Fall 2017/Winter 2018
William Mazarella (Anthropology)
The Mana of Mass Society
We often invoke the "magic" of mass media to describe seductive advertising or charismatic politicians. In The Mana of Mass Society, William Mazzarella asks what happens to social theory if we take that idea seriously. How would it change our understanding of publicity, propaganda, love, and power? Mazzarella reconsiders the concept of "mana," which served in early anthropology as a troubled bridge between "primitive" ritual and the fascination of mass media. Thinking about mana, Mazzarella shows, means rethinking some of our most fundamental questions: What powers authority? What in us responds to it? Is the mana that animates an Aboriginal ritual the same as the mana that infuses a rioting crowd, a television audience, or an internet public? At the intersection of anthropology and critical theory, The Mana of Mass Society brings recent conversations around affect, sovereignty, and emergence into creative contact with classic debates on religion, charisma, ideology, and aesthetics.
Robert B. Pippin (Social Thought)
The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness
On the surface, The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness, is a close reading of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece Vertigo. This, however, is a book by Robert B. Pippin, one of our most penetrating and creative philosophers, and so it is also much more. Even as he provides detailed readings of each scene in the film, and its story of obsession and fantasy, Pippin reflects more broadly on the modern world depicted in Hitchcock's films. Hitchcock's characters, Pippin shows us, repeatedly face problems and dangers rooted in our general failure to understand others--or even ourselves--very well, or to make effective use of what little we do understand. Vertigo, with its impersonations, deceptions, and fantasies, embodies a general, common struggle for mutual understanding in the late modern social world of ever more complex dependencies. By treating this problem through a filmed fictional narrative, rather than discursively, Pippin argues, Hitchcock is able to help us see the systematic and deep mutual misunderstanding and self-deceit that we are subject to when we try to establish the knowledge necessary for love, trust, and commitment, and what it might be to live in such a state of unknowingness. A bold, brilliant exploration of one of the most admired works of cinema, The Philosophical Hitchcock will lead philosophers and cinephiles alike to a new appreciation of Vertigo and its meanings.
Ruth Bloch Rubin (Political Science)
Building the Bloc : Intraparty Organization in the U.S. Congress
Traversing more than a century of American history, this book advances a new theory of congressional organization to explain why and how party dissidents rely on institutions of their own making, arguing that these intraparty organizations can radically shift the balance of power between party leaders and rank-and-file members. Intraparty organizations empower legislators of varying ideological stripes to achieve collective and coordinated action by providing selective incentives to cooperative members, transforming public-good policies into excludable accomplishments, and helping members to institute rules and procedures to promote group decision making. Drawing on rich archival evidence and interview data, the book details the challenges dissident lawmakers encounter when they face off against party leaders and their efforts to organize in response. Eight case studies complicate our understanding of landmark fights over rules reform, early twentieth-century economic struggles, mid-century battles over civil rights legislation, and contemporary debates over national health care and fiscal policy.
Ada Palmer (History)
Seven Surrenders, publication date: 11.28.17
The second volume of the Terra Ignota series, Seven Surrenders continues Mycroft Canner’s history begun in Too Like the Lightning. In 2454, the leaders of the great globe-spanning Hives, which have replaced geographic nations, have long conspired to keep the world stable, but that balance is giving way. In the face of global collapse a prostitute, a noble king, a despised criminal, a theological spy, and a hive of techno-utopian future-builders seek for a rumored miracle child in search of answers.
Shot through with astonishing invention, Ada Palmer's Seven Surrenders is the next movement in one of the great SF epics of our time.
Will to Battle, publication date: 12.05.17
The Will to Battle is the third book in the Terra Ignota series. In Books 1 and 2, convict Mycroft brought us his history of the seven days of change that remade the world. Now starts his chronicle of the days that follow, reporting the events at the start of the new world, as the remnants of the old cling to the structures of their civilization and maneuver for advantage in the new order.
Description: Both books are part of the three-volume Terra Ignota fictional series written by Ada Palmer:
- Too Like the Lightning
- Seven Surrenders
- The Will to Battle