Reflections on Contemporary Comportment

Edited by Ron Scapp & Brian Seitz

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, Hot Topics: Contemporary Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791469361, 268 pages, November 2006
Hardcover : 9780791469354, 268 pages, November 2006

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Table of contents

On Being Becoming
Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz
1. Aristotle's Aesthetiquette
Nickolas Pappas

2. The Art of the Dis: Hip-Hop's Battle Royale
Lynne d Johnson

3. Gay Etiquette: A Brief Consideration
Jeff Weinstein

4. The Breathing Breach of Etiquette
Kenneth J. Saltman

5. The Etiquette of Adoption
Michael D. Colberg

6. Impolitics: Toward a Resistant Comportment
Trent H. Hamann

7. Coldness and Civility
Alison Leigh Brown

8. Eating Dogs and Women: Abject Rules of Etiquette in 301/302
Tina Chanter
9. The Taciturn Tongue: On Silence
Brian Schroeder
10. Handy Etiquette
David Farrell Krell
11. Murder So Bland: The Implosion of Disetiquette
Mark S. Roberts
12. Branded from the Start: The Paradox of (the) American (Novel of) Manners
Hildegard Hoeller
13. "Make Yourself Useful!"
Shannon Winnubst
14. The American Guest
Kevin MacDonald
15. A Place Where the Soul Can Rest
bell hooks
16. Slurping Soda, Twirling Spaghetti: Etiquette, Fascism, and Pleasure
Don Hanlon Johnson
17. Make It Look Easy: Thoughts on Social Grace
Karmen MacKendrick
18. Etiquette and Missle Defense
Robin Truth Goodman
19. Odysseus Lies
Thomas Thorp
20. Take Clothes, For Example
Hazel E. Barnes
List of Contributors

Brings etiquette into dialogue with ethics.


Etiquette, the field of multifarious prescriptions governing comportment in life's interactions, has generally been neglected by philosophers, who may be inclined to dismiss it as trivial, most specifically in contrast to ethics. Philosophy tends to grant absolute privilege to ethics over etiquette, placing the former alongside all of the traditional values favored by metaphysics (order, truth, rationality, mind, masculinity, depth, reality), while consigning the latter to metaphysics' familiar, divisive list of hazards and rejects (arbitrariness, mere opinion, irrationality, the body, femininity, surface, appearance). Addressing a broad range of subjects, from sexuality, clothes, and cell phones to hip-hop culture, bodybuilding, and imperialism, the contributors to Etiquette challenge these traditional values—not in order to favor etiquette over ethics, but to explore the various ways in which practice subtends theory, in which manners are morals, and in which ethics, the practice of living a good life, has always depended upon the graceful relations for which etiquette provides the armature.

Ron Scapp is Professor of Humanities and Teacher Education at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. He is the author of Teaching Values: Critical Perspectives on Education, Politics, and Culture. Brian Seitz is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Babson College. He is the author of The Trace of Political Representation and coeditor (with Ron Scapp) of Eating Culture, both also published by SUNY Press.


"…the essays are great fun and … show the variety of rules for society's subcultures. " — CHOICE

"There have been many books on civility in recent years, and of course there are popular manuals of etiquette, but I don't know of any other book that connects the supposedly larger and deeper questions of the polis with matters of everyday comportment. Perhaps the greatest intellectual contribution this book makes is to show connections where one would have not previously looked for them. Given how absent the question of class has been from much social theory, political philosophy, and even feminism and critical race theory, the essays focusing on how much the norms of 'polite society' have to do with reinforcing class structures are refreshing. " — Bill Martin, DePaul University