Thoreau's nature: ethics, politics, and the wild

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Sage Publications, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 141 pages
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Thoreau's Nature inserts a 19th century thinker into the intellectual debates of the late 20th century. Jane Bennett enters Thoreau into a series of dialogues with recent contemporary thinkers: Foucault on the question of identity and power, Donna Haraway on nature and culture, Hollywood celebrities on the Walden Woods project concerning the environment, the National Endowment for the Humanities and others regarding the relation between politics and art, and Kafka on the question of political idealism. Bennett suggests that many dimensions of Thoreau's thought exhibit "a postmodern sensibility" that crosses into the late twentieth century. Students and Scholars of Political Science, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics will find Thoreau's Nature a fascinating and unique contribution--a must read. "This remarkable book rescues Thoreau from readers intent upon reducing him to a sentimental nature-worshipper. By reexamining his writing in a series of dialogues with a wide array of postmodern critics, contemporary writers, and nature philosophers, Jane Bennett elegantly represents Thoreau as an important thinker of subtle complexity and radical insight. Bennett's reading of Thoreau is a striking achievement that will revitalize discussion about the interpretations given to the realms of 'nature' or 'wilderness' in contemporary debates about ethics and politics." --Timothy W. Luke, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University "In a graceful and personal way, Jane Bennett offers a reading of Thoreau that is fresh and intellectually provocative. Most broadly, the book is important because it is sensitive to Thoreau's claim on our attention: it shows the 'postmodern' resonance of his concerns with self-fashioning and care of self, with the experience and representation of nature, with the power and limits of art. Of more specific importance is Bennett's exploration of the political bearing of the avowedly 'antipolitical' ethos that Thoreau shapes from these concerns. In this regard, she uses her own ambivalence about Thoreau in a way that exemplifies the fruitfulness of intellectual honesty: she reads with and against Thoreau, to hold in tension his untimely idealism, and the genealogical critique she discloses in an extended discussion of Kafka. Bennett's reading of Thoreau, then, serves to articulate a political ethos that both defends and chastens political commitment. The result is a special book that theorizes politics by taking seriously the insights of literature and the practices of art." --George Shulman, The New School for Social Research This product is now available from: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Phone: 800-462-6420 Fax: 800-338-4550 http:\\www.rowmanlittlefield.com

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Contents

Techniques of the Self
16
Writing a Heteroverse
47
Art and Politics
78
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Bennett is a political theorist at Goucher College.

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