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Smart Work, Managed Choice, and the Transformation of Higher Education
A current truism holds that the undergraduate degree today is equivalent to the high-school diploma of yesterday. But undergraduates at a research university would probably not recognize themselves in the historical mirror of high-school vocational education. Students in a vast range of institutions are encouraged to look up the educational social scale, whereas earlier vocational education was designed to cool outexpectations of social advancement by training a working class prepared for massive industrialization.In Class Degrees, Evan Watkins argues that reforms in vocational education in the 1980s and 1990s can explain a great deal about the changing directions of class formation in the United States, as well as how postsecondary educational institutions are changing. Responding to a demand for flexibility in job skills and reflecting a consequent aspiration to choice and perpetual job mobility, those reforms aimed to eliminate the separate academic status of vocational education. They transformed it from a cooling outto a heating upof class expectations. The result has been a culture of hyperindividualism. The hyperindividual lives in a world permeated with against-all-odds plots, from beat the oddsof long supermarket checkout lines by using self-checkout and buying FasTrak transponders to beat the odds of traffic jams, to the endless superheroes on film and TV who daily save various sorts of planets and things against all odds.Of course, a few people can beat the odds only if most other people do not. As choice begins to replace the selling of individual labor at the core of contemporary class formation, the result is a sort of waste labor left behind by the competitive process. Provocatively, Watkins argues that, in the twenty-first century, academic work in the humanities is assuming the management function of reclaiming this waste labor as a motor force for the future.
In this risk-taking book, a major feminist philosopher engages the work of the actor and director who has progressed from being the stereotypical man's manto pushing the boundaries of the very genres-the Western, the police thriller, the war or boxing movie-most associated with American masculinity. Cornell's highly appreciative encounter with the films directed by Clint Eastwood revolve around the questions What is it to be a good man?and What is it to be, not just an ethical person, but specifically an ethical man?Focusing on Eastwood as a director rather than as an actor or cultural icon, she studies Eastwood in relation to major philosophical and ethical themes that have been articulated in her own life's work.In her fresh and revealing readings of the films, Cornell takes up pressing issues of masculinity as it is caught up in the very definition of ideas of revenge, violence, moral repair, and justice. Eastwood grapples with this involvement of masculinity in and through many of the great symbols of American life, including cowboys, boxing, police dramas, and ultimately war-perhaps the single greatest symbol of what it means (or is supposed to mean) to be a man. Cornell discusses films from across Eastwood's career, from his directorial debut with Play Misty for Me to Million Dollar Baby.Cornell's book is not a traditional book of film criticism or a cinematographic biography. Rather, it is a work of social commentary and ethical philosophy. In a world in which we seem to be losing our grip on shared symbols, along with community itself, Eastwood's films work with the fragmented symbols that remain to us in order to engage masculinity with the most profound moral and ethical issues facing us today.
Immigration, Globalization, and Reform in New York City's Garment Industry
For more than a century and a half-from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the 20th-the garment industry was the largest manufacturing industry in New York City, and New York made more clothes than anywhere else. For generations, the industry employed more New Yorkers than any other and was central to the city's history, culture, and identity. Today, although no longer the big heart of industrial New York, the needle trades are still an important part of the city's economy-especially for the new waves of immigrants who cut, sew, and assemble clothing in shops around the five boroughs. In this valuable book, historians, sociologists, and economists explore the rise and fall of the garment industry and its impact on New York and its people, as part of a global process of economic change. Essays trace the rise of the industry, from the creation of a Manhattan garment district employing immigrants from nearby enements to the contemporary spread of Chinese-owned shops in cheaper neighborhoods. The tumultuoushistory of workers and their bosses is the focus of chapters on contractors and labor militants and on the experiences of Italian, Chinese, Jewish, Dominican, and other ethnic workers. The final chapter looks at air labor, social responsibility, and the political economy of the offshore garment industry.
Don Whitehead's World War II Diary and Memoirs
No one bore witness better than Don Whitehead . . . this volume, deftly combining his diary and a previously unpublished memoir, brings Whitehead and his reporting back to life, and 21st-century readers are the richer for it.-from the Foreword, by Rick AtkinsonWinner of two Pulitzer Prizes, Don Whitehead is one of the legendary reporters of World War II. For the Associated Press he covered almost every important Allied invasion and campaign in Europe-from North Africa to landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and Normandy, and to the drive into Germany. His dispatches, published in the recent Beachhead Don, are treasures of wartime journalism.From the fall of September 1942, as a freshly minted A.P. journalist in New York, to the spring of 1943 as Allied tanks closed in on the Germans in Tunisia, Whitehead kept a diary of his experiences as a rookie combat reporter. The diary stops in 1943, and it has remained unpublished until now. Back home later, Whitehead started, but never finished, a memoir of his extraordinary life in combat.John Romeiser has woven both the North African diary and Whitehead's memoir of the subsequent landings in Sicily into a vivid, unvarnished, and completely riveting story of eight months during some of the most brutal combat of the war. Here, Whitehead captures the fierce fighting in the African desert and Sicilian mountains, as well as rare insights into the daily grind of reporting from a war zone, where tedium alternated with terror. In the tradition of cartoonist Bill Mauldin's memoir Up Front, Don Whitehead's powerful self-portrait is destined to become an American classic.
Coming is a lyrical, erudite examination of the French notion of jouissance. How did jouissance evolve from referring to the pleasure of possessing a material thing (property, wealth) to the pleasure of orgasm, from appropriation to dis-appropriation, from consumption to consummation? The philosophers Adèle van Reeth and Jean-Luc Nancy engage in a lively dialogue, ranging from consumerism to video games to mysticism and from Spinoza, Hegel, and Augustine to the Marquis de Sade, Marguerite Duras, and Henry Miller. Four additional essays are new to the American edition.
Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Mothering
Coming to Life does what too few scholarly works have dared to attempt: It takes seriously the philosophical significance of women's lived experience. Every woman, regardless of her own reproductive story, is touched by the beliefs and norms governing discourses about pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering. The volume's contributors engage in sustained reflection on women's experiences and on the beliefs, customs, and political institutions by which they are informed. They think beyond the traditional pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy, speak to the manifold nature of mothering by considering the experiences of adoptive mothers and birthmothers, and upend the belief that childrearing practices must be uniform, despite psychosexual differences in children. Many chapters reveal the radical shortcomings of conventional philosophical wisdom by placing trenchant assumptions about subjectivity, gender, power and virtue in dialogue with women's experience.
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.