[spectre] A History of Asking by Steven Connor - open access book

Gary Hall mail at garyhall.info
Wed May 17 14:02:39 CEST 2023

Open Humanities Press is pleased to announce the publication of A 
History of Asking by Steven Connor.

Like all Open Humanities Press books, A History of Askingis available 
open access (it can be downloaded for free):


*Book description:*

Asking is one of the simplest and most familiar of human actions, and 
has a right to be thought of as single most powerful and most variously 
cohering form of social-symbolic gesture. Because so much is at stake in 
the act of asking, asking, or asking for, almost anything, whether 
information, help, love or respect, can be asking for trouble, so a 
great deal of care must be taken with the ways in which asking occurs 
and is responded. A History of Asking is the first attempt to grasp the 
unity and variety of the technics and technologies of asking, in all its 
modalities, as they extend across a spectrum from weak forms like 
begging, pleading, praying, imploring, beseeching, entreating, suing, 
supplicating and soliciting, through to the more assertively and even 
aggressively self-authorising modes of asking, like proposing, offering, 
inviting, requesting, appealing, applying, petitioning, claiming and 
demanding. The book considers the history of 6 broad modes of petitory 
practice. The act of begging, both among animals and humans is 
considered in terms of its theatrics. The institution of the political 
petition, protocols for which seem to arise in also every system of 
government of which we have knowledge, is tracked through from late 
medieval to nineteenth-century Britain. The act of prayer, central to 
religious practice, though often the last form of religious behaviour to 
fall away among those lapsing from adherence, and one of the religious 
practices that is most likely to be adhered to in the absence of any 
other religious commitment, is the subject of sustained scrutiny. The 
appeal of prayer is essentially to the fact of participation in 
language, and the specific forms of commitment to the condition of being 
bound, bindable, or biddable by it. Wooing and the associated economics 
of seduction and solicitation are tracked through from the formalisation 
of the conventions of courtly love in the 12th century through to modern 
techniques of flirtation. The book revives the antique term ‘suitage’ in 
order to discuss all the forms of sueing and suitorship for favours or 
advantage, as well as, more broadly the act, pursued almost life-long, 
of trying to get one another to do things for us, in particular in 
indirect or vicarious forms of what may be called ‘interpetition’, such 
as the dedications of books to patrons, the institution of the 
testimonial or letter of reference and the practices of flattery. A 
History of Asking concludes with a discussion of the many ways in which 
our necessarily parasitic relations on each other in a complex society 
are both conveyed and dissimulated, especially through the ways in which 
we summon and salute different kinds of service.

*Author Bio*

Steven Connor is Grace 2 Professor of English Emeritus in the University 
of Cambridge and Professor of Living Well with Technology at King’s 
College London. He is a writer, critic and broadcaster, who has 
published books on Dickens, Beckett, Joyce and postmodernism, as well as 
on topics such as ventriloquism, skin, flies, air and numbers. His 
website at http://stevenconnor.com includes lectures, broadcasts, 
unpublished work and work in progress.



*Other recent open access**titles**from Open Humanities Press include:

Articulating Media: Genealogy, Interface, Situation, edited by James 
Gabrillo and Nathaniel 

Data Farms, edited by Tsvetelina Hristova, Brett Neilson and Ned 
Rossiter: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/data-farms/

/Geological Filmmaking/ by Sasha Litvintseva: 

/Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence/, edited 
by Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting: 


/Glitch Poetics /by Nathan Allen Jones: 



/Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative/, edited by Bernard Stiegler and the 
Internation Collective: 


/Fabricating Publics: The Dissemination of Culture in the Post-truth 
Era/, edited by Bill Balaskas and Carolina Rito: 



/Feminist, Queer, Anticolonial Propositions for Hacking the 
Anthropocene: Archive/, edited by Jennifer Mae Hamilton, Susan Reid, Pia 
van Gelder and Astrida Neimanis:


/La magie réaliste: objets, ontologie et causalité/by**Timothy Morton: 

/A Stubborn Fury: How Writing Works in Elitist Britain/by Gary Hall: 

Gary Hall
Professor of Media
Director of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University:

Mastodon: @garyhall at hcommons.social

Director of Open Humanities Press:http://www.openhumanitiespress.org  


Journal article (open access) 'Defund Culture':https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/commentary/defund-culture

Book review: ‘Review of Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage' by Matthew Kirschenbaum:https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/721475

Blog post: 'Experimenting With Copyright Licences':https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/combinatorial-books-documentation-copyright-licences-post6/release/1

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