems take time in order to manifest a coherent sense. Beith situates his argument within contemporary debates about evolution, developmental biology, scientific causal explanations, psychology, postmodernism, social constructivism, and critical race theory. Drawing on empirical studies and phenomenological reflections, Beith argues that in nature, novel meaning emerges prior to any type of constituting activity or deterministic plan.

The Birth of Sense is an original phenomenological investigation in the style of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and it demonstrates that the French philosopher’s works cohere around the notion that life is radically expressive. While Merleau-Ponty’s early works are widely interpreted as arguing for the primacy of human consciousness, Beith argues that a pivotal redefinition of passivity is already under way here, and extends throughout Merleau-Ponty’s corpus. This work introduces new concepts in contemporary philosophy to interrogate how organic development involves spontaneous expression, how personhood emerges from this bodily growth, and how our interpersonal human life remains rooted in, and often thwarted by, domains of bodily expressivity.

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Commentaries on Aristotle's "On Sense and What Is Sensed" and "On Memory and Recollection" (Thomas Aquinas in Translation)
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Catholic University of America Press, 2005
The translations presented in this volume are based on the critical Leonine edition of the commentaries, which includes the Latin translations of the Aristotelian texts on which Aquinas commented.
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Communities of Sense
Rethinking Aesthetics and Politics
Beth Hinderliter, William Kaizen, Vered Maimon, Jaleh Mansoor, and Seth McCormick, eds.
Duke University Press, 2009
Communities of Sense argues for a new understanding of the relation between politics and aesthetics in today’s globalized and image-saturated world. Established and emerging scholars of art and culture draw on Jacques Rancière’s theorization of democratic politics to suggest that aesthetics, traditionally defined as the “science of the sensible,” is not a depoliticized discourse or theory of art, but instead part of a historically specific organization of social roles and communality. Rather than formulating aesthetics as the Other to politics, the contributors show that aesthetics and politics are mutually implicated in the construction of communities of visibility and sensation through which political orders emerge.

The first of the collection’s three sections explicitly examines the links between aesthetics and social and political experience. Here a new essay by Rancière posits art as a key site where disagreement can be staged in order to produce new communities of sense. In the second section, contributors investigate how sense was constructed in the past by the European avant-garde and how it is mobilized in today’s global visual and political culture. Exploring the viability of various models of artistic and political critique in the context of globalization, the authors of the essays in the volume’s final section suggest a shift from identity politics and preconstituted collectivities toward processes of identification and disidentification. Topics discussed in the volume vary from digital architecture to a makeshift museum in a Paris suburb, and from romantic art theory in the wake of Hegel to the history of the group-subject in political art and performance since 1968. An interview with Étienne Balibar rounds out the collection.

Contributors. Emily Apter, Étienne Balibar, Carlos Basualdo, T. J. Demos, Rachel Haidu, Beth Hinderliter, David Joselit, William Kaizen, Ranjanna Khanna, Reinaldo Laddaga, Vered Maimon, Jaleh Mansoor, Reinhold Martin, Seth McCormick, Yates McKee, Alexander Potts, Jacques Rancière, Toni Ross

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Developing a Sense of Place
The Role of the Arts in Regenerating Communities
Edited by Tamara Ashley and Alexis Weedon
University College London, 2020
Cultural planners, artists, and policy makers must work through the arts to create communities—and a place within them. Developing a Sense of Place brings together a series of case studies and success stories drawn from a different geographical or sociocultural contexts. Selected for their lasting effect in their local community, the case studies explore new models for opening up the relationship between universities and their surrounding regions, explicitly connecting creative, critical, and theoretical approaches to civic development. The studies cover various regions in the UK, and also areas in Brazil, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.
 
Developing a Sense of Place offers a range of viewpoints, including those of the arts strategist, the academic, the practice-researcher, and the artist. Through its innovative models, from performing arts to architectural design, the book serves diverse interests, such as the arts and cultural policy managers, master planners, and arts workers, as well as students of human geography, cultural planning, business and the creative industries, and arts administration, at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
 
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The Eyes of Faith
The Sense of the Faithful and the Church's Reception of Revelation
Ormond Rush
Catholic University of America Press, 2009
The Eyes of Faith presents a systematic theology of the sense of the faithful (sensus fidelium) and shows the fundamental and necessary interrelationship between sensus fidelium, tradition, Scripture, theology, and the magisterium.
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Friending the Past
The Sense of History in the Digital Age
Alan Liu
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Can today’s society, increasingly captivated by a constant flow of information, share a sense of history? How did our media-making forebears balance the tension between the present and the absent, the individual and the collective, the static and the dynamic—and how do our current digital networks disrupt these same balances? Can our social media, with its fleeting nature, even be considered social at all?   
          In Friending the Past, Alan Liu proposes fresh answers to these innovative questions of connection. He explores how we can learn from the relationship between past societies whose media forms fostered a communal and self-aware sense of history—such as prehistorical oral societies with robust storytelling cultures, or the great print works of nineteenth-century historicism—and our own instantaneous present. He concludes with a surprising look at how the sense of history exemplified in today’s JavaScript timelines compares to the temporality found in Romantic poetry.
          Interlaced among these inquiries, Liu shows how extensive “network archaeologies” can be constructed as novel ways of thinking about our affiliations with time and with each other. These conceptual architectures of period and age are also always media structures, scaffolded with the outlines of what we mean by history. Thinking about our own time, Liu wonders if the digital, networked future can sustain a similar sense of history.
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A Language of Its Own
Sense and Meaning in the Making of Western Art Music
Ruth Katz
University of Chicago Press, 2009

The Western musical tradition has produced not only music, but also countless writings about music that remain in continuous—and enormously influential—dialogue with their subject. With sweeping scope and philosophical depth, A Language of Its Own traces the past millennium of this ongoing exchange.

Ruth Katz argues that the indispensible relationship between intellectual production and musical creation gave rise to the Western conception of music. This evolving and sometimes conflicted process, in turn, shaped the art form itself. As ideas entered music from the contexts in which it existed, its internal language developed in tandem with shifts in intellectual and social history. Katz explores how this infrastructure allowed music to explain itself from within, creating a self-referential and rational foundation that has begun to erode in recent years.

A magisterial exploration of a frequently overlooked intersection of Western art and philosophy, A Language of Its Own restores music to its rightful place in the history of ideas.  

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Mapping the Invisible Landscape
Folklore, Writing, and the Sense of Place
Kent C. Ryden
University of Iowa Press, 1993

Any landscape has an unseen component: a subjective component of experience, memory, and narrative which people familiar with the place understand to be an integral part of its geography but which outsiders may not suspect the existence of—unless they listen and read carefully. This invisible landscape is make visible though stories, and these stories are the focus of this engrossing book.

Traveling across the invisible landscape in which we imaginatively dwell, Kent Ryden—himself a most careful listener and reader—asks the following questions. What categories of meaning do we read into our surroundings? What forms of expression serve as the most reliable maps to understanding those meanings? Our sense of any place, he argues, consists of a deeply ingrained experiential knowledge of its physical makeup; an awareness of its communal and personal history; a sense of our identity as being inextricably bound up with its events and ways of life; and an emotional reaction, positive or negative, to its meanings and memories.

Ryden demonstrates that both folk and literary narratives about place bear a striking thematic and stylistic resemblance. Accordingly, Mapping the Invisible Landscape examines both kinds of narratives. For his oral materials, Ryden provides an in-depth analysis of narratives collected in the Coeur d'Alene mining district in the Idaho panhandle; for his consideration of written works, he explores the “essay of place,” the personal essay which takes as its subject a particular place and a writer's relationship to that place.

Drawing on methods and materials from geography, folklore, and literature, Mapping the Invisible Landscape offers a broadly interdisciplinary analysis of the way we situate ourselves imaginatively in the landscape, the way we inscribe its surface with stories. Written in an extremely engaging style, this book will lead its readers to an awareness of the vital role that a sense of place plays in the formation of local cultures, to an understanding of the many-layered ways in which place interacts with individual lives, and to renewed appreciation of the places in their own lives and landscapes.

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A Place Of Sense
Essays In Search Of Midwest
Michael Martone
University of Iowa Press, 1988
Collected here are essays by Louise Erdrich, Michael Rosen, Gary Comstock, Mary Swander and Jane Staw, David Hamilton, Janet Kauffman, Douglas Bauer, and Michael Martone. Sixteen black-and-white photographs by David Plowden illustrate the sweeping territory covered in the essays. Together they bring a new understanding of the moods, emotions, people, and places that form the Midwest, proving it to be as complex and unordinarily beautiful as it is modest.
 
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Politics of Touch
Sense, Movement, Sovereignty
Erin Manning
University of Minnesota Press, 2006
Political philosophy has long been bound by traditional thinking about the body and the senses. Through an engagement with the state-centered vocabulary of this discipline, Politics of Touch explores the ways in which sensing bodies continually run up against existing political structures. In this groundbreaking work, Erin Manning reconsiders how new politics can arise that challenge the national body politic.

In Politics of Touch, Manning develops a new way to conceive the role of the senses, and of touch in particular. Exploring concepts of violence, gender, sexuality, security, democracy, and identity, she traces the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body. Specifically considering tango-a tactile, rhythmic, and improvisational dance- she foregrounds movement as the sensing body's intervention into the political. With a fresh vision and an original theoretical basis, Manning shows the ontogenetic potential of the body, and in doing so, redefines our understanding of the sense of touch in philosophical and political terms.  

Erin Manning is assistant professor of fine arts at Concordia University and the author of Ephemeral Territories (Minnesota, 2003).
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Sense and Non-Sense
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Northwestern University Press, 1992
Written between 1945 and 1947, the essays in Sense and Non-Sense provide an excellent introduction to Merleau-Ponty's thought. They summarize his previous insights and exhibit their widest range of application-in aesthetics, ethics, politics, and the sciences of man. Each essay opens new perspectives to man's search for reason.

The first part of Sense and Non-Sense, "Arts," is concerned with Merleau-Ponty's concepts of perception, which were advanced in his major philosophical treatise, Phenomenology of Perception. Here the analysis is focused and enriched in descriptions of the perceptual world of Cezanne, the encounter with the Other as expressed in the novels of Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre, and the gestalt quality of experience brought out in the film art form. In the second part, "Ideas," Merleau-Ponty shows how the categories of the phenomenology of perception can be understood as an outgrowth of the behavioral sciences and how a model of existence based on perception sensitizes us to the insights and limitations of previous philosophies and suggests constructive criticisms of contemporary philosophy. The third part, "Politics," clarifies the political dilemmas facing intellectuals in postwar France.
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Sense and Sensibility
An Annotated Edition
Jane Austen
Harvard University Press, 2013

Sense and Sensibility (1811) marked the auspicious debut of a novelist identified only as “A Lady.” Jane Austen’s name has since become as familiar as Shakespeare’s, and her tale of two sisters has lost none of its power to delight. Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of the richness of Austen’s delineation of her heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. On display again in the editor’s running commentary are the wit and light touch that delighted readers of Spacks’s Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition.

In her notes, Spacks elucidates language and allusions that have become obscure (What are Nabobs? When is rent day?), draws comparisons to Austen’s other work and to that of her precursors, and gives an idea of how other critics have seen the novel. In her introduction and annotations, she explores Austen’s sympathy with both Elinor and Marianne, the degree to which the sisters share “sense” and “sensibility,” and how they must learn from each other. Both manage to achieve security and a degree of happiness by the novel’s end. Austen’s romance, however, reveals darker overtones, and Spacks does not leave unexamined the issue of the social and psychological restrictions of women in Austen’s era.

As with other volumes in Harvard’s series of Austen novels, Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition comes handsomely illustrated with numerous color reproductions that vividly recreate Austen’s world. This will be an especially welcome addition to the library of any Janeite.

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Sense, Nonsense, and Subjectivity
Markus Gabriel
Harvard University Press, 2024

A leading German philosopher offers his most ambitious work yet on the nature of knowledge, arguing that being wrong about things defines the human condition.

For millennia, philosophers have dedicated themselves to advancing understanding of the nature of truth and reality. In the process they have amassed a great deal of epistemological theory—knowledge about knowledge. But negative epistemological phenomena, such as ignorance, falsity, illusion, and delusion, are persistently overlooked. This is surprising given that we all know how fallible humans are.

Sense, Nonsense, and Subjectivity replies with a theory of false thought, demonstrating that being wrong about things is part and parcel of subjectivity itself. For this reason, knowledge can never be secured without our making claims that can always, in principle, be wrong. Even in successful cases, where we get something right and thereby gain knowledge, the possibility of failure lingers with us. Markus Gabriel grounds this argument in a novel account of the relationship between sense, nonsense, and subjectivity—phenomena that hang together in the temporal unfolding of our cognitive lives.

While most philosophers continue to theorize subjectivity in terms of conscious self-representation and the supposedly infallible grip we have on ourselves as thinkers, Sense, Nonsense, and Subjectivity addresses the age-old Platonic challenge to understand situations in which we do not get reality right. Adding a stimulating perspective on epistemic failures to the work of New Realism, Gabriel addresses long-standing ontological questions in an age where the line between the real and the fake is increasingly blurred.

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A Sense of Arrival
Kevin Adonis Browne
Duke University Press, 2024

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The Sense of Brown
José Esteban Muñoz. Edited and with an Introduction by Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong'o
Duke University Press, 2020
The Sense of Brown is José Esteban Muñoz's treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. In this book, which he was completing at the time of his death, Muñoz examines the work of playwrights Ricardo Bracho and Nilo Cruz, artists Nao Bustamante, Isaac Julien, and Tania Bruguera, and singer José Feliciano, among others, arguing for a sense of brownness that is not fixed within the racial and national contours of Latinidad. This sense of brown is not about the individualized brown subject; rather, it demonstrates that for brown peoples, being exists within what Muñoz calls the brown commons—a lifeworld, queer ecology, and form of collectivity. In analyzing minoritarian affect, ethnicity as a structure of feeling, and brown feelings as they emerge in, through, and beside art and performance, Muñoz illustrates how the sense of brown serves as the basis for other ways of knowing and being in the world.
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A Sense of Brutality
Philosophy after Narco-Culture
Carlos Alberto Sánchez
Amherst College Press, 2020
Contemporary popular culture is riddled with references to Mexican drug cartels, narcos, and drug trafficking. In the United States, documentary filmmakers, journalists, academics, and politicians have taken note of the increasing threats to our security coming from a subculture that appears to feed on murder and brutality while being fed by a romanticism about power and capital. Carlos Alberto Sánchez uses Mexican narco-culture as a point of departure for thinking about the nature and limits of violence, culture, and personhood. A Sense of Brutality argues that violent cultural modalities, of which narco-culture is but one, call into question our understanding of “violence” as a concept. The reality of narco-violence suggests that “violence” itself is insufficient to capture it, that we need to redeploy and reconceptualize “brutality” as a concept that better captures this reality. Brutality is more than violence, other to cruelty, and distinct from horror and terror—all concepts that are normally used interchangeably with brutality, but which, as the analysis suggests, ought not to be. In narco-culture, the normalization of brutality into everyday life is a condition upon which the absolute erasure or derealization of people is made possible.

"The study is original, bringing a wide range of voices into dialogue to present a problem that is pressing and deserving of careful analysis. The study will contribute to the field of Latin American philosophy in important ways... This is the only book by a philosopher on the topic of narco-culture, and I think it’s an important contribution to a topic that should be addressed by philosophers." —Elizabeth Millán, DePaul University
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Sense of History
The Place of the Past in American Life
David Glassberg
University of Massachusetts Press, 2001
As Americans enter the new century, their interest in the past has never been greater. In record numbers they visit museums and historic sites, attend commemorative ceremonies and festivals, watch historically based films, and reconstruct family genealogies. The question is, Why? What are Americans looking for when they engage with the past? And how is it different from what scholars call "history"? In this book, David Glassberg surveys the shifting boundaries between the personal, public, and professional uses of the past and explores their place in the broader cultural landscape. Each chapter investigates a specific encounter between Americans and their history: the building of a pacifist war memorial in a rural Massachusetts town; the politics behind the creation of a new historical festival in San Francisco; the letters Ken Burns received in response to his film series on the Civil War; the differing perceptions among black and white residents as to what makes an urban neighborhood historic; and the efforts to identify certain places in California as worthy of commemoration. Along the way, Glassberg reflects not only on how Americans understand and use the past, but on the role of professional historians in that enterprise. Combining the latest research on American memory with insights gained from Glassberg's more than twenty years of personal experience in a variety of public history projects, Sense of History offers stimulating reading for all who care about the future of history in America.
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A Sense of Order
And Other Stories
Jack Harrell
Signature Books, 2010
The author asks a big question: Who is responsible? One person in need of this information is Lon, who wonders why his marriage is falling apart. Lon thought his wife would re-initiate intimacy at some point. She doesn’t, and he sets out to find the man he thinks stands between them but only finds an apparition—and he still can’t fix his marriage.

In another story, the LDS prophet is drawn to s simpler time when he could wander out unnoticed and buy a candy bar. Church Security won’t let him outside on his own and Public Relations won’t let him wear anything but a suit and tie. Still, the impulse to be a regular guy for an afternoon is compelling. Can’t he make his own decisions? He can, but what are the consequences?

And then there’s Jerry, who passes three men in suits who are talking and laughing at the loading dock behind an LDS temple. One of them looks up, drops a cigarette and crushes it, then slips into a nearby car. Another man—someone who has made Jerry’s life miserable—taunts him, saying: “Jerry, your goodness is your enemy …and tell all your friends.” Who is responsible? Maybe it’s the author’s reverie that’s to blame, but his stories have a way of getting deep inside the psyche and haunting us.  
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A Sense of Place
The Artist And The American Land
Alan Gussow; Introduction by Richard Wilbur
Island Press, 1997

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A Sense of Place
The Life and Work of Forrest Shreve
Janice Emily Bowers
University of Arizona Press, 1988
Forrest Shreve (1878-1950) was an internationally known plant ecologist who spent most of his career at the Carnegie Institution's Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Shreve's contributions to the study of plant ecology laid the groundwork for modern studies and several of his works came to be regarded as classics by ecologists worldwide. This first full-length study of Shreve's life and work demonstrates that he was more than a desert ecologist. His early work in Maryland and Jamaica gave him a breadth of expertise matched by few of his ecological contemporaries, and his studies of desert plant demography, the physiological ecology of rain-forest plants, and vegetational gradients on southwestern mountain ranges anticipated by decades recent trends in ecology.

Tracing Shreve's development from student to scientist, Bowers evokes the rigors and delights of fieldwork in the first half of this century and shows how Shreve's sense of place informed his scientific thought—making him, in his own words, "not an exile from some better place, but a man at home in an environment to which his life can be adjusted without physical or intellectual loss."
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A Sense of Place
The Political Landscape in Late Medieval Japan
David Spafford
Harvard University Press, 2013

A Sense of Place examines the vast Kanto region as a locus of cultural identity and an object of familial attachment during the political and military turmoil of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in Japan. Through analysis of memoirs, letters, chronicles, poetry, travelogues, lawsuits, land registers, and archeological reports, David Spafford explores the relationships of the eastern elites to the space they inhabited: he considers the region both as a whole, in its literary representations and political and administrative dimensions, and as an aggregation of discrete locales, where struggles over land rights played out alongside debates about the meaning of ties between families and their holdings. Spafford also provides the first historical account in English of medieval castle building and the castellan revolution of the late fifteenth century, which militarized the countryside and radically transformed the exercise of authority over territory.

Simultaneously, the book reinforces a sense of the eastern elite's anxieties and priorities, detailing how, in their relation to land and place, local elites displayed a preference for past precedent and inherited wisdom. Even amidst the changes wrought by war, this inclination, although quite at odds with their conventional reputation for ruthless pragmatism and forward thinking, prevailed.

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The Sense of Sound, Volume 22
Rey Chow
Duke University Press
Sound has given rise to many rich theoretical reflections, but when compared to the study of images, the study of sound continues to be marginalized. How is the “sense” of sound constituted and elaborated linguistically, textually, technologically, phenomenologically, and geologically, as well as acoustically? How is sound grasped as an object? Considering sound both within and beyond the scope of the human senses, contributors from literature, film, music, philosophy, anthropology, media and communication, and science and technology studies address topics that range from Descartes’s resonant subject to the gendering of hearing physiology in the nineteenth century, Cold War politics and the opera Nixon in China, sounds from the Mediterranean, the poetics of signal processing, and the acousmatic voice in the age of MP3s. In the interpretive challenges posed by voice, noise, antinoise, whispering, near inaudibility, and silence and in the frequent noncoincidence of emission and reception, sound confronts us with what might be called its inhuman qualities—its irreducibility to meaning, to communication, to information, and even to recognition and identification.

Rey Chow is Anne Firor Scott Professor of Literature at Duke University. She is the author of The Age of the World Target and Modern Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies in the Age of Theory, both published by Duke University Press.

James A. Steintrager is Professor and Chair of English at the University of California, Irvine.

Contributors: Caroline Bassett, Eugenie Brinkema, Iain Chambers, Michel Chion, Rey Chow, Mladen Dolar, Veit Erlmann, Evan Johnson, Christopher Lee, Mara Mills, John Mowitt, Dominic Pettman, Tara Rodgers, Nicholas Seaver, James A. Steintrager, Jonathan Sterne,

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The Sense of the World
Nancy, Jean-Luc
University of Minnesota Press, 1998
An essential exploration of sense and meaning.

Is there a “world” anymore, let alone any “sense” to it? Acknowledging the lack of meaning in our time, and the lack of a world at the center of meanings we try to impose, Jean-Luc Nancy presents a rigorous critique of the many discourses-from philosophy and political science to psychoanalysis and art history-that talk and write their way around these gaping absences in our lives.

In an original style befitting his search for a new mode of thought, Nancy offers fragmentary readings of writers such as Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx, Lévinas, Lacan, Derrida, and Deleuze insofar as their work reflects his concern with sense and the world. Rather than celebrate or bemoan the loss of meaning or attempt to install a new one, his book seeks to reposition both sense and the world between the presence and absence of meaning, between objectivity and subjectivity. Nancy’s project entails a reconception of the field of philosophy itself, a rearticulation of philosophical practice. Neither recondite nor abstract, it is concerned with the existence and experience of freedom-the actuality of existence as experienced by contemporary communities of citizens, readers, and writers.

Combining aesthetic, political, and philosophical considerations to convey a sense of the world between meaning and reality, ideal content and material form, this book offers a new way of understanding-and responding to-“the end of the world.”  

Jean-Luc Nancy teaches at the University of Human Sciences in Strasbourg. His books in English include The Literary Absolute (with Philip Lacoue-Labarthe, 1988), The Inoperative Community (Minnesota, 1991), The Birth to Presence (1993), The Experience of Freedom (1993), and The Muses (1996).

Jeffrey S. Librett is associate professor of modern languages and literatures at Loyola University of Chicago.
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A Sense of Things
The Object Matter of American Literature
Bill Brown
University of Chicago Press, 2003
In May 1906, the Atlantic Monthly commented that Americans live not merely in an age of things, but under the tyranny of them, and that in our relentless effort to sell, purchase, and accumulate things, we do not possess them as much as they possess us. For Bill Brown, the tale of that possession is something stranger than the history of a culture of consumption. It is the story of Americans using things to think about themselves.

Brown's captivating new study explores the roots of modern America's fascination with things and the problem that objects posed for American literature at the turn of the century. This was an era when the invention, production, distribution, and consumption of things suddenly came to define a national culture. Brown shows how crucial novels of the time made things not a solution to problems, but problems in their own right. Writers such as Mark Twain, Frank Norris, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Henry James ask why and how we use objects to make meaning, to make or remake ourselves, to organize our anxieties and affections, to sublimate our fears, and to shape our wildest dreams. Offering a remarkably new way to think about materialism, A Sense of Things will be essential reading for anyone interested in American literature and culture.
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A Sense of Urgency
How the Climate Crisis Is Changing Rhetoric
Debra Hawhee
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A study of how the climate crisis is changing human communication from a celebrated rhetorician.
 

Why is it difficult to talk about climate change? Debra Hawhee argues that contemporary rhetoric relies on classical assumptions about humanity and history that cannot conceive of the present crisis. How do we talk about an unprecedented future or represent planetary interests without privileging our own species? A Sense of Urgency explores four emerging answers, their sheer novelty a record of both the devastation and possible futures of climate change. In developing the arts of magnitude, presence, witness, and feeling, A Sense of Urgency invites us to imagine new ways of thinking with our imperiled planet.
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Surveying The Interior
Literary Cartographers And The Sense Of Place
Rick Van Noy
University of Nevada Press, 2003

From a cartographer who wrote to a writer who mapped, the literary significance of surveying is revealed in this study of human relationships to the landscape. From the very beginning, American literature was closely intertwined with surveying. In Surveying the Interior, Rick Van Noy explores the ways that four American literary cartographers—Henry David Thoreau, Clarence King, John Wesley Powell, and Wallace Stegner—concerned themselves with what it means to map or survey a place and what it means to write about it. In the process, he helps define the ways by which space enters the human psyche as definable place, as well as the ways by which physical landscape is transmuted into a sense of place as an intimate, personal manifestation of both physical and existential realities.

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Symmetry and Sense
The Poetry of Sir Philip Sidney
By Robert L. Montgomery
University of Texas Press, 1961

Few Elizabethans left the image of their personalities cut so deeply into the Renaissance imagination as did Sir Philip Sidney. Widely admired in his own time, Sidney must seem to the modern reader almost universally accomplished. His talents as courtier, diplomat, soldier, scholar, novelist, and poet are history.

Almost immediately after Sidney's death in battle against the Spaniards in the Low Countries, the process of legend began, and the legend has survived, sometimes obscuring the facts. The versatile "Renaissance man" has become, in the eyes of some critics, the romantic lover whose frustrations and despair found release in the "confessional" form of the sonnet sequence, Astrophel and Stella, and in other poems. To show these poems to be consciously constructed works of art, not simply passionate outbursts of romantic emotion, is one aim of this study.

The author examines Sidney as poet and critic, concentrating his study on rhetorical technique and poetic rhythm and form. He shows Sidney experimenting with the symmetrical possibilities of rhythm and phrase; practicing the ornateness current and acceptable in his day. He examines Sidney's comment on such a style in The Defense of Poesy and the ways in which the poet's own work agreed with or departed from his expressed opinions. He also balances Sidney's poetry against the powerful tradition of Petrarchan love literature and the equally powerful Renaissance impulse to subject passion to the rule of reason. Finally, in an extended analysis of Astrophel and Stella, he shows Sidney as the master of a plainer, wittier, more subtly fashioned style and a complex, more dramatically immediate form. What emerges from the study is not the personality of the poet, but the principles of his art and the value of his achievement in the mainstream of English Renaissance verse.

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front cover of A Theology of Sense
A Theology of Sense
John Updike, Embodiment, and Late Twentieth-Century American Literature
Scott Dill
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
Scott Dill’s A Theology of Sense: John Updike, Embodiment, and Late Twentieth-Century American Literature brings together theology, aesthetics, and the body, arguing that Updike, a central figure in post-1945 American literature, deeply embeds in his work questions of the body and the senses with questions of theology. Dill offers new understandings not only of the work of Updike—which is importantly being revisited since the author’s death in 2009—but also new understandings of the relationship between aesthetics, religion, and physical experience.

Dill explores Updike’s unique literary legacy in order to argue for a genuinely postsecular theory of aesthetic experience. Each chapter takes up one of the five senses and its relation to broader theoretical concerns: affect, subjectivity, ontology, ethics, and theology. While placing Updike’s work in relation to other late twentieth-century American writers, Dill explains their notions of embodiment and uses them to render a new account of postsecular aesthetics. No other novelist has portrayed mere sense experience as carefully, as extensively, or as theologically—repeatedly turning to the doctrine of creation as his stylistic justification. Across this examination of his many stories, novels, poems, and essays, Dill proves that Updike forces us to reconsider the power of literature to revitalize sense experience as a theological question.
 
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front cover of Weird City
Weird City
Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas
By Joshua Long
University of Texas Press, 2010

Austin, Texas, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, is experiencing one of the most dynamic periods in its history. Wedged between homogenizing growth and a long tradition of rebellious nonconformity, many Austinites feel that they are in the midst of a battle for the city's soul.

From this struggle, a movement has emerged as a form of resistance to the rapid urban transformation brought about in recent years: "Keep Austin Weird" originated in 2000 as a grassroots expression of place attachment and anti-commercialization. Its popularity has led to its use as a rallying cry for local business, as a rhetorical tool by city governance, and now as the unofficial civic motto for a city experiencing rapid growth and transformation.

By using "Keep Austin Weird" as a central focus, Joshua Long explores the links between sense of place, consumption patterns, sustainable development, and urban politics in Austin. Research on this phenomenon considers the strong influence of the "Creative Class" thesis on Smart Growth strategies, gentrification, income inequality, and social polarization made popular by the works of Richard Florida. This study is highly applicable to several emerging "Creative Cities," but holds special significance for the city considered the greatest creative success story, Austin.

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