Man vs. Animal

derrida animal HTML Giant  ran a review of Jacques Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am on Friday. A translation of Derrida’s 1997 lecture at the Cérisy conference titled “The Autobiographical Animal,” the book ruminates on the distinction between humans and animals. Derrida philosophizes through the eyes of his cat, who followed him into the bathroom each morning. He wondered what the cat saw and thought when presented with his body. “In his trademark elliptical, recursive, persistently deferring style, he raises this issue of being naked in front of that which we call animal, what it means to be naked, how that which we call animal cannot be naked, what it means to be seen by that which we call animal, and what it means for a human to see themselves in the eyes of that which we call animal.” (HTML Giant) The assertion that philosophers have always misinterpreted the ontological difference between man and animal serves as the backbone of the book. 

In his review, Christopher Higgs writes, “For Derrida, the fact that we refer to all living creatures that are not human as “animals” is absurdly reductive. He makes a good point. Lumping together the cricket and the whale, the mountain lion and the parakeet, the giraffe and the marmot, seems lazy and dismissive, yet, as Derrida points out, this is exactly what philosophers from Aristotle to Heidegger are guilty of doing. And part of his project is to shine a light on this unexamined assumption.”

Along this vein of questioning on the distinction between human and animal, this week’s podcast of “This American Life” tells the story of Lucy, a chimpanzee that was adopted by an American couple, who raised her as a human. They treated her upbringing as an experiment in just how human an animal can become–with tragic results. The story is fascinating, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. The story comes from WNYC’s Radiolab show.

 HTML Giant  ran a review of Jacques Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am on Friday. A translation of Derrida’s 1997 lecture at the Cérisy conference titled “The Autobiographical Animal,” the book ruminates on the distinction between humans and animals. Derrida philosophizes … Full Story

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The Myth of Lincoln

lincoln lincoln_vampireAbraham Lincoln has remained a powerful and haunting icon of American history for nearly two centuries. Perhaps even more than his legacy of helping to end slavery and the Civil War, his violent death has cemented his place in the collective American consciousness as a hero, a veritable giant of leadership, grace, and integrity. Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has written a new book–Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The book centers around the discovery of Lincoln’s fictional diary, detailing his career not only as the leader of a warring nation, but also as a vampire avenger. It is Lincoln’s legend that fuels American imagination. 

In The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory, leading Lincoln scholars seek to examine how the president’s brutal death created a nation of mourners and spurred myths and legends that have become a part of the country’s identity.

 Abraham Lincoln has remained a powerful and haunting icon of American history for nearly two centuries. Perhaps even more than his legacy of helping to end slavery and the Civil War, his violent death has cemented his place in the … Full Story

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George Washington: First Man

george_washington George Washington chopped down a cherry tree, had wooden teeth, and wore a wig.  He was the first President of the United States, his face is on the dollar bill, and he fought the English during the Revolutionary War. At least, these are the facts we are taught about Washington, the mythology that has grown around his name for the past three centuries. But what’s behind all of these legends?

George Washington: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Leader , by Robert F. Jones, seeks to present all of the facets of Washington’s life in a concise, comprehensive biography. Jones portrays the American icon not as a saintly hero, but as a rather common man who achieved greatness by translating his practical skills into revolutionary and history-changing leadership. The book pays special attention to Washington’s political views and his struggles to lead a brand-new country, giving us insight into the roots of our democracy.

George Washington chopped down a cherry tree, had wooden teeth, and wore a wig.  He was the first President of the United States, his face is on the dollar bill, and he fought the English during the Revolutionary War. At … Full Story

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Old Glory

shani_davis Friday, February 12 not only marked what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 201st birthday but also the start of the Winter 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The United States has had a strong week, leading the medal count as of Sunday night. Wednesday was a particularly stellar showing for the US, with gold medals for Shani Davis in the men’s speedskating 1000 meters, Lindsey Vonn in women’s downhill alpine skiing, and Shaun White in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe. The weekend saw more victories for the United States, with golds for figure skater Evan Lysacek and skier Bode Miller, among others. 

In the midst of the economic recession, bitter debates over healthcare reform, and soaring unemployment rates, it’s a refreshing reminder of American patriotism and pride. 

 As we celebrate the week sandwiched between Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday, we should remember all the things that make our country what it is. Here are a few upcoming titles that reflect on America and its history: 

Fifth Avenue Famous: The Extraordinary Story of Music at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory

Civil Rights in New York City: From World War II to the Guiliani Era

The Great Task Remaining Before Us: Reconstruction as America’s Continuing Civil War

Freedwomen and the Freedmen’s Bureau: Race, Gender, and Public Policy in the Age of Emancipation

Union Combined Operations in the Civil War

Between the Bylines: A Father’s Legacy

Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives


 Friday, February 12 not only marked what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 201st birthday but also the start of the Winter 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The United States has had a strong week, leading the medal count as of Sunday … Full Story

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Fordham Press Celebrates President’s Day

lincoln Today we celebrate our founding fathers with President’s Day! Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12–premier Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer’s new collection, The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory, is coming out in May, 2010. Co-edited with Craig L. Symonds and Frank J. Williams, the book examines the infamous presidential assassination and its echoing significance throughout American memory and culture. In addition to detailing the assassination, it follows the resulting search and prosecution of the murder conspirators, events which are much more complex than most realize. Harold Holzer is Senior Vice President for External Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is one of the nation’s leading authorities on Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He serves as co-chairman of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He has written, co-written, or edited 35 books. The contributors and editors of this collection are the top Lincoln scholars in the country. 

Additional Lincoln books from Fordham Press include:

Lincoln Revisited

The Lincoln Forum: Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text

Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments

Lincoln on Democracy

 Today we celebrate our founding fathers with President’s Day! Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12–premier Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer’s new collection, The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory, is coming out in May, 2010. Co-edited with Craig L. … Full Story

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