Bioethics Blogs

Summer Roundup: Book Reviews by Deanna Day

In this last roundup of our summer posts, we draw your attention to the many insightful book reviews published on Somatosphere during the hazy days of summer, just in time to fill out your winter holiday reading lists.


Michael Gordin reviews Irina Sirotkina’s Shestoe chuvstvo avangarda: Tanets, dvizhenie, kinesteziia v zhizni poetov i khudozhnikov

“The central argument of this book, however, is not just that dance mattered, and mattered much more widely than has perhaps been sufficiently recognized. Rather, Sirotkina’s intention is to use dance as a window toward a reinterpretation of the avant-garde, as the first line of the book states clearly: ‘The avant-garde is not only an artistic project, but an anthropological one, a project in the re-cognition of the person, a renovation of his sensitivity.’ ‘Anthropological’ is meant here in the Kantian sense of the late Enlightenment, as the (philosophical) science of understanding the nature of humanity. Reflect on the title of this book and you will see Sirotkina’s strategy: dance is central because bodily movement, ‘muscular feeling,’ was considered by some members of the avant-garde as a sixth sense (in contradistinction to other sixth senses across the centuries, such as sexual appetite or telepathy); the senses are the privileged entry points for an empiricist epistemology; therefore, we can use the explicit theorizing and actual artwork of the avant-garde to trace what kind of knowledge this additional sense brought to bear.”



Jonathan Sadowsky reviews Elizabeth Lunbeck’s The Americanization of Narcissism

“Historians have not handled psychoanalysis very well. The clumsy reductionism of much of the psychohistory movement is usually Exhibit A, though historians such as Dominick LaCapra and Joan Scott have been developing more nuanced ways of using psychoanalytic ideas for History.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.