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REVIEW ESSAYS As he copiously acknowledges in the two introductory chapters on method, Amelang is greatly indebted throughout to theory and to literary as opposed to historical patterms ofinterpretation. Readers of TAe Comparatist will indeed recognize in Amelang's themes questions literary scholars have schooled themselves to ask about the canonical literary and philosophical texts they normally study. The author also expresses his debt to theory's help in overcoming the naïve perspectives through which historians often view popular documents and sources—though, as Richard J. Evans reminds us in his recent In Defense ofHistory (Norton, 1999), literary scholars tend to exaggerate historians' gullibility in this respect. Still, what Amelang takes from literary studies and from the cultural theorists on whom students of literature draw he gives back enriched many fold. The Flight ofIcarus is an indispensable research tool that, properly used, should alter the terms in which the nature, meaning, and origins ofthe "modem subject" are defined. Christopher BraiderUniversity ofColorado, Boulder MIEKE BAL, ED. The Practice ofCultural Analysis: Exposing Interdisciplinary Interpretation. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999. xix + 392pp. THE REACH OF CULTURAL ANALYSIS: SOME CUTTINGS Not too long ago, a book ofessays enunciating a project ofcultural analysis undertaken at a single academic institution would have waited for the expected review injournals ofsocial science, ifnot, like Thorstein Veblen's 7%e Theory ofthe Leisure Class or Marjorie Garber's recent Sex andRealEstate: Why We Love Houses, in more popular venues than the PMLA. Today such a project may draw its energies from other disciplines, and in the case of The Practice ofCulturalAnalysis, edited very carefully by Mieke BaI, especially from comparative literature. Yet there will be a few, and not the most innocent, in the field ofComparative Literature who will be puzzled by such a "reach." As Bill Readings and Stephen Melville put it not too long ago in introducing an edited volume of similar scope, "[. . .] this collection may or may not end by exerting certain intellectual effects, but it will certainly exert institutional effects, such as gaining institutional capital for some ofits participants, testifying for (or against) the strength ofa certain market, fuelling (or quenching) certain desires for curricular or institutional transformation, and so on" ( Vision & Textuality [Durham: Duke UP, 1995] 4). What might these "institutional effects" be? To what extent is any discipline in the humanities, even theater, not attracted to the phenomenon of cultural analysis ? To what extent is any discipline this side ofhotel and restaurant management or marketing research or consumer studies not engaged to some extent in cultural analysis? Who cannot practice cultural analysis? I have begun with a somewhat unreasonable set ofassumptions about the present book's project. But my anxiety as a reviewer about how to write with assurance ofsuch a vast undertaking only mirrors that ofthe editor in her introduction: "The project ofcultural analysis, then, begins for me by making the positions of first, second, and third persons in the discursive sense shift around so as to destabilize the rigid relation to authority and mastery among expository agent, viewer/reader, and exposed object" (10). In a "postface," Jonathan Culler notes the anxiety that underlies this position: "One could say [. . .] that cultural analysis is that kind ofanalysis ofcultural production that constantly risks paralysis by reflecting on itself; it is that VcH. 25 (2001): 154 ??? COHPAnATIST mode ofanalysis and presentation that is compelled to attempt to analyze itself, its own concepts and standpoint. Cultural analysis, thus, would be the site of the anxiety-ridden subject" (346). The challenge to the anxiety-ridden reviewer is met by resorting to an organic metaphor. How might we transplant such a burst of local fruits and flowering shrubbery into the fields ofAmerican academic discourse? I think the answer is that we must take "cuttings." What follows then is a series ofcuttings from this collection, ones that I believe can grow and thrive this side ofthe Atlantic. One ofthe collection's unique qualities is its Dutch orientation, including writings by several members ofthe Amsterdam School ofCultural Analysis. In that regard it proffers an institutional response to the British version ofCultural Studies, while including among its contributors several prominent practitioners ofthat persuasion, Griselda Pollock, Stephen Bann, and Jon Cook, among...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 154-157
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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