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A reply from Saturday Night to Mr. Dienstag
Tracy B. Strong

κωμῳδοποιὸν εἶναι. But the substance of it was, he said, that Socrates was driving them to the admission that the same man could have the knowledge required for writing comedy and tragedy – that the fully skilled tragedian could be a comedian as well. Plato, Symposium

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Clare Woodford

. Two models of exemplarity In much of Cavell’s writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms “remarriage comedies” live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. However, there appear to be two ways in which we can interpret exemplarity in Cavell

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Open Access (free)
Thomas Dumm

Cavell suggesting that he is somehow naive or ignorant or disingenuous is simply a non-starter. (It is remarkable as well to me that you are arguing so extensively on a turf of Cavell’s own making: after all, both the terms “remarriage comedy” and “moral perfectionism” are inventions – exclusively, in the case of his identifying the genre of remarriage, and largely in the

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Open Access (free)
Joshua Foa Dienstag

connection between Emersonian perfectionism and the “remarriage comedies” of the 1930s and 1940s . Rather than demonstrating moral improvement, the film reveals the dangers and pleasures involved in the representation of the instability of erotic relations. It warns, I argue, against thinking that we can learn to democratize by watching a representation of democracy, however artful

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.

Nina Lyon

‘Yes or no? Straight answer.’ In the British political comedy Yes Minister , a naive incoming MP, Jim Hacker, begins each episode with a proposition whose inevitable frustration at the hands of his departmental civil servant, Sir Humphrey Appleby, forms the plot. Yes Minister ’s success was pervasive because it identified two truths about the nature of governance that transcended political tribes. One of these was the perceived intransigence of civil servants – a group with which factions of Boris Johnson’s government, shortly before the time of writing

in The free speech wars
Abstract only
Resisting racism in times of national security
Editor: Asim Qureshi

In times of national security, scholars and activists who hail from the communities under suspicion attempt to draw readers and listeners to the complexity of the world we inhabit. For those who campaigned against the SUS law in the 1980s, when young Black men were being routinely stopped in the streets, the wave of counter-terrorism legislation and policy that exists today will be very familiar. Similarly, recent discussions about the impact of drill music in the culture of young Black men has drawn questions around the ways in which they should be securitised, with senior police calling for the use of terrorism legislation against them. In this environment, when those who study and have lived alongside the communities who are at the scrutiny of the state raise questions about the government, military and police policy, they are often shut down as terrorist-sympathisers, or apologists for gang culture. In such environments, there is an expectation on scholars and activists to condemn what society at large fears. This volume is about how that expectation has emerged alongside the normalisation of racism, and how these writers choose to subvert the expectations raised on them, as part of their commitment to anti-racism.

A distinctive politics?
Author: Richard Taylor

English radicalism has been a deep-rooted but minority tradition in the political culture since at least the seventeenth century. The central aim of this book is to examine, in historical and political context, a range of key events and individuals that exemplify English radicalism in the twentieth century. This analysis is preceded by defining precisely what has constituted this tradition; and by the main outline of the development of the tradition from the Civil War to the end of the nineteenth century. Three of the main currents of English radicalism in the twentieth century have been the labour movement, the women’s movement and the peace movement. These are discussed in some detail, as a framework for the detailed consideration of ten key representative figures of the tradition in the twentieth century: Bertrand Russell, Sylvia Pankhurst, Ellen Wilkinson, George Orwell, E.P. Thompson, Michael Foot, Joan Maynard, Stuart Hall, Tony Benn and Nicolas Walter. The question of ‘agency’ – of how to bring about radical change in a predominantly conservative society and culture – has been a fundamental issue for English radicals. It is argued that, in the twentieth century, many of the important achievements in progressive politics have taken place in and through extra-parliamentary movements, as well as through formal political parties and organisations – the Labour Party and other socialist organisations – and on occasion, through libertarian and anarchist politics. The final chapter considers the continuing relevance of this political tradition in the early twenty-first century, and reviews its challenges and prospects.

Aamer Rahman

entertainer.1 Asim Qureshi (AQ): I find it difficult to place you at times. Clearly, you are a comedian with a strong political message, but it seems to me that your art is somewhat counterintuitive in that it would probably turn off the vast majority of Australian society. How do you see your own comedy in light of these very strong political opinions you hold? Aamer Rahman (AR): I think I can exist a bit outside of the world of comedy because I cultivated my own audience. I was only ever going to perform for people who understood what I was saying. It isn’t about

in I Refuse to Condemn
John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

. Other than that, I’m not really too fussed about. i: When you mentioned The Hills, you said it was about real life situations. Is that a good thing for a television programme to deal with? You value the fact that it deals with real life situations? In that programme it helps you to understand how to solve your problems and stuff. i: Is it really practical, useful in that sense? Yeah. i: Whereas the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air doesn’t? That’s just a comedy programme. If I’m bored or something, I watch that. (Interview16) Both the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a sitcom

in From entertainment to citizenship