Humiliation: And Other Essays on Honor, Social Discomfort, and Violence

Overview

How do we feel when our friend turns up with a holiday present and we have nothing ready to give in exchange? What lies behind our small social panics and the maneuvers we use, to avoid losing face? Recognizing how much we care about how others see us, this wise and witty book tackles the complex subject of humiliation and the emotions that keep us going as self-respecting social actors.

William Ian Miller writes astutely about a host of homely and seemingly banal social ...

See more details below
Paperback
$21.10
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$24.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $18.08   
  • Used (5) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

How do we feel when our friend turns up with a holiday present and we have nothing ready to give in exchange? What lies behind our small social panics and the maneuvers we use, to avoid losing face? Recognizing how much we care about how others see us, this wise and witty book tackles the complex subject of humiliation and the emotions that keep us going as self-respecting social actors.

William Ian Miller writes astutely about a host of homely and seemingly banal social occasions and shows us what is buried behind them. In his view, our lives are permeated with sometimes merely uncomfortable, sometimes hair-raising rituals of shame and humiliation. Take the unwanted dinner invitation, the exchange of valentines in grade school, or the "diabolically ingenious invention of the bridal registry." Readers will have no trouble recognizing the social situations he finds indicative of our often perilous dealings with each other.

Educated as a literary critic and philologist, by profession a historian of medieval Iceland, by employment a law professor, Miller ranges comfortably beyond his areas of formal expertise to talk about emotions across time and culture. His scenarios are based on incidents from his own college town and from the Iceland of the sagas. He also makes incursions into the emotional worlds represented in the Middle English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in some of the works of Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and others. Indeed, one theme that gradually becomes specific is how meaning travels from one culture to another. Ancient codes of honor, he insists, still function in contemporary American life.

Some of Miller's narratives are unsettling, and he acknowledges that a certain ironical misanthropy may run through his discussions. But he succeeds in cutting through a mountain of pretensions to entertain and enlighten us.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In an illuminating and darkly intelligent study, Miller has revealed humiliation as the closet dominatrix she is, an emotion whose power to discipline us makes the world go round. . . . Miller makes his pages blaze and roar by throwing another handful of hollow complacencies upon the fire. . . . The five essays making up this book are about the persistence of the norm of reciprocity in our daily lives, about the possibility of tracking emotions across time and culture, and about the ways in which shame and envy and especially humiliation sustain 'cultures of honor' to this day."—Speculum

"Translating emotions over time and across cultures is Miller's major methodological challenge—and he meets it with ranging and learned references, a wry and unpretentious style, and a genuine respect for the power of those ancient, forgotten sources on which modern social exchange depends."—Kirkus Reviews

"Miller deploys the resources of a host of disparate disciplines in order to reveal the remarkable richness of certain emotional experiences—emotions that help shape the words and actions of human beings when they perform the immensely complex work ofmaintaining the social worlds that they construct, and which help construct them. In doing so, he has written a unique and valuable book."—Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities

Booknews
Miller, educated as a literary critic and philologist, is a historian of medieval Iceland who is employed as a law professor. He writes about emotions across time and culture, drawing on his own experience, the Iceland of the sagas, the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other literary works. His theme is the way in which ancient codes of honor still function in contemporary life. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801481178
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/1995
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Burning a Witch 1
1 Requiting the Unwanted Gift 15
2 Getting a Fix on Violence 53
3 Emotions, Honor, and the Affective Life of the Heroic 93
4 Humiliation - Part I: Its Domain and Strategies of Avoiding It 131
5 Humiliation - Part II: Historicizing Humiliation 175
Epilogue 203
Notes 209
Works Cited 245
Index 263
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)