Martin Jay

  • Eric J. Hobsbawm, Prospect magazine offices, London, ca. 1998. Photo: Julian Anderson/Eyevine/Redux.

    Eric J. Hobsbawm

    FEW HISTORIANS OF OUR TIME have earned as many bouquets for their professional work and brickbats for their politics as Eric J. Hobsbawm, whose death on October l, 2012, at the age of ninety-five generated extensive international commentary. Magisterial is an overworked adjective, but in his case it was fully deserved, as he was the master of a vast array of sources from the era of capitalist industrialization, nation building, and imperial expansion in Europe, which he fashioned into synthetic narratives of compelling force. This is not the time to revisit his many accomplishments as a

  • Astra Taylor, Examined Life, 2008, still from a color film in 35 mm, 88 minutes. Avital Ronell.

    Avital Ronell’s Fighting Theory

    Fighting Theory, by Avital Ronell, in conversation with Anne Dufourmantelle, translated by Catherine Porter. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010. 192 pages. $25.

    IN 1993, I PUBLISHED an essay in Salmagundi titled “The Academic Woman as Performance Artist,” which sympathetically examined the rise of a cluster of brash female provocateurs who were challenging the staid conventions of scholarly life. One of the prime examples was Avital Ronell, then a colleague at Berkeley, whom I described as an “exaggeratedly polite punk” whose “audaciously stylized and imaginatively produced Telephone Book