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Book Launch

Book Launch | Barbara Celarent: Varieties of Social Imagination

04/03 Monday | 6pm

The Institute for Public Knowledge and the Department of Sociology at NYU invite you to join us for a book launch celebrating the release of Varieties of Social Imagination, the collected works of the pseudonymous Barbara Celarent, edited by sociologist Andrew Abbott. Abbott will present this intriguing work in discussion with Paola Castaño, Daniel Huebner, and  Peter Miller.

In July 2009, the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) began publishing book reviews by an individual writing as Barbara Celarent, professor of particularity at the University of Atlantis in the mid-21st Century. Mysterious in origin, Celarent’s essays taken together provide a broad introduction to social thinking. Through the close reading of important texts, Celarent’s short, informative, and analytic essays engaged with long traditions of social thought across the globe—from India, Brazil, and China to South Africa, Turkey, and Peru. . . and occasionally the United States and Europe. These writings ceased in 2015.

Sociologist and AJS editor Andrew Abbott edited the Celarent essays, and in Varieties of Social Imagination he introduces and brings the work together for the first time. The thirty-six meditations allow readers not only to engage more deeply with a diversity of thinkers from the past, but to imagine more fully a sociology—and a broader social science—for the future.


Andrew Abbott is Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. From 2000 to 2016 he served as editor of the American Journal of Sociology. Abbott is the author numerous books in the sociology of knowledge, including The System of ProfessionsChaos of DisciplinesTime Matters, and Methods of Discovery. His newest book, Processual Sociology, was released last year.

Barbara Celarent is a courtesy name for an aspect of universality that sometimes took particular form in the period 2009-2015. She was interested in encountering and comprehending the phenomena of particularity and difference, including through a series of essays about old books in social science. Celarent is/was/will be Professor of Particularity at the University of Atlantis. In late 2015 (or 2053 possibly) she returned to universality.

Paola Castaño is a postdoctoral fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. An ethnographer and sociologist, she is a former Guggenheim Postdoctoral Fellow of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and is currently working on a book about scientific research on the International Space Station. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

Daniel R. Huebner is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is the author of Becoming Mead: The Social Process of Academic Knowing, for which he won the Charles Horton Cooley Award for Best Book from the ASA’s Society for the Study of Social Interaction, and also the editor, with Hans Joas, of The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead. His current work examines the development of teacher education in the post-Civil War South, the organization of knowledge production in early press clipping bureaus, and the role of theories of history and fiction in classical social theories.

Peter Miller is Dean of the Bard Graduate Center and Professor of Cultural History. Among his recent publications are Peiresc’s Mediterranean World (2015) and the edited volumes Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China (with François Louis), The Sea: Thalassography and Historiography, and Cultural Histories of the Material World.  Miller is a past fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/ Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. His newest work, History and Its Objects, will be released in April.

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