Acute Melancholia and Other Essays

Mysticism, History, and the Study of Religion

Amy Hollywood

Columbia University Press

Acute Melancholia and Other Essays

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Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231156448

416 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231156431

416 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£87.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231527439

416 Pages

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List Price: $34.99£27.95

Acute Melancholia and Other Essays

Mysticism, History, and the Study of Religion

Amy Hollywood

Columbia University Press

Acute Melancholia and Other Essays deploys spirited and progressive approaches to the study of Christian mysticism and the philosophy of religion. Ideal for novices and experienced scholars alike, the volume makes a forceful case for thinking about religion as both belief and practice, in which traditions marked by change are passed down through generations, laying the groundwork for their own critique. Through a provocative integration of medieval sources and texts by Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Talal Asad, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, this book redefines what it means to engage critically with history and those embedded within it.
Amy Hollywood's Acute Melancholia and Other Essays is a brilliant and challenging text that asks us all to read religious sources more carefully and productively as we try to fathom the contemporary meaning of critique, the ethical relations that bind us within an unfathomable horizon of loss. Known for her incisive and persuasive work in feminist religious studies, Hollywood takes us into new regions of theory and history by affirming the complex genres in which we think, the pervasive function of ritual within accounts of speech acts and symbolic actions, and the animated histories of metaphor and image. This book prompts us to think critically not only about conceits of the secular that are purified of religious content but also forms of psychoanalysis that discount Freud's writings on religion at a profound cost. The challenge delivered here is to become more capacious thinkers, to attend to ethical demands without a fugitive recourse to the narcissism of imagination, and to encounter the limits of what we can know about what we have lost—or have yet to lose. At that limit emerges an ethical demand that allows us to think beyond the narrow divisions of genre and discipline that stop us from engaging in living thought. Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley
Acute Melancholia and Other Essays will be an essential resource for teachers, students, and all sorts of readers inside and outside of religious studies. Hollywood carefully and meticulously occupies the arguments of so many different thinkers from a wide variety of fields. She invites everyone to her seminar table, and suddenly whole avenues of inquiry unfold tantalizingly before you. Her work, in other words, is not only excellent and exciting—it is also inspiring and provoking. Michael Cobb, University of Toronto
Amy Hollywood is the rare scholar who is equally at home with medieval spiritual texts and modern critical theory. These essays that span her career show her virtuosic reading of complex religious and philosophical texts from the Middle Ages in the light of contemporary theories of reading, history, and sexuality. This collection offers delightful and informative reading for anyone interested in medieval Christianity. E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania
Hollywood's essays deftly navigate and bring into fruitful connection an astounding range of literatures—from Medieval Christianity, anthropology, historiography, feminist theory, and philosophy of religion. They demonstrate what philosophy of religion can learn from careful historical work and why historical work requires critical self-consciousness of a sort that philosophical analysis brings. The prose is learned, sensitive, elegant, and precise; and the result is a major contribution to theorizing central topics in the study of religion as well as the humanities more generally—from practice to experience to sexuality. Acute Melancholia and Other Essays deserves broad and repeated reading. Thomas A. Lewis, Brown University
Hollywood makes far-reaching interventions into medieval studies, philosophy, theology, religious studies, feminist and queer studies, and psychoanalysis in this bracing collection of essays. But in my view her most profound thinking concerns critique itself: her insistence that its sources include not only sorrow and anger but also joy is a proposition that could, indeed, lead to lives more fully lived. Carolyn Dinshaw, New York University
A valuable addition to the literature in a variety of disciplines.... Highly recommended. CHOICE
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: A Triptych
Part I
1. Acute Melancholia
Part II. History
2. Feminist Studies in Christian Spirituality
3. On Gender, Agency, and the Divine in Religious Historiography
4. Reading as Self-Annihilation: On Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls
Part III. Sexuality
5. Sexual Desire, Divine Desire; Or, Queering the Beguines
6. The Normal, the Queer, and the Middle Ages
7. "That Glorious Slit": Irigaray and the Medieval Devotion to Christ's Side Wound
Part IV. Practice
8. Inside Out: Beatrice of Nazareth and Her Hagiographer
9. Performativity, Citationality, Ritualization
10. Practice, Belief, and Feminist Philosophy of Religion
Part V
11. Love of Neighbor and Love of God: Martha and Mary in the Christian Middle Ages
Notes
Sources
Index

About the Author

Amy Hollywood is the Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History and the award-winning The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart. She is the coeditor, with Patricia Z. Beckman, of The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism.