Doktorvater

By Gerry Canavan

Robert T. Tally, Jr. Fredric Jameson: The Project of Dialectical Criticism. Pluto Press, 2014. 208 pp.

Phillip E. Wegner. Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative. Northwestern University Press, 2014. 328 pp.

When Fredric Jameson was selected as the winner of the Modern Language Association’s sixth Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement in 2011, his reply was (of course) dialectical; he told an interviewer that winning a lifetime achievement award was “a little alarming” while at the same time it was “very nice to have the recognition.” (This kind of double-edged honour was perhaps becoming a bit of a pattern for Jameson; he’d just won the prestigious Holberg International Memorial Prize in 2008.) One wonders then how Jameson might feel about the recent publication of two monograph-length retrospectives on his career, both written by former students: Wegner is a former graduate student of Jameson’s at the Program in Literature, while Tally took his classes as an undergraduate at Duke.
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Queering Animal Acts

By Miranda Niittynen

Una Chaudhuri and Holly Hughes, eds. Animal Acts: Performing Species Today. University of Michigan Press, 2014. 246 pp.

“Animal Acts” writes Una Chaudhuri, “are a powerful way to change the world” (1). Performance arts, in particular, create room for political discussion, as well as forging alternative spaces, places, time, and creatures.
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Quotation as Critical Practice

By Adam Barbu

Patrick Greaney. Quotational Practices: Repeating the Future in Contemporary Art. University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 224 pp.

What does it mean to return to the question of authorship in a seemingly “post-everything” theoretical context? Patrick Greaney’s recent book Quotational Practices: Repeating the Future in Contemporary Art (2014) responds to this question by analyzing the historical and critical function of quotation in modern and contemporary art.
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Beyond the Real of Capitalism

By Derrick King

Alison Shonkwiler and Leigh Claire La Berge, eds. Reading Capitalist Realism. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014. 260 pp.

Reading Capitalist Realism is an important and timely intervention into the nature of contemporary realism and the ongoing crisis of capitalism. The editors have assembled a powerful collection of essays that interrogate the critical capacity of the term “capitalist realism” to explain both contemporary ideological formations as well as current literary and cultural forms.
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What’s New? Boris Groys in Translation

By Joshua Synenko

Boris Groys. On The New. Trans. G. M. Goshgarian. Verso, 2014. 208 pp.

It may seem contradictory to release a translation of a work which questions ideas of “the new” some twenty-two years after the German original. Yet the belated English publication of Boris Groys’s On The New (2014), demonstrates the text’s endurance according to the very means encouraged by Groys himself: by crossing the threshold into “valorized” culture.
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Realism After Postmodernism

By Sean Homer

Fredric Jameson. The Antinomies of Realism. Verso, 2013. 313 pp.

In his 1977 “Afterword” to the volume Aesthetics and Politics, Jameson observed that it was not only political history that was condemned to repeat the past but also literary history that experienced a certain “return of the repressed”:

Nowhere has this return of the repressed been more dramatic than in the aesthetic conflict between “Realism” and “Modernism”, whose navigation and renegotiation is still unavoidable for us today, even though we may feel that each position is in some sense right and yet neither is any longer wholly acceptable.
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Framed

By Johanna Skibsrud

Catherine Zuromskis. Snapshot Photography: The Lives of Images. MIT Press, 2013. 264 pp.

Like its subject, Catherine Zuromskis’s Snapshot Photography: The Lives of Images straddles the realms of public and private, high and low art. She considers the “snapshot” within an American, middle-class context: those who bought the first Brownie cameras and, over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century, took the requisite photos.
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Trauma and the Limits of Counter-Memory

By Kelli Moore

Dora Apel. War Culture and the Contest of Images. Rutgers University Press, 2012. 273 pp.

War Culture and the Contest of Images comes in the wake of the Bush administration’s corporatized media production, chiefly represented by Colin Powell’s testimony before the U.N. Security Council on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the current extension of policies and practices of the Obama administration that continue to drive underground public knowledge and debate about secret detention camps.
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Research Note: The Resources of Culture

By Graeme Macdonald

“I should have thought of it before, it’s too late now.”

Italo Calvino, The Petrol Pump

The opening sentence of Italo Calvino’s 1974 story “The Petrol Pump” expresses a regret wearily familiar to 21st century energy-angst.
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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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“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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