How Literature Changes the Way We Think

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Dec 1, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
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The capacity of the arts and the humanities, and of literature in particular, to have a meaningful societal impact has been increasingly undervalued in recent history. Both humanists and scientists have tended to think of the arts as a means to represent the world via imagination. Mack maintains that the arts do not merely describe our world but that they also have the unique and underappreciated power to make us aware of how we can change accustomed forms of perception and action.

Mack explores the works of prominent writers and thinkers, including Nietzsche, Foucault, Benjamin, Wilde, Roth, and Zizek, among others, to illustrate how literature interacts with both people and political as well as scientific issues of the real world. By virtue of its distance from the real world-its virtuality-the aesthetic has the capability to help us explore different and so far unthinkable forms of action and thereby to resist the repetition and perpetuation of harmful practices such as stereotyping, stigma, exclusion, and the exertion of violence.

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Reimagining the
Revisiting Torture and Torment
Change and the Politics of Life
Self and Substance
The Birth of Literature
The Birth of Politics out of Literature
A Conclusion

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About the author (2011)

Michael Mack (PhD. Cambridge) is Reader in English Literature and Medical Humanities at Durham University, UK. Formerly he has been a Visiting Professor at Syracuse University, a Fellow at the University of Sydney, and lecturer and research fellow at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Spinoza and the Specters of Modernity (Continuum, 2010), German Idealism and the Jew (University of Chicago Press, 2003), which was shortlisted for The Koret Jewish Book Award 2004, and Anthropology as Memory (Niemeyer, 2001, Conditio Judaica Series).

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