From the Copernican revolution of Immanuel Kant to the cognitive mapping of Fredric Jameson to the postcolonial politics of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, representation has been posed as both indispensable and impossible. In his pathbreaking work, The Abyss of Representation, George Hartley traces the development of this impossible necessity from its German Idealist roots through Marxist theories of postmodernism, arguing that in this period of skepticism and globalization we are still grappling with issues brought forth during the age of romanticism and revolution. Hartley shows how the modern problem of representation—the inability of a figure to do justice to its object—still haunts today's postmodern philosophy and politics. He reveals the ways the sublime abyss that opened up in Idealist epistemology and aesthetics resurfaces in recent theories of ideology and subjectivity.
Hartley describes how modern theory from Kant through Lacan attempts to come to terms with the sublime limits of representation and how ideas developed with the Marxist tradition—such as Marx’s theory of value, Althusser’s theory of structural causality, or Zizek’s theory of ideological enjoyment—can be seen as variants of the sublime object. Representation, he argues, is ultimately a political problem. Whether that problem be a Marxist representation of global capitalism, a deconstructive representation of subaltern women, or a Chicano self-representation opposing Anglo-American images of Mexican Americans, it is only through this grappling with the negative, Hartley explains, that a Marxist theory of postmodernism can begin to address the challenges of global capitalism and resurgent imperialism.
Although Chinese Marxism—primarily represented by Maoism—is generally seen by Western intellectuals as monolithic, Liu Kang argues that its practices and projects are as diverse as those in Western Marxism, particularly in the area of aesthetics. In this comparative study of European and Chinese Marxist traditions, Liu reveals the extent to which Chinese Marxists incorporate ideas about aesthetics and culture in their theories and practices. In doing so, he constructs a wholly new understanding of Chinese Marxism. Far from being secondary considerations in Chinese Marxism, aesthetics and culture are in fact principal concerns. In this respect, such Marxists are similar to their Western counterparts, although Europeans have had little understanding of the Chinese experience. Liu traces the genealogy of aesthetic discourse in both modern China and the West since the era of classical German thought, showing where conceptual modifications and divergences have occurred in the two traditions. He examines the work of Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Li Zehou, Qu Qiubai, and others in China, and from the West he discusses Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, and Marxist theorists including Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse. While stressing the diversity of Marxist positions within China as well as in the West, Liu explains how ideas of culture and aesthetics have offered a constructive vision for a postrevolutionary society and have affected a wide field of issues involving the problems of modernity. Forcefully argued and theoretically sophisticated, this book will appeal to students and scholars of contemporary Marxism, cultural studies, aesthetics, and modern Chinese culture, politics, and ideology.
A major literary event, the publication of this masterly translation makes one of the towering works of twentieth-century German literature available to English-speaking readers for the first time. The three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance is the crowning achievement of Peter Weiss, the internationally renowned dramatist best known for his play Marat/Sade. The first volume, presented here, was initially published in Germany in 1975; the third and final volume appeared in 1981, just six months before Weiss’s death.
Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes antifascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature. Moving from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and on to other parts of Europe, the story teems with characters, almost all of whom are based on historical figures. The Aesthetics of Resistance is one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history.
At the end of apartheid, under pressure from local and transnational capital and the hegemony of Western-style parliamentary democracy, South Africans felt called upon to normalize their conceptions of economics, politics, and culture in line with these Western models. In Against Normalization, however, Anthony O’Brien examines recent South African literature and theoretical debate which take a different line, resisting this neocolonial outcome, and investigating the role of culture in the formation of a more radically democratic society. O’Brien brings together an unusual array of contemporary South African writing: cultural theory and debate, worker poetry, black and white feminist writing, Black Consciousness drama, the letters of exiled writers, and postapartheid fiction and film. Paying subtle attention to well-known figures like Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, and Njabulo Ndebele, but also foregrounding less-studied writers like Ingrid de Kok, Nise Malange, Maishe Maponya, and the Zimbabwean Dambudzo Marechera, he reveals in their work the construction of a political aesthetic more radically democratic than the current normalization of nationalism, ballot-box democracy, and liberal humanism in culture could imagine. Juxtaposing his readings of these writers with the theoretical traditions of postcolonial thinkers about race, gender, and nation like Paul Gilroy, bell hooks, and Gayatri Spivak, and with others such as Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel, O’Brien adopts a uniquely comparatist and internationalist approach to understanding South African writing and its relationship to the cultural settlement after apartheid. With its appeal to specialists in South African fiction, poetry, history, and politics, to other Africanists, and to those in the fields of colonial, postcolonial, race, and gender studies, Against Normalization will make a significant intervention in the debates about cultural production in the postcolonial areas of global capitalism.
Anomalous States is an archeology of modern Irish writing. David Lloyd commences with recent questioning of Irish identity in the wake of the northern conflict and returns to the complex terrain of nineteenth-century culture in which those questions of identity were first formed. In five linked essays, he explores modern Irish literature and its political contexts through the work of four Irish writers—Heaney, Beckett, Yeats, and Joyce. Beginning with Heaney and Beckett, Lloyd shows how in these authors the question of identity connects with the dominance of conservative cultural nationalism and argues for the need to understand Irish culture in relation to the wider experience of colonized societies. A central essay reads Yeats's later works as a profound questioning of the founding of the state. Final essays examine the gradual formation of the state and nation as one element in a cultural process that involves conflict between popular cultural forms and emerging political economies of nationalism and the colonial state. Modern Ireland is thus seen as the product of a continuing process in which, Lloyd argues, the passage to national independence that defines Ireland's post-colonial status is no more than a moment in its continuing history. Anomalous States makes an important contribution to the growing body of work that connects cultural theory with post-colonial historiography, literary analysis, and issues in contemporary politics. It will interest a wide readership in literary studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and history.
In Belated Travelers, Ali Behdad offers a compelling cultural critique of nineteenth-century travel writing and its dynamic function in European colonialism. Arriving too late to the Orient, at a time when tourism and colonialism had already turned the exotic into the familiar, late nineteenth-century European travelers to the Middle East experienced a sense of belatedness, of having missed the authentic experience once offered by a world that was already disappearing. Behdad argues that this nostalgic desire for the other contains an implicit critique of Western superiority, a split within European discourses of otherness. Working from these insights and using analyses of power derived from Foucault, Behdad engages in a new critique of orientalism. No longer viewed as a coherent and unified phenomenon or a single developmental tradition, it is seen as a complex and shifting field of practices that has relied upon its own ambivalence and moments of discontinuity to ensure and maintain its power as a discourse of dominance. Through readings of Flaubert, Nerval, Kipling, Blunt, and Eberhardt, and following the transition in travel literature from travelog to tourist guide, Belated Travelers addresses the specific historical conditions of late nineteenth-century orientalism implicated in the discourses of desire and power. Behdad also views a broad range of issues in addition to nostalgia and tourism, including transvestism and melancholia, to specifically demonstrate the ways in which the heterogeneity of orientalism and the plurality of its practice is an enabling force in the production and transformation of colonial power. An exceptional work that provides an important critique of issues at the forefront of critical practice today, Belated Travelers will be eagerly awaited by specialists in nineteenth-century British and French literatures, and all concerned with colonial and post-colonial discourse.
In The Body in Late-Capitalist USA, Donald M. Lowe explores the varied social practices that code and construct the body. Arguing that our bodily lives are shaped by a complex of daily and ongoing practices—how we work, what we buy and consume—Lowe contends that as a result of the commodification of these and other social practices in the late-twentieth century, what we often understand to be the needs of the body are in fact means for capital accumulation. Moving beyond studies of representations and images of the body, Lowe focuses on the intersection of body practices, language, and the Social to describe concretely the reality of a lived body. His strongly synthetic work brings together Marxist critique, semiotics, Foucaultian discourse analysis, and systems and communications theory to examine those practices that construct the body under late capitalism: habits of work and consumption, the ways we give birth and raise children, socialization, mental and physical healing, reconstructions and contestations of sexuality and gender. Lowe draws upon a wide range of sources, including government and labor studies and statistics, diagnostic and statistical manuals on mental illness, computer manuals, self-help books, and guides to work-related stress disorders, to illustrate the transformation of the body into a nexus of exchange value in postmodern society.
Canadian Cultural Studies: A Reader
Sourayan Mookerjea, Imre Szeman, and Gail Faurschou, eds. Duke University Press, 2009 Library of Congress HM623.C35 2009 | Dewey Decimal 306.097107
Canada is situated geographically, historically, and culturally between old empires (Great Britain and France) and a more recent one (the United States), as well as on the terrain of First Nations communities. Poised between historical and metaphorical empires and operating within the conditions of incomplete modernity and economic and cultural dependency, Canada has generated a body of cultural criticism and theory, which offers unique insights into the dynamics of both center and periphery. The reader brings together for the first time in one volume recent writing in Canadian cultural studies and work by significant Canadian cultural analysts of the postwar era.
Including essays by anglophone, francophone, and First Nations writers, the reader is divided into three parts, the first of which features essays by scholars who helped set the agenda for cultural and social analysis in Canada and remain important to contemporary intellectual formations: Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, and Anthony Wilden in communications theory; Northrop Frye in literary studies; George Grant and Harold Innis in a left-nationalist tradition of critical political economy; Fernand Dumont and Paul-Émile Borduas in Quebecois national and political culture; and Harold Cardinal in native studies.
The volume’s second section showcases work in which contemporary authors address Canada’s problematic and incomplete nationalism; race, difference, and multiculturalism; and modernity and contemporary culture. The final section includes excerpts from federal policy documents that are especially important to Canadians’ conceptions of their social, political, and cultural circumstances. The reader opens with a foreword by Fredric Jameson and concludes with an afterword in which the Quebecois scholar Yves Laberge explores the differences between English-Canadian cultural studies and the prevailing forms of cultural analysis in francophone Canada.
Contributors. Ian Angus, Himani Bannerji, Jody Berland, Paul-Émile Borduas, Harold Cardinal, Maurice Charland, Stephen Crocker, Ioan Davies, Fernand Dumont, Kristina Fagan, Gail Faurschou, Len Findlay, Northrop Frye, George Grant, Rick Gruneau, Harold Innis, Fredric Jameson, Yves Laberge, Jocelyn Létourneau, Eva Mackey, Lee Maracle, Marshall McLuhan, Katharyne Mitchell, Sourayan Mookerjea, Kevin Pask, Rob Shields, Will Straw, Imre Szeman, Serra Tinic, David Whitson, Tony Wilden
Chinese Modern examines crucial episodes in the creation of Chinese modernity during the turbulent twentieth century. Analyzing a rich array of literary, visual, theatrical, and cinematic texts, Xiaobing Tang portrays the cultural transformation of China from the early 1900s through the founding of the People’s Republic, the installation of the socialist realist aesthetic, the collapse of the idea of utopia in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, and the gradual cannibalization of the socialist past by consumer culture at the century’s end. Throughout, he highlights the dynamic tension between everyday life and the heroic ideal. Tang uncovers crucial clues to modern Chinese literary and cultural practices through readings of Wu Jianren’s 1906 novel The Sea of Regret and works by canonical writers Lu Xun, Ding Ling, and Ba Jin. For the midcentury, he broadens his investigation by considering theatrical, cinematic, and visual materials in addition to literary texts. His reading of the 1963 play The Young Generation reveals the anxiety and terror underlying the exhilarating new socialist life portrayed on the stage. This play, enormously influential when it first appeared, illustrates the utopian vision of China’s lyrical age and its underlying discontents—both of which are critical for understanding late-twentieth-century China. Tang closes with an examination of post–Cultural Revolution nostalgia for the passion of the lyrical age. Throughout Chinese Modern Tang suggests a historical and imaginative affinity between apparently separate literatures and cultures. He thus illuminates not only Chinese modernity but also the condition of modernity as a whole, particularly in light of the postmodern recognition that the market and commodity culture are both angel and devil. This elegantly written volume will be invaluable to students of China, Asian studies, literary criticism, and cultural studies, as well as to readers who study modernity.
The Italian art cinema of the 1960s is known worldwide for its brilliance and vitality. Yet rarely has this cinema been considered in relation to the profound economic and cultural changes that transformed Italy during the sixties--described as the “economic miracle.” Angelo Restivo argues for a completely new understanding of that cinema as a negotiation between a national aesthetic tradition of realism and a nascent postmodern image culture. Restivo studies numerous films of the period, focusing mainly on the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. He finds that these auteurs’ films reworked the neorealist aesthetic developed in the 1940s and 1950s, explored issues brought to the fore by the subsequent consumer boom, and presaged developments central to both critical theory and the visual arts in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on the theories of Lacan, Zizek, Benjamin, Foucault, Jameson, and Deleuze, he shines new light on such films as Pasolini’s Accattone and Teorema, and Antonioni’s Red Desert and Blow-Up. Restivo’s model for understanding the relationship of the 1960s Italian art film to its cultural contexts also has implications that extend to the developing national cinemas of countries such as Brazil and Taiwan. The Cinema of Economic Miracles will interest scholars and students in all areas of film studies, especially those studying theories of the image, national cinema theory, and Italian cinema, and to those engaged in poststructuralist theory, philosophy, and comparative literature.
Many recent discussions of working-class culture in literary and cultural studies have tended to present an oversimplified view of resistance. In this groundbreaking work, Pamela Fox offers a far more complex theory of working-class identity, particularly as reflected in British novels of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through the concept of class shame, she produces a model of working-class subjectivity that understands resistance in a more accurate and useful way—as a complicated kind of refusal, directed at both dominated and dominant culture. With a focus on certain classics in the working-class literary "canon," such as The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Love on the Dole, as well as lesser-known texts by working-class women, Fox uncovers the anxieties that underlie representations of class and consciousness. Shame repeatedly emerges as a powerful counterforce in these works, continually unsettling the surface narrative of protest to reveal an ambivalent relation toward the working-class identities the novels apparently champion. Class Fictions offers an equally rigorous analysis of cultural studies itself, which has historically sought to defend and value the radical difference of working-class culture. Fox also brings to her analysis a strong feminist perspective that devotes considerable attention to the often overlooked role of gender in working-class fiction. She demonstrates that working-class novels not only expose master narratives of middle-class culture that must be resisted, but that they also reveal to us a need to create counter narratives or formulas of working-class life. In doing so, this book provides a more subtle sense of the role of resistance in working class culture. While of interest to scholars of Victorian and working-class fiction, Pamela Fox’s argument has far-reaching implications for the way literary and cultural studies will be defined and practiced.
Since Germany became a colonial power relatively late, postcolonial theorists and histories of colonialism have thus far paid little attention to it. Uncovering Germany’s colonial legacy and imagination, Susanne Zantop reveals the significance of colonial fantasies—a kind of colonialism without colonies—in the formation of German national identity. Through readings of historical, anthropological, literary, and popular texts, Zantop explores imaginary colonial encounters of "Germans" with "natives" in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century literature, and shows how these colonial fantasies acted as a rehearsal for actual colonial ventures in Africa, South America, and the Pacific. From as early as the sixteenth century, Germans preoccupied themselves with an imaginary drive for colonial conquest and possession that eventually grew into a collective obsession. Zantop illustrates the gendered character of Germany’s colonial imagination through critical readings of popular novels, plays, and travel literature that imagine sexual conquest and surrender in colonial territory—or love and blissful domestic relations between colonizer and colonized. She looks at scientific articles, philosophical essays, and political pamphlets that helped create a racist colonial discourse and demonstrates that from its earliest manifestations, the German colonial imagination contained ideas about a specifically German national identity, different from, if not superior to, most others.
Winner of the 1990 Foundations of Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association "First Book Award"
Now available in paperback with a new preface by the author, this award-winning book breaks new ground by challenging traditional concepts of community in political theory. William Corlett brings the diverse (and sometimes contradictory) work of Foucault and Derrida to bear on the thought of Pocock, Burke, Lincoln, and McIntyre, among others, to move beyond the conventional dichotomy of "individual vs. community," arguing instead that community is best advanced within a politics of difference.
What is an author? What is a text? At a time when the definition of "text" is expanding and the technology whereby texts are produced and disseminated is changing at an explosive rate, the ways "authorship" is defined and rights conferred upon authors must also be reconsidered. This volume argues that contemporary copyright law, rooted as it is in a nineteenth-century Romantic understanding of the author as a solitary creative genius, may be inapposite to the realities of cultural production. Drawing together distinguished scholars from literature, law, and the social sciences, the volume explores the social and cultural construction of authorship as a step toward redefining notions of authorship and copyright for today's world. These essays, illustrating cultural studies in action, are aggressively interdisciplinary and wide-ranging in topic and approach. Questions of collective and collaborative authorship in both contemporary and early modern contexts are addressed. Other topics include moral theory and authorship; copyright and the balance between competing interests of authors and the public; problems of international copyright; musical sampling and its impact on "fair use" doctrine; cinematic authorship; quotation and libel; alternative views of authorship as exemplified by nineteenth-century women's clubs and by the Renaissance commonplace book; authorship in relation to broadcast media and to the teaching of writing; and the material dimension of authorship as demonstrated by Milton's publishing contract.
Contributors. Rosemary J. Coombe, Margreta de Grazia, Marvin D'Lugo, John Feather, N. N. Feltes, Ann Ruggles Gere, Peter Jaszi, Gerhard Joseph, Peter Lindenbaum, Andrea A. Lunsford and Lisa Ede, Jeffrey A. Masten, Thomas Pfau, Monroe E. Price and Malla Pollack, Mark Rose, Marlon B. Ross, David Sanjek, Thomas Streeter, Jim Swan, Max W. Thomas, Martha Woodmansee, Alfred C. Yen
This pathbreaking anthology of Chicano literary criticism, with essays on a remarkable range of texts—both old and new—draws on diverse perspectives in contemporary literary and cultural studies: from ethnographic to postmodernist, from Marxist to feminist, from cultural materialist to new historicist. The editors have organized essays around four board themes: the situation of Chicano literary studies within American literary history and debates about the “canon”; representations of the Chicana/o subject; genre, ideology, and history; and the aesthetics of Chicano literature. The volume as a whole aims at generating new ways of understanding what counts as culture and “theory” and who counts as a theorist. A selected and annotated bibliography of contemporary Chicano literary criticism is also included. By recovering neglected authors and texts and introducing readers to an emergent Chicano canon, by introducing new perspectives on American literary history, ethnicity, gender, culture, and the literary process itself, Criticism in the Borderlands is an agenda-setting collection that moves beyond previous scholarship to open up the field of Chicano literary studies and to define anew what is American literature.
Contributors. Norma Alarcón, Héctor Calderón, Angie Chabram, Barbara Harlow, Rolando Hinojosa, Luis Leal, José E. Limón, Terese McKenna, Elizabeth J. Ordóñez, Genero Padilla, Alvina E. Quintana, Renato Rosaldo, José David Saldívar, Sonia Saldívar-Hull, Rosaura Sánchez, Roberto Trujillo
Logos, trademarks, national insignia, brand names, celebrity images, design patents, and advertising texts are vibrant signs in a consumer culture governed by a regime of intellectual property laws. In The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties, professor of law and cultural anthropologist Rosemary J. Coombe brings an illuminating ethnographic approach to an analysis of authorship and the role law plays in shaping the various meanings that animate these protected properties in the public sphere. Although such artifacts are ubiquitous in contemporary culture, little attention has been paid to the impact of intellectual property law in everyday life or to how ownership of specific intellectual properties is determined and exercised. Drawing on a wide range of cases, disputes, and local struggles, Coombe examines these issues and dismantles the legal assumption that the meaning and value of a text or image is produced exclusively by an individual author or that authorship has a single point of origin. In the process, she examines controversies that include the service of turbanned Sikhs in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the use of the term Olympic in reference to the proposed gay Olympic Games. Other chapters discuss the appropriation of such celebrity images as the Marx brothers, Judy Garland, Dolly Parton, James Dean, and Luke Skywalker; the conflict over team names such as the Washington Redskins; and the opposition of indigenous peoples to stereotypical Native American insignia proffered by the entertainment industry. Ultimately, she makes a case for redefining the political in commodified cultural environments. Significant for its insights into the political significance of current intellectual property law, this book also provides new perspectives on debates in cultural anthropology, cultural studies, and political theory. It will therefore interest both a wide scholarly and a general audience.
The Cultures of Globalization
Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, eds. Duke University Press, 1998 Library of Congress HM621.C868 1998 | Dewey Decimal 303.482
A pervasive force that evades easy analysis, globalization has come to represent the export and import of culture, the speed and intensity of which has increased to unprecedented levels in recent years. The Cultures of Globalization presents an international panel of intellectuals who consider the process of globalization as it concerns the transformation of the economic into the cultural and vice versa; the rise of consumer culture around the world; the production and cancellation of forms of subjectivity; and the challenges it presents to national identity, local culture, and traditional forms of everyday life. Discussing overlapping themes of transnational consequence, the contributors to this volume describe how the global character of technology, communication networks, consumer culture, intellectual discourse, the arts, and mass entertainment have all been affected by recent worldwide trends. Appropriate to such diversity of material, the authors approach their topics from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including those of linguistics, sociology, economics, anthropology, and the law. Essays examine such topics as free trade, capitalism, the North and South, Eurocentrism, language migration, art and cinema, social fragmentation, sovereignty and nationhood, higher education, environmental justice, wealth and poverty, transnational corporations, and global culture. Bridging the spheres of economic, political, and cultural inquiry, The Cultures of Globalization offers crucial insights into many of the most significant changes occurring in today’s world.
Contributors. Noam Chomsky, Ioan Davies, Manthia Diawara, Enrique Dussel, David Harvey, Sherif Hetata, Fredric Jameson, Geeta Kapur, Liu Kang, Joan Martinez-Alier, Masao Miyoshi, Walter D. Mignolo, Alberto Moreiras, Paik Nak-chung, Leslie Sklair, Subramani, Barbara Trent
Cultures of the Death Drive is a comprehensive guide to the work of pioneering psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1882–1960) and to developments in Kleinian theory to date. It is also an analysis and a demonstration of the distinctive usefulness of Klein’s thought for understanding modernist literature and visual art. Esther Sánchez-Pardo examines the issues that the seminal discourses of psychoanalysis and artistic modernism brought to the fore in the early twentieth century and points toward the uses of Kleinian thinking for reconceptualizing the complexities of identity and social relations today.
Sánchez-Pardo argues that the troubled political atmosphere leading to both world wars created a melancholia fueled by “cultures of the death drive” and the related specters of object loss—loss of coherent and autonomous selves, of social orders where stability reigned, of metaphysical guarantees, and, in some cases, loss and fragmentation of empire. This melancholia permeated, and even propelled, modernist artistic discourses. Sánchez-Pardo shows how the work of Melanie Klein, the theorist of melancholia par excellence, uniquely illuminates modernist texts, particularly their representations of gender and sexualities. She offers a number of readings—of works by Virginia Woolf, René Magritte, Lytton Strachey, Djuna Barnes, and Countee Cullen—that reveal the problems melancholia posed for verbal and visual communication and the narrative and rhetorical strategies modernist artists derived to either express or overcome them. In her afterword, Sánchez-Pardo explicates the connections between modernist and contemporary melancholia.
A valuable contribution to psychoanalytic theory, gender and sexuality studies, and the study of representation in literature and the visual arts, Cultures of the Death Drive is a necessary resource for those interested in the work of Melanie Klein.
Sigmund Freud infamously referred to women's sexuality as a “dark continent” for psychoanalysis, drawing on colonial explorer Henry Morton Stanley’s use of the same phrase to refer to Africa. While the problematic universalism of psychoanalysis led theorists to reject its relevance for postcolonial critique, Ranjana Khanna boldly shows how bringing psychoanalysis, colonialism, and women together can become the starting point of a postcolonial feminist theory. Psychoanalysis brings to light, Khanna argues, how nation-statehood for the former colonies of Europe institutes the violence of European imperialist history. Far from rejecting psychoanalysis, Dark Continents reveals its importance as a reading practice that makes visible the psychical strife of colonial and postcolonial modernity. Assessing the merits of various models of nationalism, psychoanalysis, and colonialism, it refashions colonial melancholy as a transnational feminist ethics.
Khanna traces the colonial backgrounds of psychoanalysis from its beginnings in the late nineteenth century up to the present. Illuminating Freud’s debt to the languages of archaeology and anthropology throughout his career, Khanna describes how Freud altered his theories of the ego as his own political status shifted from Habsburg loyalist to Nazi victim. Dark Continents explores how psychoanalytic theory was taken up in Europe and its colonies in the period of decolonization following World War II, focusing on its use by a range of writers including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Octave Mannoni, Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, René Ménil, Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Wulf Sachs, and Ellen Hellman. Given the multiple gendered and colonial contexts of many of these writings, Khanna argues for the necessity of a postcolonial, feminist critique of decolonization and postcoloniality.
During the 1940s, in response to the charge that his writing was filled with violence, Richard Wright replied that the manner came from the matter, that the “relationship of the American Negro to the American scene [was] essentially violent,” and that he could deny neither the violence he had witnessed nor his own existence as a product of racial violence. Abdul R. JanMohamed provides extraordinary insight into Wright’s position in this first study to explain the fundamental ideological and political functions of the threat of lynching in Wright’s work and thought. JanMohamed argues that Wright’s oeuvre is a systematic and thorough investigation of what he calls the death-bound-subject, the subject who is formed from infancy onward by the imminent threat of death. He shows that with each successive work, Wright delved further into the question of how living under a constant menace of physical violence affected his protagonists and how they might “free” themselves by overcoming their fear of death and redeploying death as the ground for their struggle.
Drawing on psychoanalytic, Marxist, and phenomenological analyses, and on Orlando Patterson’s notion of social death, JanMohamed develops comprehensive, insightful, and original close readings of Wright’s major publications: his short-story collection Uncle Tom’s Children; his novels Native Son, The Outsider, Savage Holiday, and The Long Dream; and his autobiography Black Boy/American Hunger. The Death-Bound-Subject is a stunning reevaluation of the work of a major twentieth-century American writer, but it is also much more. In demonstrating how deeply the threat of death is involved in the formation of black subjectivity, JanMohamed develops a methodology for understanding the presence of the death-bound-subject in African American literature and culture from the earliest slave narratives forward.
Joining the current debates in American literary history, José David Saldívar offers a challenging new perspective on what constitutes not only the canon in American literature, but also the notion of America itself. His aim is the articulation of a fresh, transgeographical conception of American culture, one more responsive to the geographical ties and political crosscurrents of the hemisphere than to narrow national ideologies. Saldívar pursues this goal through an array of oppositional critical and creative practices. He analyzes a range of North American writers of color (Rolando Hinojosa, Gloria Anzaldúa, Arturo Islas, Ntozake Shange, and others) and Latin American authors (José Martí, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Gabriel García Márquez, and others), whose work forms a radical critique of the dominant culture, its politics, and its restrictive modes of expression. By doing so, Saldívar opens the traditional American canon to a dialog with other voices, not just the voices of national minorities, but those of regional cultures different from the prevalent anglocentric model. The Dialectics of Our America, in its project to expand the “canon” and define a pan-American literary tradition, will make a critical difference in ongoing attempts to reconceptualize American literary history.
The expression laissez les bons temps rouler—"let the good times roll"—conveys the sense of exuberance and good times associated with southern Louisiana’s vibrant cultural milieu. Yet, for Cajuns, descendants of French settlers exiled from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the mid-eighteenth century, this sense of celebration has always been mixed with sorrow. By focusing on Cajun music and dance and the ways they convey the dual experiences of joy and pain, Disenchanting Les Bons Temps illuminates the complexities of Cajun culture. Charles J. Stivale shows how vexed issues of cultural identity and authenticity are negotiated through the rich expressions of emotion, sensation, sound, and movement in Cajun music and dance.
Stivale combines his personal knowledge and love of Cajun music and dance with the theoretical insights of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to consider representations of things Cajun. He examines the themes expressed within the lyrics of the Cajun musical repertoire and reflects on the ways Cajun cultural practices are portrayed in different genres including feature films, documentaries, and instructional dance videos. He analyzes the dynamic exchanges between musicians, dancers, and spectators at such venues as bars and music festivals. He also considers a number of thorny socio-political issues underlying Cajun culture, including racial tensions and linguistic isolation. At the same time, he describes various efforts by contemporary musicians and their fans to transcend the limitations of cultural stereotypes and social exclusion.
Disenchanting Les Bons Temps will appeal to those interested in Cajun culture, issues of race and ethnicity, music and dance, and the intersection of French and Francophone studies with Anglo and American cultural studies.
Since its first publication in Spanish nearly a decade ago, Julio Ramos’s Desenucuentros de la modernidad en America Latina por el siglo XIX has been recognized as one of the most important studies of modernity in the western hemisphere. Available for the first time in English—and now published with new material—Ramos’s study not only offers an analysis of the complex relationships between history, literature, and nation-building in the modern Latin American context but also takes crucial steps toward the development of a truly comparative inter-American cultural criticism. With his focus on the nineteenth century, Ramos begins his genealogy of an emerging Latin Americanism with an examination of Argentinean Domingo Sarmiento and Chilean Andrés Bello, representing the “enlightened letrados” of tradition. In contrast to these “lettered men,” he turns to Cuban journalist, revolutionary, and poet José Martí, who, Ramos suggests, inaugurated a new kind of intellectual subject for the Americas. Though tracing Latin American modernity in general, it is the analysis of Martí—particularly his work in the United States—that becomes the focal point of Ramos’s study. Martí’s confrontation with the unequal modernization of the New World, the dependent status of Latin America, and the contrast between Latin America’s culture of elites and the northern mass culture of commodification are, for Ramos, key elements in understanding the complex Latin American experience of modernity. Including two new chapters written for this edition, as well as translations of three of Martí’s most important works, Divergent Modernities will be indispensable for anyone seeking to understand development and modernity across the Americas.
In literary theory, the philosophy of law, and the sociology of knowledge, no issue has been more central to current debate than the status of our interpretations. Do they rest on a ground of rationality or are they subjective impositions of a merely personal point of view? In Doing What Comes Naturally, Stanley Fish refuses the dilemma posed by this question and argues that while we can never separate our judgments from the contexts in which they are made, those judgments are nevertheless authoritative and even, in the only way that matters, objective. He thus rejects both the demand for an ahistorical foundation, and the conclusion that in the absence of such a foundation we reside in an indeterminate world. In a succession of provocative and wide-ranging chapters, Fish explores the implications of his position for our understanding of legal, literary, and psychoanalytic interpretation, the nature of professional and institutional culture, and the place of reason in a world that is rhetorical through and through.
The “Other”—source of fear and fascination; emblem of difference demonized and romanticized. Theories of alterity and cultural diversity abound in the contemporary academic landscape. Victor Segalen’s early attempt to theorize the exotic is a crucial reference point for all discussions of alterity, diversity, and ethnicity. Written over the course of fourteen years between 1904 and 1918, at the height of the age of imperialism, Essay on Exoticism encompasses Segalen’s attempts to define “true Exoticism.” This concept, he hoped, would not only replace nineteenth-century notions of exoticism that he considered tawdry and romantic, but also redirect his contemporaries’ propensity to reduce the exotic to the “colonial.” His critique envisions a mechanism that appreciates cultural difference—which it posits as an aesthetic and ontological value—rather than assimilating it: “Exoticism’s power is nothing other than the ability to conceive otherwise,” he writes. Segalen’s pioneering work on otherness anticipates and informs much of the current postcolonial critique of colonial discourse. As such Essay on Exoticism is essential reading for both cultural theorists or those with an interest in the politics of difference and diversity.
The conditions for thinking about Latin America as a regional unit in transnational academic discourse have shifted over the past decades. In The Exhaustion of Difference Alberto Moreiras ponders the ramifications of this shift and draws on deconstruction, Marxian theory, philosophy, political economy, subaltern studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial studies to interrogate the minimal conditions for an effective critique of knowledge given the recent transformations of the contemporary world. What, asks Moreiras, is the function of critical reason in the present moment? What is regionalistic knowledge in the face of globalization? Can regionalistic knowledge be an effective tool for a critique of contemporary reason? What is the specificity of Latin Americanist reflection and how is it situated to deal with these questions? Through examinations of critical regionalism, restitutional excess, the historical genealogy of Latin American subalternism, testimonio literature, and the cultural politics of magical realism, Moreiras argues that while cultural studies is increasingly institutionalized and in danger of reproducing the dominant ideologies of late capitalism, it is also ripe for giving way to projects of theoretical reformulation. Ultimately, he claims, critical reason must abandon its allegiance to aesthetic-historicist projects and the destructive binaries upon which all cultural theories of modernity have been constructed. The Exhaustion of Difference makes a significant contribution to the rethinking of Latin American cultural studies.
The Expediency of Culture is a pioneering theorization of the changing role of culture in an increasingly globalized world. George Yúdice explores critically how groups ranging from indigenous activists to nation-states to nongovernmental organizations have all come to see culture as a valuable resource to be invested in, contested, and used for varied sociopolitical and economic ends. Through a dazzling series of illustrative studies, Yúdice challenges the Gramscian notion of cultural struggle for hegemony and instead develops an understanding of culture where cultural agency at every level is negotiated within globalized contexts dominated by the active management and administration of culture. He describes a world where “high” culture (such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain) is a mode of urban development, rituals and everyday aesthetic practices are mobilized to promote tourism and the heritage industries, and mass culture industries comprise significant portions of a number of countries’ gross national products.
Yúdice contends that a new international division of cultural labor has emerged, combining local difference with transnational administration and investment. This does not mean that today’s increasingly transnational culture—exemplified by the entertainment industries and the so-called global civil society of nongovernmental organizations—is necessarily homogenized. He demonstrates that national and regional differences are still functional, shaping the meaning of phenomena from pop songs to antiracist activism. Yúdice considers a range of sites where identity politics and cultural agency are negotiated in the face of powerful transnational forces. He analyzes appropriations of American funk music as well as a citizen action initiative in Rio de Janeiro to show how global notions such as cultural difference are deployed within specific social fields. He provides a political and cultural economy of a vast and increasingly influential art event— insite a triennial festival extending from San Diego to Tijuana. He also reflects on the city of Miami as one of a number of transnational “cultural corridors” and on the uses of culture in an unstable world where censorship and terrorist acts interrupt the usual channels of capitalist and artistic flows.
In this imaginative and illuminating work, Annabel Patterson traces the origins and meanings of the Aesopian fable, as well as its function in Renaissance culture and subsequently. She shows how the fable worked as a medium of political analysis and communication, especially from or on behalf of the politically powerless. Patterson begins with an analysis of the legendary Life of Aesop, its cultural history and philosophical implications, a topic that involves such widely separated figures as La Fontaine, Hegel, and Vygotsky. The myth’s origin is recovered here in the saving myth of Aesop the Ethiopian, black, ugly, who began as a slave but become both free and influential, a source of political wisdom. She then traces the early modern history of the fable from Caxton, Lydgate, and Henryson through the eighteenth century, focusing on such figures as Spenser, Sidney, Lyly, Shakespeare, and Milton, as well as the lesser-known John Ogilby, Sir Roger L’Estrange, and Samuel Croxall. Patterson discusses the famous fable of The Belly and the Members, which, because it articulated in symbolic terms some of the most intransigent problems in political philosophy and practice, was still going strong as a symbolic text in the mid-nineteenth century, where it was focused on industrial relations by Karl Marx and by George Eliot against electoral reform.
In this revisionist study of texts from the mid-Heian period in Japan, H. Richard Okada offers new readings of three well-known tales: The Tale of the Bamboo-cutter, The Tale of Ise, and The Tale of Genji. Okada contends that the cultural and gendered significance of these works has been distorted by previous commentaries and translations belonging to the larger patriarchal and colonialist discourse of Western civilization. He goes on to suggest that this universalist discourse, which silences the feminine aspects of these texts and subsumes their writing in misapplied Western canonical literary terms, is sanctioned and maintained by the discipline of Japanese literature. Okada develops a highly original and sophisticated reading strategy that demonstrates how readers might understand texts belonging to a different time and place without being complicit in their assimilation to categories derived from Western literary traditions. The author’s reading stratgey is based on the texts’ own resistance to modes of analysis that employ such Western canonical terms as novel, lyric, and third-person narrative. Emphasis is also given to the distinctive cultural circles, as well as socio-political and genealogical circumstances that surrounded the emergence of the texts. Indispensable readings for specialists in literature, cultural studies, and Japanese literature and history, Figures of Resistance will also appeal to general readers interested in the problems and complexities of studying another culture.
Frederic Jameson and Film Theory is the first collection of its kind, it assesses and critically responds to Fredric Jameson’s remarkable contribution to film theory. The essays assembled explore key Jamesonian concepts—such as totality, national allegory, geopolitics, globalization, representation, and pastiche—and his historical schema of realism, modernism, and postmodernism, considering, in both cases, how these can be applied, revised, expanded and challenged within film studies. Featuring essays by leading and emerging voices in the field, the volume probes the contours and complexities of neoliberal capitalism across the globe and explores world cinema's situation within these forces by deploying and adapting Jamesonian concepts, and placing them in dialogue with other theoretical paradigms. The result is an innovative and rigorously analytical effort that offers a range of Marxist-inspired approaches towards cinemas from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America in the spirit of Jameson's famous rallying cry: 'always historicize!'.
Fredric Jameson is the most important Marxist critic in the world today. While consistently operating at the cutting edge of literary and cultural studies, Jameson has remained committed to seemingly old-fashioned philosophical discourses, most notably dialectical criticism and utopian thought.
In Fredric Jameson: The Project of Dialectical Criticism, Robert Tally surveys Jameson’s entire oeuvre, from his early studies of Sartre and formal criticism through his engagements with postmodernism and globalisation to his recent readings of Hegel, Marx and the valences of the dialectic.
The book is both a comprehensive critical guide to Jameson’s theoretical project and itself a convincing argument for the power of dialectical criticism to understand the world today.
Takayuki Tatsumi is one of Japan’s leading cultural critics, renowned for his work on American literature and culture. With his encyclopedic knowledge and fan’s love of both Japanese and American art and literature, he is perhaps uniquely well situated to offer this study of the dynamic crosscurrents between the avant-gardes and pop cultures of Japan and the United States. In Full Metal Apache, Tatsumi looks at the work of artists from both sides of the Pacific: fiction writers and poets, folklorists and filmmakers, anime artists, playwrights, musicians, manga creators, and performance artists. Tatsumi shows how, over the past twenty years or so, writers and artists have openly and exuberantly appropriated materials drawn from East and West, from sources both high and low, challenging and unraveling the stereotypical images Japan and America have of one another.
Full Metal Apache introduces English-language readers to a vast array of Japanese writers and performers and considers their work in relation to the output of William Gibson, Thomas Pynchon, H. G. Wells, Jack London, J. G. Ballard, and other Westerners. Tatsumi moves from the poetics of metafiction to the complex career of Madame Butterfly stories and from the role of the Anglo-American Lafcadio Hearn in promoting Japanese folklore within Japan during the nineteenth century to the Japanese monster Godzilla as an embodiment of both Japanese and Western ideas about the Other. Along the way, Tatsumi develops original arguments about the self-fashioning of “Japanoids” in the globalist age, the philosophy of “creative masochism” inherent within postwar Japanese culture, and the psychology of “Mikadophilia” indispensable for the construction of a cyborg identity. Tatsumi’s exploration of the interplay between Japanese and American cultural productions is as electric, ebullient, and provocative as the texts and performances he analyzes.
Gramsci in the World
Roberto M. Dainotto and Fredric Jameson, editors Duke University Press, 2020 Library of Congress HX288.G698 2020
Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks have offered concepts, categories, and political solutions that have been applied in a variety of social and political contexts, from postwar Italy to the insurgencies of the Arab Spring. The contributors to Gramsci in the World examine the diverse receptions and uses of Gramscian thought, highlighting its possibilities and limits for understanding and changing the world. Among other topics, they explore Gramsci's importance to Caribbean anticolonial thinkers like Stuart Hall, his presence in decolonial indigenous movements in the Andes, and his relevance to understanding the Chinese Left. The contributors consider why Gramsci has had relatively little impact in the United States while also showing how he was a major force in pushing Marxism beyond Europe—especially into the Arab world and other regions of the Global South. Rather than taking one interpretive position on Gramsci, the contributors demonstrate the ongoing relevance of his ideas to revolutionary theory and praxis.
Contributors. Alberto Burgio, Cesare Casarino, Maria Elisa Cevasco, Kate Crehan, Roberto M. Dainotto, Michael Denning, Harry Harootunian, Fredric Jameson, R. A. Judy, Patrizia Manduchi, Andrea Scapolo, Peter D. Thomas, Catherine Walsh, Pu Wang, Cosimo Zene
Available in English for the first time, Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns revives discussion of the major political and philosophical tenets underlying contemporary liberalism through a revolutionary interpretation of G. W. F. Hegel’s thought. Domenico Losurdo, one of the world’s leading Hegelians, reveals that the philosopher was fully engaged with the political controversies of his time. In so doing, he shows how the issues addressed by Hegel in the nineteenth century resonate with many of the central political concerns of today, among them questions of community, nation, liberalism, and freedom. Based on an examination of Hegel’s entire corpus—including manuscripts, lecture notes, different versions of texts, and letters—Losurdo locates the philosopher’s works within the historical contexts and political situations in which they were composed.
Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns persuasively argues that the tug of war between “conservative” and “liberal” interpretations of Hegel has obscured and distorted the most important aspects of his political thought. Losurdo unravels this misleading dualism and provides an illuminating discussion of the relation between Hegel’s political philosophy and the thinking of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. He also discusses Hegel’s ideas in relation to the pertinent writings of other major figures of modern political philosophy such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Popper, Norberto Bobbio, and Friedrich Hayek.
Moving across academic disciplines, geographical boundaries, and literary genres, Home and Harem examines how travel shaped ideas about culture and nation in nineteenth-century imperialist England and colonial India. Inderpal Grewal’s study of the narratives and discourses of travel reveals the ways in which the colonial encounter created linked yet distinct constructs of nation and gender and explores the impact of this encounter on both English and Indian men and women. Reworking colonial discourse studies to include both sides of the colonial divide, this work is also the first to discuss Indian women traveling West as well as English women touring the East. In her look at England, Grewal draws on nineteenth-century aesthetics, landscape art, and debates about women’s suffrage and working-class education to show how all social classes, not only the privileged, were educated and influenced by imperialist travel narratives. By examining diverse forms of Indian travel to the West and its colonies and focusing on forms of modernity offered by colonial notions of travel, she explores how Indian men and women adopted and appropriated aspects of European travel discourse, particularly the set of oppositions between self and other, East and West, home and abroad. Rather than being simply comparative, Home and Harem is a transnational cultural study of the interaction of ideas between two cultures. Addressing theoretical and methodological developments across a wide range of fields, this highly interdisciplinary work will interest scholars in the fields of postcolonial and cultural studies, feminist studies, English literature, South Asian studies, and comparative literature.
How ironic, the author thought on learning of the Sandinista’s electoral defeat, that at its death the Revolutionary State left Woman, Violeta Chamorro, located at the center. The election signaled the end of one transition and the beginning of another, with Woman somewhere on the border between the neo-liberal and marxist projects. It is such transitions that Ileana Rodríguez takes up here, unraveling their weave of gender, ethnicity, and nation as it is revealed in literature written by women. In House/Garden/Nation the narratives of five Centro-Caribbean writers illustrate these times of transition: Dulce María Loynáz, from colonial rule to independence in Cuba; Jean Rhys, from colony to commonwealth in Dominica; Simone Schwarz-Bart, from slave to free labor in Guadeloupe; Gioconda Belli, from oligarchic capitalism to social democratic socialism in Nicaragua; and Teresa de la Parra, from independence to modernity in Venezuela. Focusing on the nation as garden, hacienda, or plantation, Rodríguez shows us these writers debating the predicament of women under nation formation from within the confines of marriage and home. In reading these post-colonial literatures by women facing the crisis of transition, this study highlights urgent questions of destitution, migration, exile, and inexperience, but also networks of value allotted to women: beauty, clothing, love. As a counterpoint on issues of legality, policy, and marriage, Rodriguez includes a chapter on male writers: José Eustacio Rivera, Omar Cabezas, and Romulo Gallegos. Her work presents a sobering picture of women at a crossroads, continually circumscribed by history and culture, writing their way.
The Initials of the Earth
Jesús Díaz Duke University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PQ7390.D57I5513 2006 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
Many critics consider The Initials of the Earth to be the quintessential novel of the Cuban Revolution and the finest work by the Cuban writer and filmmaker Jesús Díaz. Born in Havana in 1941, Díaz was a witness to the Revolution and ardent supporter of it until the last decade of his life. In 1992 he took up residence as an exile in Berlin and later in Madrid, where he died in 2002. This is the first of his books to be translated into English.
Originally written in the 1970s, then rewritten and published simultaneously in Havana and Madrid in 1987, The Initials of the Earth spans the tumultuous years from the 1950s until the 1970s, encompassing the Revolution and its immediate aftermath. The novel opens as the protagonist, Carlos Pérez Cifredo, sits down to fill out a questionnaire for readmission to the Cuban Communist Party. It closes with Carlos standing before a panel of Party members charged with assessing his merit as an “exemplary worker.” The chapters between relate Carlos’s experiences of the pre- and postrevolutionary era. His family is torn apart as some members reject the Revolution and flee the country while others, including Carlos, choose to stay. He witnesses key events including the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, and the economically disastrous sugar harvest of 1970. Throughout the novel, Díaz vividly renders Cuban culture through humor, slogans, and slang; Afro-Cuban religion; and references to popular music, movies, and comics.
This edition of The Initials of the Earth includes a bibliography and filmography of Diaz’s works and a timeline of the major events of the Cuban revolutionary period. In his epilogue, the Cuban writer Ambrosio Fornet reflects on Díaz’s surprising 1992 renunciation of the Revolution, their decades-long friendship, and the novel’s reception, structure, and place within Cuban literary history.
Since 1988, J. Hillis Miller has traveled to China to lecture on literary theory, especially the role of globalization in literary theory. Over time, he has assisted in the development of distinctively Chinese forms of literary theory, Comparative Literature, and World Literature. The fifteen lectures gathered in An Innocent Abroad span both time and geographic location, reflecting his work at universities across China for more than twenty-five years. More important, they reflect the evolution of Miller’s thinking and of the lectures’ contexts in China as these have markedly changed over the years, especially on either side of Tiananmen Square and in light of China’s economic growth and technological change. A foreword by the leading theorist Fredric Jameson provides additional context.
Nelly Richard is one of the most prominent cultural theorists writing in Latin America today. As a participant in Chile’s neo-avantgarde, Richard worked to expand the possibilities for cultural debate within the constraints imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–1990), and she has continued to offer incisive commentary about the country’s transition to democracy. Well known as the founder and director of the influential journal Revista de crítica cultural, based in Santiago, Richard has been central to the dissemination throughout Latin America of work by key contemporary thinkers, including Néstor García Canclini, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, and Diamela Eltit. Her own writing provides rigorous considerations of Latin American identity, postmodernism, gender, neoliberalism, and strategies of political and cultural resistance.
In The Insubordination of Signs Richard theorizes the cultural reactions—particularly within the realms of visual arts, literature, and the social sciences—to the oppression of the Chilean dictatorship. She reflects on the role of memory in the historical shadow of the military regime and on the strategies offered by marginal discourses for critiquing institutional systems of power. She considers the importance of Walter Benjamin for the theoretical self-understanding of the Latin American intellectual left, and she offers revisionary interpretations of the Chilean neo-avantgarde in terms of its relationships with the traditional left and postmodernism. Exploring the gap between Chile’s new left social sciences and its “new scene” aesthetic and critical practices, Richard discusses how, with the return of democracy, the energies that had set in motion the democratizing process seemed to exhaust themselves as cultural debate was attenuated in order to reduce any risk of a return to authoritarianism.
Fredric Jameson is one of the most influential literary and cultural critics writing today. He is a theoretical innovator whose ideas about the intersections of politics and culture have reshaped the critical landscape across the humanities and social sciences. Bringing together ten interviews conducted between 1982 and 2005, Jameson on Jameson is a compellingly candid introduction to his thought for those new to it, and a rich source of illumination and clarification for those seeking deeper understanding. Jameson discusses his intellectual and political preoccupations, most prominently his commitment to Marxism as a way of critiquing capitalism and the culture it has engendered. He explains many of his key concepts, including postmodernism, the dialectic, metacommentary, the political unconscious, the utopian, cognitive mapping, and spatialization.
Jameson on Jameson displays Jameson’s extraordinary grasp of contemporary culture—architecture, art, cinema, literature, philosophy, politics, psychoanalysis, and urban geography—as well as the challenge that the geographic reach of his thinking poses to the Eurocentricity of the West. Conducted by accomplished scholars from United States, Egypt, Korea, China, Sweden, and England, the interviews elicit Jameson’s reflections on the broad international significance of his ideas and their applicability and implications in different cultural and political contexts, including the present phase of globalization.
The volume includes an introduction by Jameson and a comprehensive bibliography of his publications in all languages.
Interviewers Mona Abousenna Abbas Al-Tonsi Srinivas Aravamudan Jonathan Culler Sara Danius Leonard Green Sabry Hafez Stuart Hall Stefan Jonsson Ranjana Khanna Richard Klein Horacio Machin Paik Nak-chung Michael Speaks Anders Stephanson Xudong Zhang
Imagine Fredric Jameson—the world’s foremost Marxist critic—kidnapped and taken on a joyride through the cultural ephemera, generational hype, and Cold War fallout of our post-post-contemporary landscape. In TheJamesonian Unconscious, a book as joyful as it is critical and insightful, Clint Burnham devises unexpected encounters between Jameson and alternative rock groups, new movies, and subcultures. At the same time, Burnham offers an extraordinary analysis of Jameson’s work and career that refines and extends his most important themes. In an unusual biographical move, Burnham negotiates Jameson’s major works—including Marxism and Form, The Political Unconscious, and Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism—by way of his own working-class, queer-ish, Gen-X background and sensibility. Thus Burnham’s study draws upon an immense range of references familiar to the MTV generation, including Reservoir Dogs, theorists Slavoj Zizek and Pierre Bourdieu, The Satanic Verses, Language poetry, the collapse of state communism in Eastern Europe, and the indie band Killdozer. In the process, Burnham addresses such Jamesonian questions as how to imagine the future, the role of utopianism in capitalist culture, and the continuing relevance of Marxist theory. Through its redefinition of Jameson’s work and compelling reading of the political present, TheJamesonian Unconscious defines the leading edge of Marxist theory. Written in a style by turns conversational, playful, and academic, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Marxism, critical theory, aesthetics, narratology, and cultural studies, as well as the wide circle of readers who have felt and understood Jameson’s influence.
How do men imagine women? In the poetry of Petrarch and his English successors—Wyatt, Donne, and Marvell—the male poet persistently imagines pursuing a woman, Laura, whom he pursues even as she continues to deny his affections. Critics have long held that, in objectifying Laura, these male-authored texts deny the imaginative, intellectual, and physical life of the woman they idealize. In Laura, Barbara L. Estrin counters this traditional view by focusing not on the generative powers of the male poet, but on the subjectivity of the imagined woman and the imaginative space of the poems she occupies. Through close readings of the Rime sparse and the works of Wyatt, Donne, and Marvell, Estrin uncovers three Lauras: Laura-Daphne, who denies sexuality; Laura-Eve, who returns the poet’s love; and Laura-Mercury, who reinvents her own life. Estrin claims that in these three guises Laura subverts both genre and gender, thereby introducing multiple desires into the many layers of the poems. Drawing upon genre and gender theories advanced by Jean-François Lyotard and Judith Butler to situate female desire in the poem’s framework, Estrin shows how genre and gender in the Petrarchan tradition work together to undermine the stability of these very concepts. Estrin’s Laura constitutes a fundamental reconceptualization of the Petrarchan tradition and contributes greatly to the postmodern reassessment of the Renaissance period. In its descriptions of how early modern poets formulate questions about sexuality, society and poetry, Laura will appeal to scholars of the English and Italian Renaissance, of gender studies, and of literary criticism and theory generally.
This collection of essays argues that any valid theory of the modern should—indeed must—reckon with the medieval. Offering a much-needed correction to theorists such as Hans Blumenberg, who in his Legitimacy of the Modern Age describes the "modern age" as a complete departure from the Middle Ages, these essays forcefully show that thinkers from Adorno to Žižek have repeatedly drawn from medieval sources to theorize modernity. To forget the medieval, or to discount its continued effect on contemporary thought, is to neglect the responsibilities of periodization.
In The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages, modernists and medievalists, as well as scholars specializing in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century comparative literature, offer a new history of theory and philosophy through essays on secularization and periodization, Marx’s (medieval) theory of commodity fetishism, Heidegger’s scholasticism, and Adorno’s nominalist aesthetics. One essay illustrates the workings of medieval mysticism in the writing of Freud’s most famous patient, Daniel Paul Schreber, author of Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (1903). Another looks at Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire, a theoretical synthesis whose conscientious medievalism was the subject of much polemic in the post-9/11 era, a time in which premodernity itself was perceived as a threat to western values. The collection concludes with an afterword by Fredric Jameson, a theorist of postmodernism who has engaged with the medieval throughout his career.
Contributors: Charles D. Blanton, Andrew Cole, Kathleen Davis, Michael Hardt, Bruce Holsinger, Fredric Jameson, Ethan Knapp, Erin Labbie, Jed Rasula, D. Vance Smith, Michael Uebel
Through virtuoso readings of significant works of American film, television, and fiction, Phillip E. Wegner demonstrates that the period between the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 fostered a unique consciousness and represented a moment of immense historical possibilities now at risk of being forgotten in the midst of the “war on terror.” Wegner argues that 9/11 should be understood as a form of what Jacques Lacan called the “second death,” an event that repeats an earlier “fall,” in this instance the collapse of the Berlin Wall. By describing 9/11 as a repetition, Wegner does not deny its significance. Rather, he argues that it was only with the fall of the towers that the symbolic universe of the Cold War was finally destroyed and a true “new world order,” in which the United States assumed disturbing new powers, was put into place.
Wegner shows how phenomena including the debate on globalization, neoliberal notions of the end of history, the explosive growth of the Internet, the efflorescence of new architectural and urban planning projects, developments in literary and cultural production, new turns in theory and philosophy, and the rapid growth of the antiglobalization movement came to characterize the long nineties. He offers readings of some of the most interesting cultural texts of the era: Don DeLillo’s White Noise; Joe Haldeman’s Forever trilogy; Octavia Butler’s Parable novels; the Terminator films; the movies Fight Club, Independence Day, Cape Fear, and Ghost Dog; and the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In so doing, he illuminates fundamental issues concerning narrative, such as how beginnings and endings are recognized and how relationships between events are constructed.
For Thomas Pynchon, the characteristic features of late capitalism—the rise of the military-industrial complex, consumerism, bureaucratization and specialization in the workplace, standardization at all levels of social life, and the growing influence of the mass media—all point to a transformation in the way human beings experience time and duration. Focusing on Pynchon’s novels as representative artifacts of the postwar period, Stefan Mattessich analyzes this temporal transformation in relation not only to Pynchon’s work but also to its literary, cultural, and theoretical contexts. Mattessich theorizes a new kind of time—subjective displacement—dramatized in the parody, satire, and farce deployed through Pynchon’s oeuvre. In particular, he is interested in showing how this sense of time relates to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Examining this movement as an instance of flight or escape and exposing the beliefs behind it, Mattessich argues that the counterculture’s rejection of the dominant culture ultimately became an act of self-cancellation, a rebellion in which the counterculture found itself defined by the very order it sought to escape. He points to parallels in Pynchon’s attempts to dramatize and enact a similar experience of time in the doubling-back, crisscrossing, and erasure of his writing. Mattessich lays out a theory of cultural production centered on the ethical necessity of grasping one’s own susceptibility to discursive forms of determination.
Lucchesi and The Whale
Frank Lentricchia Duke University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3562.E4937L83 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Lucchesi and The Whale is an unusual work of fiction by noted author and critic Frank Lentricchia. Its central character, Thomas Lucchesi Jr., is a college professor in the American heartland whose obsessions and compulsions include traveling to visit friends in their last moments of life—because grief alone inspires him to write—and searching for secret meaning in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Himself a writer of “stories full of violence in a poetic style,” Lucchesi tells his students that he teaches “only because [his] fiction is commercially untouchable” and to “never forget that.” Austerely isolated, anxiety-ridden, and relentlessly self-involved, Lucchesi nonetheless cannot completely squelch his eagerness for love. Having become “a mad Ahab of reading,” who is driven to dissect the “artificial body of Melville’s behemothian book” to grasp its truth, Lucchesi allows his thoughts to wander and loop from theory to dream to reality to questionable memory. But his black humor-tinged musings are often as profoundly moving as they are intellectual, such as the section in which he ponders the life and philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein in relation to the significance of a name—and then attempts to share these thoughts with a sexy, middle-aged flight attendant—or another in which he describes a chance meeting with a similarly-named mafia don. Despite apparent spiritual emptiness, Lucchesi in the end does find “a secret meaning” to Moby-Dick. And Lentricchia’s creations—both Lucchesi and The Whale and its main character—reveal this meaning through a series of ingeniously self-reflective metaphors, in much the way that Melville himself did in and through Moby-Dick. Vivid, humorous, and of unparalleled originality, this new work from Frank Lentricchia will inspire and console all who love and ponder both great literature and those who would write it.
Nelly Richard is one of the most prominent cultural theorists writing in Latin America today. As a participant in Chile’s neo-avantgarde, Richard worked to expand the possibilities for cultural debate within the constraints imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–1990), and she has continued to offer incisive commentary about the country’s transition to democracy. Well known as the founder and director of the influential Santiago-based journal Revista de crítica cultural, Richard has been central to the dissemination throughout Latin America of work by key contemporary thinkers, including Néstor García Canclini, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, and Diamela Eltit. Her own writing provides rigorous considerations of Latin American identity, postmodernism, gender, neoliberalism, and strategies of political and cultural resistance.
Richard helped to organize the 1987 International Conference on Latin American Women’s Literature in Santiago, one of the most significant literary events to take place under the Pinochet dictatorship. Published in Chile in 1993, Masculine/Feminine develops some of the key issues brought to the fore during that landmark meeting. Richard theorizes why the feminist movement has been crucial not only to the liberation of women but also to understanding the ways in which power operated under the military regime in Chile. In one of her most widely praised essays, she explores the figure of the transvestite, artistic imagery of which exploded during the Chilean dictatorship. She examines the politics and the aesthetics of this phenomenon, particularly against the background of prostitution and shantytown poverty, and she argues that gay culture works to break down the social demarcations and rigid structures of city life. Masculine/Feminine makes available, for the first time in English, one of Latin America’s most significant works of feminist theory.
A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism is a translation (from the original Portuguese) of Roberto Schwarz’s renowned study of the work of Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis (1839–1908). A leading Brazilian theorist and author of the highly influential notion of “misplaced ideas,” Schwarz focuses his literary and cultural analysis on Machado’s The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, which was published in 1880. Writing in the Marxist tradition, Schwarz investigates in particular how social structure gets internalized as literary form, arguing that Machado’s style replicates and reveals the deeply embedded class divisions of nineteenth-century Brazil. Widely acknowledged as the most important novelist to have written in Latin America before 1940, Machado had a surprisingly modern style. Schwarz notes that the unprecedented wit, sarcasm, structural inventiveness, and mercurial changes of tone and subject matter found in The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas marked a crucial moment in the history of Latin American literature. He argues that Machado’s vanguard narrative reflects the Brazilian owner class and its peculiar status in both national and international contexts, and shows why this novel’s success was no accident. The author was able to confront some of the most prestigious ideologies of the nineteenth century with some uncomfortable truths, not the least of which was that slavery remained the basis of the Brazilian economy. A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism will appeal to those with interests in Latin American literature, nineteenth century history, and Marxist literary theory.
Do others understand what we say or write? Do we understand them? Theorists of language and interpretation claim to be more concerned with questions about "what" we understand and "how" we understand, rather than with the logically prior question "whether" we understand each other. An affirmative answer to the latter question is apparently taken for granted. However, in Mutual Misunderstanding, Talbot J. Taylor shows that the sceptical doubts about communicational understanding do in fact have a profoundly important, if as yet unacknowledged, function in the construction of theories of language and interpretation. Mutual Misundertanding thus presents a strikingly original analysis of the rhetorical patterns underlying Western linguistic thought, as exemplified in the works of John Locke, Jacques Derrida, Gottlob Frege, Jonathan Culler, Noam Chomsky, Ferdinand de Saussure, H. Paul Grice, Michael Dummet, Stanley Fish, Alfred Schutz, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Harold Garfinkel, and others. This analysis reveals how, by the combined effect of appeals to "commonsense" and anxieties about implications of relativism, scepticism has a determining role in the discursive development of a number of the intellectual disciplines making up the "human sciences" today, including critical theory, literary hermeneutics, philosophy of language and logic, communication theory, discourse and conversation analysis, pragmatics, stylistics, and linguistics. Consequently, this provocative study will be of value to readers from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds.
In New Deal Modernism Michael Szalay examines the effect that the rise of the welfare state had on American modernism during the 1930s and 1940s, and, conversely, what difference this revised modernism made to the New Deal’s famed invention of “Big Government.” Szalay situates his study within a liberal culture bent on security, a culture galvanized by its imagined need for private and public insurance. Taking up prominent exponents of social and economic security—such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, and John Dewey—Szalay demonstrates how the New Deal’s revision of free-market culture required rethinking the political function of aesthetics. Focusing in particular on the modernist fascination with the relation between form and audience, Szalay offers innovative accounts of Busby Berkeley, Jack London, James M. Cain, Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, Betty Smith, and Gertrude Stein, as well as extended analyses of the works of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright.
Winner of the Premio Iberoamericano Book Award in 1997 (Spanish Edition)
What form does the crisis of modernity take in Latin America when societies are politically demobilized and there is no revolutionary agenda in sight? How does postmodern criticism reflect on enlightenment and utopia in a region marked by incomplete modernization, new waves of privatization, great masses of excluded peoples, and profound sociocultural heterogeneity? In No Apocalypse, No Integration Martín Hopenhayn examines the social and philosophical implications of the triumph of neoliberalism and the collapse of leftist and state-sponsored social planning in Latin America. With the failure of utopian movements that promised social change, the rupture of the link between the production of knowledge and practical intervention, and the defeat of modernization and development policy established after World War II, Latin American intellectuals and militants have been left at an impasse without a vital program of action. Hopenhayn analyzes these crises from a theoretical perspective and calls upon Latin American intellectuals to reevaluate their objects of study, their political reality, and their society’s cultural production, as well as to seek within their own history the elements for a new collective discourse. Challenging the notion that strict adherence to a single paradigm of action can rescue intellectual and cultural movements, Hopenhayn advocates a course of epistemological pluralism, arguing that such an approach values respect for difference and for cultural and theoretical diversity and heterodoxy. This essay collection will appeal to readers of sociology, public policy, philosophy, cultural theory, and Latin American history and culture, as well as to those with an interest in Latin America’s current transition.
Although the body has been the focus of much contemporary cultural theory, the models that are typically applied neglect the most salient characteristics of embodied existence—movement, affect, and sensation—in favor of concepts derived from linguistic theory. In Parables for the Virtual Brian Massumi views the body and media such as television, film, and the Internet, as cultural formations that operate on multiple registers of sensation beyond the reach of the reading techniques founded on the standard rhetorical and semiotic models.
Renewing and assessing William James's radical empiricism and Henri Bergson's philosophy of perception through the filter of the post-war French philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi links a cultural logic of variation to questions of movement, affect, and sensation. If such concepts are as fundamental as signs and significations, he argues, then a new set of theoretical issues appear, and with them potential new paths for the wedding of scientific and cultural theory. Replacing the traditional opposition of literal and figural with new distinctions between stasis and motion and between actual and virtual, Parables for the Virtual tackles related theoretical issues by applying them to cultural mediums as diverse as architecture, body art, the digital art of Stelarc, and Ronald Reagan's acting career. The result is an intriguing combination of cultural theory, science, and philosophy that asserts itself in a crystalline and multi-faceted argument.
For a half century, the American intellectual Fredric Jameson has been a driving force in literary and cultural theory. In Periodizing Jameson, Phillip E. Wegner builds upon Jameson’s unique dialectical method to demonstrate the value of Jameson’s tools—periodization, the fourfold hermeneutic, and the Greimasian semiotic square, among others—and to develop virtuoso readings of Jameson’s own work and the history of the contemporary American university in which it unfolds.
Wegner shows how Jameson’s work intervenes in particular social, cultural, and political situations, using his scholarship both to develop original explorations of nineteenth-century fiction, popular films, and other promiment theorists, and to examine the changing fortunes of theory itself. In this way, Periodizing Jameson casts new light on the potential of and challenges to humanist intellectual work in the present.
This collection of essays addresses the perception that our understanding of modern China will be enhanced by opening the literature of China to more rigorous theoretical and comparative study. In doing so, the book confronts the problematic and complex subject of China's literary, theoretical, and cultural responses to the experience of the modern. With chapters by writers, scholars, and critics from mainland China, Hong Kong, and the United States, this volume explores the complexity of representing modernity within the Chinese context. Addressing the problem of finding a proper language for articulating fundamental issues in the historical experience of twentieth-century China, the authors critically re-examine notions of realism, the self/subject, and modernity and draw on perspectives from feminist criticism, ideological analysis, and postmodern theory. Among the many topics explored are subjectivity in Chinese cultural theory, Chinese gender relations, the viability of a Lacanian approach to Chinese identity, the politics of subversion in Chinese reportage, and the ambivalent status of the icon of paternity since Mao. At the same time this book offers a probing look into the transformation that Chinese culture as well as the study of that culture is currently undergoing, it also reconfirms private discourse as an ideal site for an investigation into a real and imaginary, private and collective encounter with history.
Contributors. Liu Kang, Xiaobing Tang, Liu Zaifu, Stephen Chan, Lydia H. Liu, Wendy Larson, Theodore Huters, David Wang, Tonglin Lu, Yingjin Zhang, Yuejin Wang, Li Tuo, Leo Ou-fan Lee
Global in scope, but refusing a familiar totalizing theoretical framework, the essays in The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital demonstrate how localized and resistant social practices—including anticolonial and feminist struggles, peasant revolts, labor organizing, and various cultural movements—challenge contemporary capitalism as a highly differentiated mode of production. Reworking Marxist critique, these essays on Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and Europe advance a new understanding of "cultural politics" within the context of transnational neocolonial capitalism. This perspective contributes to an overall critique of traditional approaches to modernity, development, and linear liberal narratives of culture, history, and democratic institutions. It also frames a set of alternative social practices that allows for connections to be made between feminist politics among immigrant women in Britain, women of color in the United States, and Muslim women in Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and Canada; the work of subaltern studies in India, the Philippines, and Mexico; and antiracist social movements in North and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. These connections displace modes of opposition traditionally defined in relation to the modern state and enable a rethinking of political practice in the era of global capitalism.
Contributors. Tani E. Barlow, Nandi Bhatia, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Chungmoo Choi, Clara Connolly, Angela Davis, Arturo Escobar, Grant Farred, Homa Hoodfar, Reynaldo C. Ileto, George Lipsitz, David Lloyd, Lisa Lowe, Martin F. Manalansan IV, Aihwa Ong, Pragna Patel, José Rabasa, Maria Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Jaqueline Urla
The Politics of Liberal Education
Darryl Gless and Barbara Herrnstein Smith, eds. Duke University Press, 1992 Library of Congress LC1023.P65 1992 | Dewey Decimal 370.112
Controversy over what role “the great books” should play in college curricula and questions about who defines “the literary canon” are at the forefront of debates in higher education. The Politics of Liberal Education enters this discussion with a sophisticated defense of educational reform in response to attacks by academic traditionalists. The authors here—themselves distinguished scholars and educators—share the belief that American schools, colleges, and universities can do a far better job of educating the nation’s increasingly diverse population and that the liberal arts must play a central role in providing students with the resources they need to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Within this area of consensus, however, the contributors display a wide range of approaches, illuminating the issues from the perspectives of their particular disciplines—classics, education, English, history, and philosophy, among others—and their individual experiences as teachers. Among the topics they discuss are canon-formation in the ancient world, the idea of a “common culture,” and the educational implications of such social movements as feminism, technological changes including computers and television, and intellectual developments such as “theory.” Readers interested in the controversies over American education will find this volume an informed alternative to sensationalized treatments of these issues.
Contributors. Stanley Fish, Phyllis Franklin, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Henry A. Giroux, Darryl J. Gless, Gerald Graff, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, George A. Kennedy, Bruce Kuklick, Richard A. Lanham, Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Alexander Nehamas, Mary Louise Pratt, Richard Rorty, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Postmodernism and Japan
Masao Miyoshi and H. D. Harootunian, eds. Duke University Press, 1989 Library of Congress DS822.5.P62 1989 | Dewey Decimal 952.04
Postmodernism and Japan is a coherent yet diverse study of the dynamics of postmodernism, as described by Lyotard, Baudrillard, Deleuze, and Guatarri, from the often startling perspective of a society bent on transforming itself into the image of Western “enlightenment” wealth and power. This work provides a unique view of a society in transition and confronting, like its models in the West, the problems induced by the introduction of new forms of knowledge, modes of production, and social relationships.
Now in paperback, Fredric Jameson’s most wide-ranging work seeks to crystalize a definition of ”postmodernism”. Jameson’s inquiry looks at the postmodern across a wide landscape, from “high” art to “low” from market ideology to architecture, from painting to “punk” film, from video art to literature.
Postmodernity in Latin America contests the prevailing understanding of the relationship between postmodernity and Latin America by focusing on recent developments in Latin American, and particularly Argentine, political and literary culture. While European and North American theorists of postmodernity generally view Latin American fiction without regard for its political and cultural context, Latin Americanists often either uncritically apply the concept of postmodernity to Latin American literature and society or reject it in an equally uncritical fashion. The result has been both a limited understanding of the literature and an impoverished notion of postmodernity. Santiago Colás challenges both of these approaches and corrects their consequent distortions by locating Argentine postmodernity in the cultural dynamics of resistance as it operates within and against local expressions of late capitalism. Focusing on literature, Colás uses Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch to characterize modernity for Latin America as a whole, Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman to identify the transition to a more localized postmodernity, and Ricardo Piglia’s Artificial Respiration to exemplify the cultural coordinates of postmodernity in Argentina. Informed by the cycle of political transformation beginning with the Cuban Revolution, including its effects on Peronism, to the period of dictatorship, and finally to redemocratization, Colás’s examination of this literary progression leads to the reconstruction of three significant moments in the history of Argentina. His analysis provokes both a revised understanding of that history and the recognition that multiple meanings of postmodernity must be understood in ways that incorporate the complexity of regional differences. Offering a new voice in the debate over postmodernity, one that challenges that debate’s leading thinkers, Postmodernity in Latin America will be of particular interest to students of Latin American literature and to scholars in all disciplines concerned with theories of the postmodern.
In Postsocialism and Cultural Politics, Xudong Zhang offers a critical analysis of China’s “long 1990s,” the tumultuous years between the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The 1990s were marked by Deng Xiaoping’s market-oriented reforms, the Taiwan missile crisis, the Asian financial crisis, and the end of British colonial rule of Hong Kong. Considering developments including the state’s cultivation of a market economy, the aggressive neoliberalism that accompanied that effort, the rise of a middle class and a consumer culture, and China’s entry into the world economy, Zhang argues that Chinese socialism is not over. Rather it survives as postsocialism, which is articulated through the discourses of postmodernism and nationalism and through the co-existence of multiple modes of production and socio-cultural norms. Highlighting China’s uniqueness, as well as the implications of its recent experiences for the wider world, Zhang suggests that Chinese postsocialism illuminates previously obscure aspects of the global shift from modernity to postmodernity.
Zhang examines the reactions of intellectuals, authors, and filmmakers to the cultural and political conflicts in China during the 1990s. He offers a nuanced assessment of the changing divisions and allegiances within the intellectual landscape, and he analyzes the postsocialist realism of the era through readings of Mo Yan’s fiction and the films of Zhang Yimou. With Postsocialism and Cultural Politics, Zhang applies the same keen insight to China’s long 1990s that he brought to bear on the 1980s in Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms.
Contemporary theory is replete with metaphors of travel—displacement, diaspora, borders, exile, migration, nomadism, homelessness, and tourism to name a few. In Questions of Travel, Caren Kaplan explores the various metaphoric uses of travel and displacement in literary and feminist theory, traces the political implications of this “traveling theory,” and shows how various discourses of displacement link, rather than separate, modernism and postmodernism. Addressing a wide range of writers, including Paul Fussell, Edward Said, James Clifford, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Baudrillard, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Soja, Doreen Massey, Chandra Mohanty, and Adrienne Rich, Kaplan demonstrates that symbols and metaphors of travel are used in ways that obscure key differences of power between nationalities, classes, races, and genders. Neither rejecting nor dismissing the powerful testimony of individual experiences of modern exile or displacement, Kaplan asks how mystified metaphors of travel might be avoided. With a focus on theory’s colonial discourses, she reveals how these metaphors continue to operate in the seemingly liberatory critical zones of poststructuralism and feminist theory. The book concludes with a critique of the politics of location as a form of essentialist identity politics and calls for new feminist geographies of place and displacement.
In Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media D. N. Rodowick applies the concept of “the figural” to a variety of philosophical and aesthetic issues. Inspired by the aesthetic philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard, the figural defines a semiotic regime where the distinction between linguistic and plastic representation breaks down. This opposition, which has been the philosophical foundation of aesthetics since the eighteenth century, has been explicitly challenged by the new electronic, televisual, and digital media. Rodowick—one of the foremost film theorists writing today—contemplates this challenge, describing and critiquing the new regime of signs and new ways of thinking that such media have inaugurated. To fully comprehend the emergence of the figural requires a genealogical critique of the aesthetic, Rodowick claims. Seeking allies in this effort to deconstruct the opposition of word and image and to create new concepts for comprehending the figural, he journeys through a range of philosophical writings: Thierry Kuntzel and Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier on film theory; Jacques Derrida on the deconstruction of the aesthetic; Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin on the historical image as a utopian force in photography and film; and Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault on the emergence of the figural as both a semiotic regime and a new stratagem of power coincident with the appearance of digital phenomena and of societies of control. Scholars of philosophy, film theory, cultural criticism, new media, and art history will be interested in the original and sophisticated insights found in this book.
In this second edition of The Repeating Island, Antonio Benítez-Rojo, a master of the historical novel, short story, and critical essay, continues to confront the legacy and myths of colonialism. This co-winner of the 1993 MLA Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize has been expanded to include three entirely new chapters that add a Lacanian perspective and a view of the carnivalesque to an already brilliant interpretive study of Caribbean culture. As he did in the first edition, Benítez-Rojo redefines the Caribbean by drawing on history, economics, sociology, cultural anthropology, psychoanalysis, literary theory, and nonlinear mathematics. His point of departure is chaos theory, which holds that order and disorder are not the antithesis of each other in nature but function as mutually generative phenomena. Benítez-Rojo argues that within the apparent disorder of the Caribbean—the area’s discontinuous landmasses, its different colonial histories, ethnic groups, languages, traditions, and politics—there emerges an “island” of paradoxes that repeats itself and gives shape to an unexpected and complex sociocultural archipelago. Benítez-Rojo illustrates this unique form of identity with powerful readings of texts by Las Casas, Guillén, Carpentier, García Márquez, Walcott, Harris, Buitrago, and Rodríguez Juliá.
Although long considered the most distinctive American contribution to philosophy, pragmatism—with its problem-solving emphasis and its contingent view of truth—lost popularity in mid-century after the advent of World War II, the horror of the Holocaust, and the dawning of the Cold War. Since the 1960s, however, pragmatism in many guises has again gained prominence, finding congenial places to flourish within growing intellectual movements. This volume of new essays brings together leading philosophers, historians, legal scholars, social thinkers, and literary critics to examine the far-reaching effects of this revival. As the twenty-five intellectuals who take part in this discussion show, pragmatism has become a complex terrain on which a rich variety of contemporary debates have been played out. Contributors such as Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Nancy Fraser, Robert Westbrook, Hilary Putnam, and Morris Dickstein trace pragmatism’s cultural and intellectual evolution, consider its connection to democracy, and discuss its complex relationship to the work of Emerson, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. They show the influence of pragmatism on black intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, explore its view of poetic language, and debate its effects on social science, history, and jurisprudence. Also including essays by critics of the revival such as Alan Wolfe and John Patrick Diggins, the volume concludes with a response to the whole collection from Stanley Fish. Including an extensive bibliography, this interdisciplinary work provides an in-depth and broadly gauged introduction to pragmatism, one that will be crucial for understanding the shape of the transformations taking place in the American social and philosophical scene at the end of the twentieth century.
Contributors. Richard Bernstein, David Bromwich, Ray Carney, Stanley Cavell, Morris Dickstein, John Patrick Diggins, Stanley Fish, Nancy Fraser, Thomas C. Grey, Giles Gunn, Hans Joas, James T. Kloppenberg, David Luban, Louis Menand, Sidney Morgenbesser, Richard Poirier, Richard A. Posner, Ross Posnock, Hilary Putnam, Ruth Anna Putnam, Richard Rorty, Michel Rosenfeld, Richard H. Weisberg, Robert B. Westbrook, Alan Wolfe
Romanticism is a worldview that finds expression over a whole range of cultural fields—not only in literature and art but in philosophy, theology, political theory, and social movements. In Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre formulate a theory that defines romanticism as a cultural protest against modern bourgeois industrial civilization and work to reveal the unity that underlies the extraordinary diversity of romanticism from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. After critiquing previous conceptions of romanticism and discussing its first European manifestations, Löwy and Sayre propose a typology of the sociopolitical positions held by romantic writers-from “restitutionist” to various revolutionary/utopian forms. In subsequent chapters, they give extended treatment to writers as diverse as Coleridge and Ruskin, Charles Peguy, Ernst Bloch and Christa Wolf. Among other topics, they discuss the complex relationship between Marxism and romanticism before closing with a reflection on more contemporary manifestations of romanticism (for example, surrealism, the events of May 1968, and the ecological movement) as well as its future. Students and scholars of literature, humanities, social sciences, and cultural studies will be interested in this elegant and thoroughly original book.
In Shakespeare, Brecht, and the Intercultural Sign renowned Brecht scholar Antony Tatlow uses drama to investigate cultural crossings and to show how intercultural readings or performances question the settled assumptions we bring to interpretations of familiar texts. Through a “textual anthropology” Tatlow examines the interplay between interpretations of Shakespeare and readings of Brecht, whose work he rereads in the light of theories of the social subject from Nietzsche to Derrida and in relation to East Asian culture, as well as practices within Chinese and Japanese theater that shape their versions of Shakespearean drama. Reflecting on how, why, and to what effect knowledges and styles of performance pollinate across cultures, Tatlow demonstrates that the employment of one culture’s material in the context of another defamiliarizes the conventions of representation in an act that facilitates access to what previously had been culturally repressed. By reading the intercultural, Tatlow shows, we are able not only to historicize the effects of those repressions that create a social unconscious but also gain access to what might otherwise have remained invisible. This remarkable study will interest students of cultural interaction and aesthetics, as well as readers interested in theater, Shakespeare, Brecht, China, and Japan.
“Let me tell you where I'm coming from . . .”—so begins many a discussion in contemporary U.S. culture. Pressed by an almost compulsive desire to situate ourselves within a definite matrix of reference points (for example, “as a parent of two children” or “as an engineer” or “as a college graduate”) in both scholarly inquiry and everyday parlance, we seem to reject adamantly the idea of a universal human subject. Yet what does this rhetoric of self-affiliation tell us? What is its history? David Simpson’s Situatedness casts a critical eye on this currently popular form of identification, suggesting that, far from being a simple turn of phrase, it demarcates a whole structure of thinking. Simpson traces the rhetorical syndrome through its truly interdisciplinary genealogy. Discussing its roles within the fields of legal theory, social science, fiction, philosophy, and ethics, he argues that the discourse of situatedness consists of a volatile fusion of modesty and aggressiveness. It oscillates, in other words, between accepting complete causal predetermination and advocating personal agency and responsibility. Simpson’s study neither fully rejects nor endorses the present-day language of self-specification. Rather it calls attention to the limitations and opportunities of situatedness—a notion whose ideological slippage it ultimately sees as allowing late-capitalist liberal democracies to function. Given its wide scope and lively rendering, Situatedness will attract a range of scholars in the humanities and legal studies. It will also interest all those for whom the politics of subjectivity pose real problems of authority, identity, and belief.
Through the concept of “social choreography” Andrew Hewitt demonstrates how choreography has served not only as metaphor for modernity but also as a structuring blueprint for thinking about and shaping modern social organization. Bringing dance history and critical theory together, he shows that ideology needs to be understood as something embodied and practiced, not just as an abstract form of consciousness. Linking dance and the aesthetics of everyday movement—such as walking, stumbling, and laughter—to historical ideals of social order, he provides a powerful exposition of Marxist debates about the relation of ideology and aesthetics.
Hewitt focuses on the period between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth and considers dancers and social theorists in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States. Analyzing the arguments of writers including Friedrich Schiller, Theodor Adorno, Hans Brandenburg, Ernst Bloch, and Siegfried Kracauer, he reveals in their thinking about the movement of bodies a shift from an understanding of play as the condition of human freedom to one prioritizing labor as either the realization or alienation of embodied human potential. Whether considering understandings of the Charleston, Isadora Duncan, Nijinsky, or the famous British chorus line the Tiller Girls, Hewitt foregrounds gender as he uses dance and everyday movement to rethink the relationship of aesthetics and social order.
Silviano Santiago has been a pioneer in the development of concepts crucial to the discourse of contemporary critical and cultural theory, especially postcolonial theory. The notions of “hybridity” and “the space in-between” have been so completely absorbed into current theory that few scholars even realize these terms began with Santiago. He was the first to introduce poststructuralist thought to Brazil—via his publication of the Glossario de Derrida and his role as a prominent teacher. The Space In-Between translates many of his seminal essays into English for the first time and, in the process, introduces the thought of one of Brazil’s foremost critics and theorists of the late twentieth century. Santiago’s work creates a theoretical field that transcends both the study of a specific national literature and the traditional perspectives of comparative literature. He examines the pedagogical and modernizing mission of Western voyagers from the conquistadors to the present. He deconstructs the ideas of “original” and “copy,” unpacking their implications for the notions of so-called dominant and dominated cultures. Santiago also confronts questions of cultural dependency and analyzes the problems involved in the imposition of an alien European history, the cultural displacements experienced by the Indians through their religious conversion, and the hierarchical suppression of native and Afro-Brazilian values. Elegantly written and translated, The Space In-Between will provide insights and perspectives that will interest cultural and literary theorists, postcolonial scholars, and other students of contemporary culture.
Speed, the sensation one gets when driving fast, was described by Aldous Huxley as the single new pleasure invented by modernity. The Speed Handbook is a virtuoso exploration of Huxley’s claim. Enda Duffy shows how the experience of speed has always been political and how it has affected nearly all aspects of modern culture. Primarily a result of the mass-produced automobile, the experience of speed became the quintessential way for individuals to experience modernity, to feel modernity in their bones.
Duffy plunges full-throttle into speed’s “adrenaline aesthetics,” offering deft readings of works ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, through J. G. Ballard’s Crash, to the cautionary consumerism of Ralph Nader. He describes how speed changed understandings of space, distance, chance, and violence; how the experience of speed was commodified in the dawning era of mass consumption; and how society was incited to abhor slowness and desire speed. He examines how people were trained by new media such as the cinema to see, hear, and sense speed, and how speed, demanded of the efficient assembly-line worker, was given back to that worker as the chief thrill of leisure. Assessing speed’s political implications, Duffy considers how speed pleasure was offered to citizens based on criteria including their ability to pay and their gender, and how speed quickly became something to be patrolled by governments. Drawing on novels, news reports, photography, advertising, and much more, Duffy provides a breakneck tour through the cultural dynamics of speed.
The term “subalternity” refers to a condition of subordination brought about by colonization or other forms of economic, social, racial, linguistic, and/or cultural dominance. Subaltern studies is, therefore, a study of power. Who has it and who does not. Who is gaining it and who is losing it. Power is intimately related to questions of representation—to which representations have cognitive authority and can secure hegemony and which do not and cannot. In this book John Beverley examines the relationship between subalternity and representation by analyzing the ways in which that relationship has been played out in the domain of Latin American studies.
Dismissed by some as simply another new fashion in the critique of culture and by others as a postmarxist heresy, subaltern studies began with the work of Ranajit Guha and the South Asian Subaltern Studies collective in the 1980s. Beverley’s focus on Latin America, however, is evidence of the growing province of this field. In assessing subaltern studies’ purposes and methods, the potential dangers it presents, and its interactions with deconstruction, poststructuralism, cultural studies, Marxism, and political theory, Beverley builds his discussion around a single, provocative question: How can academic knowledge seek to represent the subaltern when that knowledge is itself implicated in the practices that construct the subaltern as such? In his search for answers, he grapples with a number of issues, notably the 1998 debate between David Stoll and Rigoberta Menchú over her award-winning testimonial narrative, I, Rigoberta Menchú. Other topics explored include the concept of civil society, Florencia Mallon’s influential Peasant and Nation, the relationship between the Latin American “lettered city” and the Túpac Amaru rebellion of 1780–1783, the ideas of transculturation and hybridity in postcolonial studies and Latin American cultural studies, multiculturalism, and the relationship between populism, popular culture, and the “national-popular” in conditions of globalization.
This critique and defense of subaltern studies offers a compendium of insights into a new form of knowledge and knowledge production. It will interest those studying postcolonialism, political science, cultural studies, and Latin American culture, history, and literature.
In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time.
In Tarrying with the Negative, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? No is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment.
Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries.
Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was one of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers. In light of two pivotal developments—the rise of fascism, which culminated in the Holocaust, and the standardization of popular culture as a commodity indispensable to contemporary capitalism—Adorno sought to evaluate and synthesize the essential insights of Western philosophy by revisiting the ethical and sociological arguments of his predecessors: Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel, and Marx. This book, first published in Germany in 1996, provides a succinct introduction to Adorno’s challenging and far-reaching thought. Gerhard Schweppenhäuser, a leading authority on the Frankfurt School of critical theory, explains Adorno’s epistemology, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and theory of culture.
After providing a brief overview of Adorno’s life, Schweppenhäuser turns to the theorist’s core philosophical concepts, including post-Kantian critique, determinate negation, and the primacy of the object, as well as his view of the Enlightenment as a code for world domination, his diagnosis of modern mass culture as a program of social control, and his understanding of modernist aesthetics as a challenge to conceive an alternative politics. Along the way, Schweppenhäuser illuminates the works widely considered Adorno’s most important achievements: Minima Moralia, Dialectic of Enlightenment (co-authored with Horkheimer), and Negative Dialectics. Adorno wrote much of the first two of these during his years in California (1938–49), where he lived near Arnold Schoenberg and Thomas Mann, whom he assisted with the musical aesthetics at the center of Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus.
In Things Fall Away, Neferti X. M. Tadiar offers a new paradigm for understanding politics and globalization. Her analysis illuminates both the power of Filipino subaltern experience to shape social and economic realities and the critical role of the nation’s writers and poets in that process. Through close readings of poems, short stories, and novels brought into conversation with scholarship in anthropology, sociology, politics, and economics, Tadiar demonstrates how the devalued experiences of the Philippines’ vast subaltern populations—experiences that “fall away” from the attention of mainstream and progressive accounts of the global capitalist present—help to create the material conditions of social life that feminists, urban activists, and revolutionaries seek to transform. Reading these “fallout” experiences as vital yet overlooked forms of political agency, Tadiar offers a new and provocative analysis of the unrecognized productive forces at work in global trends such as the growth of migrant domestic labor, the emergence of postcolonial “civil society,” and the “democratization” of formerly authoritarian nations.
Tadiar treats the historical experiences articulated in feminist, urban protest, and revolutionary literatures of the 1960s–90s as “cultural software” for the transformation of dominant social relations. She considers feminist literature in relation to the feminization of labor in the 1970s, when between 300,000 and 500,000 prostitutes were working in the areas around U.S. military bases, and in the 1980s and 1990s, when more than five million Filipinas left the country to toil as maids, nannies, nurses, and sex workers. She reads urban protest literature in relation to authoritarian modernization and crony capitalism, and she reevaluates revolutionary literature’s constructions of the heroic revolutionary subject and the messianic masses, probing these social movements’ unexhausted cultural resources for radical change.
The problem of translation has become increasingly central to critical reflections on modernity and its universalizing processes. Approaching translation as a symbolic and material exchange among peoples and civilizations—and not as a purely linguistic or literary matter, the essays in Tokens of Exchange focus on China and its interactions with the West to historicize an economy of translation. Rejecting the familiar regional approach to non-Western societies, contributors contend that “national histories” and “world history” must be read with absolute attention to the types of epistemological translatability that have been constructed among the various languages and cultures in modern times. By studying the production and circulation of meaning as value in areas including history, religion, language, law, visual art, music, and pedagogy, essays consider exchanges between Jesuit and Protestant missionaries and the Chinese between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and focus on the interchanges occasioned by the spread of capitalism and imperialism. Concentrating on ideological reciprocity and nonreciprocity in science, medicine, and cultural pathologies, contributors also posit that such exchanges often lead to racialized and essentialized ideas about culture, sexuality, and nation. The collection turns to the role of language itself as a site of the universalization of knowledge in its contemplation of such processes as the invention of Basic English and the global teaching of the English language. By focusing on the moments wherein meaning-value is exchanged in the translation from one language to another, the essays highlight the circulation of the global in the local as they address the role played by historical translation in the universalizing processes of modernity and globalization. The collection will engage students and scholars of global cultural processes, Chinese studies, world history, literary studies, history of science, and anthropology, as well as cultural and postcolonial studies.
Contributors. Jianhua Chen, Nancy Chen, Alexis Dudden Eastwood, Roger Hart, Larissa Heinrich, James Hevia, Andrew F. Jones, Wan Shun Eva Lam, Lydia H. Liu, Deborah T. L. Sang, Haun Saussy, Q. S. Tong, Qiong Zhang
American literary historians have viewed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s resignation from the Unitarian ministry in 1832 in favor of a literary career as emblematic of a main current in American literature. That current is directed toward the possession of a self that is independent and fundamentally opposed to the “accoutrements of society and civilization” and expresses a Transcendentalist antipathy toward all institutionalized forms of religious observance. In the ongoing revision of American literary history, this traditional reading of the supposed anti-institutionalism of the Transcendentalists has been duly detailed and continually supported. Richard A. Grusin challenges both traditional and revisionist interpretations with detailed contextual studies of the hermeneutics of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Theodore Parker. Informed by the past two decades of critical theory, Grusin examines the influence of the higher criticism of the Bible—which focuses on authorship, date, place of origin, circumstances of composition, and the historical credibility of biblical writings—on these writers. The author argues that the Transcendentalist appeal to the authority of the “self” is not an appeal to a source of authority independent of institutions, but to an authority fundamentally innate.
Trespasses presents key writings of the Tokyo-born literary scholar Masao Miyoshi, one of the most important postwar intellectuals to link culture with politics and a remarkable critical voice within the academy. For more than four decades, Miyoshi worked outside the mainstream, trespassing into new fields, making previously unseen connections, and upending naive assumptions. With an impeccable sense of when a topic or discussion had lost its critical momentum, he moved on to the next question, and then the next after that, taking on matters of literary form, cross-cultural relations, globalization, art and architecture, the corporatization of the university, and the threat of ecological disaster. Trespasses reveals the tremendous range of Miyoshi’s thought and interests, shows how his thinking transformed over time, and highlights his recurring concerns.
This volume brings together eleven selections of Miyoshi’s previously published writing, a major new essay, a critical introduction to his life and work, and an interview in which Miyoshi reflects on the trajectory of his thought and the institutional history of modern Japan studies. In the new essay, “Literary Elaborations,” he provides a masterful overview of the nature of the contemporary university, closing with a call for a global environmental protection studies that would radically reconfigure academic disciplines and merge the hard sciences with the humanities and the social sciences. In the other, chronologically arranged selections, Miyoshi addresses cross-culture relations between Japan and the United States, English literary studies in Japan, and Japan studies in the U.S., as well as the organization of urban space and the integrity of art and architecture in aggressively marketed-oriented environments. Trespasses is an invaluable introduction to the work of a fearless cultural critic.
Utopia Limited is an original, engaging account of how postmodernism emerged from the political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Marianne DeKoven argues that aspects of sixties radical politics and culture simultaneously embodied the full, final flowering of the modern and the beginning of the postmodern. Analyzing classic sixties texts, DeKoven shows where the utopian master narratives underlying the radical and countercultural movements gave way to the “utopia limited” of the postmodern as a range of competing political values and desires came to the fore. She identifies the pivots where the modern was superseded by the nascent postmodern: where modern mass culture was replaced by postmodern popular culture, modern egalitarianism morphed into postmodern populism, and modern individualism fragmented into postmodern politics and cultures of subjectivity.
DeKoven rigorously analyzes a broad array of cultural and political texts important in the sixties—from popular favorites such as William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch to political manifestoes including The Port Huron Statement, the founding document of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). She examines texts that overtly discuss the conflict in Vietnam, Black Power, and second-wave feminism—including Frances FitzGerald’s Fire in the Lake, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex; experimental pieces such as The Living Theatre’s Paradise Now; influential philosophical works including Roland Barthes’s Mythologies and Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man; and explorations of Las Vegas, the prime location of postmodernity. Providing extensive annotated bibliographies on both the sixties and postmodernism, Utopia Limited is an invaluable resource for understanding the impact of that tumultuous decade on the present.
In Wedded to the Land? Mary N. Layoun offers a critical commentary on the idea of nationalism in general and on specific attempts to formulate alternatives to the concept in particular. Narratives surrounding three geographically and temporally different national crises form the center of her study: Greek refugees’ displacement from Asia Minor into Greece in 1922, the 1974 right-wing Cypriot coup and subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the Palestinian and PLO expulsion from Beirut following the Israeli invasion in 1982. Drawing on readings of literature and of official documents and decrees, songs, poetry, cinema, public monuments, journalism, and conversations with exiles, refugees, and public officials, Layoun uses each historical incident as a means of highlighting a recurring trope within constructs of nationalism. The displacement of the Greek refugees in the 1920s calls into question the very idea of home, as well as the desire for ethnic homogeneity within nations. She reads the Cypriot coup and invasion as an illustration of the gendering of nation and how the notion of the inviolable woman came to represent sovereignity. In her third example she shows how the Palestinian and PLO expulsion from Beirut highlights the ambiguity of the borders upon which many manifestations of nationalism putatively depend. These chapters are preceded and introduced by a discussion of “culturing the nation” and closed by a consideration of citizenship and silence in which Layoun discusses rights ostensibly possessed by all members of a political community. This book will be of interest to scholars engaged in cultural and critical theory, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history, literary studies, political science, postcolonial studies, and gender studies.
Working Fictions takes as its point of departure the common and painful truth that the vast majority of human beings toil for a wage and rarely for their own enjoyment or satisfaction. In this striking reconceptualization of Victorian literary history, Carolyn Lesjak interrogates the relationship between labor and pleasure, two concepts that were central to the Victorian imagination and the literary output of the era. Through the creation of a new genealogy of the “labor novel,” Lesjak challenges the prevailing assumption about the portrayal of work in Victorian fiction, namely that it disappears with the fall from prominence of the industrial novel. She proposes that the “problematic of labor” persists throughout the nineteenth century and continues to animate texts as diverse as Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, George Eliot’s Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, and the essays and literary work of William Morris and Oscar Wilde.
Lesjak demonstrates how the ideological work of the literature of the Victorian era, the “golden age of the novel,” revolved around separating the domains of labor and pleasure and emphasizing the latter as the proper realm of literary representation. She reveals how the utopian works of Morris and Wilde grapple with this divide and attempt to imagine new relationships between work and pleasure, relationships that might enable a future in which work is not the antithesis of pleasure. In Working Fictions, Lesjak argues for the contemporary relevance of the “labor novel,” suggesting that within its pages lie resources with which to confront the gulf between work and pleasure that continues to characterize our world today.