Inscribing Inequality Beyond Colonialism

By Senayon Olaoluwa

Warwick Research Collective. Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature. Liverpool University Press, 205. 196 pp.

The book, Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature is yet another effort in seminal literary scholarship. It aims to assess the state of literature as a distinct discipline and make projections about its likely value in the future as that which consciously addresses itself to the predominant dynamics of the “world-system” anchored by the dictates of capital, especially in the past 200 years.
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Strategy and Experimentation in a Dangerous Present

By Gabriel Piser

McKenzie Wark, Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene. Verso, 2015. 304 pp.

The concept of the Anthropocene asks us to examine the profound role of human activity in transforming the earth. Beyond recognizing and understanding these transformations, however, the Anthropocene demands intervention on the level of everyday human practices.
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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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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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The City Space of Asian Literature

By Cheryl Narumi Naruse

Jini Kim Watson. The New Asian City: Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form. University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 311 pp.

Jini Kim Watson’s The New Asian City is an exciting study of the dynamics between literary/cultural production and developing urban spaces in the context of East and Southeast Asia. Watson examines literary, filmic, and political representations of the capital cities of Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—three of the “Four Asian Tigers,” as the “Newly Industrializing Countries” (NICs) of East Asia are popularly known—that emerge in the 1960s to 1980s, in the periods following independence (excepting Hong Kong, which is not independent nation).
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Indigenizing Across Boundaries

By Aubrey Hanson

Chadwick Allen. Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies. University of Minnesota Press, 2012. xxxiv + 302 pp.

Chadwick Allen’s Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies is an exciting new book. Trans-Indigenous earns itself a noteworthy place within the growing body of work on Indigenous approaches to research and cultural studies.
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The Mass Reading Event and the Citizen-Reader

By Sarah Brouillette and Lina Shoumarova

Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo. Reading Beyond the Book: The Social Practices of Contemporary Literary Culture. Routledge, 2013. 370 pp.

Reading Beyond the Book presents the results of an extensive program of research into what the authors call mass reading events (MREs). It features case studies of the Richard and Judy Book Club, Canada Reads, and a variety of One Book, One Community (OBOC) programs: from Seattle Reads, which was the first program of its kind, and went on after its 1999 launch to become the basic toolkit for OBOC programs all over the world, to Get Into Reading, a grassroots program that aims to have Liverpool’s underprivileged communities reading classic literature together.
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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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Colonial Trains, Postcolonial Tracks

By Nilak Datta

Marian Aguiar. Tracking Modernity: India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility. University of Minnesota Press, 2011, xxiv +226 pp.

When I first heard Marian Aguiar discuss her book project on Indian Railways at an informal gathering of faculty and graduate students in the fall of 2005, I was excited, skeptical, and optimistic about her project all at once.
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No Local: Globalization and the Remaking of Americanism

By Benjamin Balthaser

Sarika Chandra. Dislocalism: The Crisis of Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism. Ohio State University Press. 2011. 303pp.

In the final section of Capital, Marx makes a striking observation: despite destroying the land-holding peasantry, the birth of manufacturing in England did not wipe out the small, disconnected villages of rural England, but rather refashioned them in capital’s image, as sites of subsidiary resource production, even poorer and more marginal than they had been before (Marx 918).
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Authorship: A Queer Death

By David A. Gerstner

Jane Gallop. The Deaths of the Author: Reading and Writing in Time. Duke University Press, 2011. 184 pp.

The moment one reads Jane Gallop’s book, The Deaths of the Author, is the moment one becomes an author. Such banal description about engagement and creative exchange between work and reader has become something of a truism since Roland Barthes penned what Peter Wollen once described as his “squib-like” essay, “The Death of the Author.” Although Barthes took up similar theoretical terrain in his article, “From Work to Text,” it is “The Death of the Author” that resonates–if not for its critical concept, then certainly for its “militant, elegant slogan” (Gallop also refers to the “slogan” as “world-renowned,” a “postructuralist catchphrase,” “theoretical,” “familiar”).
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No Exit? Imagining Radical Refusal

By Erin Wunker

Simon During. Exit Capitalism: Literary Culture, Theory, and Post-Secular Modernity. Routledge, 2010. 280 pp.

How do we refuse capitalism? Should we? This is Simon During’s central question in his temporally vast and historically deep book Exit Capitalism: Literary Culture, Theory, and Post-Secular Modernity. The book begins with a reflection on his experience at the Sydney Museum of Modern Art’s 2008 Biennale exhibition.
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An Archive for Affect Theory

By Russ Leo

Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds. The Affect Theory Reader. Duke University Press, 2010. 416 pp.

“There is no single, generalizable theory of affect: not yet, and (thankfully) there never will be” (3): Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth insist on this point, and The Affect Theory Reader demonstrates its critical import in contemporary debates concerning that most slippery term, “affect.” Seigworth and Gregg, under the artfully provocative heading “An Inventory of Shimmers,” attend in brief to a wide variety of theories of affect—from phenomenology, psychoanalysis, psychology, and post-Cartesian philosophies (read: Spinozism) to Marxism, feminism, science and technology studies, queer studies, and various histories of emotion.
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Stringing a Quartet Together: A Methodology for World Literature?

By CÓILÍN PARSONS

Peter Hitchcock. The Long Space: Transnationalism and Postcolonial Form. Stanford University Press, 2010. 295 pp.

Postcolonial writers, it seems, can’t put a good book down—especially when they are writing it themselves. Trilogies, tetralogies and novels in series are features of postcolonial writing from the Caribbean to Indonesia, and Peter Hitchcock sets out in The Long Space to ask why this is.
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Ruin Gazing with History’s Angels

By Carrie Smith-Prei

Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle, eds. Ruins of Modernity. Duke University Press, 2010. 528 pp.

The impressively expansive volume Ruins of Modernity, published in the Politics, History and Culture series of Duke University Press, takes an innovative approach to the modern condition through ruins. The introduction sets out the theoretical, temporal and spatial parameters from which the volume’s twenty-four masterful essays, written by major scholars representing a broad range of fields, view their ultimately diverse subject by interweaving the two complex terms of the volume’s compact title.
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National Ghosts and Global Literature

By Fiona Lee

Vilashini Cooppan. Worlds Within: National Narratives and Global Connections in Postcolonial Writing. Stanford University Press, 2009. 322 pp.

“National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1827, thus coining a term that has gained renewed currency in literary studies today (qtd in Damrosch 1).
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Resistance in the Affirmative

By Dana C. Mount

David Jefferess. Postcolonial Resistance: Culture, Liberation, and Transformation. University of Toronto Press, 2008. 224 pp.

In his first book, Postcolonial Resistance: Culture, Liberation, and Transformation, David Jefferess surveys the meaning of resistance in postcolonialism and attempts to develop a working definition of the term which, while still narrow enough to be effective, can lend itself broadly against interlocking systems of oppression.
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Identifying Universal Particularities

By David Lawrimore

John Michael. Identity and the Failure of America: From Thomas Jefferson to the War on Terror. University of Minnesota Press, 2008. 320 pp.

At its heart, John Michael’s Identity and the Failure of America: From Thomas Jefferson to the War on Terror is about the conflict between a national identity that promises justice to all and the various identities that have experienced America’s failure to make good on that promise.
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Atoning, Reconciling, and Forgiving: Interdisciplinary Investigations of Justice

By Jill Scott

Linda Radzik. Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Joanna R. Quinn. Reconciliation(s): Transitional Justice in Postconflict Societies. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.

Julie McGonegal. Imagining Justice: The Politics of Postcolonial Forgiveness and Reconciliation. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.

The three books under review in this essay are united by their concern for justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict and wrongdoing, but each addresses these questions with a unique disciplinary lens.
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Late Postmodernism

By Daniel Worden

Phillip E. Wegner. Life Between Two Deaths, 1989-2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties. Duke University Press, 2009.

The “two deaths” in the title of Phillip E. Wegner’s new book are the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. During the gap between these two events, Wegner finds a cluster of cultural possibilities, a flourishing of “what we might call a ‘late’ postmodernism that only emerges in the 1990s” (5).
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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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Marxism as Science Fiction

By Gerry Canavan

Mark Bould and China Miéville, eds. Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction. Wesleyan UP, 2009.

In 1972, Darko Suvin published “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre”, where he announced science fiction’s importance as “the literature of cognitive estrangement” (372). “SF,” Suvin writes, “is then a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author's empirical environment” (375).
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The Measures Taken

By Hunter Bivens

Benjamin Robinson. The Skin of the System: On Germany’s Socialist Modernity. Stanford University Press, 2009.

Twenty years after the opening of the Berlin Wall, a number of important thinkers (one thinks here, in differing registers, of Alain Badiou, Boris Groys, or Susan Buck-Morss’s 2000 Dreamworld and Catastrophe) have been reconsidering what to make of the twentieth century’s experience of really existing socialism.
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