Literature, Cinema, and Critique after Representation
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Any project that lays claim to the attribute of novelty, let alone “radical” novelty, deserves to be received with immediate suspicion. More often than not, such works turn out to be merely minor (albeit at times important) modifications of familiar arguments (how many more “radical” social constructivist arguments does one have to endure?). Despite...
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In the summer of 1995, I read for the first time Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. For better or for worse, the physical experience of reading this novel had a profound impact on me. At various moments in my encounter with this text, I felt the urge to set the book aside to go out for a walk in...
1. The Violence of Sensation: Miller's Crossing, Affect, and Masocriticism
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Violence. Most would be happy if they never had to experience it, and many are convinced of the existence of nonviolent spaces, whether they existed only in the past and elsewhere, are actually available in the here and now, or, perhaps, are only going to emerge in a yet to come time and space. And yet, notwithstanding the all-pervasive privileging of the nonviolent over the violent, violence surrounds...
2. Judgment is Not an Exit: Representation, Affect, and American Psycho
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Mary Harron opens her generally well received film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s infamous 1991 novel American Psycho as if she consciously wanted to heed Jean-Luc Godard’s well-known antirepresentational adage “not blood, red,” with which he matter-of-factly responded to a Cahiers du Cinéma interviewer...
3. Are We All Arnoldians? A Conceptual Genealogy of Judgment
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But perhaps the preceding chapter has moved too quickly. In claiming that the practice of contemporary criticism continually expresses its desire to judge, I might have given the impression that all of contemporary criticism merely consists of an extension of Matthew Arnold, that well-known figure of Victorianism whose critical project is, rightly or wrongly, often...
4. Serializing Violence: Patricia Highsmith's "Empirical" Pedagogy of Violence
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As I argued in chapter 2, considerable interest existed in 1999 and 2000 in the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s widely loathed novel American Psycho. Virtually simultaneous with the burgeoning anticipation in how feminist director Mary Harron would render what is generally considered one the most antifeminist American...
5. Becoming-Violent, Becoming-DeNiro: Rendering Violence Visible on Screen
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A dark, run-down hallway with stone walls oozing a sense of filth and danger. A man in a black jacket, pointing at you a .38 Special in his right hand, a .44 Magnum in his left. The latter’s long barrel is so imposing that you almost can feel the cold, hard steel getting uncomfortably close to your head. Framed by these two firearms, clearly ready to shoot your brains out, is the assassin’s demented face. His eyes, two crazy half moons, anticipate imminent joy. His mouth, merely a...
6. Don DeLillo's "In the Ruins of the Future": Violence, Pedagogy, and the Rhetoric of Seeing 9/11
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On the morning of September 12, 2001, I was scheduled to teach an American studies mass lecture course on “Violence in Twentieth- Century American Culture.” Like most people, I had spent the previous day glued to the television, trying to catch as great a variety of coverage of the events of 9/11 as possible. The next day, at 9 a.m., I approached my classroom with a considerable amount of trepidation. I knew from some colleagues that I would have the option to...
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Publication Year: 2008