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Persons and Things


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Table of Contents

Prologue 1. Toys R Us: Legal Persons, Personal Pronouns, Definitions Things 2. The Poetics of Things: Marianne Moore and Francis Ponge 3. Monuments The Thingliness of Persons 4. Ego Sum Game 5. They Urn It 6. Puppets and Prostheses 7. Using People: Kant with Winnicott The Personhood of Things 8. Romancing the Stone 9. Surmounted Beliefs 10. Artificial Life 11. Real Dolls 12. Animation Persons 13. Face Value 14. Anthropomorphism in Lyric and Law 15. Lost Cause Epilogue Notes Acknowledgments Index

Promotional Information

Persons and Things secures Barbara Johnson's place as the most important literary critic of our day. This exhilaratingly intelligent book is an American grammatology of pop culture, advertisements, and political rhetoric. Johnson provides lucid, even thrilling insights into the rhetorical framing of living subjects, legal persons, non-persons and things. Filled with the phantasmagoria of talking tombstones, babbling Barbies, puppets, pets, and golden calves, Persons and Things is a trove of cracklingly decoded insight. Never has text spoken so eloquently. -- Patricia Williams, author of Alchemy of Race and Rights and The Rooster's Egg Barbara Johnson's well earned reputation is for being a rare theorist who knows how to write. In Persons and Things she juggles like a pro as she throws Ovid, catches Keats, throws Marianne Moore, catches Francis Ponge, throws Kant, catches Winnicott so as to illuminate the relationship that humans have to things. This book is itself a thing of beauty to read. -- Juliana Spahr, author of This Connection of Everyone with Lungs: Poems

About the Author

Barbara Johnson taught in the departments of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and was the Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society. She is the author of The Critical Difference, A World of Difference, and The Wake of Deconstruction.


A most readable and interesting book filled with insightful comments on everything from Toys R Us to lyric poetry...The book has rich interpretations of the usual suspects (Derrida, Foucault, Paul de Man, Nietzsche, Baudelaire), rich and comprehensive notes, and a useful index. -- Bob Lane Metapsychology 20081014

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