A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

Synopsis

This book brings together an international roster of renowned scholars from disciplines including philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary studies to address the conceptual foundations of the humanities and the question of their future. What notions of the future, of the human, and of finitude underlie recurring anxieties about the humanities in our current geopolitical situation? How can we think about the unpredictable and unthought dimensions of praxis implicit in the very notion of futurity?

The essays here argue that the uncertainty of the future represents both an opportunity for critical engagement and a matrix for invention. Broadly conceived, the notion of invention, or cultural poiesis, questions the key assumptions and tasks of a whole range of practices in the humanities, beginning with critique, artistic practices, and intellectual inquiry, and ending with technology, emancipatory politics, and ethics. The essays discuss a wide range of key figures (e.g., Deleuze, Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray), problems (e.g., becoming, kinship and the foreign, "disposable populations" within a global political economy, queerness and the death drive, the parapoetic, electronic textuality, invention and accountability, political and social reform in Latin America), disciplines and methodologies (philosophy, art and art history, visuality, political theory, criticism and critique, psychoanalysis, gender analysis, architecture, literature, art).

The volume should be required reading for all who feel a deep commitment to the humanities, its practices, and its future.

Excerpt

James J. Bono, Tim Dean, and Ewa Plonowska Ziarek

A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy brings together an interdisciplinary and international group of renowned theorists and scholars to reflect on the future of the humanities. Whereas many recent works have addressed this issue in primarily pragmatic terms, this book seeks to examine its conceptual foundations. What notions of futurity, of the human, and of finitude underlie recurring anxieties about the humanities’ future in our current geopolitical situation? How can we think about the unpredictable and unthought dimensions of praxis implicit in the very notion of futurity? What kind of agency is implied by future-oriented praxis? in what sense is such agency linked to heteronomy rather than to the autonomy of the subject?

In popular and academic publications alike, the question of the future is becoming increasingly urgent because of growing anxiety about the status of the humanities. After an extraordinary period of institutional growth from the late 1940s through the mid 1970s, the humanities have confronted two challenges: external pressures exerted by economic difficulties, and an internal crisis over its intellectual self-definition and public mission. in addition to the decline of federal funding, a shrinking job market, and the new pressures of globalization, the most significant internal challenges confronting the humanities have emerged from the hegemony of . . .

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