Interpreting Susan Sontag’s Essays : Radical Contemplative book cover
1st Edition

Interpreting Susan Sontag’s Essays
Radical Contemplative

ISBN 9780367757144
Published April 13, 2021 by Routledge
238 Pages

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Book Description

Interpreting Susan Sontag’s Essays: Radical Contemplative offers its readers a scholarly examination of her essays within the context of philosophy and aesthetic theory. This study sets up a dialogue between her works and their philosophical counterparts in France and Germany, including the works of Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, and Walter Benjamin. Artists and concepts discussed in relation to Sontag’s essays include the works of Andy Warhol, Pop Art, French New Wave Cinema, the music of John Cage, and the cinematic art of Robert Bresson, Leni Riefenstahl, Ingmar Bergman, and Jean-Luc Godard. Her aesthetic formalism is compared with Harold Bloom, and this is the first volume to examine her late works and their position within the American events of 9/11/01 and the War on Terror(ism).

Table of Contents

Introduction: "Sontag, the Essay Form, and Modernism"

Chapter One: "Sontag after Freud: The Genesis of ‘Against Interpretation’"

Chapter Two: "Sontag, Bloom, and the Autonomy of the Aesthetic"

Chapter Three: "Sontag’s Film Criticism: Bresson, Riefenstahl, Godard"

Chapter Four: "On the (Violence of the) Photographic Image"

Chapter Five: "Sontag and Illness Degree Zero"

Chapter Six: "Crisis in the Polis: Sontag, Arendt, and the Nature of Eulogy"

Chapter Seven: "Sontag and Derrida after 9/11/01: American Democracy (and Beyond)"

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Dr. Mark K. Fulk is an associate professor of English and Women and Gender Studies at SUNY Buffalo State. He is the author of one other book, Understanding May Sarton (2001), as well as articles and reviews on many topics including queer theory, Jane Austen, John Dryden, Romantic Landscape Poetry, and John Milton. He is also an Appalachian poet. He was executive president for The Aphra Behn Society for Women in the Arts, 1660-1830. He is a contemplative, affiliated with the Benedictine confraternity out of St. Gregory’s Abbey.


“Susan Sontag’s public scholarship has been woefully under-read, and has a great deal to tell us in our current society and moment. Dr. Fulk’s book offers an important lens on this vital voice and set of essays, and should advance both Sontag studies and American Studies in significant ways as a result.” Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies, Fitchburg State University