Konturen opens with a series of essays on the law of the limit between politics and religion. The question of this law today is of a piece with the broader contemporary problem of the border, threshold, or determining framework, because the modern, Enlightenment privatization of religion repeats and reverses itself as the politicization of privatized religion, and as a consequence the modern subject finds itself in the paradoxical situation of a radical limitation (or finitude) doubled by an equally radical limitlessness (or infinite capacity). – The essays examine this situation in modernist, Baroque, and contemporary contexts. Tracy McNulty, Peter Hohendahl, and Leonard Feldman critically re-examine Carl Schmitt's anti-modern understanding of sovereignty as the foundational interruption of formal law. They question in various ways Schmitt's political-theological attack on the limit-function of law. Turning back to the Baroque threshold of modernity, where the explicit separation of church from state has yet to occur: David Yearsley unfolds the ambiguities of absolutist religious politics in J.S. Bach's secular and sacred music, while Steven Shankman finds an ethical interruption of political-theological totality in Monteverdi, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, and Couperin. Returning then to the religio-cultural politics of the present: Ülker Gökberk reads Orhan Pamuk on the dialectics of secularist modernity and politicized religion in contemporary Turkey, and Claudia Breger analyzes the "headscarf controversy" in order to problematize a number of German cultural and legal responses to the Turkish-German presence in the Federal Republic. Finally, Julia R. Lupton reviews Hannah Arendt's recently collected Jewish Writings, situating Arendt's own limitation in her incapacity to provide an adequate account of the sense of covenantal law in the Jewish context. In Arendt, too, the limit of secular modernity is determined through the delimitation of the law itself.
Jeffrey S. Librett (University of Oregon, German and Scandinavian)
Introduction: Political Theology and the Question of the Border
"Theory"of the Modern –
Politics, Theology, and the Logic of the Exception in Carl Schmitt
Tracy McNulty (Cornell University, Romance Languages)
The Gap in the Law and the Border-Breaching Function of the Exception
Peter U. Hohendahl (Cornell University, German and Comparative Literature)
Political Theology Revisited: Carl Schmitt's Postwar Assessment
Leonard Feldman (University of Oregon, Political Science/Princeton Institute for
Schmitt, Locke, and the Limits of Liberalism
"History" of the Modern – Rise and Shine? or Rise and Fall?
"Before" Liberal Modernity:
Politics of Religion in the Arts of the Baroque
David Yearsley (Cornell University, Musicology)
Princes of Peace and War and their Most Humble, Most Obedient Court Composer
Steven Shankman (University of Oregon, English, Classics; Director, Center for
Eruptions of the Ethical Baroque
"After" Liberal Modernity:
Religious and Secular Identities in Turkey and Germany Today
Ülker Gökberk (Reed College, German)
Beyond Secularism: Orhan Pamuk's Snow, and the Contestation of 'Turkish Identity in the Borderland
Claudia Breger (Indiana University, German)
Religious Turns: Immigration, Islam, and Christianity in 21st Century German Cultural Politics
Julia Lupton (U C Irvine, English)
Hannah Arendt. The Jewish Writings. Ed. Jerome Kohn and Ron H.
Feldman. NY: Schocken Books, 2007. 559+lxxvi pp.