The work of black writers, editors, publishers, and librarians is deeply embedded in the history of American print culture, from slave narratives to digital databases. While the printed word can seem democratizing, it remains that the infrastructures of print and digital culture can be as limiting as they are enabling. Contributors to this volume explore the relationship between expression and such frameworks, analyzing how different mediums, library catalogs, and search engines shape the production and reception of written and visual culture. Topics include antebellum literature, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement; “post-Black” art, the role of black librarians, and how present-day technologies aid or hinder the discoverability of work by African Americans. Against a Sharp White Background covers elements of production, circulation, and reception of African American writing across a range of genres and contexts. This collection challenges mainstream book history and print culture to understand that race and racialization are inseparable from the study of texts and their technologies.
Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
In Against the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and challenges cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century through the twentieth, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest popular theories of identity, pathology, national belonging, and racial difference in American culture. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to specific historical periods, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes such as sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of particular racial injuries and suggested forms of social repair and political redress from the time of slavery, through post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black power movements, to the late twentieth century.
Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, critical race, and poststructuralist theories to bear on literary genres from slave narratives to science fiction. Analyzing works by African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she shows how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African Americans for individual and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that those representations were fundamental to the development of African American forms of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
Despite being characterized as a “nation of immigrants,” the United States has seen a long history of immigrant rights struggles. In her timely book Against the Deportation Terror, Rachel Ida Buff uncovers this multiracial history. She traces the story of the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born (ACPFB) from its origins in the 1930s through repression during the early Cold War, to engagement with “new” Latinx and Caribbean immigrants in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Functioning as a hub connecting diverse foreign-born communities and racial justice advocates, the ACPFB responded to various, ongoing crises of what they called “the deportation terror.” Advocates worked against repression, discrimination, detention, and expulsion in migrant communities across the nation at the same time as they supported reform of federal immigration policy. Prevailing in some cases and suffering defeats in others, the story of the ACPFB is characterized by persistence in multiracial organizing even during periods of protracted repression.
By tracing the work of the ACPFB and its allies over half a century, Against the Deportation Terror provides important historical precedent for contemporary immigrant rights organizing. Its lessons continue to resonate today.
In Against the Gallows, Paul Christian Jones explores the intriguing cooperation of America’s writers—including major figures such as Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, E. D. E. N. Southworth, and Herman Melville—with reformers, politicians, clergymen, and periodical editors who attempted to end the practice of capital punishment in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s. In an age of passionate reform efforts, the antigallows movement enjoyed broad popularity, waging its campaign in legislatures, pulpits, newspapers, and literary journals.
Although it failed in its ultimate goal of ending hangings across the United States, the movement did achieve various improvements in the practices of the justice system, including reducing the number of capital crimes, eliminating public executions in most northern states, and abolishing capital punishment completely in three states.
Although a few historians have studied the antebellum movement against capital punishment, until now very little attention has been paid to the role of America’s writers in these efforts. Jones’s study recovers the relationship between the nation’s literary figures and the movement against the death penalty, illustrating that the editors of literary journals actively encouraged and published antigallows writing, that popular crime novelists created a sympathy toward criminals that led readers to question the state’s justifications for capital punishment, that poets crafted verse that advocated strongly for Christian sympathy for criminals that coincided with an antipathy to the death penalty, and that female sentimental writers fashioned melodramatic narratives that illustrated the injustice of the hanging and reimagined the justice system itself as a sympathetic subject capable of incorporating compassion into its workings and seeing reform rather than revenge as its ends.
Against the Grain is a collection of interviews with nine small press publishers, each one characterized by strength of resolve and a dedication to good books. Each press reflects, perhaps more directly than any large trade publisher could, the character of its founder; and each has earned its own place in the select group of important small presses in America.
This collection is the first of its kind to explore with the publishers themselves the historical, aesthetic, practical, and personal impulses behind literary publishing. The publishers included are Harry Duncan (the Cummington Press), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights), David Godine (David R. Godine), Daniel Halpern (the Ecco Press), Sam Hamill and Tree Swenson (Copper Canyon Press), James Laughlin (New Directions), John Martin (Black Sparrow), and Jonathan Williams (the Jargon Society). Their passion for books, their belief in their individual visions of what publishing is or could be, their inspired mulishness crackle on the page.
Against the Law
Paul F. Campos, Pierre Schlag, and Steven D. Smith Duke University Press, 1996 Library of Congress KF380.C294 1996 | Dewey Decimal 349.73
A fundamental critique of American law and legal thought, Against the Law consists of a series of essays written from three different perspectives that coalesce into a deep criticism of contemporary legal culture. Paul F. Campos, Pierre Schlag, and Steven D. Smith challenge the conventional representations of the legal system that are articulated and defended by American legal scholars. Unorthodox, irreverent, and provocative, Against the Law demonstrates that for many in the legal community, law has become a kind of substitute religion—an essentially idolatrous practice composed of systematic self-misrepresentation and self-deception. Linked by a persistent inquiry into the nature and identity of “the law,” these essays are informed by the conviction that the conventional representations of law, both in law schools and the courts, cannot be taken at face value—that the law, as commonly conceived, makes no sense. The authors argue that the relentlessly normative prescriptions of American legal thinkers are frequently futile and, indeed, often pernicious. They also argue that the failure to recognize the role that authorship must play in the production of legal thought plagues both the teaching and the practice of American law. Ranging from the institutional to the psychological and metaphysical deficiencies of the American legal system, the depth of criticism offered by Against the Law is unprecedented. In a departure from the nearly universal legitimating and reformist tendencies of American legal thought, this book will be of interest not only to the legal academics under attack in the book, but also to sociologists, historians, and social theorists. More particularly, it will engage all the American lawyers who suspect that there is something very wrong with the nature and direction of their profession, law students who anticipate becoming part of that profession, and those readers concerned with the status of the American legal system.
"Against the Machine is timely, compelling, and important. Its intellectual sweep extends from the transcendental to the transistor, covering much unfamiliar ground and reviving a long-neglected tradition of dissent." -ERIC SCHLOSSER, AUTHOR OF FAST FOOD NATION
"Against the Machine is luminous, lyrical, impassioned, profound. I had to put the book down every few paragraphs and breathe in relief." -CHELLIS GLENDINNING, ORION
"[Fox] carefully and convincingly makes her case that there have always been reasonable, indeed often brilliant, people who were not at all sure that technology was solving more problems than it created." -HARPER'S MAGAZINE
From the cars we drive to the instant messages we receive, from debate about genetically modified foods to astonishing strides in cloning, robotics, and nanotechnology, it would be hard to deny technology's powerful grip on our lives. To stop and ask whether this digitized, implanted reality is quite what we had in mind when we opted for progress, or to ask if we might not be creating more problems than we solve, is likely to peg us as hopelessly backward or suspiciously eccentric. Yet not only questioning, but challenging technology turns out to have a long and noble history.In this timely and incisive work, Nicols Fox examines contemporary resistance to technology and places it in a surprising historical context. She brilliantly illuminates the rich but oftentimes unrecognized literary and philosophical tradition that has existed for nearly two centuries, since the first Luddites--the ""machine breaking"" followers of the mythical Ned Ludd--lifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution. Tracing that current of thought through some of the great minds of the 19th and 20th centuries--William Blake, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Graves, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and many others--Fox demonstrates that modern protests against consumptive lifestyles and misgivings about the relentless march of mechanization are part of a fascinating hidden history. She shows as well that the Luddite tradition can yield important insights into how we might reshape both technology and modern life so that human, community, and environmental values take precedence over the demands of the machine.In Against the Machine, Nicols Fox writes with compelling immediacy--bringing a new dimension and depth to the debate over what technology means, both now and for our future.
An unexpected and valuable critique of community that points out its complicity with capitalism.
Community is almost always invoked as an unequivocal good, an indicator of a high quality of life, caring, selflessness, belonging. Into this common portrayal, Against the Romance of Community introduces an uncommon note of caution, a penetrating, sorely needed sense of what, precisely, we are doing when we call upon this ideal.
Miranda Joseph explores sites where the ideal of community relentlessly recurs, from debates over art and culture in the popular media, to the discourses and practices of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, to contemporary narratives of economic transformation or "globalization." She shows how community legitimates the social hierarchies of gender, race, nation, and sexuality that capitalism implicitly requires.
Joseph argues that social formations, including community, are constituted through the performativity of production. This strategy makes it possible to understand connections between identities and communities that would otherwise seem disconnected: gay consumers in the United States and Mexican maquiladora workers; Christian right "family values" and Asian "crony capitalism." Exposing the complicity of social practices, identities, and communities with capitalism, this truly constructive critique opens the possibility of genuine alliances across such differences.
Miranda Joseph is associate professor of women's studies at the University of Arizona.
Across the United States, the issue of immigration has generated rancorous debate and divided communities. Many states and municipalities have passed restrictive legislation that erodes any sense of community. Against the Tide tells the story of Jupiter, Florida, a coastal town of approximately 50,000 that has taken a different path.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Jupiter was in the throes of immigration debates. A decade earlier, this small town had experienced an influx of migrants from Mexico and Guatemala. Immigrants seeking work gathered daily on one of the city’s main streets, creating an ad-hoc, open-air labor market that generated complaints and health and human safety concerns. What began as a local debate rapidly escalated as Jupiter’s situation was thrust into the media spotlight and attracted the attention of state and national anti-immigrant groups. But then something unexpected happened: immigrants, neighborhood residents, university faculty and students, and town representatives joined together to mediate community tensions and successfully moved the informal labor market to the new El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center.
Timothy J. Steigenga, who helped found the center, and Lazo de la Vega, who organized students in support of its mission, describe how El Sol engaged the residents of Jupiter in a two-way process of immigrant integration and helped build trust on both sides. By examining one city’s search for a positive public policy solution, Against the Tide offers valuable practical lessons for other communities confronting similar challenges.
How was the universe created, and what is our place within it? These are the questions at the heart of Plotinus’ Against the Gnostics. For the Gnostics, the universe came into being as a result of the soul’s fall from intelligible reality—it is the evil outcome of a botched creation. Plotinus challenges this, and insists that the soul’s creation of the world is the necessary consequence of its contemplation of the ideal forms. While the Gnostics claim to despise the visible universe, Plotinus argues that such contempt displays their ignorance of the higher realities of which the cosmos is a beautiful image.
Against the Gnostics is a polemical text. It aims to show the superiority of Plotinus’ philosophy over that of his Gnostic rivals, and poses unique challenges: Plotinus nowhere identifies his opponents by name, he does not set out their doctrines in any great detail, and his arguments are frequently elliptical. The detailed commentary provides a guide through these difficulties, making Plotinus’ meandering train of thought in this important treatise accessible to the reader.
Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866-1873 is the second of six volumes of the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The entire collection documents the friendship and accomplishments of two of America's most important social and political reformers. Though neither Stanton nor Anthony lived to see passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, each of them devoted fifty-five years to the cause of women's suffrage.
The second volume picks up the story of Stanton and Anthony at the end of 1866, when they launched their drive to make universal suffrage the priority of Reconstruction. Through letters, speeches, articles, and diaries, this volume recounts their years as editor and publisher of the weekly paper the Revolution, their extensive travels, and their lobbying with Congress. It touches on the bitter division that occurred among suffragists over such controversial topics as marriage and divorce, and a national debate over the citizenship of women under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. By the summer of 1873, when this volume ends, Anthony stood convicted of the federal crime of illegal citizenship of women under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. By the summer of 1873, when this volume ends, Anthony stood convicted of the federal crime of illegal voting. An irate Stanton warned, "I felt afresh the mockery of this boasted chivalry of man towards woman."