Writing the Body Politic: A John O’Neill Reader, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Writing the Body Politic

A John O’Neill Reader, 1st Edition

Edited by Mark Featherstone, Thomas Kemple


254 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-08-08
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This book brings together key essays from the career of social theorist John O’Neill, including his uncollected later writings, focusing on embodiment to explore the different ways in which the body trope informs visions of familial, economic, personal, and communal life.

Beginning with an exploration of O’Neill’s work on the construction of the biobody and the ways in which corporeality is sutured into social systems through regimes of power and familial socialisation, the book then moves to concentrate on O’Neill’s career-long studies of the productive body and the ways in which the working body is caught in and resists disciplinary systems that seek to rationalise natural functions and control social relations. The third section considers O’Neill’s concern with the ancient, early modern, and psychoanalytic sources of the post-modern libidinal body, and a final section on the civic body focuses specifically on the ways in which principles of reciprocity and generosity exceed the capitalist, individualist body of (neo)liberal political theory. The volume also includes an interview with O’Neill addressing many of the key themes of his work, a biographical note with an autobiographical postscript, a select bibliography of O’Neill’s many publications, and an extensive introduction by the editors.

A challenging and innovative collection, Writing the Body Politic: A John O’Neill Reader will appeal to critical social theorists and sociologists with interests in the work of one of sociology’s great critical readers of classical and contemporary texts.

Table of Contents

Editors’ Introduction

Part 1: The Bio-Body

1. Foucault’s Optics: The (In)vision of Mortality and Modernity

2. The Specular Body: Merleau-Ponty and Lacan on Infant Self and Other

3. Childhood and Embodiment

4. Infant Theory

Part 2: The Productive Body

5. The Disciplinary Society: From Weber to Foucault

6. Orphic Marxism

7. Televideo Ergo Sum: Some Hypotheses on the Specular Functions of the Media

8. Empire versus Empire: A Post-Communist Manifesto

Part 3: The Libidinal Body

9. Marcuse’s Maternal Ethic: Myths of Narcissism and Maternalism in Utopian Critical Memory

10. Structure, Flow and Balance in Montaigne’s ‘Of Idleness’

11. Mecum Meditari: Descartes Demolishing Doubt, Building a Prayer

12. Psychoanalysis and Sociology: From Freudo-Marxism to Freudo-Feminism

Part 4: The Civic Body

13. Vico’s Arborescence

14. Oh, My Others, There is No Other!: Capital Culture, Class, and Hegelian Other-wiseness

15. Ecce Homo: The Political Theology of Good and Evil

16. The Circle and the Line: Kinship, Vanishment, and Globalization Narratives in a Rich/Poor World

Appendix A: Body Politics, Civic Schooling, and Alien-nation: An Interview with John O’Neill

Appendix B: Biographical Notes on John O’Neill, with an Autobiographical Postscript

Appendix C: Selected Works by John O’Neill

About the Editors

Mark Featherstone is Senior Lecturer at Keele University, UK, and author of Tocqueville’s Virus: Utopia and Dystopia in Western Social and Political Thought (2006) and Planet Utopia: Utopia, Dystopia, Globalisation (2017).

Thomas Kemple is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and author of Reading Marx Writing: Marx, Melodrama, and the ‘Grundrisse’ (1995), Intellectual Work and the Spirit of Capitalism: Weber’s Calling (2014), and Simmel (2018).

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General