Politics

Jean-François Lyotard: A Sceptic for Our Times

I first encountered Jean-François Lyotard’s work in the mid-1980s, after the publication of the English translation of his book The Postmodern Condition. It was a text that created quite a stir in the English-speaking academic world, drawing a lot of both praise and criticism. I was one of those to be critical, as in the first thing I ever wrote about Lyotard, a journal article for Radical Philosophy, where I argued there was a nihilistic quality to his thought.

Politics

Is Trump vaccinated against the coronavirus?

Where will politicization of the response to COVID-19 end? When former President G.W. Bush issued calls to put partisanship aside and unite in the fight against COVID-19, President Trump virulently criticized the former, reproaching him with not taking his side when Democrats launched the impeachment process against him.

Cultural Studies

Modernism and Lost Technology

Poetry aficionados, media archaeologists and scholars of modernism might have heard of the ‘godfather of the e-reader’ Bob Brown, and his infamous ‘Reading Machine’ – but his wife Rose is an equally compelling figure. In fact, her story changes how we understand the connections between technological and literary innovation, and their capacity to promote social change, and with one exception, it has remained untold.

Politics

The Politics of Debt and Disease

Even before COVID-19, unprecedented levels of public and private borrowing placed debt at the centre of academic and public debates. If access to credit at this stage of the pandemic is crucial for keeping alive economies across the globe, the health crisis has further exacerbated our reliance on borrowing. Massive efforts are expected of states and central banks to support not only individual financial institutions but the financial system as a whole.

Literary Studies

What Is the Point of Literary Criticism?

Anglophone literary criticism has over the last decade engaged in a searching analysis and critique of its own methods. Perhaps surprisingly, much of that debate has considered *how* one should engage in literary interpretation—whether one should read closely or from a distance, interpret in a paranoid or reparative way, emphasize the work’s surface or depth, engage in “critique” or some other mode of attachment—and rather less *why*. But we might benefit from asking that question more openly: what, after all, is the point of literary criticism? Why does this practice merit the sustained intellectual energy so many scholars have devoted to it?

Ancient History

On translation and exegesis in the Zoroastrian religious tradition

The oldest layers of the surviving Zoroastrian texts are in Avestan language and commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE. Exact dates and circumstances of composition, however, remain uncertain, so that little is known about the socio-political context from which these texts emerged. After two millennia of oral transmission, the texts were finally committed to writing, at a time when the language must have no longer been in active use.