Peter Coviello is the author of four books, the most recent of which are Make Yourselves Gods: Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism (Chicago, 2019) and Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs (Penguin, 2018), selected as one of ARTFORUM’s Ten Best Books of 2018. He has written widely about American literature, as well as the history of sexuality, stepparenthood, pop songs, queer childhood, polygamy, and Prince. In 2017-18, he was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton. He is Professor of English at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Puar reads Palestine not as a state of exception, but as something considerably more potent. As I read it, Palestine emerges rather as a theater of biopolitical experiment, in which control societies test out, through varying styles of life-halting or -inhibiting violence, the modes of regulation proper to surplus populations.
Thoreau is a figure who all at once embodies, hyperbolizes, and in that hyperbolization lays excruciatingly bare the contradictions of what Michael Warner calls “liberal culture,” and that for our part we might name secular capitalist modernity.