In an intriguing article on multiculturalism, Amartya Sen briefly mentions the international formation of Indian cuisine: “India had no chili until the Portuguese brought it to India from America, but it is effectively used in a wide range of Indian food today and seems to be a dominant . . . . Continue Reading »

Postmodern Society

Krishan Kumar, From Post-Industrial to Post-Modern Society. Second Edition. London: Blackwell, 2005. 289 pp. Much has been written about postmodernity, but this book by Krishan Kumar, William R. Kennan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, is in a league of its own. First . . . . Continue Reading »


Postmodern theory, Mike Featherstone says, “argues for the abandonment of longstanding ambitions within modernity to develop foundations for knowledge: in effect the abandonment of the quest for unity, generality and synthesis.” Postmodern theory claims to find greater complexity than . . . . Continue Reading »

Final Word on Hamlet

That is to say, my final word, for a while. INTRODUCTION Throughout the term, we have looked at a variety of different angles on Hamlet. We have seen Hamlet through the eyes of romantics like Coleridge and Goethe; Freudians like Ernst Jones; modernists like TS Eliot and James Joyce. One of the most . . . . Continue Reading »

Covenant lawsuit

John’s gospel is a contentious courtroom of a gospel. Legal language dominates the whole gospel - witnesses are called, Jesus promises an advocate, the Jews are constantly trying to put Jesus in the dock. But the whole gospel is really the trial of the Jews, just as what appears to be the . . . . Continue Reading »

Hidden Hero

Homer’s prologue to the Odyssey delays the identification of the hero until the end of the prologue, a literary sign that this hero comes hidden, disguised, in craft. That, of course, is precisely how Odysseus behaves throughout the epic. John’s gospel begins with similar techniques. We . . . . Continue Reading »

Coriolanus and Christ

Shakespeare’s Coriolanus can be read as dramatizing the Augustinian perspective most recently articulated by Oliver O’Donovan, namely, that “within every political society there occurs, implicitly, an act of worship of divine rule.” Through his dramatization of Roman . . . . Continue Reading »

J. L. Austin, Deconstructionist?

JL Austin famously distinguished between “performative” and “constative” utterances, the former of which perform the action to which they refer and the latter of which make assertions that can be judged as true or false. Modern philosophy has treated the constative as the . . . . Continue Reading »

structuralism, linguistic and other

How did the linguistic theory of Saussure become a model for anthropologists, sociologists, and analysts of pop culture? Jonathan Culler suggests that this move rests on “two fundamental insights: first, that social and cultural phenomena are not simply material objects or events but objects . . . . Continue Reading »

Anthropologized science

Foucault, in Canguilhem’s summary, argues that an anthropologization of the sciences took place in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when Kantian philosophy combined with biology, economics, and linguistics to raise the question What is Man? Foucault argues: “From the . . . . Continue Reading »