Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Autumn 2007

Volume 34 Issue 1
    • 1Lauren Berlant
    • What does it matter who one is? The essays in this number effect a stunning range of consequences by asking the question and shifting even the simplest grounds within norms of case‐study personhood. Stephanie Brooks’s brilliant valentine cover provides its own staging of this, in a threateningly cheerful marriage of assurance and demand: “I love you whoever you are wherever you are. You know who you are and you know what I mean!”

      Lauren Berlant is coeditor of Critical Inquiry, George M. Pullman Professor of English, and director of the Lesbian and Gay Studies Project of the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago. Her next book is The Female Complaint (2008).

    • 5Candace Vogler
    • Individuality is not the only ethical topic. Individualist moral psychology is not the whole of moral psychology.53 Even if Armstrong is right and reading gives us our first experience of individuality’s promise and pleasures, exploring the place and status of these will take us off the page. In short, whether or not “moral thinking lives and breathes” in novels, practical reason—reason in and toward action—does not.

      · 53. For a splendid example of anti‐individualist moral psychology, see Thompson, “Two Forms of Practical Generality,” in Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier, ed. Christopher W. Morris and Arthur Ripstein (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 121–52.

      See also: Candace Vogler, Sex and Talk  ·  Tommie Shelby, The Ethics of Uncle Tom's Children

      Candace Vogler is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Reasonably Vicious (2002) and essays in ethics, social and political philosophy, and other areas. Her research interests are in practical philosophy (particularly the strand of work in moral philosophy indebted to Elizabeth Anscombe), practical reason, Kant’s ethics, Marx, and neo‐Aristotelian naturalism.

    • 36Carolyn Steedman
    • Historians are still routinely criticized for their slaphappy use of incorrect terminology to describe what they have found in the past. In particular it is claimed that they (we) still persist in understanding class and classes as material, objective things, existing before people come to have consciousness of them. Many histories have been written according to that plotline in which the classes that emerged in relationship to each other and to an economic order during the very long Western transition to capitalist modernity determine “the fundamental shape of culture and ‘consciousness.’”6 It must be annoying indeed to some to find class under other names in places and times earlier than it is supposed to have emerged (in the nineteenth century, in relation to industrial capitalism and the factory system).7 The persistence of this “old” social history, in which a class system provokes both social relations and thoughts and feelings about them, is powerful and clearly more irritating to some fellow historians than it is to other social scientists, some of whom have proceeded along a quite separate theoretical track to produce an understanding of class as a source of subjectivity and identity—as a lived, embodied story (sometimes of self‐loathing, a sense of not being at home in the world) scored deep on the body and the mind.

      · 6. Patrick Joyce, introduction to Class, ed. Joyce (Oxford, 1995), p. 8.

      · 7. Michael Sonenscher finds much evidence of workers’ ability to “recognise their common condition. If, in the nineteenth century (to put it crudely) that common condition found its expression in a range of terms associated with the concept of class, in the eighteenth century it found its expression in a range of terms associated with rights” (Michael Sonenscher, Work and Wages: Natural Law, Politics, and the Eighteenth‐Century French Trades [Cambridge, 1989], p. 74).

      See also: Steve Hindle, Representing Rural Society: Labor, Leisure, and the Landscape in an Eighteenth-Century Conversation Piece

      Carolyn Steedman is professor of history at the University of Warwick. Her recent publications include Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (2001) and Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age (2007).

    • 78Ian Hacking
    • We are obsessed with good health. Hence we are preoccupied with having our bodies in good working order. Working order? That is a very mechanical way of putting it. Machines have working parts. One of my themes is that we are returning to an increasingly mechanical view of the body. Our organs—such as the heart or the kidneys—are big parts of our bodies. Our genes are often thought of as tiny parts, although the image of a gene as a physical entity in our cells is increasingly strained. When we are in good shape, all our body parts work well. Until recently both types of body part, large and small, constituted different aspects of our bodily essence. In different ways they were inseparable from our selves. We could not do much about them. Now we can.

      See also: Fernando Vidal, Brains, Bodies, Selves, and Science: Anthropologies of Identity and the Resurrection of the Body  ·  Ian Hacking, Two Souls in One Body

      Ian Hacking is an emeritus professor at the Collège de France, where he held the chair of Philosophy and History of Scientific Concepts, and the University of Toronto, where he was a University Professor. Among his many books are Historical Ontology, The Taming of Chance, Mad Travelers, and The Social Construction of What?

    • 106Jennifer L. Fleissner
    • What most sets apart the recent array of novels about compulsion from their clinical counterparts, then, is their interest in both sides of what we might call this alternative framing of the dialectics of modernity. For them, what fascinates about OCD is both its hyperbolic quest for control and its equal certainty of that quest’s abyssal character (that is, the two poles of modernity itself rather than a purely technicist modernity in tension with its irrational “other,” as for Adorno and Horkheimer). Moreover, in these texts’ refusal to reduce obsessional symptoms to the robotic opposite of creativity, excess, and even pleasure, they allow those symptoms a generative force as well as a simply reactive one. This version of the creative impulse may have little in common with the Adorno and Horkheimer take on literature in a positivist modernity as what escapes the logic of “numbers”;21 Bender’s An Invisible Sign of My Own, for example, is very much about the strange passions evoked by numbers themselves. As such, however, these dispatches from the frontiers of obsession may more successfully be able to pose a challenge to the unusually reductive recent psychological accounts from within.

      · 21. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, “The Concept of Enlightenment,” Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (1944; New York, 1982), p. 7.

      See also: Jean and John Comaroff, Criminal Obsessions, after Foucault: Postcoloniality, Policing, and the Metaphysics of Disorder  ·  Stanley Cavell, Postscript (1989): To Whom It May Concern

      Jennifer L. Fleissner is associate professor of English at Indiana University in Bloomington. She is the author of Women, Compulsion, Modernity: The Moment of American Naturalism (2004). She is working on two new projects, one on appetite and identity in the moderinizing U.S. and one on literary and scientific inquiries into “maladies of the will” from the early nineteenth century to the present.

    • 135Richard Neer
    • Histoire(s) makes many assertions but few real arguments: its claim to history takes the form of demonstration, not discourse. Hour after hour, images combine and recombine in such a way that formal and thematic interconnections become fleetingly apparent. This montage constitutes, in and of itself, Godard’s historical exercise. In the context of the present number, itself a compendium of specimens, Histoire(s) is a case among others: an instance of nondiscursive historiography. But it is a special case insofar as its reduction of historiography to montage presses the question of what (if anything) counts as evidence in a history of, or from, images. What justifies the conceit that a picture or a clip of film can instance historical or cultural processes?

      See also: Richard Neer, Connoisseurship and the Stakes of Style  ·  Françoise Meltzer, The Hands of Simone Weil

      Richard Neer, a coeditor of Critical Inquiry, is David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Humanities, Art History, and the College at the University of Chicago. His latest book is Theory of Sculpture: The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greece (forthcoming).

    • 174Carlo Ginzburg
    • So it was Kracauer himself who identified the continuity between history (in the double sense of process and narration or res gestae and historia rerum gestarum) and photography (broadly conceived so as to include film) as the bridge between the first and second phases of his output, which are divided by his experience of exile. One can hardly overlook such a declaration, though Kristeller implicitly does so when he contrasts the posthumous book on history with the earlier writings. Still, it remains to determine what the statement means, as the passage I just quoted sets side by side, without much emphasis, history and historicism (Historismus). Such a juxtaposition does not sit well with the criticisms to which Kracauer consistently subjected historicism. Both the continuity and the juxtaposition encapsulated in the adverb already are therefore debatable. Is this a tiny contradiction to be blamed on the incomplete state of the manuscript, or is it a clue to the existence of an unresolved issue in Kracauer’s thought?

      See also: Carlo Ginzberg, Microhistory: Two or Three Things That I Know about It  ·  Miriam Hansen, With Skin and Hair’: Kracauer’s Theory of Film, Marseille 1940

      Carlo Ginzburg has taught at the University of Bologna and the University of California, Los Angeles. He now teaches at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. The Italian version of this essay appears in Il filo e le tracce: Vero falso finto (2006). S. R. Gilbert is writing an opera about Lord Elgin and the Parthenon marbles.

    • 190Rebecca Zorach
    • In this paper I propose what I believe is a compelling new interpretation of Botticelli’s famous painting. Suspicious of the impulse to find answers to a picture’s mysteries in a single detail, however, I use my interpretation as a point of departure to ask a new set of questions—about the relationship of art to philosophy, of eros to power, and about the gaps that remain when we reduce art‐historical methods to a conflict between formalism and historicism or between iconology and social history. The seeds of my interpretation appear in the works of those mid‐twentieth‐century scholars who made the painting into an object lesson in iconological interpretation. Before addressing the painting directly, however, I begin with a case study of a different sort, drawn from the context in which these same interpretive methods developed. In contrast to the apparent beauty and harmony of the Primavera, this will be a case study in conflict: specifically, that of Wind’s debates with “Chicago school” critics and Great Books advocates in his brief stay at the University of Chicago in the 1940s. Wind will also be my chief interlocutor in considering Botticelli’s painting. The lectures that were to form his Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance were given across the U.S., and at Chicago they became part of a controversy whose details highlight broader issues at stake in midcentury debates in American education. I hope to show here how these pedagogical issues can illuminate the “mysteries” Wind studied in his 1958 book. The painting, in turn, prompts a reconsideration of the status of the early modern image and the quandary of art history’s own complicity with the power and violence that produces, sometimes, things of beauty.

      See also: Robert Pippin, What Was Abstract Art? (From the Point of View of Hegel)  ·  Jas' Elsner, From Empirical Evidence to the Big Picture: Some Reflections on Riegl’s Concept of Kunstwollen

      Rebecca Zorach is an associate professor of art history and the college at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance (2005). She is currently working on an exhibition on early modern prints of Rome and an essay on relations between France and Thailand in the late seventeenth century.