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The Crisis fo Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism
Notwithstanding its now extensive, trans-disciplinary bibliography, the full reality of globalization remains less well understood than commonly thought. As an objective, secular phenomenon, globalization has continued to be obscured by ideological and rhetorical strategies that travel under the same name but posit it as simply the abstract-universal other of the local. Dislocalism: The Crisis of Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism makes such strategies and the global/local binary they reinforce into objects of critical analysis. Taking her title from a new theoretical concept at the heart of this critique, Sarika Chandra argues that the historically dominant position of the United States in the global order takes on a uniquely urgent and problematic form: globalization is experienced not only as external to the American “nation of nations” but also as something internal to it. Through close study of four discrete intellectual/cultural arenas from the 1980s to the present—management theory, the literature of immigration, travel writing, and narratives of the culinary exotic—Chandra further argues that an Americanized imperative to globalize results in a repositioning of the local to maintain national and institutional boundaries. To “dislocalize” becomes, simultaneously, to “dislocalize.” By mapping out the deeper, often hidden discursive ambiguities and historical specificities of an Americanized globalization, Dislocalism effectively redefines and re-orients the fields of American literary and cultural studies.
Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture is Douglas Robinson’s study of postcolonial affect—specifically, of the breakdown of the normative (regulatory) circulation of affect in the refugee experience and the colonial encounter, the restructuring of that regulatory circulation in colonization, and the persistence of that restructuring in decolonization and intergenerational trauma. Robinson defines “somatics” as a cultural construction of “reality” and “identity” through the regulatory circulation of evaluative affect. This book is divided into three essays covering the refugee experience, colonization and decolonization, and intergenerational trauma. Each essay contains a review of empirical studies of its main topic, a study of literary representations of that topic, and a study of postcolonial theoretical spins. The literary representations in the refugee essay are a novel and short story by the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat; in the colonization essay a short film by Javier Fesser and a novella by Mahasweta Devi (translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak); and in the intergenerational trauma essay novels by James Welch and Toni Morrison and a short story by Percival Everett. The first essay’s theoretical spins include Deleuze and Guattari on nomad thought and Iain Chambers on migrancy; the second’s, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and theories of postcolonial affect in Bhabha and Spivak; the third’s, work on historical trauma by Cathy Caruth and Dominic LaCapra.
A Chapter in the History of the Inexpressible
How did fears of cultural inadequacy play out in the English language after American independence and the War of 1812? Like many of his nineteenth-century contemporaries, essayist Walter Channing suggests that the country’s perceived deficiency in literature is due to a crucial overlap with England, that is, having “the same language with a nation, totally unlike it in almost every relation.” In Distancing English, Page Richards shows how these concerns of language are historically interwoven with the inexpressible. Often overlooked, the topos of the inexpressible redirects the ventriloquism of the English language. From its beginning, this topos combines the hyperbole of high expectations with the failure of inadequate words. In Charles Brockden Brown or George Tucker, it can register deficiency of “character” on and off the page, establishing important strategies of decenteredness also associated with modernism. In writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Wallace Stevens, and John Berryman, the inexpressible seizes advantage from disadvantage. It runs through literary framing strategies and flexible shaggy dog humor. The 1855 preface to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass remaps the topos and emerges as a significant achievement in the history of the inexpressible.
Collective Action and Procedural Choice in the New Legislative Process
Doing the Right Thing examines the use of extraordinary legislative procedures in four cases in the U.S. Congress to accomplish policy objectives that many political scientists would argue are impossible to achieve. It not only shows that Congress is capable of imposing parochial costs in favor of general benefits but it argues that Congress is able to do so in a variety of policy areas through the use of very different kinds of procedural mechanisms that are underappreciated. The book opens by developing a theory of procedural choice to explain why Congress chooses to delegate in differing degrees in dealing with similar kinds of policy problems. The theory is then applied to four narrative case studies—military base closures, the Yucca Mountain Project, NAFTA, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986—that both show the variety of factors that impact procedural choice and highlight how our national legislature was able to “do the right thing. The book concludes by pointing to the variety of ways in which Congress will be confronted with similar policy problems in the coming years and offering some lessons from these cases about what kinds of procedures and policy outcomes we might expect. In short, I find that Congress is remarkably adept at “doing the right thing,” even under difficult circumstances, but only when legislators are willing to manipulate procedures in all the necessary ways.
Interrogating the Times
Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times wrestles with the ghosts that continue to haunt our most pressing twenty-first-century concerns: how to reconceive imprisoning conceptions of sexuality and gender, how to define terrorism, how to locate the personal, and how to write on race and colonialism in an ever-slippery postmodern world. This collection of essays clearly establishes Lessing’s importance as a unique and necessary voice in contemporary literature and life. In tracing the evolution in Lessing’s representations of controversial subjects, this volume shows how new cultural and political contexts demand new solutions. Focusing on Lessing’s experiments with genre and on the ramifications of narrative itself, the collection asks readers to reformulate some of their most taken-for-granted assumptions about the contemporary world and their relation to it. Contributors to Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times assess Lessing’s vision of the past and its relevance for the future by revisiting texts from the beginning of her career onward while at the same time probing previous interpretations of these works. These reassessments reveal Lessing’s continued role as a gadfly who, in disrupting rigid constructions of right and wrong and of good and evil, forces her readers to move beyond “you are damned, we are saved” narratives. As rationales such as these continue to permeate global venues, Lessing’s oeuvre becomes increasingly relevant.
Popular Front Ideals and Aethetics in Children's Plays of the Federal Theatre Project
Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project by Leslie Elaine Frost traces how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of federally funded plays for children. Indeed, children’s theater was central to the Federal Theatre Project’s vision of building a national theater. Frost argues that representations of the child and childhood in the FTP children’s plays stage the hopes and anxieties of a nation destabilized by both economic collapse and technological advances. A declining economy and the first stagnant birthrate in three centuries yoked the national economy to the individual family. Profound disagreements over appropriate models of education and parenting, as well as over issues of ethnicity and class, constituted fundamental arguments over democratic values and social norms. Frost locates these plays within the immediate context of the production materials in the FTP archives, as well as within the broader culture of the Great Depression, drawing on disparate primary materials—from parenting magazines to strike literature to political journals—and referencing a range of popular events—from the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights to Hollywood movies. As the focus of Depression-era adult anxieties and hopes and as the embodiment of vigor, dynamism, and growth, children carried symbolic value both as the future of America and as the America of the future. Frost examines representative plays’ connections to other media, culture, and politics to situate their singular trajectories in the social history of the Federal Theatre Project and Popular Front culture.
The Fight for Safe Cosmetics
Dying to Be Beautiful tells the story of how cosmetics came to be regulated in early-20th-century America. In 1906, the Food and Drug Administration was given the power to control food and drugs. Not until 1938 were other products that went into or onto the body, including cosmetics, similarly regulated. The intervening years saw death by depilatory and blindness by mascara and a rise in consumer and grassroots political activism. This book examines who fought for regulation of these inherently feminine products and why it took so long for their goals to be achieved. Gwen Kay argues that many activists, often at the grassroots level, set the stage for changes in legislation. The activists’ continued outrage, letters, negative press, books, and just plain attention to these matters allowed for the plodding Congressional committee hearings to transform into swift action in the face of a national crisis provoked by a lack of regulatory oversight. Ordinary citizens, doctors as individuals rather than as an association, government officials acting in a personal rather than an official capacity, and even manufacturers concerned about less- reputable industrial cousins tainting the cosmetic industry’s good name all supported the effort to regulate cosmetics. This is the first book that substantively examines the cosmetics industry in light of the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Dying to Be Beautiful pays particular attention to the problems caused by cosmetics and to the possible solutions offered, both before and after implementation of the 1938 law.
Communication, Images, and Identity in the Classical World
Though in many respects similar to us moderns, the Greeks and Romans often conceived things differently than we do. The cultural inheritance we have received from them can therefore open our eyes to many “manners of life” we might otherwise overlook. The ancients told fascinating—but different—stories; they elaborated profound—but different—symbols. Above all, they confronted many of the problems we still face today—memory and forgetfulness; identity and its strategies; absolutist moralism and behavioral relativity—only in profoundly different ways, since their own cultural forms and resources were different. In The Ears of Hermes: Communication, Images, and Identity in the Classical World, renowned scholar and author Maurizio Bettini explores these different cultural experiences, choosing paths through this territory that are diverse and sometimes unexpected: a little-known variant of a myth or legend, such as that of Brutus pretending, like Hamlet, to be a Fool; a proverb, like lupus in fabula (the wolf in the tale), that expresses the sense of foreboding aroused by the sudden arrival of someone who was just the subject of conversation; or great works, like Plautus’ Amphitruo and Vergil’s Aeneid, where we encounter the mysteries of the Doppelgänger and of “doubles” fabricated to ease the pain of nostalgia. Or the etymology of a word—its own “story”—leads us down some unforeseen avenue of discovery. While scholarly in presentation, this book, in an elegant English translation by William Michael Short, will appeal not only to classicists but also students, as well as to anthropologists and historians of art and literature beyond classics.
Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture
Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, edited by Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport, showcases the wide-ranging economic activities and relationships of real and fictional women in nineteenth-century British culture. This volume’s essays chronicle the triumphs and setbacks of women who developed, described, contested, and exploited new approaches to economic thought and action. In their various roles as domestic employees, activists fighting for free trade, theorists developing statistical models, and individuals considering the cost of marriage and its dissolution, the women discussed here were givers and takers, producers and consumers. Bringing together leading and emerging voices in the field, this collection builds on the wealth of interdisciplinary economic criticism published in the last twenty years, but it also challenges traditional understandings of economic subjectivity by emphasizing both private and public records and refusing to identify a single female corollary to Economic Man. The scholars presented here recover game-changing stories of women’s economic engagement from diaries, letters, ledgers, fiction, periodicals, and travel writing to reveal a nuanced portrait of Economic Women. Offering new readings of works by George Eliot, Bram Stoker, Willkie Collins, Charlotte Riddell, and Ellen Wood, and addressing political economy, consumerism, and business developments alongside family finances and the ethics of exchange, Economic Women tells a story of ambivalence as well as achievement, failure as well as forward motion.
The Anglo-Indian Family Romance and the Poetics of Indirect Rule
Even though Edward Said’s Orientalism inspired several generations of scholars to study the English novel’s close involvement with colonialism, they have not considered how English novels themselves were radically altered by colonialism. In Educating Seeta, Shuchi Kapila argues that the paradoxes of indirect rule in British India were negotiated in “family romances” which encoded political struggle in the language of domestic and familial civility. A mixture of domestic ideology and liberal politics, these are Anglo-Indian romances, written by British colonials who lived in India during a period of indirect colonial rule. Instead of providing neat conclusions and smooth narratives, they become a record of the limits of liberal colonialism. They thus offer an important supplement to Victorian novels, extend the study of nineteenth-century domestic ideology, and offer a new perspective on colonial culture. Kapila demonstrates that popular writing about India and, by implication, other colonies is an important supplement to the high Victorian novel and indispensable to our understanding of nineteenth-century English literature and culture. Her nuanced study of British writing about indirect rule in India will reshape our understanding of Victorian domestic ideologies, class formation, and gender politics.