This provocative work takes issue with the idea that Socialist Realism was mainly the creation of party leaders and was imposed from above on the literati who lived and worked under the Soviet regime. Evgeny Dobrenko, a leading expert on Soviet literature, argues instead--and offers persuasive evidence--that the aesthetic theories underpinning Socialist Realism arose among the writers themselves, born of their proponents' desire for power in the realm of literary policymaking. Accordingly, Dobrenko closely considers the evolution of these theories, deciphering the power relations and social conditions that helped to shape them.
In chapters on Proletkult, RAPP, LEF, and Pereval, Dobrenko reexamines the theories generated by these major Marxist literary groupings of the early Soviet Union. He shows how each approached the problems of literature's response to the presumed social mandate of the young communist society, and how Socialist Realism emerged as a conglomerate of these earlier, revolutionary theories. With extensive and detailed reference to supporting testimony and documents, Dobrenko clearly demonstrates how Socialist Realism was created from within the revolutionary culture, and how this culture and its disciples fully participated in this creative process. His work represents a major breakthrough in our current understanding of the complex sources that contributed to early Soviet culture.
Seeks to penetrate the logic, social structure, and daily practice of life in American military communities in Germany
Army life has always been known as a life of sacrifice, challenge, and frustration, yet one filled also with deep satisfactions. This is so for the soldiers’ families as much as for the soldiers themselves. Over the years, military and civilian leaders of the US Army have tried to reduce the hardships of military life by creating an array of community services designed to provide social support for soldiers and families and help them live satisfying lives in military communities.
Unfortunately, this effort has not been particularly successful, and frustration, dissatisfaction, and alienation persist among soldiers and family member in the US Army communities in Germany. Discontent continues because the underlying sources of alienation in the Army and among its families are highly complex, poorly understood, and therefore hardly addressed by the Army’s quality-of-life programs that are intended to make solider and family life more bearable.
In Army of Hope, Army of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army Communities of Cold War Germany, the author seeks to penetrate the logic, social structure, and daily practice of life in the American military communities that lay scattered along the frontier between East and West Germany during the final years of the Cold War. In coming to understand the life and though of these American soldiers and families, ordinary American citizens can learn much about their military forces and about their own society and culture. In addition, a greater understanding about how people work and live around an institution that is at once so important and yet tasked with a mission so different from that of ordinary pursuits can stimulate social scientists and concerned citizens to think differently about culture, society, and behavior in general.
William Blake’s reputation as a staunch individualist is based in large measure on his repeated attacks on institutions and belief systems that constrain the individual’s imagination. Blake, however, rarely represents isolation positively, suggesting that the individual’s absolute freedom from communal pressures is not the ideal. Instead, as Julia Wright argues in her award-winning study Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation, Blake’s concern lies with the kind of community that is being established. Moreover, writing at the moment of the emergence of modern nationalism, Blake reveals a concern with the national community in particular.
Beginning with a discussion of the priority of national narrative in late-eighteenth-century art theory and antiquarianism, Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation traces its relevance in Blake’s printed works, from The Poetical Sketches and the Lambeth Prophecies to The Laocoön. Professor Wright then turns to Europe, America, and Visions of the Daughters of Albion, focusing on Blake’s portrayals of particular characters’ alienation from the groups and ideologies represented in the texts. The book closes by arguing that Blake’s major printed works, Milton and Jerusalem, are explicit and extensive engagements with the question of nation—and empire.
Although nationalism existed in various forms during the Romantic period, Blake’s contemporaries generally assumed that nations should progress continuously, producing a clear narrative line from an auspicious origin to the perfect fulfillment of that promise. Wright argues that these mutually determining constructs of national character and national narrative inform Blake’s handling of the problem of the individual-within-a-community.
The Future of Alienation
Richard Schacht University of Illinois Press, 1994 Library of Congress B808.2.S33 1994 | Dewey Decimal 302.544
Richard Schacht has long argued that alienation theory can shed important light upon aspects of life in the modern world and upon our human predicament. The essays here call for a rethinking of a variety of forms of alienation in light of contemporary dynamics and a clearer understanding of the dialectic of human selfhood and social participation.
They call for a renewed interest in alienation theory; they counter the myth that, with the collapse of the Soviet empire, Marx's thinking has been "refuted"; and they argue for an enhanced sensitivity to the problem of how we describe, interpret, and evaluate the world around us in light of the complexity and diversity that alienation theory reveals.
Psychology is meant to help people cope with the afflictions of modern society. But how useful is it? Ian Parker argues that current psychological practice has become part of the problem rather than the solution. Ideal for undergraduates, this book unravels the discipline to reveal the conformist assumptions that underlie its theory and practice. Psychology focuses on the happiness of "the individual." Yet it neglects the fact that personal experience depends on social and political surroundings. Parker argues that a new approach to psychology is needed. He offers an alternative vision, outlining how debates in the discipline can be linked to political practice and how it can become part of a wider progressive agenda. Parker's groundbreaking book is at the cutting edge of current thinking on the discipline and should be required reading in all psychology courses.
Best known for his two-year sojourn at Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau is often considered a recluse who emerged from solitude only occasionally to take a stand on the issues of his day. In Thoreau’s Democratic Withdrawal, Shannon L. Mariotti explores Thoreau’s nature writings to offer a new way of understanding the unique politics of the so-called hermit of Walden Pond. Drawing imaginatively from the twentieth-century German social theorist Theodor W. Adorno, she shows how withdrawal from the public sphere can paradoxically be a valuable part of democratic politics.
Separated by time, space, and context, Thoreau and Adorno share a common belief that critical inquiry is essential to democracy but threatened by modern society. While walking, huckleberrying, and picking wild apples, Thoreau tries to recover the capacities for independent perception and thought that are blunted by “Main Street,” conventional society, and the rapidly industrializing world that surrounded him. Adorno’s thoughts on particularity and the microscopic gaze he employs to work against the alienated experience of modernity help us better understand the value of Thoreau’s excursions into nature. Reading Thoreau with Adorno, we see how periodic withdrawals from public spaces are not necessarily apolitical or apathetic but can revitalize our capacity for the critical thought that truly defines democracy.
In graceful, readable prose, Mariotti reintroduces us to a celebrated American thinker, offers new insights on Adorno, and highlights the striking common ground they share. Their provocative and challenging ideas, she shows, still hold lessons on how we can be responsible citizens in a society that often discourages original, critical analysis of public issues.
As a philosophical and social concept, alienation covers a broad range of mental states, both normal and abnormal. Correspondingly, a wide range of literary forms has been employed to deal with this important theme. In Three Authors of Alienation, an exploration of the literary expression of alienation, M. Ian Adams discusses the works of three contemporary Latin American authors.
The fiction of María Luisa Bombal, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Alejo Carpentier reflects alienation, disgust with life, and a feeling of nothingness arising from the conditions of modern society. However, each author treats the theme differently. In La última niebla, María Luisa Bombal uses poetic imagery to create the emotional life of the protagonist. Juan Carlos Onetti portrays the schizoid extreme of alienation with a complex of symbols based on changes of vision caused by the mental states of his characters. In Los pasos perdidos, Alejo Carpentier presents the problem of the modern alienated artist who attempts to rid himself of his social alienation by changing times and cultures.
In his close analysis of the works discussed, Adams considers each literary element in its context and also in terms of its relation to the larger artistic vision of the author. In addition, he places the works of the three authors in the greater perspective of modern social problems by discussing the concepts of social alienation proposed by Erich Fromm and Erich Kahler. His conclusion is that, although disgust with life and feelings of meaninglessness are at the heart of the experiences of the characters of all three authors, only in Alejo Carpentier’s Los pasos perdidos are social conditions the major cause of alienation. In the works of Bombal and Onetti, alienation is a result not of social conditions, but of factors unique to the characters’ personalities and circumstances.
Three Authors of Alienation is a solid contribution to criticism of contemporary Latin American narrative. Adams’s projection of a social problem into the realm of aesthetic experience yields intriguing interpretations of both the problem and the literature.
Daisy Al-Amir is one of the more visible figures in women's fiction in the Arab world today. This collection of stories, originally published in Lebanon as Ala La'ihat al-Intizar, is the most recent of her five publications. Her stories intimately reflect women's experiences in the chaotic worlds of the Lebanese civil war and the rise of Saadam Hussain as Iraq's leader. Set in Iraq, Cyprus, and Lebanon, the stories shed light on an unusual Middle East refugee experience—that of a cultural refugee, a divorced woman who is educated, affluent, and alone.
Al-Amir is also a poet and novelist, whose sensual prose grows out of a long tradition of Iraqi poetry. But one also finds existential themes in her works, as Al-Amir tries to balance what seems fated and what seems arbitrary in the turbulent world she inhabits. She deals with time and space in a minimalist, surreal style, while studying the disappointments of life through the subjective lens of memory. Honestly facing the absence of family and the instability of place, Al-Amir gives lifelike qualities to the inanimate objects of her rapidly changing world.
In addition to the stories, two examples of the author's experimental poems are included. In her introduction, Mona Mikhail places these stories and poems in the context of contemporary Islamic literature and gender studies.
The southwestern Pennsylvania town of Connellsville lay in the middle of a massive reserve of high quality coal. Connellsville coal was so soft and easily worked that one man and a boy could cut and load ten tons of it in ten hours.
This region became a major source of coke, a vital material in industrial processes, above all in steel manufacture, producing forty-seven percent of America`s supply in 1913. But by the 1920s, what had seemed to be a gold mine was turning into a devastating economic, environmental and social loss.
In Wealth, Waste and Alienation, Kenneth Warren draws from primary source material, including the minutes and letters of the Carnegie Steel Company, the United States Steel Corporation, and the archives of Henry Clay Frick, to explain the birth, phenomenal growth, decline and death of the Connellsville coke industry. Its rich natural resources produced wealth for individuals, companies, and some communities, but as Warren shows, there was also social alienation, waste, and devastation of the natural environment. The complicated structure of enterprise, capital, and labor which made this region flourish unwound almost as quickly as it arose, creating repercussions that are still reverberating in what’s left of Connellsville today, a kind of postindustrial rural shell of its former productive glory.