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Literary Experience in the Era of Emancipations
This book argues that we can no longer envision a political system that might practically displace democracy or, more accurately, global democratic state capitalism. Democracy has become fundamental: It extends deeper and deeper into everyday life; it grounds and limits our political thought and values. That is the sense in which we do indeed live at history's end. But this end is not a happy one, because the system that we now have does not satisfy tests that we can legitimately put to it. In this situation, it is important to come to new terms with the fact that literature, at least until about 1945, was predominantly hostile to political democracy. Literature's deep-seated conservative, counterdemocratic tendencies, along with its capacity to make important distinctions among political, cultural, and experiential democracies and its capacity to uncover hidden, nonpolitical democracies in everyday life, is now a resource not just for cultural conservatives but for all those who take a critical attitude toward the current political, cultural, and economic structures. Literature, and certain novelists in particular, helps us not so much to imagine social possibilities beyond democracy as to understand how life might be lived both in and outside democratic state capitalism. Drawing on political theory, intellectual history, and the techniques of close reading, Against Democracy offers new accounts of the ethos of refusing democracy, of literary criticism's contribution to that ethos, and of the history of conservatism, as well as innovative interpretations of a range of writers, including Tocqueville, Disraeli, George Eliot, E. M. Forster, and Saul Bellow.
Abject Materials and the Technologies of Colonialism
The Alchemy of Empire unravels the non-European origins of Enlightenment science. Focusing on the abject materials of empire-building, this study traces the genealogies of substances like mud, mortar, ice, and paper, as well as forms of knowledge like inoculation. Showing how East India Company employees deployed the paradigm of alchemy in order to make sense of the new worlds they confronted, Rajani Sudan argues that the Enlightenment was born largely out of Europe's (and Britain's) sense of insecurity and inferiority in the early modern world. Plumbing the depths of the imperial archive, Sudan uncovers the history of the British Enlightenment in the literary artifacts of the long eighteenth century, from the correspondence of the East India Company and the papers of the Royal Society to the poetry of Alexander Pope and the novels of Jane Austen.
Interrogating how Alexandria became enshrined as the exemplary cosmopolitan space in the Middle East, this book mounts a radical critique of Eurocentric conceptions of cosmopolitanism. The dominant account of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism elevates things European in the city's culture and simultaneously places things Egyptian under the sign of decline. The book goes beyond this civilization/barbarism binary to trace other modes of intercultural solidarity. Halim presents a comparative study of literary representations, addressing poetry, fiction, guidebooks, and operettas, among other genres. She reappraises three writers--C. P. Cavafy, E. M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell-- whom she maintains have been cast as the canon of Alexandria. Attending to issues of genre, gender, ethnicity, and class, she refutes the view that these writers' representations are largely congruent and uncovers a variety of positions ranging from Orientalist to anti-colonial. The book then turns to Bernard de Zogheb, a virtually unpublished writer, and elicits his Camp parodies of elite Levantine mores in operettas one of which centers on Cavafy. Drawing on Arabic critical and historical texts, as well as contemporary writers' and filmmakers' engagement with the canonical triumvirate, Halim orchestrates an Egyptian dialogue with the European representations.
The Aesthetics of Espionage
The world of international politics has been recently rocked by a seemingly endless series of scandals involving auditory surveillance: the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping is merely the most sensational example of what appears to be a universal practice today. What is the source of this generalized principle of eavesdropping?All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage traces the long history of moles from the Bible, through Jeremy Bentham’s “panacoustic” project, all the way to the intelligence gathering network called “Echelon.” Together with this archeology of auditory surveillance, Szendy offers an engaging account of spycraft’s representations in literature (Sophocles, Shakespeare, Joyce, Kafka, Borges), opera (Monteverdi, Mozart, Berg), and film (Lang, Hitchcock, Coppola, De Palma).Following in the footsteps of Orpheus, the book proposes a new concept of “overhearing” that connects the act of spying to an excessive intensification of listening. At the heart of listening Szendy locates the ear of the Other that manifests itself as the originary division of a “split-hearing” that turns the drive for mastery and surveillance into the death drive.
A Real-Life Zelig Who Wrote His Way Through The 20th Century
Contemporary publishing, e-media, and writing owe much to an unsung hero who worked in the trenches of the culture industry (for pulp magazines, Hollywood films, and advertising) and caroused and collaborated with the avant-garde throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Robert Carlton Brown (1886-1959) turned up in the midst of virtually every significant American literary, artistic, political, and popular or countercultural movement of his time--from Chicago's Cliff Dweller's Club to Greenwich Village's bohemians and the Imagist poets; from the American vanguard expatriate groups in Europe to the Beats. Bob Brown churned out pulp fiction and populist cookbooks, created the first movie tie-ins, and invented a surreal reading machine more than seventy-five years ahead of e-books. He was a real-life Zelig of modern culture. With The Amazing Adventures of Bob Brown, Craig Saper disentangles, for the first time, the many lives and careers of the intriguing figure behind so much of twentieth-century culture. Saper's lively and engaging yet erudite and subtly experimental style offers a bold new approach to biography that perfectly complements his multidimensional subject. Readers are brought along on a spirited journey with Bob and the Brown clan--Cora (his mother), Rose (his wife), and Bob, a creative team who sometimes went by the name of CoRoBo--through globetrotting, fortune-making and fortune-spending, culture-creating and culture-exploring adventures. Along the way, readers meet many of the most important cultural figures and movements of the era and are witness to the astonishingly prescient vision Brown held of the future of American cultural life in the digital age. Although Brown traveled and lived all around the world, he took Manhattan with him, and his New York City had boroughs around the world.
Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth
Friedrich Nietzsche and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Chouraqui argues, are linked by how they conceive the question of truth. Although both thinkers criticize the traditional concept of truth as objectivity, they both find that rejecting it does not solve the problem. What is it in our natural existence that gave rise to the notion of truth?The answer to that question is threefold. First, Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty both propose a genealogy of “truth” in which to exist means to make implicit truth claims. Second, both seek to recover the preobjective ground from which truth as an erroneous concept arose. Finally, this attempt at recovery leads both thinkers to ontological considerations, regarding how we must conceive of a being whose structure allows for the existence of the belief in truth. In conclusion, Chouraqui suggests that both thinkers’ investigations of the question of truth lead them to conceive of being as the process of self-falsification by which indeterminate being presents itself as determinate.The answer to that question is threefold. First, Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty both propose a genealogy of "truth" in which to exist means to make implicit truth claims. Second, both seek to recover the preobjective ground from which truth as an erroneous concept arose. Finally, this attempt at recovery leads both thinkers to ontological considerations, regarding how we must conceive of a being whose structure allows for the existence of the belief in truth. In conclusion, Chouraqui suggests that both thinkers' investigations of the question of truth lead them to conceive of being as the process of self-falsification by which indeterminate being presents itself as determinate.
The Diary and Memoir of Virginia D'Albert-Lake
This fascinating book tells the remarkable story of an ordinary American woman's heroism in the French Resistance. Virginia Roush fell in love with Philippe d'Albert-Lake during a visit to France in 1936; they married soon after. In 1943, they both joined the Resistance, where Virginia put her life in jeopardy as she sheltered downed airmen and later survived a Nazi prison camp. After the war, she stayed in France with Philippe, and was awarded the Lgion d'Honneur and the Medal of Honor. She died in 1997.Judy Barrett Litoff brings together two rare documents-Virginia's diary of wartime France until her capture in 1944 and her prison memoir written immediately after the war. Masterfully edited, they convey the compassion and toughness of a nearly forgotten heroine as they provide an invaluable record of the workings of the Resistance by one of the very few American women who participated in it.An indelible portrait of extraordinary strength of character . . . [D'Albert-Lake] is sombre, reflective, and attentive to every detail.-The New Yorker A sharply etched and moving story of love, companionship, commitment, and sacrifice. . . . This beautifully edited diary and memoir throw an original light on the French Resistance.-Robert Gildea, author of Marianne in Chains: In Search of the German Occupation, 1940-1945 At once a stunning self-portrait and dramatic narrative of a valorous young American woman . . . an exciting and gripping story, one of the best of the many wartime tales.-Walter CronkiteAn enthralling tale which brims with brave airmen and plucky heroines.-David Kirby, St. Petersburg Times
Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry
"The transmigration of souls is no fable. I would it were, but men and women are only half human." With these words, Ralph Waldo Emerson confronts a dilemma that illuminates the formation of American individualism: to evolve and become fully human requires a heightened engagement with history. Americans, Emerson argues, must realize history's chronology in themselves--because their own minds and bodies are its evolving record. Whereas scholarship has tended to minimize the mystical underpinnings of Emerson's notion of the self, his depictions of "the metempsychosis of nature" reveal deep roots in mystical traditions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Platonism and Christian esotericism. In essay after essay, Emerson uses metempsychosis as an open-ended template to understand human development. In Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman transforms Emerson's conception of metempsychotic selfhood into an expressly poetic event. His vision of transmigration viscerally celebrates the poet's ability to assume and live in other bodies; his American poet seeks to incorporate the entire nation into his own person so that he can speak for every man and woman.
Italian Americana's Best Writings on Women
With writings that span more than thirty-five years, American Woman, Italian Style is a rich collection of essays that fleshes out the realities of today's Italian American women and explores the myriad ways they continue to add to the American experience. The status of modern Italian-American women in the United States isnoteworthy: their quiet and continued growth into respected positions in the professional worlds of law and medicine surpasses the success achieved in that of the general population-so too does their educational attainment and income.Contributions include Donna Gabaccia on the oral-to-written history of cookbooks, Carol Helstosky on the Tradition of Invention, an interview with Sandra Gilbert, Paul Levitt's look at Lucy Mancini as a metaphor for the modern world, William Egelman's survey of women's work patterns, and Edvige Giunta on the importance of a selfconscious understanding of memory. There are explorations of Jewish-Italian intermarriages and interpretations of entrepreneurship in Milwaukee. Readers will find challenges to common assumptions and stereotypes, departures from normal samplings, and springboards to further research.American Woman, Italian Style: Italian Americana's Best Writings on Women offers unique insights into issues of gender and ethnicity and is a voice for the less heard and less seen side of the Italian-American experience from immigrant times to the present. Instead of seeking consensus or ideological orthodoxy, this collectionbrings together writers with a wide range of backgrounds, outlooks, ideas, and experiences. It is an impressive postmodern collection for interdisciplinary studies: a book and a look about being and becoming an American.
White Women and the History of New York's Colored Orphan Asylum
William Seraile uncovers the history of the colored orphan asylum, founded in New York City in 1836 as the nation's first orphanage for African American children. It is a remarkable institution that is still in the forefront aiding children. Although no longer an orphanage, in its current incarnation as Harlem-Dowling West Side Center for Children and Family Services it maintains the principles of the women who organized it nearly 200 years ago.The agency weathered three wars, two major financial panics, a devastating fire during the 1863 Draft Riots, several epidemics, waves of racial prejudice, and severe financial difficulties to care for orphaned, neglected, and delinquent children. Eventually financial support would come from some of New York's finest families, including the Jays, Murrays, Roosevelts, Macys, and Astors.While the white female managers and their male advisers were dedicated to uplifting these black children, the evangelical, mainly Quaker founding managers also exhibited the extreme paternalistic views endemic at the time, accepting the advice or support of the African American community only grudgingly. It was frank criticism in 1913 from W. E. B. Du Bois that highlighted the conflict between the orphanage and the community it served, and it wasn't until 1939 that it hired the first black trustee.More than 15,000 children were raised in the orphanage, and throughout its history letters and visits have revealed that hundreds if not thousands of old boys and girlslooked back with admiration and respect at the home that nurtured them throughout their formative years.Weaving together African American history with a unique history of New York City, this is not only a painstaking study of a previously unsung institution of black history but a unique window onto complex racial dynamics during a period when many failed to recognize equality among all citizens as a worthy purpose.