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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Race and Citizenship in Postwar America

By Michael Mayne

Joseph Keith. Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945-1960. Rutgers University Press, 2013. 239pp.

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that the most important Section (Section 4b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) was unconstitutional. The majority decision, written by John Roberts, was filled with references to progress: “50 years later, things have changed dramatically”; “history did not end in 1965”; “history since 1965 cannot be ignored”; “our Nation has made great strides” (17, 24, 4, 20).
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Fantastic Materialism

By Sarah Hamblin

Andy Merrifield. Magical Marxism: Subversive Politics and the Imagination. London: Pluto, 2011. 220 pp.

Andy Merrifield’s Magical Marxism arises from what he describes as “a double dissatisfaction”: an obvious dissatisfaction with the state of contemporary society and a more delicate frustration with the revolutionary potential of actually existing Marxism (xii).
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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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