Hegelian Untimeliness, or the Experience of the Impossibility of Experience

By Julian Jason Haladyn

Rebecca Comay. Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution. Stanford University Press [Cultural Memory in the Present Series], 2010. 224 pp.

Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution begins with the question of the cultural disenchantment facing Germany in the aftermath of the French Revolution, an historical condition that, following Marx and Engels, came to be called the “German misery.” This disenchanted position results from the awkward acknowledgment that “Germany’s experience of modernity is a missed experience,” the trauma of which Rebecca Comay uses as a category of history, with the “German misery” being an exemplary model of her approach and Hegel representing “its most lucid theorist” (3-4).
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Beware the Rays of Imitation

By Claire Barber

Tony D. Sampson. Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks. University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 235 pp.

The cover of Tony D. Sampson’s Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks incorporates the image of a flock of crows sitting on power lines, a scene with the potential to inspire the type of fear captured by films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).
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The Shape of Things

By Sam Han

Peter Sloterdijk. Bubbles: Spheres Volume I: Microspherology. Trans. Wieland Hoban. Semiotext(e), 2011. 664pp. 

For anyone even remotely interested in philosophy, when a figure sets out to “correct” Heidegger, you want to pay attention. This is not necessarily out of admiration for the author of Being and Time, or his ideas, but rather out of a genuine curiosity made up of equal parts amazement and horror.
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Culture, Technology and Hyper-Industrial Capitalism

By Tai Neilson, Lisa Daily, Gavin Mueller and David Rheams

Bernard Stiegler. The Decadence of Industrial Democracies.  Trans. Daniel Ross and Suzanne Arnold. Polity Press, 2011. 194 pp.

In The Decadence of Industrial Democracies Bernard Stiegler presents a singular take on the culture industry in the hyper-industrial age and offers a radical understanding of technological and cultural change. Stiegler applies his philosophical approach developed in Technics and Time to the Americanized culture industry at the heart of industrial democracies. Echoing the Frankfurt School, he describes the willingness of consumer citizens to trade leisure time for consumptive habits.
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Low Theory

By Matt Applegate

McKenzie Wark. Telesthesia: Communication, Culture, and Class. Polity Press, 2012. 241 pp.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the new and enduring object of political and intellectual inquiry for the Left in the United States. Indeed, like the 1999 Seattle WTO protests before it, OWS is perhaps more momentous, more impactful, or even more ‘revolutionary’ in its after-effects and in its memorialization than it was in the time and space of its production.
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Becoming Analogical

By Chad Vollrath

Gilbert Simondon. Two Lessons on Animal and Man. Trans. Drew S. Burk. Univocal, 2012. 88 pp.

In 2009, Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy, published a special issue dedicated to “the occasion of the forthcoming publication of the English translation of Gilbert Simondon’s L’individuation psychique et collective” (De Boever et al.
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A Call to Theoretical Indiscipline

By Carolyn Elerding

Jonathan Sterne. MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Duke University Press, 2012. 341 pp.

The last decade has been a truly exciting one in cultural studies of sound, largely due to the generous and catalytic contributions of Jonathan Sterne. These include several significant articles, a strong intellectual and activist web presence, and a provocative genealogy of early sound reproduction and transmission entitled The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.
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“Another, Less Traveled Pathway in Aesthetic Theory”: Attending to Other Aesthetic Categories

By Paul Ardoin

Sianne Ngai. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Harvard University Press, 2012. 333 pp.

Sianne Ngai’s 2005 Ugly Feelings offered a major contribution to a rapidly-growing body of work in the still-young field of Affect Studies. Her first book focused on often-neglected negative emotions such as envy, anxiety, paranoia, and “stuplimity,” a term she coined to describe “a strange amalgamation of shock and boredom” (2).
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The False Freedom of Rock Stardom

By Sarah Brouillette

Matt Stahl. Unfree Masters: Recording Artists and the Politics of Work. Duke University Press, 2012. 296 pp.

Academic and policy studies of creative labour have tended to suggest that creative work is unique and desirable because it is more autonomous than regular employment, meaning that it is more self-directed, expressive, and self-actualizing, and also more authentically separable from employers’ prerogatives.
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The Trouble With Going Gaga

By Derritt Mason

J. Jack Halberstam. Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Beacon Press, 2012. 178 pp.

“Who is Lady Gaga?” asks J. Jack Halberstam in the preface to Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal; “What do her performances mean? And more importantly, what do her gender theatrics have to say to young people about identity, politics, and celebrity?” (xii).
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The Problem of Religious Difference

By Alan R. Van Wyk

Martha Nussbaum. The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012. 285 pp.

Religion has become a problem. Or rather, religion has been made a problem. Reduced to being a maker of meaning and marker of identity, it has become a maker and marker of difference, a difference that, in the North Atlantic world, against a normative Christianity, is often the difference of Islam.
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Longing for Lehman Sisters

By Megan Brown

Melissa S. Fisher. Wall Street Women. Duke University Press, 2012. 227 pp.

There is a particularly illuminating moment in the opening chapter of Melissa S. Fisher’s Wall Street Women—a blink-and-you-miss-it comment that serves as a crucial reminder of the book’s significance: “It is difficult to remember the extent of sexual discrimination in the United States, as well as how thoroughly ideas of masculinity structured Wall Street in particular during the sixties and seventies” (7).
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Reverse Teleologies

By Helen Kapstein

Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa. Paradigm, 2012. 261 pp.

This volume opens with an amazing epigraph from South Africa’s Ministry of Higher Education and Training, part of which reads, “We should not only be consumers of theory from the developed world.
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At Last, A Handbook!/?

By Andrew Buzny

David Halperin. How to be Gay. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012. 549 pp.

David Halperin’s gargantuan tome, How to be Gay, comes upon the heels of the controversy surrounding his undergraduate course of the same title. Although Halperin is an eminent scholar in queer studies, this text, which comes in at 457 pages, with an additional 68 pages of endnotes, is not the how-to guide one might anticipate given its title.
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