Signs and Wonders

Theology After Modernity

Ellen T. Armour

Columbia University Press

Signs and Wonders

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Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231172493

344 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231172486

344 Pages

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Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231540940

344 Pages

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Signs and Wonders

Theology After Modernity

Ellen T. Armour

Columbia University Press

We are told modernity's end will destabilize familiar ways of knowing, doing, and being, but are these changes we should dread—or celebrate? Four significant events (and the iconic images that represent them) catalyze this question: the consecration of openly gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson, the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, the politicization of the death of Terri Schiavo, and the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.

Framed by an original appropriation of Michel Foucault, and drawing on resources in visual culture theory and the history of photography, Ellen T. Armour explores the anxieties, passions, and power dynamics bound up in the photographic representation and public reception of these events. Together, these phenomena expose modernity's benevolent and malevolent disruptions and reveal the systemic fractures and fissures that herald its end, for better and for worse.

In response to these signs and wonders, Armour lays the groundwork for a theology and philosophy of life better suited to our (post)modern moment: one that owns up to the vulnerabilities that modernity sought to disavow and better enables us to navigate the ethical issues we now confront.
There are few if any books like this in philosophy. The accessibly written text will appeal to anyone with an interest in modernity and its demise. Armour's unusual and important engagement with photography is so compelling that it is difficult to put Signs and Wonders down. Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond
This provocative work combines ideas from several disciplines, revealing new approaches to understanding and analyzing cultural events and the nature of human existence. Signs and Wonders will be an important addition to the discourse on numerous topics such as the role of theology in modern culture, the role of photography in enforcing bio-power's regulation of abnormality, and the role of vulnerability in making meaning of our lives. Gail Hammer, Gonzaga University School of Law
Want to make a difference in the world? Read this book first! In Signs and Wonders, Armour troubles the way we have become comfortable in our own skins and presumably 'right' with the world by devaluing sexed, raced, and disabled others. As she studies each telling photographic icon, subjective mastery begins to crack under the pressure of philosophical reflection. Through the cracks, we are affectively and ethically invited to revalue what modern subjectivity warded off—vulnerability, flesh, and an awareness that materiality is social all the way down. Sharon Betcher, author of Spirit and the Obligation of Social Flesh
With characteristic subtlety and care, Armour offers a reframing of philosophical theology in four movements that is—finally—a clear lens through which we can see and evaluate (and touch) the profound challenges that face the world in this time. No mere tourist ride through signifying images of modern crises and changes, Signs and Wonders is an important heuristic platform on which any serious philosophical and theological engagement with the present should now stand. Laurel C. Schneider, Vanderbilt University
Signs and Wonders is a brilliant exploration of the imminent passing of the modern "Man" and what may emerge from it. Focusing on particular events in recent history, Armour guides readers to perceive the signs of strain in a system that has defined Man in his relation to his divine, animal, and raced/sexed others—while pointing us toward a new ontology of vulnerability. The use of photographs to approach the events is innovative and powerful; the analyses are insightful and challenging. This is an outstanding book. Mayra Rivera Rivera, Harvard Divinity School
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Man and His Others: A History of the Present
2. Photography and/as Bio-discipline: Photographic Askesis
3. Bio-discipline and Globalization: The Crisis in the Anglican Communion
4. Regarding the Photographs of Others: Abu Ghraib and/as Bio-Discipline
5. Bio-discipline and the Right to Life: Becoming Terri Schiavo
6. The Perfect Storm: Hurricane Katrina
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Ellen T. Armour is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Associate Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is the author of Deconstruction, Feminist Theology, and the Problem of Difference: Subverting the Race/Gender Divide and coeditor, with Susan St. Ville, of Bodily Citations: Judith Butler and Religion.