'Now that the late 20th-century infatuation with transgression as an end itself has lost much of its power, it is time to explore the sources and weigh the consequences of its disturbing appeal. Drawing on a wide range of evidence from philosophical, literary, anthropological and sociological discourses, Chris Jenks soberly measures their exuberance for transgression against the horrors of contemporary instances of violent excess. Not since Stallybrass and White's classic The Politics and Poetics of Transgression has so much pressure been put on this fascinating and troubling concept.' - Martin Jay, University of California, Berkley, USA Trangression is an edge-work...a self-challenge to the intellectual, moral and aesthetic categories that order disciplinary life in the arts and sciences. Jenk's strategy is to tip the canonical order/disorder problem off its Durkheimian and Hegelian legs into the vortex of excess, eroticism, violence, madness, serial crime and carnival opened up by Bataille and the Surrealists. The result is a fast-moving narrative that recovers the sociological significance of Artaud, Rimbaud, Debord and Bakhtin whose anti-modernity was the transgressive force that launched our more established postmodernity.' - John O'Neill, York University, Canada
Transgression is truly a key idea for our time. Society is created by constraint and boundaries, but as our culture is increasingly subject to uncertainty and flux we find it more and more difficult to determine where those boundaries lie. In this fast moving study, Chris Jenks ranges widely over the history of ideas, the major theorists, and the significant moments in the formation of the idea of transgression. He looks at the definition of the social and its boundaries by Durkheim, Douglas and Freud, at the German tradition of Hegel and Nietzsche, and the increasing preoccupation with transgression itself in Baudelaire, Bataille and Foucault. The second half of the book looks at transgression in action in the East End myth of the Kray twins, in Artaud's theatre of cruelty, the spectacle of the Situationists and Bakhtin's analysis of carnival. Finally Jenks extends his treatment of transgression to its own extremity.