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Times of crisis expose how we experience social, physical, and emotional forms of distance. Alone with Others explores how these experiences overlap, shaping our coexistence. Departing from conventional debates that associate intimacy with affection and distance with alienation, Haustein introduces tact as a particular mode of feeling one's way and making space in the sphere of human interaction. Reconstructing tact's conceptual history from the late eighteenth century to the present, she then focuses on three specific periods of socio-political upheaval: the two World Wars, and 1968. In five reading encounters with Marcel Proust, Helmuth Plessner, Theodor Adorno, François Truffaut, and Roland Barthes, Haustein invites us to reconsider our own ways of engaging with other people, images, and texts, and to gauge the significance of tact today. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.


‘What does it mean to be tactful? Are there different forms of tact? And is being tactful always a good thing? Katja Haustein explores tact as a means to negotiate between conventions and authenticity. Drawing on the insights of Continental European literature, film, and thought, as well as on recent studies by Richard Sennett and others, she provides a penetrating analysis of this important yet often ignored concept in modern ethics and aesthetics. Lucidly written, historically informed, and philosophically convincing, Alone with Others is both a powerful exercise in intellectual history and a fascinating stimulus to examine our own behaviour.'

Henk de Berg - Professor of German, University of Sheffield

‘Alone With Others is a book for times of crisis. Through multi-disciplinary engagements with artworks, Katja Haustein re-fashions the idea of tact from a rule book of bourgeois behaviour to a theory of social relation. With a critical palette drawing on moral, political and social philosophy, on semiology and aesthetics, Alone With Others is a book about the relations of distance and proximity needed to resist the excesses of power, and through which to build communities based on understanding and respect.'

Timothy Mathews - Emeritus Professor of French and Comparative Criticism, University College London

‘Katja Haustein has written an insightful and remarkable addition to the ongoing conversation on the power of tact, which she understands, counterintuitively, as an egalitarian means of engaging with others by keeping our distance. I thoroughly enjoyed disagreeing with this book - and learning from it.’

David Caron - Professor of French and Women and Gender Studies, University of Michigan

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