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Spectres of Marx in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth
David Ashford

The fourth chapter shows how the tradition of Modernism in which one might place Lubetkin (with writers T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis) would itself be demonised by writers within the Romantic-Modern tradition, exploring how fear and hostility provoked by the Promethean energies of the USSR (and by the New Linguistic Doctrine of the Soviet linguist Nikolai Marr in particular) manifest themselves in perhaps the most memorable demonisation of a symbol of Enlightenment: the all-seeing Eye of Sauron on its pyramid. Deeply committed to the discipline of philology that had inspired Schopenhauer (and the radical empiricism that followed), J. R. R. Tolkien is revealed to be an unlikely combatant in the great culture war between these two estranged philosophies that defined the era of High Modernism.

in A book of monsters
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The insidious appeal of the Brutalist dystopia
David Ashford

The fifth chapter considers the third-quarter-century synthesis of the two rival “Freudian” and “Marxist” Modernisms considered in the preceding chapters, and ways in which post-war theory and practice designated “Late Modernist” would be (very successfully) demonised by successive waves of post-modernist critics, particularly in relation to architecture. This chapter will consider the profound reaction from Brutalist architecture that anticipated the general turn to post-modernisms in other disciplines and question many of the widespread assumptions that have developed with regard to this. The ferocity of the debate suggests that the issues at stake here are not merely practical. Those for and against seem to share an irrational faith in the power of the buildings to exert control over the communities they contain, whether for good or for ill, in a manner that must recall the fantastically weird responses to Hawksmoor’s baroque churches in psycho-geographical fiction of this era. The underlying causes of this uncanny effect are identified, analysed, and traced back to the architectural theory that designed such spaces and to the economic theory that required their production. Finally, a peculiar subgenre of the anti-socialist dystopia is defined that is, specifically, anti-Keynesian.

in A book of monsters
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On geo-analysis and the aesthetics of precarity

Passages: On Geo-analysis and the aesthetics of precarity assembles a series of political interventions and ruminations that are as much about ethics as they are about aesthetics. It consists of a series of interconnected essays and images that intervene to create an image–text montage that reveals the shadow worlds that intensify precarity as well as the complex event and discursive spaces that offer alternative approaches to knowledge, politics, and encounters. In our dialogically created composition, the chapters treat themes such as colonialism, apocalyptic imaginaries, nuclear zones of abandonment, migration control regimes, transnational domestic work, the biocolonial hostilities of the hospitality industry, legal precarities behind the international criminal justice regime, the shadow worlds of the African soccerscape, and various immunity regimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through an aesthetically attuned form of geo-analysis that offers aesthetic breaks from capitalist exploitation and the nation-statist regime, this book invites inquiry into today’s apocalyptic narratives, humanitarian reason, immunitary apparatuses, and international criminal justice regimes.

Imperial encounters in Sri Lanka
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This book documents the political and cosmological processes through which the idea of “total territorial rule” at the core of the modern international system came into being in the context of early to mid-nineteenth-century Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It develops a decolonial theoretical framework informed by a “pluriverse” of multiple ontologies of sovereignty to argue that the territorial state itself is an outcome of imperial globalization. Anti-colonialism up to the mid nineteenth century was grounded in genealogies and practices of sovereignty that developed in many localities. By the mid to late nineteenth century, however, the global state system and the states within it were forming through colonizing and anti-colonizing vectors. The modern territorial state predates modern nationalism and created a contaminated container in which anticolonialism had been constricted by the late nineteenth century in Ceylon, but also elsewhere in the British Empire. By focusing on the ontological conflicts that shaped the state and empire, we can rethink the birth of the British Raj and place it in Ceylon some fifty years earlier than in India. In this way, the book makes a theoretical contribution to postcolonial and decolonial studies in globalization and international relations by considering the ontological significance of “total territorial rule” as it emerged historically in Ceylon. Through emphasizing one important manifestation of modernity and coloniality – the territorial state – the book contributes to research that studies the politics of ontological diversity, sovereignty, postcolonial and decolonial international studies, and globalization through colonial encounters.

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The movement of African sporting bodies
Sam Okoth Opondo
and
Michael J. Shapiro

This chapter turns to the varied passages of the sporting body in the first season of Matthieu Donck’s Netflix series The Break (La Trêve) and the routes, connections, and shadow-worlds it reveals. To situate the implications of the migratory flow of bodies and knowledges, we turn to cinematic texts that supply an imagery of the flow of African bodies and the forces that set them in motion, subjecting them to various forms of valuation, speculation, and pain. This is primarily achieved through a reading of African soccerscapes and ethnoscapes in Gerardo Olivares 2007 film, 14 Kilómetros and Abderrahmane Sissako’s film Timbuktu (2014). The chapter illustrates how different investigative apparatuses enable a series of epistemological and aesthetic breaks that reveal, conceal, or facilitate the trans-continental speculation and recruitment of the ‘superfluous’ Black sporting body and the precarity and desire that accompanies the dynamics of their subsequent use, abuse, and ‘retirement.’

in Passages
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Factories, wartime productivity and workplace heroism
Ellena Matthews

This chapter examines sites of production to illustrate that factory spaces, through the way that they elevated the contribution of the worker, were sites where civilians were celebrated for their heroic productivity. Through an analysis of individual and collective heroism in the factory, where the contribution of factory workers was collectively depicted as heroic through meeting production demands and where individual workers were celebrated for heroically responding to disasters in the workplace, the factory is shown to be a site where virtues of production, expertise and risk-taking were celebrated as heroic alongside more traditionally accepted virtues of courage and life-saving. This chapter reveals that in wartime the State ensured that peacetime spaces such as the factory were given new meaning as the workers within them were celebrated for fulfilling a crucial role in meeting wartime production demands and fuelling the war effort. Through analysing the relationship between sites of production and the way that contribution to the war effort was framed, this chapter particularly explores how heroic constructions navigated the complexities associated with blurred gender roles within the factory workplace, and interrogates how the heroism of workers was constructed alongside, and in opposition to, expectations of gender. It argues that, as factories grew in value and demanded certain types of contribution, recognising the heroism of workers was a way of recognising social contribution.

in Home front heroism
Prospects of atonement in twenty-first-century science fiction
David Ashford

The final chapter will examine twenty-first-century novels by Reza Negarestani, Stephen King and Nnedi Okorafor, in order to assess whether the “turn” towards Enlightenment horror identified in this book is likely to prove an enduring phenomenon or whether its moment might now already be passed, as memories of the hopes and fears provoked in equal measure by the Promethean ambitions of Modernist practitioners and theorists begin to fade with time, with the Golden Age of Western capitalism (as the historian Eric Hobsbawm termed it) receding ever further into the past.

in A book of monsters
Sam Okoth Opondo
and
Michael J. Shapiro

This chapter offers extended ruminations on apocalyptic sublimes by exploring the convergence of racial, nuclear, and pandemic sublimes. Treating the apocalypse in terms of its Greek meaning (apokalupto), we compose a literary and cinematic montage that addresses the pandemic “event” by incorporating critical apocalyptic thinking which opens toward an uncertain future. To make sense of some of the apocalyptic responses to a renewed sense of the fragility of life in the wake of nuclear, racial, and pandemic sublimes, we read two Ingmar Bergman films (Winter Light and The Seventh Seal) alongside a series of philosophical texts that illustrate the way the arts can reveal and unsettle deeply held commitments by creating encounters among diverse sense-making practices that pre-exist the pandemic and other events.

in Passages
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Sir Philip Sidney

The second book of the New Arcadia 

in Sir Philip Sidney – The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia
The New Arcadia, Second Revised Edition

The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, Sir Philip Sidney’s prose romance about the pastoral exploits of the princes Musidorus and Pyrocles (aka Zelmane the amazon) remains one of the defining works of English fiction. The New Arcadia – the revised, unfinished version first published in print in 1590 – differs from its more widely known cousin the Old Arcadia, which circulated in manuscript during Sidney’s lifetime, in two major points. The first of these is its ambitious, non-chronological approach to the narrative, resulting in crucial plot details (and even the true identities of the main protagonists) being initially withheld from the reader. The second difference is in the New Arcadia’s rhetorically elaborate style, which consolidated Sidney’s reputation most skilled prose stylists of the English Renaissance. This edition of the New Arcadia is the first in 37 years and combines the text of Victor Skretkowicz’s seminal 1987 edition with a substantially expanded commentary and additional long notes on the book’s history in print and Sidney’s use of rhetorical devices.