William E. Connolly is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent books include A World of Becoming; Capitalism and Christianity, American Style; and Pluralism, all also published by Duke University Press. He is a former editor of Political Theory and a founder of the journal theory & event. His classic study The Terms of Political Discourse won the Benjamin Lippincott Award in 1999.
Connolly describes how the evangelical-capitalist machine works, how its themes resound across class lines, and how it infiltrates numerous aspects of American life. Proposing changes in sensibility and strategy to challenge this machine, Connolly contends that the liberal distinction between secular public and religious private life must be reworked. Traditional notions of unity or solidarity must be translated into drives to forge provisional assemblages comprised of multiple constituencies and creeds. The left must also learn from the political right how power is infused into everyday institutions such as the media, schools, churches, consumption practices, corporations, and neighborhoods. Connolly explores the potential of a “tragic vision” to contest the current politics of existential resentment and political hubris, explores potential lines of connection between it and theistic faiths that break with the evangelical right, and charts the possibility of forging an “eco-egalitarian” economy. Capitalism and Christianity, American Style is William E. Connolly’s most urgent work to date.
Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy.
Coole and Frost argue that contemporary economic, environmental, geopolitical, and technological developments demand new accounts of nature, agency, and social and political relationships; modes of inquiry that privilege consciousness and subjectivity are not adequate to the task. New materialist philosophies are needed to do justice to the complexities of twenty-first-century biopolitics and political economy, because they raise fundamental questions about the place of embodied humans in a material world and the ways that we produce, reproduce, and consume our material environment.
William E. Connolly
Melissa A. Orlie
In Neuropolitics Connolly draws upon recent brain/body research to explore the creative potential of thinking, the layered character of culture, the cultivation of ethical sensibilities, and the critical role of technique in all three. He then shows how a series of films -- including Vertigo, Five Easy Pieces, and Citizen Kane -- enhances our appreciation of technique and contests the linear image of time now prevalent in cultural theory.
Connolly deftly brings these themes together to support an ethos of deep pluralism within the democratic state and a politics of citizen activism across states. His book is an original and rigorous study that attends to the creative possibilities of thinking in identity, culture, and ethics.