"Denise Riley's splendor as a writer is unclassifiable: she is language philosopher, phenomenologist, poet, feminist theorist, and cultural critic all bound into one and achieving something utterly singular. Impersonal Passion is just marvelous--gorgeous thinking and language, singular takes on common conundrums that most of us don't think deeply about let alone get to the bottom of. It is truly a book one can't put down."-- Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley "Denise Riley writes a poet's prose, and her theoretical originality more than matches the engaging quality of her writing. She puts flesh on the bones of the claim that the 'I' is an effect of language and draws her reader in both for the sake of her brilliant unpacking of existential idioms and for her renewal of the theoretical questions of where and how language locates us, and how and with what effect we can relocate ourselves."-- Ellen Rooney, Brown University "Riley examines the emotionality of language ... and captures brilliantly the excess of language. This is partly through the styles of writing through which Riley thinks--her essays are poetic and exploratory, critical and sharp--and partly through the rooting of difficult theory in concrete, and often humorous, examples. This makes Impersonal Passion enthralling to read and impossible to sum up."--Beckie Coleman, Social Semiotics "Denise Riley is a wonderful poet. It turns out that she's also a wonderful essayist as these nine essays, on essentially existentialist topics, attest. Her work is fuelled by a variety of engagements, with feminism, with linguistic theory, with philosophical and psychoanalytical sources but she's also a writer who seems to be in love with the act of writing itself, as involved with the euphony and sound aspect of her words as with a clearly investigative and exploratory approach to 'received wisdoms.' Her writing is simply a pleasure to read even when she's dealing with concepts which are difficult and take some thinking about... These essays combine the powers of a sharp analytical mind with the lyrical sensuousness of a poet."--Steve Spence, Terrible Work "Denise Riley's Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect is a collection of provocative essays on a wide variety of language-related topics. with colorful, but sometimes challenging, prose, Riley tackles such subjects as the functioning of hateful speech and how one ought to deal with it; the peculiar sensation of feeling like a liar even when one knows that one is telling the truth; the potentially paradoxical fact that language is both impersonal and general and yet partially constructs who we are; the curious fact that we somehow manage to use language effectively even though so much of it is beyond our control; what is problematic about our collective quest for social inclusiveness; how awkward and even paradoxical it is to think about one's past beauty; and the coercive and phenomenological aspects of language use."--Mary Kate McGowan, Hypatia "Riley's book ... artfully reveals the hidden affect in many mundane language games."-- Matthew J. Moore, Political Theory "Brilliant... long recognized as one of the truly original voices of contemporary feminist theory, Riley has skills as a poet and wordsmith that make the weighty philosophical and psychological concerns that subtend this volume immediately accessible."--Lynne Pearce, Feminist Theory
About the Author
Denise Riley is a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia. Her books include "The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony"; ""Am I That Name?" Feminism and the Category of "Women" in History"; and "War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother, " as well as many collections of poetry.