Critical Bibliography

Here’s a (somewhat annotated) bibliography of books that have been useful or important to me, most of which are theoretically relevant to my work in some way or another. Some are “classics” and have a primarily historical significance, but most I believe are still relevant in some way or another to the contemporary study of culture and society.

  • Louis Althusser, For Marx. London: Verso, 2006.
  • Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001.
  • Louis Althusser, On Ideology. London: Verso, 2008.
  • Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar, Reading Capital. London: Verso, 2009.
  • William Arnal, The Symbolic Jesus. London: Equinox Publishing.
  • William Arnal and Russell T. McCutcheon, The Sacred is the Profane. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Edward Baring, The Young Derrida and French Philosophy, 1945-1968. Cambridge UP, 2011. (An excellent intellectual history of Derrida’s early work, useful for discerning continuities and discontinuities between Derrida and his contemporaries.)
  • Roland Barthes, Mythologies. Trans. by Annette Lavers. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.
  • Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures. Sage.
  • Zygmunt Bauman, Consuming Life. Polity. (Brilliant analysis of consumerism.)
  • Jean-Francois Bayart, The Illusion of Cultural Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • James A. Beckford, Social Theory and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Oxford UP. (A post-structuralist critique of theories of ritual; a tour de force.)
  • Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Anchor, 1967.
  • Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Anchor, 1967.
  • Michael Billig, Banal Nationalism. SAGE, 1995. (Useful critique of low-level but persistent nationalism in contemporary nation states.)
  • Chiara Bottici, A Philosophy of Political Myth. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Firing Back: Against the Tyranny of the Market 2.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Lee Braver, A Thing of This World. Northwestern University Press, 2007. (A useful intellectual history of anti-realism in continental philosophy.)
  • Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (The chapter on moralizing as counter-productive for politics and the chapter on Foucault’s genealogy are fantastic.)
  • Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Brilliant takedown of liberal discourses on tolerance.)
  • Wendy Brown, States of Injury. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity without Groups. Harvard UP. (Anti-essentialist account of ethnicity.)
  • Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter.
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 1990. (Brilliant; essential reading.)
  • Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power. (Crucial for thinking about agency and subjection.)
  • Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slovoj Zizek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. London: Verso.
  • Jeremy Carrette and Richard King, Selling Spirituality. London: Routledge.
  • William Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious ViolenceOxford: Oxford UP.
  • Dana L. Cloud, Control and Consolation in American Culture and Politics. SAGE, 1997. (Cutting critique of how psychology can reinforce the status quo in modern society.)
  • Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community. London: Routledge.
  • Gilles Deleuze, Empiricism and Subjectivity.
  • Gilles Deleuze, Foucault.
  • Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Jacques Derrida, Dissemination. Chicago UP.
  • Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origins of Geometry’: An Introduction. U of Nebraska Press. (Essential reading for reconstructing Derrida’s critique of Husserl, useful alongside Voice and  Phenomenon.)
  • Jacques Derrida, Glas. (Derrida’s magnum opus, in my opinion; a brilliant reading of Hegel’s body of work.)
  • Jacques Derrida, Heidegger: The Question of Being and History. Chicago UP, 2016. (A lecture series Derrida delivered in 1964 and 1965; a valuable text for reconstructing Derrida’s reading of Heidegger in the late 60s and early 70s.)
  • Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc. Northwestern University Press.
  • Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.
  • Jacques Derrida, Voice and Phenomenon. Trans. by Leonard Lawlor. Northwestern University Press, 2010. (Lawlor’s translation of this brilliant book is far superior to David Allison’s earlier translation.)
  • Guy Deutscher, Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. Metropolitan Books. (A very accessible account of how language shapes the perception of color.)
  • John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty. (A great defense of American pragmatism.)
  • Leslie Dorrough Smith, Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America. Oxford UP. (An excellent critique of evangelical discourses.)
  • Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think. Syracuse University Press, 1986.
  • Emile Durkheim, Division of Labor in Society.
  • Emile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
  • Emile Durkheim, Rules of Sociological Method.
  • Durkheim and Mauss, Symbolic Classification.
  • Torben Bech Dyrberg, The Circular Structure of Power: Politics, Identity, Community. London: Verso, 1997. (A difficult book, but provides a valuable critique of the concept of “interests,” specifically the idea that “interests” coudl ever be objective.)
  • Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso, 1991.
  • Nina Eliasoph, Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion. Oxford UP. (Essential reading for understanding the relation between European anthropology and colonialism.)
  • E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande. Oxford UP, 1976. (Evans-Pritchard’s book is a brilliant use of social functionalism.)
  • Norman Fairclough, Discourse and Social Change. Polity, 1992. (This is likely Fairclough’s most important book defending his version of discourse analysis.)
  • Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality.
  • Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2010. (An accessible book aimed at a popular audience; persuasively argues against gender essentialism.)
  • Stanley Fish, Doing What Comes Naturally. Duke UP.
  • Stanley Fish, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing Too. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Stanley Fish, The Trouble with Principle. Harvard UP.
  • Timothy Fitzgerald, Civility and Barbarity. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Timothy Fitzgerald, The Ideology of Religious Studies. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge.
  • Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France, 1978-79. New York: Palgrave, 2008.
  • Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage.
  • Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: Volume 1. New York: Vintage.
  • Michel Foucault, Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984. London: Routledge, 1990.
  • Michel Foucault, Power (The Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume 3). New York: New Press 2001.
  • Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon.
  • Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-78. New York: Picador, 2009.
  • Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76.New York: Picador, 2003.
  • Stephan Fuchs, Against Essentialism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • Rudolphe Gasche, The Tain of the Mirror. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (In my opinion this is the best commentary on Derrida’s work in the 60s and 70s.)
  • Anthony Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • Anthony Giddens, The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkely: University of California Press.
  • Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor, 1959.
  • Alison Gopnik and Andrew Meltznoff, Words, Thoughts, and Theories. MIT Press, 1998. (Valuable analysis of how infants perceive and conceptualize the world around them; useful for thinking about the limits of social constructionism.)
  • Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: International Publishers.
  • Ian Hacking, Historical Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Ian Hacking, The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
  • Martin Hagglund, Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford UP, 2008. (Several of the chapters in this volume are useful for understanding Derrida’s early work.)
  • David Harvey, A Brief History of Liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity.
  • David Harvey, The Limits to Capital, Second Edition. London, Verso.
  • David Harvey, The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Martin Heidegger, Being and Time.
  • Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. Indiana UP, 1997. (Very important for understanding Heidegger’s development after Being in Time, as well as for understanding Derrida’s interpretation of Heidegger; a very difficult text, however.)
  • Donald Hoffman, Visual Intelligence: How We Create what We See. W.W. Norton, 1998. (Scientific account of how our eyes and brains construct our visual world; anti-realist in its approach.)
  • Aaron W. Hughes, Abrahamic Religions. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Aaron W. Hughes, Situating Islam. London: Equinox Publishing.
  • Aaron W. Hughes, Theorizing Islam. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.
  • David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. (A brilliant and damning critique oft he arguments for the existence of God.)
  • C.W. Huntington, The Emptiness of Emptiness: An Introduction to Early Indian Madhyamka. U of Hawaii Press, 1995. (An excellent introduction to the main themes of Madhyamaka.)
  • Edmund Husserl, Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy. Hackett, 2014. (Probably the best starting point for reading Husserl; essential for understanding Derrida’s early writings on Husserl.)
  • Peter Ives, Language and Hegemony in Gramsci. Pluto Press.
  • Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Dwijendra Narayan Jha, Rethinking Hindu Identity. London: Equinox Publishing. (Valuable critique of Hindutva.)
  • Allan Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw Hill. (Accessible introductory textbook useful for getting students to think about power differentials in society.)
  • David I. Kertzer, Ritual, Politics, and Power. Yale University Press.
  • Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.
  • George Lakoff, Whose Freedom? The Battle of America’s Most Important Idea. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2006.
  • George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
  • Kimberly J. Lau, New Age Capitalism. U of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. (Valuable critique of New Age consumerism, connections to orientalist stereotypes, etc.)
  • Leonard Lawlor, Derrida and Husserl: The Basic Problem of Phenomenology. Indiana UP, 2002. (Essential reading on Derrida’s interpretation of Husserl.)
  • Jennifer M. Lehmann, Deconstructing Durkheim. Routledge. (An accessible and clear commentary on Durkheim’s work, esp. Division of Labor.)
  • Claude Levi-Strauss, Totemism. (Levi-Strauss’ critique of the category of “totemism” is brilliant and damning; essential reading for thinking about the relations between European scholarship and colonialism.)
  • Thomas A. Lewis, Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion—and Vice Versa. Oxford UP, 2015. (Lewis’ critique of Prothero’s book on “religious literacy” is worth the price of admission in my opinion.)
  • Bruce Lincoln, Authority: Construction and Corrosion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Death, War, and Sacrifice.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Emerging from the Chrysalis. Chicago: Chicago UP.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2012.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors. Chicago: Chicago UP.
  • Bruce Lincoln, Religion, Empire, and Torture: The Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • Judith Lorber, Paradoxes of Gender. Yale University Press.
  • Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion: The Transformation of Symbols in Industrial Society.
  • Steven Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work: A Historical and Critical Study. (Fantastic commentary on Durkheim; a magnum opus.)
  • Steven Lukes, Essays in Social Theory.
  • Steven Lukes, Individualism. (A brilliant little critique of the ideology of individualism.)
  • Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia.
  • Karl Marx, Capital: Volume 1. Trans. by Ben Fowkes. New York: Penguin, 1992.
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition. Ed. by Robert C. Tucker. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978.
  • Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions. Chicago: Chicago UP.
  • Russell T. McCutcheon, Critics not Caretakers. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Russell T. McCutcheon, The Discipline of Religion. London: Routledge.
  • Russell T. McCutcheon, Manufacturing Religion. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Russell T. McCutcheon, Religion and the Domestication of Dissent. London: Equinox Publishing.
  • Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Demonstrates that imperialism and liberalism are more than contingently related.)
  • Timothy Melley, The Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America. Cornell UP. (Offers a valuable critique of individualism in American ideology.)
  • Peter Miller, Domination and Power. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1987
  • Elizabeth Kammarck Minnich, Transforming Knowledge. Temple University Press.
  • Dawne Moon, God, Sex, and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Chantal Mouffe (ed.), Gramsci and Marxist Theory. London: Routledge, 1979.
  • Tim Murphy, The Politics of Spirit. Albany: State University of New York Press. (The best critique of phenomenology in religious studies; essential reading.)
  • Tim Murphy, Representing Religion. London: Equinox Publishing, 2007.
  • Serena Nanda, Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations.
  • Rodney Needham, Belief, Language, and Experience. U of Chicago Press, 1973. (Valuable critique of the concept of “belief” and the way its projected by anthropologists onto societies that don’t have an analogous term.)
  • Rodney Needham, Symbolic Classification. (Concise and accessible monograph on classification.)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals.
  • Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. Yale UP, 2013. (Probably the best introduction to the critique of the concept of “religion,” although a bit dense for undergraduates.)
  • Marrati Paola, Genesis and Trace: Derrida Reading Husserl and Heidegger. Stanford UP, 2005. (A brilliant commentary on Derrida’s work on Husserl.)
  • John Powers, History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People’s Republic of China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hilary Putnam, The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 2004.
  • Hilary Putnam, Ethics without Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • Herman Rappaport, Heidegger and Derrida. U of Nebraska Press, 1991. (Somewhat useful for sorting out Heidegger’s influence on Derrida, as well as Derrida’s critique of Heidegger.)
  • Terry Rey, Bourdieu: Imposing Faith and Legitimacy. London: Equinox. (A great introduction to Bourdieu for students of religion.)
  • Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul. 
  • Nikolas Rose, Inventing Ourselves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nikolas Rose and Peter Miller, Governing the Present.
  • Beth Roy, Some Trouble With Cows: Making Sense of Social Conflict. Berkely: University of California Press.
  • Marshall Sahlins, Culture and Practical Reason. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1976. (Alongside Williams’ Marxism and Literature, probably the best critique of vulgar Marxism.)
  • Marshall Sahlins, Culture in PracticeZone Books.
  • Marshall Sahlins, Islands of History. Chicago University Press.
  • Edward Schiappa, Defining Reality: Definitions and the Politics of Meaning. Carbondale, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
  • James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance.
  • James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak.
  • John R. Searle, The Construction of Social Reality. New York: Free Press. (Problematic critique of social constructionism, but Searle does offer some valuable insights.)
  • Jonathan Z. Smith, Imagining Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Jonathan Z. Smith, Relating Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
  • David Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Accessible commentary on Bourdieu’s work.)
  • Henri Tajfel, Human Groups and Social Categories. Cambridge UP, 1981. (A classic in social psychology.)
  • John B. Thompson, Ideology and Modern Culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. (A careful and thorough consideration of the history of the concept of ideology; Thompson offers his own theory of how the term can best be used in social theory.)
  • John B. Thompson. Studies in the Theory of Ideology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985.
  • Rudi Visker, Michel Foucault: Genealogy as Critique. Verso, 1995. (Provides an important critique of Foucault’s body of work, focusing on the tensions between Foucault’s anti-realism and his concern for dominated subjectivities; arguably the most important book on Foucault I’ve read, apart from Butler’s Gender Trouble.)
  • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
  • Jan Westerhoff, Dispeller of Disputes: Nagarjuna’s Vigrahavyavartani. Oxford UP, 2010. (Westerhoff’s translation and commentary on one of Nagarjuna’s important texts.)
  • Jan Westerhoff, Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. (Excellent introduction to Madhyamaka, through Westerhoff’s interpretation.)
  • Jan Westerhoff, Reality: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP, 2011. (The chapter on whether or not “matter” is real is worth the price of admission; absolutely brilliant anti-structural critique of materialism.)
  • Bernard Williams, Making Sense of Humanity. Cambridge UP, 1995. (The chapters on volunteerism and morality are worth the price of admission; very useful for thinking about morality without relying on a “free will” of any sort.)
  • Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature. Oxford UP.  (A classic; useful for its critique of vulgar Marxism.)
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1958.
  • Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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