Martin Ferguson Smith

The essay reveals, describes, and discusses an important event, overlooked by her biographers, in the childhood of the detective novelist and religious writer Dorothy Leigh Sayers. In August 1908, when she had only just turned fifteen and was still being educated at home, she made a major contribution to a pageant in the Huntingdonshire village of Somersham, near her home in Bluntisham, where her father was rector. Historical pageants were so much in vogue at this time that the term “pageantitis” was coined to describe the infectious enthusiasm for them. The Somersham pageant, under the professional direction of D’Arcy de Ferrars, was an important local event and even the subject of a report in a national newspaper. Dorothy, as well as being one of three musical accompanists, composed the words for the “Somersham Triumph Song,” sung by a professional soprano, and the verses for at least two of the tableaux. Her compositions, revealing a prodigious talent and singled out for special praise at the time, including in the national newspaper, total a minimum of fifty-six lines of verse.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Philip Roth’s I Married a Communist (1998) and The Human Stain (2000)

This chapter focuses on the second and third volumes of Philip Roth’s ‘American Trilogy’ (1997–200). It explores how Roth connects the political cultures of the 1940s and 1990s through the male friendships framing each narrative. The chapter considers how, in I Married a Communist (1998), Roth offers a revisionist history of the fraternal politics and demotic aesthetics of the Popular Front, a history crafted by the novel’s co-narrators, Nathan Zuckerman and his former teacher Murray Ringold. Expanding on the novel’s allusions to Thomas Paine, Howard Fast, and Norman Corwin, and drawing on new archival research into Roth’s sources and inspiration for the character of Murray, the chapter provides a re-estimation of I Married a Communist as a deceptively subtle work of historical fiction. The chapter then turns to The Human Stain, analysing how the intense friendship between Nathan and Classics professor Coleman Silk comes to define the novel’s narrative form and its engagement with history.

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
Margarita Aragon

This chapter examines the 1910 massacre of African Americans in Slocum, Texas, by a white mob who claimed to be preventing a murderous black uprising. It traces white Americans’ shifting justifications for lynching and racist terror from the end of the Civil War through the early twentieth century, when social scientists, political figures, and media presented white violence as a response to unspeakable “black crime.” Within this context, the chapter argues that even after the threat of black insurrection was dismissed, condemnations of the massacre were continually qualified through contemplations of the need for racial discipline and imagined black abnormality. In discourses of racist violence, images of white vulnerability were frequently intermixed with those of white wrath and power. Assertions of black innocence and violability likewise were continually shaded with assertion of black culpability.

in A savage song
Martin Ferguson Smith

After Virginia Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry was published in 1940, she received a letter from Mary Louisa Gordon strongly critical of her portrayal of Roger’s wife, the artist Helen Coombe, and even more critical of Roger’s character and conduct. Mary and Helen had been friends before the latter married in 1896 and went on to develop severe mental health problems. In 1936 the Woolfs had published Mary’s historical novel, Chase of the Wild Goose, about the Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby. The essay is in four sections. The first is introductory. The second is about Mary, discussing Chase of the Wild Goose, its relationship to Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando, and Virginia’s comments on it and its author, whom, in letters to Ethel Smyth, she calls “the Hermaphrodite.” It goes on to describe Mary’s life and career as medical doctor, suffragist, first female Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales, and scathing critic of the prison system. The third section presents Mary’s letter to Virginia, with significant corrections of the text published by Beth Rigel Daugherty; and the fourth describes Helen’s life, personality, and artistic talents, with discussion of Mary’s assessments of her and Roger.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Abstract only
Margarita Aragon

This chapter will explore the multivalent discourses of civilization, savagery, and manhood that run through some of the Mexican and U.S. textual residues of the1915 Plan de San Diego uprising in South Texas, and its brutal repression. Examining the cultural texts produced during and after the conflict offers insight into the ways in which the historical violence of U.S. expansion and its contestation were imagined by U.S. authors, law enforcement, and press, as well as ethnic Mexican radicals and militants. While the Plan de San Diego visionaries called for the liberation of the black race and an end to the racist oppression of U.S. capitalism, their analysis of the present and vision of the future evoke a more ambiguous reading of blackness than their call for common struggle might initially suggest.

in A savage song
Abstract only
Margarita Aragon

This chapter examines the multiple discourses of death and manhood that emerged around the military execution of thirteen black soldiers of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry in 1917. The presence of armed black soldiers in the nation’s uniform threatened to subvert the racial and gendered order of Jim Crow. Within this fraught context, the Twenty-Fourth’s attack on white policemen in Houston and their subsequent hanging provided a flexibly imagery for imagining black manhood. While African American writers invoked the soldiers’ manly death to denounce the racial order against which they had struck, the same imagery was used by the white press to subtly legitimize their punishment and obscure the intelligibility of black dissent.

in A savage song
Open Access (free)
Postfeminist genealogies in millennial culture
Stéphanie Genz

Postfeminism is a concept loaded with contradictions. Loathed by some and celebrated by others, it appeared in the late twentieth century in a number of cultural, academic and political contexts, from popular journalism and media to feminist analyses, postmodern theories and neoliberal rhetoric. Critics have appropriated the term for a variety of purposes and movements, ranging from conservative backlash, Girl Power, third wave feminism and postmodern/poststructuralist feminism. This chapter untangles the semantic confusion surrounding a ‘post-ing’ of feminism by tracing postfeminism’s genealogy and considers its position within feminist histories. From here, the chapter investigates different incarnations of postfeminism and contemplates the possibility of a twenty-first-century, post-boom postfeminist stance – what the author calls bust postfeminism – that has emerged in response to a disillusioned and indeterminate recessionary environment characterized by deepening inequalities, dashed hopes and constantly lurking fears. It is proposed that bust postfeminism has given rise to distinct recessionary patterns and themes of heightened visibility in order to bare and illuminate the structural inequalities and power dynamics that have become glaringly obvious in the harsh post-oughts climate. In this sense, the current historical juncture requires that we re-examine how, or even whether, postfeminism is still relevant and in touch with a precarious post-millennium context.

in Post-everything
Howard Brick

Like most other post-prefix terms, the idea of ‘post-capitalist society’ originally appeared in a range of different guises, from the social-democratic vision of Anthony Crosland (1951, 1956) to the decidedly non-socialist expectations of Peter Drucker (1994). Yet Crosland’s attempt to outline a programmatic theory for the UK’s post-war Labour Party set the keynote of this ideological trend, within which George Lichtheim’s ‘post-bourgeois’ and Daniel Bell’s ‘post-industrial’ ideas also more or less fit. That trend lost steam with the global economic turbulence of the 1970s and the ‘neoliberal’ ascendancy that followed, which asserted that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism. From about 2005, however, and especially after the 2007–08 crisis, a new ‘post-capitalist’ discourse has re-emerged. This version appears more radically left wing than that of post-World War II social democrats such as Crosland. If the first version suggested that mid-twentieth-century society was no longer distinctly capitalist because it was already morphing into something else (some kind of statist ‘social market’ regime), the latest version clearly identifies and assails contemporary capitalism, seeking to surpass it in a new and different socialized order yet to come. The two different meanings highlight the ambiguity of post-concepts, which can suggest either a successor phenomenon built on (or growing out of) something given and familiar, or a strikingly new phenomenon that breaks decisively from a prior order of things.

in Post-everything
Post-ideology and the politics of periodization
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

In the late 1950s the emergence of a ‘post-ideological era’ was announced for the first time. Helmut Schelsky discussed the idea that German sociology had developed in a non-ideological direction, eventually leading to a ‘nachideologischen Epoche’ in sociology. In a review of Schelsky’s book Ortsbestimmung der Deutschen Soziologie Raymond Aron argued that this post-ideological phase characterized not only German sociology, but also sociology elsewhere and probably society as a whole. This chapter presents a Begriffsgeschichte of ‘post-ideological’ in the 1950s and 1960s and subsequently analyses the use of the concept as an intellectual and political positioning tool. By focusing on Edward Shils, Raymond Aron and Daniel Bell, this chapter discusses post-ideology in dialogue with the emergence of the so-called ‘end-of-ideology thesis’ within the context of the Cold War. This contextual reading strikingly reveals how the term post-ideological did not merely describe the world, it was first and foremost a performative concept used to force a political and intellectual intervention. This chapter also shows something else: while announcing the post-ideological era, authors often expressed the idea that society would gradually develop from one stage to another and actively strived for such a development. This emphasis on the sequence of historical stages hints at something we could call a historicist worldview.

in Post-everything
Open Access (free)
Lessons for future posts
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

Highlighting the connections, resemblances, and sometimes notable differences between the post-constructions analysed in this volume, the epilogue brings together the strands of the earlier chapters. It shows how some post-concepts are closely related because of their performative quality while others can be linked to each other through a single author. This biographical element offers insight into the interconnectedness of post-concepts and shows how post-concepts were transferred across disciplinary, linguistic and geographical boundaries. Post-concepts are best regarded as products of intellectual interventions and positioning tools used to advocate a new stance vis-à-vis the root concept. By mapping some of these networks or conceptual webs, the epilogue concludes that post-constructions were not just descriptive linguistic tools, but strongly connected signifiers in post-war debates in the European and North-American humanities and social sciences alike. In the second part of the epilogue these observations will be applied to a recently popular post-concept: post-truth. By analysing the history, use and spread of post-truth, the epilogue demonstrates how the conceptual framework laid down in this book helps us to understand and to critically assess not only historical post-concepts but future ones as well.

in Post-everything