Berkeley Forum in the Humanities

The Berkeley Forum in the Humanities, formerly known as Townsend Papers in the Humanities, features topics of broad interest in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. The goals of the series are to extend the reach of some of the best work in these areas, especially work cultivated at the Townsend Center, and to present scholarship that is richly contextual along historical and social lines, while critical and challenging in its views. Berkeley Forum in the Humanities volumes and the backlist of Townsend Papers in the Humanities are published by Fordham University Press

For more information, contact Rebecca Egger, associate director, at (510) 643-6229.

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April 2015

Plasticity and Pathology: On the Formation of the Neural Subject brings together diverse scholars interested in the historical and conceptual problems of life and particularly the life of human beings in the neural age. 

Townsend Papers Volume 4
By Kwame Anthony Appiah, J. M. Coetzee, Arthur Danto, Mike Davis, Anthony Grafton, Seamus Heaney, Michael Ignatieff, Ivan Klíma, Maya Lin, Kenzaburō Ōe, Michael Pollan, Sebastião Salgado, Peter Sellars, Maurice Sendak
November 2011

This volume commemorates the twenty-fifth year of the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and captures the breadth and depth of lectures and events presented by the center. Many are revised versions of lectures and presentations organized in connection with the annual appointment of the Avenali Professor in the Humanities or the Una’s Lecturer; several are based on other events presented by the center over the years, such as the “Humanities Perspectives on Aging” program or the “Futures” lecture series organized to commemorate the center’s tenth anniversary.

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By Jay M. Bernstein, Claudia Brodsky, Anthony J. Cascardi, Thierry de Duve, Ales Erjavec, Robert Kaufman and Fred Rush
October 2010

Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970) offers one of the most powerful and comprehensive critiques of art and of the discipline of aesthetics ever written. The work offers a deeply critical engagement with the history and philosophy of aesthetics and with the traditions of European art through the middle of the 20th century. It is coupled with ambitious claims about what aesthetic theory ought to be. But the cultural horizon of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory was the world of high modernism, and much has happened since then both in theory and in practice.

Image of the book cover for "Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech."
By Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood
November 2009

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.

Image of the book cover for "Nietzche's Negative Ecologies".
By Malcolm Bull, Anthony J. Cascardi, and T.J. Clark
September 2009

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.