This volume addresses a perceived opposition between philosophy and critical theory on the one hand, and culture or cultural studies on the other. It seeks to revalidate critical work that develops a philosophy of culture and a culturally historical philosophy. The contributors develop such cultural work by comparing Romantic, modern, and/or contemporary notions of individuality and society and by considering ways of thinking about the dynamics of autonomy and collectivity on which culture depends. Manu Chander discusses the perpetual antagonism of Kant's philosophical aesthetic and Bourdieu's cultural sociology; J. Hillis Miller examines contrasting senses of the performative in cultural studies and philosophy; Thomas Pfau explores the contrary relationship between nineteenth-century European liberalism and pessimistic notions of freedom; and Daniel Tiffany argues that an affinity-based model of culture may be understood through a dialogue between Leibniz's monadic thought and the "placeless places" of modern nightlife. All of these contributions suggest that culture is less about intentionality or a coherent group of people and more about a network of habits, ideas, and enigmatic affiliations. The difficulty of construing the relations between deliberate practices and their non-deliberate outcomes underlies each of the papers in this volume; a philosophy of culture and a culturally historical philosophy best address such difficulty.
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About the Romantic Circles Praxis Series
The Romantic Circles Praxis Series is devoted to using computer technologies for the contemporary critical investigation of the languages, cultures, histories, and theories of Romanticism. Tracking the circulation of Romanticism within these interrelated domains of knowledge, RCPS recognizes as its conceptual terrain a world where Romanticism has, on the one hand, dissolved as a period and an idea into a plurality of discourses and, on the other, retained a vigorous, recognizable hold on the intellectual and theoretical discussions of today. RCPS is committed to mapping out this terrain with the best and mo st exciting critical writing of contemporary Romanticist scholarship.
About the Contributors
Rei Terada is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. Her books include Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the 'Death of the Subject' (Harvard UP, 2001) and Looking Away: Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno (Harvard UP, forthcoming).
Manu Samriti Chander is a doctoral candidate in English at Brown University, where he is completing his dissertation, "Romantic Universalism: Aesthetics, Alterity, and the Making of Literature in Britain." His research examines the relationship between aesthetic theory and orientalism in the nineteenth century.
Ted Underwood is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of The Work of the Sun: Literature, Science, and Economics, 1760-1860. This essay is related to a work in progress on the prestige of limited historical knowledge.
A native of Germany, Thomas Pfau began his academic career in 1980 as a student of History and Literature at the University of Constance. In 1982, he came to the U.S. where, at UC-Irvine, he joined the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature and Theory. In 1985, he continued his studies in the Comparative Literature Program at SUNY-Buffalo where he received his Ph.D. in 1989 with a dissertation on self-consciousness in Romantic poetry and theory (Wordsworth, Shelley, et al.). Since then, his main interests have broadened to include a large array of Romantic writers—philosophical, literary, historical—in England and Germany. His published work has explored such questions as paranoia as a mediation of historically induced anxiety (in Blake, Godwin and the 1794 Treason Trials); moral speech as performance (in Hegel and J. L. Austin); problems of historicism in contemporary Romantic Studies and the work of Walter Benjamin; the Romantic conception of textual interpretation (in Schleiermacher). Besides translating and editing two volumes of theoretical writings by Hölderlin and Schelling, he also edited two essay collections on English Romanticism. Following his 1997 book, Wordsworth's Profession (Stanford UP), his most recent study of English and German Romanticism, entitled Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1794-1840 is forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press
J. Hillis Miller is UCI Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature and English, University of California at Irvine. His latest books include Speech Acts in Literature and Literature as Conduct: Speech Acts in Henry James. His For Derrida is forthcoming from Fordham University Press. He is writing books on communities in literature.
Daniel Tiffany is the the author of two books of criticism, Radio Corpse and Toy Medium, as well as a book of poetry, Puppet Wardrobe. He teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.