So often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing, rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom's long star turn coming to a close? Does a continued obsession with the term enliven and emancipate, or reflect a deepening nihilism (or both)? On Freedom is an expansive, exhilarating work of criticism that examines such questions by tracing the concept's complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate.
Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Maggie Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing "practices of freedom" by which we negotiate our interrelation with--indeed, our inseparability from--others, with all the care and constraint that entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion.
For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture--from recent art-world debates to the turbulent legacies of sexual liberation, from the painful paradoxes of addiction to the lure of despair in the face of the climate crisis--is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company. On Freedom is an invigorating, essential book that meets the challenges of our time.
Maggie Nelson is the author of several books of poetry and prose, including, most recently, the New York Times best seller and National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts. She has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from the Creative Capital Foundation, and an Arts Writers Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. She is currently a professor of English at University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. A New York Times Notable Book for 2021.
- 2021 Maggie Nelson
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