"Beyond the Binary offers a coherently presented collection of uniformly strong essays that speak to what is perhaps the most widely discussed, contested and conflicted topic in the study of US culture. It joins the growing body of work that seeks to move beyond identity politics and racial essentialism to formulate racial identity as a more complex series of social, cultural and political gestures." -Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form and Constituting Americans
Cultural studies have reached a theoretical impasse. As scholars continue to topple the previously entrenched concept of Eurocentrism, this field has fragmented into works covering many separate cultural enclaves. In the first wave of this "post-Eurocentric" scholarship, a binary model ensued, using the designations of "Self" and "Other:" i.e., black/white, gay/straight. This model, however, also has found disfavor. As a result, recent scholarship has focused on a single group studied in isolation.
What is needed is a new critical phase of reconstruction that will bring discussion of these disparate cultural enclaves back into a more organized, critical sphere. Researchers must have the necessary conceptual tools so they can study the ways in which cultures overlap, intersect, or else violently conflict with one another.
Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context addresses this theoretical impasse by proposing new critical models that fully engage the dilemmas posed by multiculturalism. Rather than becoming entangled in the polarizing rhetoric of the culture wars, these essays are firmly grounded in the lived perplexities of specific historical moments. One piece, for example, considers the cultural identity of "freaks" exhibited in P. T. Barnum's circus, the contested place of hemophiliacs within Queer Nation, and "white" working-class musicians who proudly proclaim themselves to be "black lesbians."
Beyond the Binary is meant to be read in its entirety as a many-voiced narrative dedicated to bringing the divisions within cultural studies back into contact with one another. By doing so, Powell ushers in a new era of multicultural analysis that recognizes the historical existence of racism, yet also acknowledges the dynamic fluidity of cultural identity.
Following the 9/11 attacks, approximately four million Americans have turned eighteen each year and more than fifty million children have been born. These members of the millennial and post-millennial generation have come of age in a moment marked by increased anxiety about terrorism, two protracted wars, and policies that have raised questions about the United States's role abroad and at home. Young people have not been shielded from the attacks or from the wars and policy debates that followed. Instead, they have been active participants—as potential military recruits and organizers for social justice amid anti-immigration policies, as students in schools learning about the attacks or readers of young adult literature about wars.
The War of My Generation is the first essay collection to focus specifically on how the terrorist attacks and their aftermath have shaped these new generations of Americans. Drawing from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and literary studies, the essays cover a wide range of topics, from graphic war images in the classroom to computer games designed to promote military recruitment to emails from parents in the combat zone. The collection considers what cultural factors and products have shaped young people's experience of the 9/11 attacks, the wars that have followed, and their experiences as emerging citizen-subjects in that moment. Revealing how young people understand the War on Terror—and how adults understand the way young people think—The War of My Generation offers groundbreaking research on catastrophic events still fresh in our minds.
Drugs. Sex. Revolutionary violence. From its first pages, Susan Stern's memoir With the Weathermen provides a candid, first-hand look at the radical politics and the social and cultural environment of the New Left during the late 1960s.
The Weathermen--a U.S.-based, revolutionary splinter group of Students for a Democratic Society--advocated the overthrow of the government and capitalism, and toward that end, carried out a campaign of bombings, jailbreaks, and riots throughout the United States. In With the Weathermen Stern traces her involvement with this group, and her transformation from a shy, married graduate student into a go-go dancing, street-fighting "macho mama." In vivid and emotional language, she describes the attractions and difficulties of joining a collective radical group and in maintaining a position within it.
Stern's memoir offers a rich description of the raw and rough social dynamics of this community, from its strict demands to "smash monogamy," to its sometimes enforced orgies, and to the demeaning character assassination that was led by the group's top members. She provides a distinctly personal and female perspective on the destructive social functionality and frequently contradictory attitudes toward gender roles and women's rights within the New Left.
Laura Browder's masterful introduction situates Stern's memoir in its historical context, examines the circumstances of its writing and publication, and describes the book's somewhat controversial reception by the public and critics alike.