[Msa-discuss] New Book Announcement / A Death of One's Own: Literature, Law, and the Right to Die

Jared Stark starkjl at eckerd.edu
Tue Mar 20 20:21:56 EDT 2018

Dear Colleagues:

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my book, *A Death of One's Own:
Literature, Law, and the Right to Die*, by Northwestern University Press.
MSA members may be particularly interested in the second chapter, "The
Modernist Art of Death: Balzac, Baudelaire, Benjamin."

More than a survey or work of advocacy, *A Death of One’s Own* examines the
consequences and limits of the three reasons most often cited for
supporting a person’s right to die: that it is justified as an expression
of personal autonomy or self-ownership; that it constitutes an act of
self-authorship, of “choosing a final chapter” in one’s life; and that it
enables what has come to be called “death with dignity.” Probing the
intersections of law and literature, the book interweaves close discussion
of major legal, political, and philosophical arguments with readings of
literary and testimonial texts by writers including Balzac, Melville,
Benjamin, and Améry.

Northwestern UP is offering a 25% discount on copies purchased directly
from the press, using code NUP18. Please direct any exam or review copy
requests to <g-bennion at northwestern.edu>, or I would be happy to forward.

A fuller description of the book can be found at <
http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu/content/death-ones-own>, and editorial
reviews by Cathy Caruth, Elisabeth Weber, and Melissa Zeiger are appended

With warm thanks for your attention,

Jared Stark
starkjl at eckerd.edu
Professor of Comparative Literature
Eckerd College


"This is a beautifully crafted work that traces a new field of scholarship,
which one might tentatively call 'modern death studies.' In conversation
with fields as diverse as biomedical ethics, US and international law,
public policy, philosophy, and cultural history, Stark’s book sets out to
explore how literature bears witness to new and deeply unsettling
experiences of modern death. Contextualizing the debate historically with
an analysis of the medicalization and thus 'denaturalization' of death in
the 19th century, and  'voluntary death' defended as an 'inalienable human
right' after the Shoah in the 20th, Stark explores with exquisite clarity
and sensitivity the controversies surrounding the 'right to die.'"
—Elisabeth Weber, author of *Kill Boxes. Facing the Legacy of US-Sponsored
Torture, Indefinite Detention*, and *Drone Warfare*

“Richly interdisciplinary, imaginatively conceived, and powerfully argued,
this book fills the gap it locates in its introduction: that we need more
subtle and capacious ways of thinking and talking about what is called
‘assisted suicide,’ ‘the right to die,’ ‘death with dignity,’ and other
locutions that seem straightforward but quickly become perplexing under
scrutiny. Dr. Stark’s book will certainly become a necessary first stop for
other writers concerned with these terms.” —Melissa Zeiger, author of *Beyond
Consolation: Death, Sexuality, and the Changing Shapes of Elegy*

"This important work places the enigmatic appeal for the right to die at
the center of contemporary human experience, raising questions about the
nature of autonomy, integrity, and dignity—and more generally about the
very nature of the human—as they are defined around this urgent and
unsettling address. Engaging concrete legal cases and arguments, Stark
rethinks central philosophical questions concerning death, life and ethical
responsibility in what he calls the 'time of postnatural death.' At the
heart of his analysis is ultimately a literary sensibility, displayed in
stunning readings of literary and critical texts, that preserves the
radical indecipherability of the appeal to die, freeing it from established
meanings and allowing for a new thinking of decision and a new dignity
'about which one can only be silent.'" —Cathy Caruth, author of *Unclaimed
Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History* and *Literature in the Ashes of
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