October 1, 2008
Contact: Emanuel Costache ’09
Media Relations Intern
AMHERST, Mass.—Thomas Dumm, professor of political science at Amherst College, has just published Loneliness as a Way of Life ($24, Harvard University Press, 2008), an inquiry into what he calls “modern loneliness,” “loneliness that has permeated the modern world.” Philosopher and political scientist William E. Connolly said, “This is a book about coming to believe in this world, a world in which loneliness is inevitable and connections are still possible.”
Drawing on a vast canon of literature, from Shakespeare to Pynchon, Dumm seeks to come to terms with inhabiting his loneliness. But the story is grounded in the details of his litany of personal losses: a mother, a wife and, most recently, a daughter gone off to college. He begins with Lear, tracing out the pathos of the absent mother—an idea that haunts his “Loving” and “Grieving” chapters—and ends with Oedipa Maas, whose revelation about the nature of metaphor leads Dumm to declare, about his wife, “I will always remember the memory of her.”
Dumm’s most recent books are A Politics of the Ordinary and Michel Foucault and the Politics of Freedom. In 2001, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to support research for what became Loneliness as a Way of Life. At Amherst since 1985, Dumm regularly teaches courses in contemporary political theory and the politics of moral reasoning.