Talk by Michael Jonik (2018-2019 Paris IAS fellow) within the framework of the seminar "Sussex Eighteenth-and-Nineteeth Century", about his book Herman Melville and the Politics of the Inhuman (Cambridge, 2018)
About the book
Studies of the writing of Herman Melville are often divided among those that address his political, historical, or biographical dimensions and those that offer creative theoretical readings of his texts. In Herman Melville and the Politics of the Inhuman, Michael Jonik offers a series of nuanced and ambitious philosophical readings of Melville that unite these varied approaches. Through a careful reconstruction of Melville's interaction with philosophy, Jonik argues that Melville develops a notion of the 'inhuman' after Spinoza's radically non-anthropocentric and relational thought. Melville's own political philosophy, in turn, actively disassembles differences between humans and nonhumans, and the animate and inanimate. Jonik has us rethink not only how we read Melville, but also how we understand our deeply inhuman condition.