Books

Metacinema

Oxford University Press, 2021

Foreword by Robert Pippin

“We all know meta when we see it, but up until now few have attempted to define it. This terrific book, comprising essays from both established and emerging scholars, is a welcome corrective to that oversight, and a vital addition to contemporary film and media theory.”

— Catherine Wheatley, Reader in Film and Visual Culture, King’s College London


The Thought of Stanley Cavell and Cinema

Bloomsbury, 2020

Foreword by Thomas Elsaesser

“A brilliant collection of original essays by major figures in the field. The genius of Cavell’s writing is in sharp focus throughout—likewise the continued provocation of The World Viewed and its successor books and essays.”

— Michael Fried, J. R. Herbert Boone Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Art History, The Johns Hopkins University

“Stanley Cavell argued that film exists in a state of philosophy. Part of what he meant by this was that thinking about a film is a way of doing philosophy. That has been his influential and most controversial claim. The authors in this collection explore what he might have meant in ways more variegated, thoughtful, original, and illuminating than anything I have seen before. The Thought of Stanley Cavell and Cinema, exemplary in its clarity and carefulness, is a watershed both in our understanding of Cavell and of film itself.”

— Robert Pippin, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago

“[…] LaRocca celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of The World Viewed by gathering essays from 14 philosophers, film and literature scholars, and theorists in the US, UK, Australia, France, and the Netherlands. The contributors all manifest the Cavellian influence. Though not the first collection devoted to Cavell’s cinema writings nor likely the last, this book will be valuable to those interested in philosophy, film studies, literature, and US culture.”

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.

—D. W. Rothermel, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Chico, CHOICE review

Movies with Stanley Cavell in Mind

Bloomsbury, 2021

Foreword by Sandra Laugier

“This volume pushes Cavellian scholarship forward, showing that the value of Cavell’s work lies not simply in understanding it but in applying it. By extending the philosopher’s methods to an exciting range of international and contemporary films, the chapters compose a timely consideration of what it is to read a film, and to read a film generously.”

— Kyle Stevens, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, Appalachian State University

“Stanley Cavell is, to my mind, the best thinker for helping us account for the power of the film experience, and the fourteen chapters collected here provide ample reason for understanding the importance of Cavell for the study of film. All of the contributors to this wonderful, collective enterprise—brought together by David LaRocca—have in a similar way encountered him and his work. Whether they are revisiting films Cavell loved or taking up the invitation to explore new films, they reveal the importance of Cavell’s writing and method.”

— Sandra Laugier, Professor of Philosophy, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne


Inheriting Stanley Cavell

Bloomsbury, 2020

“Inheriting Stanley Cavell, beautifully edited by David LaRocca, is so much more than a gathering of reminiscences and testimonials. So many of the pieces in the volume prove gripping, and they cumulatively transformed my sense of what Cavell had accomplished. This volume makes a strong case for the revolution that Cavell’s extraordinary philosophic sensibility, powerful presence as a teacher, and wide-range of concerns brought about in North American philosophy. For many of the contributors, Cavell not only revived their faith in philosophy, but showed them what it meant to be alive in their feelings and thinking. He demonstrated, not only in The Claim of Reason but in his astonishing exploration of films, Shakespearean tragedies, and Wittgenstein, Emerson, and Thoreau, that the road back to ordinary language criticism was open, and our best hope for restoring value to humanistic study. The collection is also impressive for its decision to include dissenting voices.”

— George Toles, Distinguished Professor of English, Theatre, Film & Media, University of Manitoba

“The welcoming tone rightly identified by the editor as one genius of Stanley Cavell’s exacting style has demonstrably been answered by this timely volume–and in just the right blend of reminiscence, reflection, and fresh testing. The intellectual heritage proposed, and so luminously proven, across these pages–convening a lineage of distinguished readers in their role, as always, of interlocutors–honors the balance of intimacy and reach in Cavell’s influential philosophical writing: a style of thought inseparable from the searching prose that gave, that gives, it shape.”

— Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa

“In moods ranging from the elegiac to the exuberant to the contentious, the essays collected here remember Cavell and his work, put it to further use, and engage with it critically. Together their authors compose a conversation that amounts to what Cavell once described philosophy as being–an education for grownups–in which accomplished, mature thinkers continually seek their better selves, amidst the plights and possibilities of culture.”

 — Richard Eldridge, Charles and Harriett Cox McDowell Professor of Philosophy, Swarthmore College

“The voices gathered in this collection, each finding a different balance between the claims of memory, sympathy, and critique, together illuminate the relation between Stanley Cavell’s life and his writings, and disclose an unattained but attainable future for philosophy to which we all might be attracted.” 

— Stephen Mulhall, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, New College, University of Oxford

“David LaRocca has gathered together some of the world’s foremost scholars of Stanley Cavell’s work for this terrific volume of essays responding to Cavell’s philosophy. Collating reprints of groundbreaking essays and original contributions, the book offers wonderful insight into the breadth and depth of Cavell’s influence and features a beautifully detailed and lucid introduction by LaRocca that interweaves the various strands of Cavell’s philosophy and their legacies. This is without doubt a definitive body of responses to Cavell’s work: a must-read for anyone interested in Cavell’s work, whatever discipline they are approaching from, and whatever their level of specialism.” 

— Catherine Wheatley, Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London

The Geschlecht Complex

Bloomsbury, 2022

Afterword by Emily Apter

“Bristling with intellectual energy, The Geschlecht Complex, brings together a number of brilliantly original essays and a carefully curated sample of theoretical excerpts in its exploration of the resonances and affordances of a singularly untranslatable notion. The Geschlecht Complex is many things: it is both syllabus and seminar, both a joyful intellectual exchange and a virtuoso homage to the examples of such thinkers/readers as Cassin, Cavell, Apter, and Derrida. Most of all, it is an exuberant performance of the key inspiration driving the thinking of the untranslatable: the conviction that the untranslatable is at once generated and redeemed by passionate ventures of translation-across genres, media, bodies, languages, and disciplines. In all these transpositions, this volume succeeds marvelously.

— Pieter Vermeulen, Associate Professor of American and Comparative Literature, University of Leuven, Belgium

Geschlecht by any other name: that multifarious and ultimately untranslatable German word typifying in this volume a complexity and a syndrome alike — its cultural semantics both vertical for generational kindred and horizontal for genre or kind; lineage on the one hand, typology on the other; now general species or genus, now specified gender. With this book’s erudite roundtable, we are invited to the second, collectively-edited installment of a productive—make that generative—seminar once convened to rethink the ramifications of such irresolvable inner difference: less as a definitional crux than as a blocked crossing, where impasse becomes surplus when confronted at the disciplinary interface of philology and philosophy, rhetoric and ontology. Giving new reach to trans-theory, the performative yield of category-hesitation in these essays is abundant, subtle, and bracing.

— Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa

The Geschlecht Complex is a rare and undoubtedly important book in that it treats categorization as both problem and necessity for the production of knowledge. Indeed, utilizing and developing the notion of the ‘uncategorizable’ as an analytical tool, it collects a multitude of contemporary problems into a stereoscopic perspective (albeit in a non-unitary manner and necessarily hesitant of its own limits) on the age-old aesthetic problem of the sublime and the monstrous—and furthermore, on the ontological consequences of those seemingly impossible categories.

— Isak Hyltén-Cavallius, Chief Editor, Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap/Swedish Journal of Literary Studies, Lund University, Sweden, and Associate Professor of Literary Studies. Linnæus University, Växjö, Sweden