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The Subject and Other Subjects

On Ethical, Aesthetic, and Political Identity

Subjects: Literary Studies, European Literature, Literary Criticism and Theory, Philosophy, Cultural Studies
Hardcover : 9780472096732, 168 pages, 4 B&W within text, 6 x 9, April 1998
Ebook : 9780472022168, 168 pages, 4 B&W within text, 6 x 9, November 2009
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Advances a new theory on the nature of subjectivity and notions of identity


The Subject and Other Subjects theorizes the differences among ethical, aesthetic, and political conceptions of identity. When a person is called beautiful, why does it strike us as an objectification? Is a person whom we consider to be an exemplary person still a person, and not an example? Can one person conceive what it means to have the perspective of a community? This study treats these thorny issues in the context of recent debates in cultural studies, feminism, literary criticism, narrative theory, and moral philosophy concerning the nature and directions of multiculturalism, post-modernity, and sexual politics.
Tobin Siebers raises a series of questions that "cross the wires" among ethical, aesthetic, and political definitions of the self, at once exposing our basic assumptions about these definitions and beginning the work of reconceiving them. The Subject and Other Subjects will broaden our ideas about the strange interplay between subjects and objects (and other subjects!) that characterizes modern identity, and so provoke lively debate among anthropologists, art historians, literary theorists, philosophers, and others concerned with how the question of the subject becomes entangled with ethics, aesthetics, and politics. As Siebers argues, the subject is in fact a tangled network of subjectivities, a matrix of identities inconceivable outside of symbols and stories.
Tobin Siebers is Professor of English at the University of Michigan, and author of Cold War Criticism and the Politics of Skepticism; Morals and Stories; The Ethics of Criticism; The Romantic Fantastic; and The Mirror of Medusa.