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Seducing Augustine


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About the Author

Virginia Burrus (Author)
Virginia Burrus is the Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. Her teaching and research interests in the field of ancient Christianity include gender, asceticism, constructions of orthodoxy and heresy, and the history of theology. She is currently president of the North American Patristics Society and co-editor of the University of Pennsylvania Press series Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion. She is the author of six books, including Seducing Augustine: Bodies, Desires, Confessions (Fordham University Press, 2010), co-written with Mark Jordan and Karmen MacKendrick; and Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). She is also coeditor, with Catherine Keller, of Toward a Theology of Eros: Transfiguring Passion of the Limits of Discipline (Fordham University Press, 2006).
Mark D. Jordan (Author)
Mark D. Jordan is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Christian Thought at Harvard Divinity School. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault and Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality.
Karmen MacKendrick (Author)
Karmen MacKendrick is a professor of philosophy and an associate chair of the McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation at Le Moyne College. Her work in philosophical theology is entangled with several other disciplines, particularly those involved with words, with flesh, or with the pleasures to be taken in both. These preoccupations appear in several books, most recently Divine Enticement: Theological Seductions (Fordham University Press, 2013).


This book will work its charms on those on intimate terms with Augustine and those who (accidentally or deliberately) have kept their distance. The writing is beautiful, sharp, astute. The authorial trinity brings together some of the most accomplished voices in their respective disciplines in powerful counterpoint.----Yvonne Sherwood, University of Glasgow
Seducing Augustine is an intriguing, multidisciplinary reflection focused on a single passage in Augustine's Confessions . . . Recommended. * -Choice *
A study of the Confessions that explores themes of secrecy and confession, eroticism, constraint and freedom, and time and eternity. * -The Chronicle of Higher Education *
Has there yet been an interpretation of the Confessions so profoundly committed to delight? Augustine's delight in God, in the world, in language; the reader's delight in Augustine and his text; and perhaps - the daring inversion - God's own delight in our multifarious responses. Each of the three authors engages the Confessions from a different discipline, but each is moved by the humanity and fleshliness of Augustine and his work - and their emotion is made possible by their deep attention to the divine. Our own reading of the Confessions is expanded and enriched by this seductive volume.----Catherine Conybeare, author of The Irrational Augustine, Bryn Mawr College
This short, elegantly written book is the collective effort of three of the most provocative and insightful students of the fretful logic of Christian asceticism, where flesh is alternately mortified and resurrected to uncertain effect. They are variously but all well equipped to read and struggle with Augustine, an ancient virtuoso of such fretful logic. Seducing Augustine is cross-disciplinary in appeal and will play well in philosophy, theology, ethics, and religious studies-especially when historical perspective is being given its due.----James Wetzel, Villanova University

Augustine's legacy for sex in the West seems to have been deadly. And yet his texts, eminently the Confessions, are irresistibly seductive. Can he be seduced, so as to yield to and inspire desire? Seducing Augustine shows how he can indeed. Its triple authorship produces a plurality of performances that makes seduction about play itself rather than about accomplishing the deed. Can seduction substitute for sex? It can, if sex is about pleasure, the pleasure of the text, a pleasure in the seduction of words forming the body of the text, its flesh. The textual dynamics enacting ultimately the love of God are sexual in their seductive effects, producing pleasure in play that keeps desire alive with desiring what it longs for and cannot quite possess-except in the play itself that is realized textually. This desire is expressed in praise that excites passion for the divine other, the one addressed as "you." But to enjoy it, you must abandon all resistance and risk endless joy without reserve.
The motivations of the whole tradition of Western literature, including the discourses of theology and philosophy, can hardly be grasped without taking into account the dynamics of desire deciphered in this book that seduces the saint. He is made to confess his seductiveness. It is a ravishing read!

----William Franke, author of Poetry and Apocalypse: Theological Disclosures of Poetic Language
Both seduced by Augustine's text and seducing it in return, as they themselves confess, the authors offer a provocative and enticingly fresh guide through Augustine's Confessions. Compelling and compellingly varied, their readings highlight the excess, paradox, and performative quality that mark the complex eroticism of Augustine's great work. This volume is a deeply insightful set of studies, well-theorized and thoroughly interdisciplinary.----Patricia Cox Miller, Syracuse University

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