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Leverage and deconstruction

This book explores key critical debates in the humanities in recent times in the context of the legitimation crisis widely felt to be facing academic institutions, using Derrida's idea of leverage in the university. In particular, it concerns an account for the malaise in the university by linking critical developments, discourses and debates in the modern humanities to a problem of the institution itself. The book finds within these discourses and debates the very dimensions of the institution's predicament: economic, political, ideological, but also, inseparably, intellectual. It looks at some of the recurring themes arising in the early key texts of new historicism and cultural materialism. The book also argues that these approaches in a number of ways orient their critical strategies according to certain kinds of logics and structures of reflection. It instances disorientation and leverage in the university by exploring the problematic doubleness of economics as indeterminately both inside and outside contemporary cultural theory. The book also argues that the interdisciplinary approach of cultural analysis has a certain amount of difficulty positioning economics as either simply an outside or an inside. The orientation and leverage within the university apparently offered by the development of cultural studies and by certain forms of interdisciplinarity comes at the cost of an irresolvable disorientation between the object and the activity of criticism.

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The visionary imagination in late Victorian literature

This study, which examines a range of canonical and less-well-known writers, is a reassessment of late Victorian literature in its relation to visionary Romanticism. It examines six late Victorian writers – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Eugene Lee-Hamilton, Theodore Watts-Dunton and Thomas Hardy – to reveal their commitment to a Romantic visionary tradition that surfaces towards the end of the nineteenth century in response to the threat of a growing materialism. Offering detailed readings of both poetry and prose, the book shows the different ways in which late Victorian writers move beyond materiality, though without losing a commitment to it, to explore the mysterious relation between the seen and the unseen. It is a re-evaluation of the post-Romantic visionary imagination, with implications for our understanding of literary modernism.

Reflections on new historicism and cultural materialism

orientation ostensibly founded on a repudiation of other directions. The ‘new’ or ‘radical’ kinds of criticism I want to discuss in this chapter have by different means pointed the way for various assaults on ‘ahistorical’, ‘apolitical’ deconstruction over the last few years. Yet the ‘founding’ texts of new historicism and cultural materialism in fact

in Rethinking the university
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7 The Harlequin ‘The collector’ was another of Bruce’s big categories: the opposite of the nomad; the person who – he declared every now and then – it was important to stop being. (228) Susannah Clapp, With Chatwin Art is never enough. Art always lets you down. Michael Ignatieff, ‘On Bruce Chatwin’ Bruce Chatwin frequently expressed his personal belief in the perils of materialism, a belief rooted in his conviction that we are evolutionarily programmed to follow a nomadic model: ‘Travel well, travel light’, Chatwin wrote in The Nomadic Alternative. ‘A wandering

in Anywhere out of the world

rapidly advancing capitalism and materialism. The idea of Irish women excelling in the city continues to strike us as anachronistic in an era of apparently limited female professional upward mobility. Historians have written of the later nineteenth century as a period in which female migration from Ireland was stimulated and accelerated as a response to the rather narrow range of life opportunities available domestically.4 The writers discussed here may be connected to this general picture, though the absence of a developed literature on most of their work has much to

in Irish women’s writing, 1878–1922
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Walking on two feet

some of the recurring themes and images arising in the early key texts of new historicism and cultural materialism, I argue in Chapter 2 that these approaches in a number of ways orient their critical strategies according to certain kinds of logics and structures of reflection. This orientation frequently takes the form either of an analysis of Renaissance power represented and discussed through a

in Rethinking the university
Censorship, knowledge and the academy

, ‘a similar kind of critical opposition becomes available in the present’. This is because, as I argued in Chapter 2 , cultural materialism has displaced dialectical materialism, such that ‘a form of reflection theory’ has been reasserted, through which ‘history has become a mirror in which contemporary political priorities have been substituted for the former certain ground of Marxist

in Rethinking the university
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Maps of the London Underground

’. Edward Soja’s work of the 1980s and particularly Postmodern Geographies (1989), part of the so-called ‘L.A. School’ of Marxist geography, was an important redefinition of the field of human geography and an attempt to recover spatial thinking in terms of a Marxist materialism. Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift, in their ‘Introduction’ to a work introducing the major theorists of the ‘spatial turn’, Thinking Space (2000), follow Soja in suggesting that ‘spatiality has been a repressed element of much social thought’. 39 The bringing forth of this repressed element

in Iain Sinclair
Kipling and the Jews

’t look like a Jew and he ought to’.49 While his empty materialism (‘Things that grow up in a night’) is not racialised, it is contrasted with the very real night-terrors which Mrs Skittleworth and her party encounter in the theatre box: ‘It was unspeakable. It was Chaos – raving, mad, howling Chaos!’ The unexplained ‘darkness of terror’ affects those in the haunted theatre box in different ways. As Mrs Skittleworth observes, Geissler com­pletely loses control and, after succumbing to the ‘Powers of Darkness’, finally looks like a ‘Jew’: All the Jew that ever cheated

in In Time’s eye
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of Dialectical Materialism (London: Verso, 2012), Chapter 11.

in Samuel Richardson and the theory of tragedy