Discovering the World

By Michael Mayne

Castellina, Luciana. Discovery of the World: A Political Awakening in the Shadow of Mussolini. Trans. Patrick Camiller. London: Verso, 2014. xiv + 194 pp.

Autobiographies by radicals are essential histories of political eras and of individual roles in collective struggle. As these portraits reveal the dialectics of growth and transformation, they prove that we can make our own history, even if not always as we please.
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The Bureaucratic Pleasures of Policing Sex

By Marcia Klotz

Jennifer Doyle. Campus Sex, Campus Security. Semiotext(e), 2015. 144 pp.

Campus Sex, Campus Security is not exactly an academic book, though it treats academic themes, and certainly matters of the academy. With a style that slides from the journalistic into the aphoristic and the lyrical, the book at times has the feel of a feminist manifesto from an earlier era, at others that of a jeremiad.
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Regarding Feelings and Forms

By Rachel Alpha Johnston Hurst

Eugenie Brinkema. The Forms of the Affects. Duke University Press, 2014. 347 pp.

Elspeth H. Brown and Thy Phu, eds. Feeling Photography. Duke University Press, 2014. 397 pp.

As a psychoanalytic cultural theorist, thinking about these books together ensnares me in my familiar oscillating trap: between the visceral imagery of Freud and the hygienic schemas of Lacan. Reading Freud is to vicariously feel his theories of psyche; I am seduced by this provocation of idiosyncratic feeling.
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Breeding ‘Post-Imperial’ Nations

By Leslie Allin

Nadine Attewell. Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire. University of Toronto Press, 2013. 324 pp. 

This work is a refreshing and timely intervention in the ongoing process that nation states formerly part of the British Empire use to determine who belongs within a political community. Nadine Attewell’s Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire investigates how ideas about British and settler citizenship in the 20th and 21st centuries are forged through the policing and politics of reproduction.
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Spinoza and the Politics of the Future

By Miriam Tola

Antonio Negri. Spinoza for Our Time. Columbia University Press, 2013. xix + 125 pp

Hasana Sharp. Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization. University of Chicago Press, 2011. xii + 241 pp.

Nowhere has the capacity of Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy to enable radical politics been asserted more forcefully than in Antonio Negri’s The Savage Anomaly. Published in 1981, the book marked a turning point in Spinoza scholarship by establishing Spinoza as a thinker of revolutionary immanence.
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Canadian Ghosts and the Narratives of Nation Building

By Shaun Stevenson

Margot Francis. Creative Subversions: Whiteness, Indigeneity, and the National Imaginary. University of British Columbia Press, 2011. 252 pp.

Soon after relocating to Vancouver, British Columbia, I made an obligatory tourist excursion to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the North Shore. While struck by the beauty and lushness of a West coast rainforest, the enormity of the trees, and the vastness of the cliffs traversed via narrow, swinging bridges, I found my attention drawn to other things residing in the these dense, damp woods.
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Orgasm Without Bodies

By Ela Przybylo

Annamarie Jagose. Orgasmology. Duke University Press, 2013. 251 pp.

Annamarie Jagose’s Orgasmology is a glistening tome of a book. Speaking to the critical figure of the orgasm, Orgasmology – wittily masquerading as an encyclopedic-type entity – has something to offer to every sexuality and queer studies scholar, student, and practitioner.
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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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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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Psycho-History

By Theo Finigan

Joan Wallach Scott. The Fantasy of Feminist History. Duke University Press, 2011. 187pp.

In The Fantasy of Feminist History an eminent cultural and gender historian interrogates some of the basic methodological and epistemological assumptions that constitute her discipline. While affirming history’s continued intellectual relevance—it is historians who, crucially, “introduce the difference of time” into interdisciplinary theoretical discourse, for instance (42)—Joan Wallach
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Critical Practice as Desire

By  Elizabeth Groeneveld

Robyn Wiegman. Object Lessons. Duke University Press, 2012. 398 pp.

Robyn Wiegman’s Object Lessons is an extended meditation on the disciplinary frameworks, concepts, and narratives that have shaped the field imaginaries of identity-based studies, focusing primarily on how these have developed within the context of the U.S.
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Women in Academia: How (re)Discovering Feminisms Can Empower You

By Jennifer Burwell

Brown, Susan, Jeanne Perreault, Jo-Ann Wallace, and Heather Zwicker, eds.  Not Drowning But Waving: Women, Feminism, and the Liberal Arts.  University of Alberta Press, 2011.  472 pages.

Not Drowning But Waving offers twenty-two feminist essays focusing on the complex relationships between women academics and the liberal arts. Separated into three sections – “Not Drowning/Waving,” “History/Temporality/Generations,” and “Activism” – the anthology gathers together a broad range of topics, including the relationship of liberal arts to academic institutions, the many pressures that women in academia face in their attempts to balance personal life with professional duties and aspirations, the costs and opportunities for women academics who hold administrative positions, and the relation of feminism to the liberal arts.
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The Future of Anti-racist Feminism In Canada

By Ashley Dryburgh

Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith, and Sunera Thobani, eds. States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century. Between the Lines, 2010. 248 pp.

Despite its forwarding-leaning title, States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century is as much about the past as it is about the future. The collection opens by looking backward, with an eight page preface detailing the history of critical race feminism in Canada over the past decade.
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Queering Anarchism

By Michael Truscello

Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson, eds. Anarchism and Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power. Routledge, 2011. 232 pp.

It may surprise some people outside of the study of anarchism that, alongside race, sexuality is perhaps the least studied subject within anarchist scholarship. This absence in the scholarly literature is often mirrored in practice, and as such the recent publication of Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson’s Anarchism and Sexuality provides a necessary intervention.
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Reading Age and Disability in Film

By Dilia Narduzzi

Sally Chivers. The Silvering Screen: Old Age and Disability in Cinema. University of Toronto Press, 2011. 213 pp.

Sally Chivers’s The Silvering Screen: Old Age and Disability in Cinema is an important volume because it examines “contemporary film to ask why claims of physical and mental ability are necessary for older actors – and older people more generally” (xii).
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Affecting Feminist Subjects, Rewriting Feminist Theory

By Ilya Parkins

Clare Hemmings. Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist Theory. Duke University Press, 2011. 272 pp.

Clare Hemmings’s Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist Theory is poised to prompt a major rethinking of feminist theory, and more importantly, of how we construct our histories of this field – and what this says about feminists’ intellectual investments and our futures.
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Provoking Matter

By Stephanie Clare

Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Duke University Press, 2010. 336 pp.

If a sentence could summarize Diana Coole and Samantha Frost’s 2010 edited collection, it would be the editors’ claim that “materiality is always something more than ‘mere’ matter: an excess, force, vitality, relationality, or difference that renders matter active, self-creative, productive, unpredictable” (9).
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On the Loss of Feminism

By Michelle Meagher

Angela McRobbie. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. Sage, 2009. 192 pp.

A scholar very much rooted in the tradition of British cultural studies, Angela McRobbie first turned her attention to the figure of “the girl” in an important set of analyses of magazines aimed at working class British girls.
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The Politics and Erotics of Time

By Amber Jamilla Musser

Elizabeth Freeman. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Duke University Press, 2010. 256 pp.

What does it mean to take pleasure in or to have fantasies about “rubbing up against the past” (xii)? Elizabeth Freeman’s Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories weaves together affect studies, critical historiography and politics to nuance our understanding of queer time.
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“Intellectual Craftwork”: Reading Barbara Godard

By Erin Wunker

Barbara Godard. Canadian Literature at the Crossroads of Language and Culture. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli. NeWest Press, 2008.

I met Barbara Godard once. She was the plenary speaker at the McGill English Graduate Students’ Conference when I was in the first year of my Master’s. I remember being awed first by the vertigo-inducing complexity of her plenary paper, and then, later, when I was able to talk with her at the evening reception.
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Querying Transnationalism

By Emily Johansen

Inderpal Grewal. Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms. Duke University Press, 2005. 296 pp.

Inderpal Grewal’s monograph Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms invites its readers to consider the overlapping spheres of postcoloniality, American nationalism and transnationalism, and neoliberalism—and the impact they have on subject formation.
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