Bruno Latour and the Loving Assumptions of [REL]

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Abstract

In An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence, which addresses itself to the profound challenge of how to “compose” a common world in the Anthropocene, Bruno Latour proposes that the mode of religion [REL] offers a model for all the others—that of reprise. Emerging from the practice of biblical exegesis, reprise refers to an open-ended process of meaning making opposed to the rigid certainties of fundamentalism. [REL] also contributes a concept of radical transformation through love (“conversion”). For Latour, two events from the Virgin Mary’s life—the Annunciation and the Assumption—illustrate reprise and conversion, both of which are necessary in coming to terms with monogeism, the knowledge that there is only one world. This essay examines Latour’s proposed relationship between reprise and conversion through a consideration of late medieval Marian devotion. Focusing on vernacular accounts of Mary’s Assumption, the author argues that reprise leads to violent as well as loving conversions; indeed, violence can proceed in the name of love. The essay concludes that composition, reprise, and conversion come together in ways that trouble late medieval accounts of the Assumption, the mode of religion, and life in the Anthropocene.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalRomanic Review
Volume111
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 2020