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The Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath
Nothing says more about a culture than the way it responds to deeply traumatic events. The Reign of Terror, America's Civil War, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Kennedy assassination, September 11th-watershed moments such as these can be rich sounding boards for the cultural historian patient enough to tease out the traumatic event's complex cultural resonances.This book is about one such moment in the history of modern France. The so-called Terrible Year began with the French army's crushing defeat at Sedan and the fall of the Second Empire in September of 1870, followed by the Prussian occupation of France and first siege of Paris in the fall and winter of that year. But no event of the period proved so deeply traumatic as the Paris Commune of 1871 and the bloody reprisals that attended its demise.Commemorating Trauma engages the rich body of recent scholarly work on cultural trauma to examine a curious conundrum. Why do French literary, historical and philosophical texts written in the aftermath of the Paris Commune so often employ the trope of confusion (in both the phenomenal and cognitive senses of that term) to register and work through the historical traumas of the Terrible Year? And how might these representations of confusion both reflect and inflect the confusions inherent to an ongoing process of social upheaval evident in late nineteenth-century France-a process whose benchmarks include democratization and the blurring of social classes, a persistent and evolving revolutionism, radical reconfigurations of the city as lived environment, and the development of specifically capitalist logics of commerce? These are the two principal questions addressed in this important study of cultural memory.
Milan Kundera and the Entitlements of Thinking
Commiserating with Devastated Things seeks to understand the place Milan Kundera calls “the universe of the novel.” Working through Kundera’s oeuvre as well as the continental philosophical tradition, Wirth argues that Kundera transforms—not applies—philosophical reflection within literature.Reading between Kundera’s work and his self-avowed tradition, from Kafka to Hermann Broch, Wirth asks what it might mean to insist that philosophy does not have a monopoly on wisdom, that the novel has its own modes of wisdom that challenge philosophy’s.
History, Experience, Trauma
Whereas historical determinacy conceives the past as a complex and unstable network of causalities, this book asks how history can be related to a more radical future. To pose that question, it does not reject determinacy outright but rather seeks to explore how it works. In examining what it means to be "determined" by history, it also asks what kind of openings there might be in our encounters with history for interruptions, re-readings, and re-writings. Engaging texts spanning multiple genres and several centuries from John Locke to Maurice Blanchot, from Hegel to Benjamin Clift looks at experiences of time that exceed the historical narration of experiences said to have occurred in time. She focuses on the co-existence of multiple temporalities and opens up the quintessentially modern notion of historical succession to other possibilities. The alternatives she draws out include the mediations of language and narration, temporal leaps, oscillations and blockages, and the role played by contingency in representation. She argues that such alternatives compel us to reassess the ways we understand history and identity in a traumatic, or indeed in a post-traumatic, age.
Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology
In the face of globalized ecological and economic crises, how do religion, the postsecular, and political theology reconfigure political theory and practice? As the planet warms and the chasm widens between the 1 percent and the global 99, what thinking may yet energize new alliances between religious and irreligious constituencies? This book brings together political theorists, philosophers, theologians, and scholars of religion to open discursive and material spaces in which to shape a vibrant planetary commons. Attentive to the universalizing tendencies of "the common," the contributors seek to reappropriate the term in response to the corporate logic that asserts itself as a universal solvent. In the resulting conversation, the common returns as an interlinked manifold, under the ethos of its multitudes and the ecology of its multiplicity. Beginning from what William Connolly calls the palpable "fragility of things," Common Goods assembles a transdisciplinary political theology of the Earth. With a nuance missing from both atheist and orthodox religious approaches, the contributors engage in a multivocal conversation about sovereignty, capital, ecology, and civil society. The result is an unprecedented thematic assemblage of cosmopolitics and religious diversity; of utopian space and the time of insurrection; of Christian socialism, radical democracy, and disability theory; of quantum entanglement and planetarity; of theology fleshly and political.
Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community
No longer able to read community in terms colored by a romantic nostalgia for homogeneity, closeness and sameness, or the myth of rational choice, we nevertheless face an imperative to think the common. The prominent scholars assembled here come together to articulate community while thinking seriously about the tropes, myths, narratives, metaphors, conceits, and shared cultural texts on which any such articulation depends. The result is a major contribution to literary theory, postcolonialism, philosophy, political theory, and sociology.
Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature
Why is our world still understood through binary oppositions-East and West, local and global, common and strange-that ought to have crumbled with the Berlin Wall? What might literary responses to the events that ushered in our era of globalization tell us about the rhetorical and historical underpinnings of these dichotomies? In A Common Strangeness, Jacob Edmond exemplifies a new, multilingual and multilateral approach to literary and cultural studies. He begins with the entrance of China into multinational capitalism and the appearance of the Parisian flaneur in the writings of a Chinese poet exiled in Auckland, New Zealand. Moving among poetic examples in Russian, Chinese, and English, he then traces a series of encounters shaped by economic and geopolitical events from the Cultural Revolution, perestroika, and the June 4 massacre to the collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11, and the invasion of Iraq. In these encounters, Edmond tracks a shared concern with strangeness through which poets contested old binary oppositions as they reemerged in new, post-Cold War forms.
Romance and the Aesthetics of Belonging in Atlantic Modernity
What are the relationships between the books we read and the communities we share? Common Things explores how transatlantic romance revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth century influenced--and were influenced by--emerging modern systems of community. Drawing on the work of Washington Irving, Henry Mackenzie, Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Montgomery Bird, and Charles Brockden Brown, the book shows how romance promotes a distinctive aesthetics of belonging--a mode of being in common tied to new qualities of the singular. Each chapter focuses on one of these common things--the stain of race, the "property" of personhood, ruined feelings, the genre of a text, and the event of history--and examines how these peculiar qualities work to sustain the coherence of our modern common places. In the work of Horace Walpole and Edgar Allan Poe, the book further uncovers an important--and never more timely--alternative aesthetic practice that reimagines community as an open and fugitive process rather than as a collection of common things.
Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States
Commons Democracy highlights a poorly understood dimension of democracy in the early United States. It tells a story that, like the familiar one, begins in the Revolutionary era. But instead of the tale of the Founders' high-minded ideals and their careful crafting of the safe framework for democracy--a representative republican government--Commons Democracy examines the power of the democratic spirit, the ideals and practices of everyday people in the early nation. As Dana D. Nelson reveals in this illuminating work, the sensibility of participatory democratic activity fueled the involvement of ordinary folk in resistance, revolution, state constitution-making, and early national civic dissent. The rich variety of commoning customs and practices in the late colonies offered non-elite actors a tangible and durable relationship to democratic power, one significantly different from the representative democracy that would be institutionalized by the Framers in 1787. This democracy understood political power and liberties as communal, not individual. Ordinary folk practiced a democracy that was robustly participatory and insistently local. To help tell this story, Nelson turns to early American authors--Hugh Henry Brackenridge, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Montgomery Bird, and Caroline Kirkland--who were engaged with conflicts that emerged from competing ideals of democracy in the early republic, such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Anti-Rent War as well as the enclosure of the legal commons, anxieties about popular suffrage, and practices of frontier equalitarianism. While Commons Democracy is about the capture of "democracy" for the official purposes of state consolidation and expansion, it is also a story about the ongoing (if occluded) vitality of commons democracy, of its power as part of our shared democratic history and its usefulness in the contemporary toolkit of citizenship.
Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere
A synergy between academia and activism has long been a goal of both scholars and advocacy organizations in communications research. The essays in Communications Research in Action demonstrate, for the first time in one volume, how an effective partnership between the two can contribute to a more democratic public sphere by helping to break down the digital divide to allow greater access to critical technologies, democratizing the corporate ownership of the media industry, and offering myriad opportunities for varied articulation of individuals' ideas.Essays spanning topics such as the effect of ownership concentration on children's television programming, the media's impact on community building, and the global consequences of communications research will not only be valuable to scholars, activists, and media policy makers but will also be instrumental in serving as a template for further exploration in collaboration.
Communities in Fiction reads six novels or stories (one each by Trollope, Hardy, Conrad, Woolf, Pynchon, and Cervantes) in the light of theories of community worked out (contradictorily) by Raymond Williams, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Luc Nancy. _x000B_The book’s topic is the question of how communities or noncommunities are represented in fictional works. Such fictional communities help the reader understand real communities, including those in which the reader lives. As against the presumption that the trajectory in literature from Victorian to modern to postmodern is the story of a gradual loss of belief in the possibility of community, this book demonstrates that communities have always been presented in fiction as precarious and fractured. Moreover, the juxtaposition of Pynchon and Cervantes in the last chapter demonstrates that period characterizations are never to be trusted. All the features both thematic and formal that recent critics and theorists such as Fredric Jameson and many others have found to characterize postmodern fiction are already present in Cervantes’s wonderful early seventeenth-century “Exemplary Story,” “The Dogs’ Colloquy.” All the themes and narrative devices of Western fiction from the beginning of the print era to the present were there at the beginning, in Cervantes. _x000B_Most of all, however, Communities in Fiction looks in detail at its six fictions, striving to see just what they say, what stories they tell, and what narratological and rhetorical devices they use to say what they do say and to tell the stories they do tell. The book attempts to communicate to its readers the joy of reading these works and to argue for the exemplary insight they provide into what Heidegger called Mitsein, being together in communities that are always problematic and unstable. _x000B_