Three Inquiries in Religion, Literature, and Political Imagination

Amy Hollywood, Sarah Hammerschlag, Constance M Furey
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Three religious scholars delve into the potential of literature as a site of radical transformation. We are living in a time of radical uncertainty, faced with serious political, ecological, economic, epidemiological, and social problems. What brings scholars of religion Constance Furey, Sarah Hammerschlag, and Amy Hollywood together in this volume is a shared conviction that "reading helps us live with and through the unknown," including times like these. They argue that what we read and what reading itself demands of us open new ways of imagining our political futures and our lives. Each chapter in this book suggests different ways to characterize the object of devotion and the stance of the devout subject before it. Furey writes about devotion in terms of vivification, energy, and artifice; Hammerschlag in terms of commentary, mimicry, and fetishism; and Hollywood in terms of anarchy, antinomianism, and atopia. They are interested in literature not as providing models for ethical, political, or religious life, but as creating the site in which the possible-and the impossible-transport the reader, enabling new forms of thought, habits of mind, and ways of life. Ranging from German theologian Martin Luther to French-Jewish philosopher Sarah Kofman to American poet Susan Howe, this volume is not just a reflection on forms of devotion and their critical and creative import, but is also a powerful enactment of devotion itself.
"Devotion marvelously reveals the continuing entanglement of religious and aesthetic modes of reading. Even better, Furey, Hammerschlag, and Hollywood also offer new, cogent reflections on the politics of reading; they flag how very urgent an engagement with such politics is at a moment when liberalism and the liberal notion of the political subject seem exhausted and in crisis. " * Deidre Shauna Lynch, Harvard University * "Thanks to the kind of rigor and patience that fidelity to complexity and ambiguity demand, this volume offers up a strikingly fruitful inquiry into religion, literature, and the nature of reading. Devotion is sure to make an influential and important contribution to the recent renewal of the religion and literature subfield as well as to the philosophy of religion. " * Thomas A. Carlson, University of California-Santa Barbara *
Constance M. Furey is professor of religious studies at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author of Erasmus, Contarini, and the Religious Republic of Letters and Poetic Relations. Sarah Hammerschlag is professor of religion and literature in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Figural Jew and Broken Tablets. Amy Hollywood is Elizabeth H. Monrad Chair of Christian Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of The Soul as Virgin Wife, Sensible Ecstasy, and Acute Melancholia and Other Essays.