The middle months of 2016 in the North Atlantic world offered a distinctly depressing constellation. This book offers a nuanced and multifaceted collection of essays covering a wide range of concerns, concepts, presidential doctrines, and rationalities of government thought to have marked America's engagement with the world during this period. The spate of killings of African Americans raised acute issues about the very parameters of citizenship that predated the era of Civil Rights and revived views on race associated with the pre- Civil War republic. The book analyses an account of world politics that gives ontological priority to 'race' and assigns the state a secondary or subordinate function. Andrew Carnegie set out to explain the massive burst in productivity in the United States between 1830 and 1880, and in so doing to demonstrate the intrinsic superiority of republicanism. He called for the abolition of hereditary privilege and a written constitution. The book also offers an exegesis of the US foreign policy narrative nested in the political thought of the German jurist Carl Schmitt. Understanding the nature of this realist exceptionalism properly means rethinking the relationship between realism and liberalism. The book revisits Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, which reviews the intellectual and policy environment of the immediate post- Cold War years. Finally, it discusses Paul Dundes Wolfowitz, best known for his hawkish service to the George W. Bush administration, and his strong push for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies but to be one.
Richard Hofstadter 1
This book focuses on American television and American politics. That is for good reason. The US is not only the world’s sole superpower; moreover it is history’s greatest hegemon: a modern Leviathan. Never before has one country amassed such an overwhelming preponderance of power. Contra Senator Arthur Vandenberg, American politics certainly does not stop at the water’s edge; America’s military reach is truly global, with its national interest
From America to Iceland
‘The Yankee is here; his feet tread [Iceland’s] heath-clad hills and snow-covered mountains. He has boiled his dinner in the hot-springs, cooled his punch in snow a hundred years old, and toasted his shins by a volcanic fire’, declared Pliny Miles in his 1854 account of travel to Iceland, Norðurfari, or, Rambles in Iceland . 1 From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, not least with the advent of steamship passage, Iceland became increasingly accessible for tourists looking to marvel at natural wonders and wax lyrical about sublimely
From Iceland to the Americas, an anthology of thirteen original critical essays, is an exercise in the reception of a small historical fact with wide-ranging social, cultural, and imaginative consequences. Medieval records claim that around the year 1000 Leif Eiriksson and other Nordic explorers sailed westwards from Iceland and Greenland to a place they called Vinland. Archaeological evidence has in fact verified this claim, though primarily by way of one small, short-lived Norse settlement in Newfoundland, which may not even have been Leif’s. Whether or not this settlement was his, however, the contact associated with him has had an outsized impact on cultural imagination in and of the Americas. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, indeed, novels, poetry, history, politics, arts and crafts, comics, films and video games have all reflected a rising interest in the medieval Norse and their North American presence. Uniquely in reception studies, From Iceland to the Americas approaches this dynamic between Nordic history and its reception by bringing together international authorities on mythology, language, film, and cultural studies, as well as on the literature that has dominated critical reception. Collectively, the essays not only explore the connections among medieval Iceland and the modern Americas, but also probe why medieval contact has become a modern cultural touchstone.
American television was about to be revolutionised by the advent of video on demand in 2007, when Netflix, having delivered over one billion DVDs, introduced streaming. This book explores the role that fictional television has played in the world politics of the US in the twenty-first century. It focuses on the second golden age of television, which has coincided with the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald J. Trump. The book is structured in three parts. Part I considers what is at stake in rethinking the act of watching television as a political and academic enterprise. Part II considers fictional television shows dealing explicitly with the subject matter of formal politics. It explores discourses of realpolitik in House of Cards and Game of Thrones, arguing that the shows reinforce dominant assumptions that power and strategy inevitably trump ethical considerations. It also analyses constructions of counterterrorism in Homeland, The West Wing, and 24, exploring the ways in which dominant narratives have been contested and reinforced since the onset of the War on Terror. Part III considers television shows dealing only implicitly with political themes, exploring three shows that make profound interventions into the political underpinnings of American life: The Wire, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Finally, the book explores the legacies of The Sopranos and Mad Men, as well as the theme of resistance in The Handmaid's Tale.
This book defines quiet as an aesthetic of narrative that is driven by reflective principles and places Marilynne Robinson's work within a vibrant contemporary American trend. It makes two critical interventions. First, it maps the neglected history of quiet fictions and argues that from Hester Prynne to Clarissa Dalloway, from Bartleby to William Stoner, quiet characters fill the novel in the Western tradition. Second, it demonstrates how the novel's quiet undercurrent functions as an aesthetic in contemporary American fiction. The book engages with the problem of 'event' as a noisy narrative device and discusses the opposition of quiet texts to narratives written in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, an event that heralded to many the beginning of a noisy century. It discusses the subjective depictions of temporality portrayed in the fiction of Marilynne Robinson and Paul Harding. The book then argues that cognitive fictions by Richard Powers and Lynne Tillman expand the focus of the quiet novel. By expanding the focus, it uncovers the complex and often discordant recesses of human consciousness and challenges the traditional division between what is internally and externally felt. The book brings together the strands of this monograph to discuss what happens to the quiet novel when Teju Cole and Ben Lerner set their quiet novels in the noisy environment of the city. By paying attention to the quieter aspects of everyday experience, the quiet novel also reveals how quiet can be a multi-faceted state of existence, which is communicative and expressive.
A history of the US nuclear presence in Britain from its origins in 1946 through to the run-down of strategic forces following the Cuba crisis and the coming of the missile age. The book deals with the initial negotiations over base rights, giving a detailed treatment of the informal and secret arrangements to establish an atomic strike capability on British soil. The subsequent build-up is described, with the development of an extensive base network and the introduction of new and more advanced types of bomber aircraft. Relations with the British during these developments are a central focus but tensions within the USAF are also dealt with. The book recounts the emergence of the UK as a nuclear power through prolonged negotiations with the US authorities. It deals in detail with the arrangements for RAF aircraft to carry US nuclear weapons, and the development of joint strike planning. A concluding chapter provides a critical assessment of the UK role in the Anglo-American nuclear alliance.
Paul Wolfowitz and the promise of
American power, 1969–2001
Paul Dundes Wolfowitz is best known for his hawkish service to the
George W. Bush administration, when he pushed strongly –and by most
accounts, influentially –for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But this
was merely the most recent chapter in a long foreign policy career that began
in 1969, and that included service to the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and
George H. W. Bush administrations. This chapter characterises this period
as one in which Wolfowitz’s worldview
Ancient North American artefacts provided nineteenth-century people with a blank slate for utopian fantasies, self-interested appropriations, and scholarly dead ends. As Geraldine Barnes, Douglas Hunter, Annette Kolodny, and others have described, the notion of a pre-Columbian Norse presence was attractive and durable, especially after an English translation of Carl Rafn’s 1837 Antiqvitates Americanæ was published in America in 1838. 1 As Hunter suggests in his work on Dighton Rock, to long for an ancient Norse America was to long for indigeneity – an
Bush’s desire to use American military force to achieve liberal ends – regime change and the democratisation of threatening states – before it was too late. After 9/11, the pre-emption of threats before they were fully manifest would be the order of the day, and that included (ultimately misplaced) concerns about Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Alongside ‘pre-emption’ and the ‘1 per cent doctrine’ (assuming that the worst can happen, even if it is very unlikely), Bush spoke in Manichaean terms, dividing the world into good freedom