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After American Studies : Rethinking the Legacies of Transnational Exceptionalism by
After American Studies is a timely critique of national and transnational approaches to community, and their forms of belonging and trans/patriotisms. Using reports in multicultural psychology and cultural neuroscience to interpret an array of cultural forms¿including literature, art, film, advertising, search engines, urban planning, museum artifacts, visa policy, public education, and ostensibly non-state media¿the argument fills a gap in contemporary criticism by a focus on what makes cultural canons symbolically effective (or not) for an individual exposed to them. The book makes important points about the limits of transnationalism as a paradigm, evidencing how such approaches often reiterate presumptive and essentialized notions of identity that function as new dimensions of exceptionalism. In response to the shortcomings in trans/national criticism, the final chapter initiates a theoretical consideration of a postgeographic and postcultural form of community (and of cultural analysis).
Publication Date: 2017
American Idyll by
aA trenchant critique of failure and opportunism across the political spectrum, "American Idyll" argues that social mobility, once a revered hallmark of American society, has ebbed, as higher education has become a mechanistic process for efficient sorting that has more to do with class formation than anything else. Academic freedom and aesthetic education are reserved for high-scoring, privileged students and vocational education is the only option for economically marginal ones.Throughout most of American history, antielitist sentiment was reserved for attacks against an entrenched aristocracy or rapacious plutocracy, but it has now become a revolt against meritocracy itself, directed against what insurgents see as a ruling class of credentialed elites with degrees from exclusive academic institutions. Catherine Liu reveals that, within the academy and stemming from the relatively new discipline of cultural studies, animosity against expertise has animated much of the LeftOCOs cultural criticism.By unpacking the disciplinary formation and academic ambitions of American cultural studies, Liu uncovers the genealogy of the current antielitism, placing the populism that dominates headlines within a broad historical context. In the process, she emphasizes the relevance of the historical origins of populist revolt against finance capital and its political influence. "American Idyll" reveals the unlikely alliance between American pragmatism and proponents of the Frankfurt School and argues for the importance of broad frames of historical thinking in encouraging robust academic debate within democratic institutions. In a bold thought experiment that revives and defends Richard HofstadterOCOs theories of anti-intellectualism in American life, Liu asks, "What if cultural populism had been the consensus politics of the past three decades?""American Idyll" shows that recent antielitism does nothing to redress the source of its discontentOConamely, growing economic inequality and diminishing social mobility. Instead, pseudopopulist rage, in conservative and countercultural forms alike, has been transformed into resentment, content merely to take down allegedly elitist cultural forms without questioning the "real" political and economic consolidation of powers that has taken place in America during the past thirty years. a"
Publication Date: 2011
American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship by
This collection reclaims public intellectuals and scholars important to the foundational work in American Studies that contributed to emerging conceptions of an "ecological citizenship" advocating something other than nationalism or an "exclusionary ethics of place." Co-editors Adamson and Ruffin recover underrecognized field genealogies in American Studies (i.e. the work of early scholars whose scope was transnational and whose activism focused on race, class and gender) and ecocriticism (i.e. the work of movement leaders, activists and scholars concerned with environmental justice whose work predates the 1990s advent of the field). They stress the necessity of a confluence of intellectual traditions, or "interdisciplinarities," in meeting the challenges presented by the "anthropocene," a new era in which human beings have the power to radically endanger the planet or support new approaches to transnational, national and ecological citizenship. Contributors to the collection examine literary, historical, and cultural examples from the 19th century to the 21st. They explore notions of the common--namely, common humanity, common wealth, and common ground--and the relation of these notions to often conflicting definitions of who (or what) can have access to "citizenship" and "rights." The book engages in scholarly ecological analysis via the lens of various human groups--ethnic, racial, gendered, coalitional--that are shaping twenty-first century environmental experience and vision. Read together, the essays included in American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship create a "methodological commons" where environmental justice case studies and interviews with activists and artists living in places as diverse as the U.S., Canada, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and the Navajo Nation, can be considered alongside literary and social science analysis that contributes significantly to current debates catalyzed by nuclear meltdowns, oil spills, hurricanes, and climate change, but also by hopes for a common future that will ensure the rights of all beings--human and nonhuman-- to exist, maintain, and regenerate life cycles and evolutionary processes
Publication Date: 2013
American Studies As Transnational Practice by
This wide-ranging collection brings together an eclectic group of scholars to reflect upon the transnational configurations of the field of American studies and how these have affected its localizations, epistemological perspectives, ecological imaginaries, and politics of translation. The volume elaborates on the causes of the transnational paradigm shift in American studies and describes the material changes that this new paradigm has effected during the past two decades. The contributors hail from a variety of postcolonial, transoceanic, hemispheric, and post-national positions and sensibilities, enabling them to theorize a "crossroads of cultures" explanation of transnational American studies that moves beyond the multicultural studies model. Offering a rich and rewarding mix of essays and case studies, this collection will satisfy a broad range of students and scholars.
Publication Date: 2015
Class Lives : stories from across our economic divide by
Class Lives is an anthology of narratives dramatizing the lived experience of class in America. It includes forty original essays from authors who represent a range of classes, genders, races, ethnicities, ages, and occupations across the United States. Born into poverty, working class, the middle class, and the owning class--and every place in between--the contributors describe their class journeys in narrative form, recounting one or two key stories that illustrate their growing awareness of class and their place, changing or stable, within the class system. The stories in Class Lives are both gripping and moving. One contributor grows up in hunger and as an adult becomes an advocate for the poor and homeless. Another acknowledges the truth that her working-class father's achievements afforded her and the rest of the family access to people with power. A gifted child from a working-class home soon understands that intelligence is a commodity but finds his background incompatible with his aspirations and so attempts to divide his life into separate worlds. Together, these essays form a powerful narrative about the experience of class and the importance of learning about classism, class cultures, and the intersections of class, race, and gender. Class Lives will be a helpful resource for students, teachers, sociologists, diversity trainers, activists, and a general audience. It will leave readers with an appreciation of the poignancy and power of class and the journeys that Americans grapple with on a daily basis.
Publication Date: 2015
The University and the People by
The University and the People chronicles the influence of Populism--a powerful agrarian movement--on public higher education in the late nineteenth century. Revisiting this pivotal era in the history of the American state university, Scott Gelber demonstrates that Populists expressed a surprising degree of enthusiasm for institutions of higher learning. More fundamentally, he argues that the mission of the state university, as we understand it today, evolved from a fractious but productive relationship between public demands and academic authority. Populists attacked a variety of elites--professionals, executives, scholars--and seemed to confirm academia's fear of anti-intellectual public oversight. The movement's vision of the state university highlighted deep tensions in American attitudes toward meritocracy and expertise. Yet Populists also promoted state-supported higher education, with the aims of educating the sons (and sometimes daughters) of ordinary citizens, blurring status distinctions, and promoting civic engagement. Accessibility, utilitarianism, and public service were the bywords of Populist journalists, legislators, trustees, and sympathetic professors. These "academic populists" encouraged state universities to reckon with egalitarian perspectives on admissions, financial aid, curricula, and research. And despite their critiques of college "ivory towers," Populists supported the humanities and social sciences, tolerated a degree of ideological dissent, and lobbied for record-breaking appropriations for state institutions.
Publication Date: 2011