Doctors Orders: Goethe
and Enlightenment Thought
In his new book, associate professor of German Robert
Tobin takes as his subject Goethes Wilhelm Meisters
Apprenticeship (1796), considered the prototype of the German
bildungsroman, or novel of character development. Tobin shows
how the work is affected by Goethes considerable knowledge
of medicine, and he analyzes Wilhelm Meister in light of
the rapidly changing 18th-century medical world. In so doing he
addresses larger issues concerning 18th-century culture and
the relationship between medicine and literature, according
to the books publisher.
Doctors Orders traces the development
of Wilhelm Meister, who suffers from theater mania and narcissism,
his treatment according to homeopathic principles of the day, and
his eventual cure. Along the way, the book analyzes
the traces of homosexual desire in Wilhelms development
his disturbed ability to love that is manifested in
his cross-dressing and same-sex desire.
Finally, Doctors Orders highlights
the complicity of medicine in establishing modern structures
of gender and sexuality.
Tobin also is the author of Warm Brothers: Queer
Theory and the Age of Goethe (University of Pennsylvania Press,
Doctors Orders is published by Bucknell
University Press/Associated University Presses, London.
From Noose to Needle: Capital
Punishment and the Late Liberal State
From Noose to Needle,
by professor of politics Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, contributes a new,
scholarly perspective on the controversial topic of capital punishment.
The book explores the subject of state executions as a reflection
of broader contradictions in the United States and other contemporary
Kaufman-Osborn seeks to explain the changes that
led to the replacement of hanging with lethal injection as the primary
method of capital punishment in the United States. He considers
such questions as why hangings and electrocutions, not to mention
the practice of public executions, are now thought to be barbaric;
why the state seeks to hide the suffering inflicted by capital punishment
by adopting a bio-medical concept; and how the practice
of lethal injection poses problems for the liberal state by confusing
its punitive and welfare responsibilities.
While basing his work on a wide range of theoretical
sources, including John Locke, Max Weber, Nicos Poulantzas, and
others, Kaufman-Osborn analyzes specific recent executions
that of Wesley Allan Dodd and Charles Rodman Campbell in Washington,
Karla Faye Tucker in Texas, and Allen Lee Davis in Florida. The
result is a book of interest to students of law, political theory,
and sociology as well as the general reader.
Kaufman-Osborn, who holds the Baker Ferguson Chair
of Politics and Leadership, is the author of two other books, Creatures
of Prometheus: Gender and the Politics of Technology (Rowman
& Little-field, 1997) and Politics/Sense/Experience: A Pragmatic
Inquiry into the Promise of Democracy (Cornell University Press,
From Noose to Needle, due out in August 2002,
is published by the University of Michigan Press.