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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities was established in 1987 to promote research and ongoing conversation among and within academic disciplines at the University of California, Berkeley. The Townsend Center is distinguished by its broad definition of the humanities, its role as an essential hub for the wealth of humanities-related activities at Berkeley, and its vision of the university as an interlocking community which reaches out to a larger public. The Center sponsors numerous events and programs. It gives grants to faculty and students at different stages of their academic lives. Most of all, it seeks to remind faculty and students of the ideas and ideals that led them to come to Berkeley.

Townsend Center for the Humanities

There are 32 publications in this collection, published between 1994 and 2018.
Occasional Papers (26)

Confronting the Turkish Dogs:Rabelais and His Critics

Natalie Zemon Davis' "braided histories" emphasize the importance of mixtures, a kind of interdisciplinary take on literature and history here put into play around Rabelais in the essay "Beyond Babel: Multiple Tongues and National Identities in Rabelais and His Critics." According to Davis, scholarly interpretation tends to characterize the movement of texts and writers as toward something or away from something, in support of or against something else, when in reality the two movements often exist in necessary relation. In a presentation that introduces and complements Davis', Timothy Hampton shows how recent Rabelais scholarship has gone beyond some of the traditional debates and intellectual

Telling Stories

Kathleen Woodward explores the workings of reminiscence and of life review--one fragmentary, the other totalizing--and their importance, what they have to offer to a life as it passes into old age. Reminiscing is less concerned with truth than with creating an atmosphere with a promise of trust and security. Woodward, Fabe and Scharlach explore these themes in terms of what they mean to human life, human relationships and the process of aging.

The Charisma of Sport and Race

This Occasional Paper explores the importance of both charisma and performance in the analysis of sport(s). Professor Loic Waquant argues that the "universe of sport is not the world of charisma but the world of persona;" athletes are performers who wear masks. For Gerald Early, sport offers grounds on which to examine race, masculinity, and even more broadly, the "symbols and metaphors of our society;" it is about merit, justice, desire and will. Eric Solomon argues that the lore and "deep mythology" of baseball has played an important part in the lives of Jewish immigrants, inspiring not only players but writers and artists as well, for many of the above theorized reasons. What emerges in all these papers is that the study of sport is important and must be taken seriously.

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Townsend Papers in the Humanities (4)

Nietzsche’s Negative Ecologies

Malcolm Bull offers a detailed analysis of nihilism in Nietzsche's works. Along with accompanying commentaries by Cascardi and Clark, he explores the significance of Nietzscheís views given the fact that a wide range of readers have come to embrace his ideas as new orthodoxy. There seem to be no anti-Nietzscheans today, but Bull demonstrates that this wide embrace of Nietzsche runs counter to the very meaning of nihilism as Nietzsche understood it.

Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech

In this volume, four leading thinkers of our times confront the paradoxes and dilemmas attending the supposed stand-off between Islam and liberal democratic values. Taking the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammad as a point of departure, Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood inquire into the evaluative frameworks at stake in understanding the conflicts between blasphemy and free speech, between religious taboos and freedoms of thought and expression, and between secular and religious world views. Is the language of the law an adequate mechanism for the adjudication of such conflicts? What other modes of discourse are available for the navigation of such differences in multicultural and multi-religious societies? What is the role of critique in such an enterprise? These are among the pressing questions this volume addresses.

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Berkeley Forum in the Humanities (2)