books by UB authors.

Faculty Publications

2021

Berlin, Henry S.

Alone Together: Poetics of the Passions in Late Medieval Iberia

Alone Together book cover.
University of Toronto Press

The turn of the fifteenth century saw an explosion of literature throughout Iberia that was not just sentimental, but about sentiment. Alone Together reveals the political, ethical, and poetic dimensions of this phenomenon, which was among the most important of the substantial changes in intellectual and literary culture taking place in the crowns of Portugal, Castile, and Aragon. With careful analyses of lyric poetry, sentimental prose, and wide-ranging treatises in multiple languages, this study foregrounds the dense web of relations among these genres and linguistic and cultural traditions.

Drawing on Stoic and early monastic thought, authors such as the Marqués de Santillana, Ausiàs March, and Alfonso de Madrigal explored the unifying potential of shared emotion in an ethical rehabilitation that cut across the personal and political, exalting friendly conversation, civic communication, and collective poetic composition. In his readings of these authors, Henry Berlin references recent work on lyric theory and the history and theory of emotion, from classical antiquity to the modern day. An exploration of the political and poetic potential of shared emotion, Alone Together shows how a heuristic focus on the notion of passion is illuminating for broader ongoing discussions about the nature of emotion, the lyric, and subjectivity.

Castillo, David

Un-Deceptions: Cervantine Strategies for the Disinformation Age

Accepted for publication Spring 2021.

Recent exposés of the manipulative illusions of our media culture have made clear that, if we are to survive the disinformation age, we need to become better readers of our media ecosystem. Un-Deceptions proposes a series of Cervantine strategies in pursuit of that goal. It builds on Cervantes’s version of baroque desengaño (best translated as un-deception) as a toolkit (mesa de trucos) that redirects our gaze from the manipulative distractions of the illusion to the form of the illusion itself. The first part of the book is devoted to the question of truth today and how we might go about “building a reader” attuned to it in the disinformation age. This part includes explorations of The Stage of Wonders, The Glass Graduate and The Dialogue of the Dogs from this perspective. Part II proposes a series of “classroom dialogues” between Cervantes’s fiction, especially Don Quixote, and selected examples of self-reflective products of our own popular culture, starting with road movies and political satires and ending with “alt-history sci-fi.”

Castillo, David, William Egginton

What Would Cervantes Do?: Navigating Post-Truth with Spanish Baroque Literature

Castillo_Egginyon book cover.
McGill-Queen's Iberian and Latin American Cultures Series

The attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a tragic illustration of the existential threat that the viral spread of disinformation poses in the age of social media and twenty-four-hour news. From climate change denialism to the frenzied conspiracy theories and racist mythologies that fuel antidemocratic white nationalist movements in the United States and abroad, What Would Cervantes Do? is a lucid meditation on the key role the humanities must play in dissecting and combatting all forms of disinformation. David Castillo and William Egginton travel back to the early modern period, the first age of inflationary media, in search of historically tested strategies to overcome disinformation and shed light on our post-truth market. Through a series of critical conversations between cultural icons of the twenty-first century and those of the Spanish Golden Age, What Would Cervantes Do? provides a tour-de-force commentary on current politics and popular culture. Offering a diverse range of Cervantist comparative readings of contemporary cultural texts – movies, television shows, and infotainment – alongside ideas and issues from literary and cultural texts of early modern Spain, Castillo and Egginton present a new way of unpacking the logic of contemporary media. What Would Cervantes Do? is an urgent and timely self-help manual for literary scholars and humanists of all stripes, and a powerful toolkit for reality literacy.

Castillo, David; Jean-Jacques Thomas; Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, eds.

Continental Theory Buffalo Transatlantic Crossroads of a Critical Insurrection

book cover.
SUNY Press Excelsior Editions

Continental Theory Buffalo is the inaugural volume of the Humanities to the Rescue book series, a public humanities project dedicated to discussing the role of the arts and humanities today. This book is a collaborative act of humanistic renewal that builds on the transcontinental legacy of May 1968 to offer insightful readings of the cultural (d)evolution of the last fifty years. The volume contributors revisit, reclaim and reassess the “revolutionary” legacy of May 1968 in light of the urgency of the present and the future. Their essays are effective illustrations of the potential of such interpretive traditions as philosophy, literature and cultural criticism to run interference with (and offer alternatives to) the instrumentalist logic and predatory structures that are reducing the world to a collection of quantifiable and tradeable resources. The book will be of interest to cultural historians and theorists, media studies scholars, political scientists, and students of French and Francophone literature and culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

2020

Balsamo, Jean; Amy Graves, eds.

Global Montaigne book cover.

Global Montaigne: Mélanges en l’honneur de Philippe Desan

Classiques Garnier

En hommage au professeur Philippe Desan, ce volume réunit quarante-neuf contributions, consacrées à Montaigne et à son œuvre, en français et en anglais. Dans une perspective transdisciplinaire, elles constituent l’approche la plus complète et la plus novatrice pour la connaissance d’un Montaigne global.

Negrete, Fernanda

The Aesthetic Clinic: Feminine Sublimation in Contemporary Writing, Psychoanalysis, and Art

book cover.
SUNY Press Excelsior Editions

In The Aesthetic Clinic, Fernanda Negrete brings together contemporary women writers and artists well known for their formal experimentation—Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Lygia Clark, Marguerite Duras, Roni Horn, and Clarice Lispector—to argue that the aesthetic experiences afforded by their work are underwritten by a tenacious and uniquely feminine ethics of desire. To elaborate this ethics, Negrete looks to notions of sublimation and feminine sexuality developed by Freud, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Nietzsche, and their reinvention with and after Jacques Lacan, including in the schizoanalysis of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. But she also highlights how psychoanalytic theory draws on writing and other creative practices to conceive of unconscious processes and the transformation sought through analysis. Thus, the “aesthetic clinic” of the book’s title (a term Negrete adopts from Deleuze) is not an applied psychoanalysis or schizoanalysis. Rather, The Aesthetic Clinic privileges the call and constraints issued by each woman’s individual work. Engaging an artwork here is less about retrieving a hidden meaning through interpretation than about receiving a precise transmission of sensation, a jouissance irreducible to meaning. Not only do art and literature serve an urgent clinical function in Negrete’s reading but sublimation itself requires an embrace of femininity.

Ugolini, Paola

Ugolini book cover.
University of Toronto Press

The Court and Its Critics focuses on the disillusionment with courtliness, the derision of those who live at court, and the open hostility toward the court, themes common to Renaissance culture. Anti-courtly discourse furnished a platform for discussing some of the most pressing questions of early modern Italian society. The court was the space that witnessed a new form of negotiation of identity and prestige, the definition of masculinity and of gender-specific roles, the birth of modern politics and of an ethics based on merit and on individual self-interest.

The Court and Its Critics analyses anti-courtly critiques using a wide variety of sources including manuals of courtliness, dialogues, satires, and plays, from the mid-fifteenth to the early seventeenth century. The book is structured around four key figures that embody different features of anticourtly sentiments. The figure of the courtier shows that sentiments against the court were present even among those who apparently benefitted from such a system of power. The court lady allows an investigation of the intertwining of anticourtliness and anti-feminism. The satirist and the shepherd of pastoral dramas are investigated as attempts to fashion two different forms of a new self for the court intellectual.