Introduction: Both Flesh and Not
This chapter first attends to the main terms of the book’s title, “flesh” and “poetics,” tracing the evocations of “flesh” within Christian imaginaries and in postmodern philosophical reflection and introduces Édouard Glissant’s notion of “poetics” as a methodological guide. This section then outlines theological and theoretical discussions about “body” to show where Christian theologies of the body might meet theoretical debates about the social-material dimensions of corporeality. Recent developments in science and technology also trouble our received assumption about the relationship between material and socio-cultural dimensions of life, adding to the rising demand for more materialist approaches in academic humanities. The introduction traces some of the dominant features of the “new materialist” theorizing that has emerged in response to these scientific developments. The final section outlines the arc of the book’s argument, which unfolds in three parts to follow flesh in theology, philosophy, and social thought.