In The Biopolitics of Feeling Kyla Schuller unearths the forgotten, multiethnic sciences of impressibility—the capacity to be transformed by one's environment and experiences—to uncover how biopower developed in the United States. Schuller challenges prevalent interpretations of biopower and literary cultures to reveal how biopower emerged within the discourses and practices of sentimentalism. Through analyses of evolutionary theories, gynecological sciences, abolitionist poetry and other literary texts, feminist tracts, child welfare reforms, and black uplift movements, Schuller excavates a vast apparatus that regulated the capacity of sensory and emotional feeling in an attempt to shape the evolution of the national population. Her historical and theoretical work exposes the overlooked role of sex difference in population management and the optimization of life, illuminating how models of binary sex function as one of the key mechanisms of racializing power. Schuller thereby overturns long-accepted frameworks of the nature of race and sex difference, offers key corrective insights to modern debates surrounding the equation of racism with determinism and the liberatory potential of ideas about the plasticity of the body, and reframes contemporary notions of sentiment, affect, sexuality, evolution, and heredity.
Modern Sentimentalism examines how American female novelists reinvented sentimentalism in the modernist period. Just as the birth of the modern woman has long been imagined as the death of sentimental feeling, modernist literary innovation has been understood to reject sentimental aesthetics. Modern Sentimentalism reframes these perceptions of cultural evolution. Taking up icons such as the New Woman, the flapper, the free lover, the New Negro woman, and the divorcee, this book argues that these figures embody aspects of a traditional sentimentality while also recognizing sentiment as incompatible with ideals of modern selfhood. These double binds equally beleaguer the protagonists and shape the styles of writers like Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, and Jessie Fauset. 'Modern sentimentalism' thus translates nineteenth-century conventions of sincerity and emotional fulfillment into the skeptical, self-conscious modes of interwar cultural production. Reading canonical and under-examined novels in concert with legal briefs, scientific treatises, and other transatlantic period discourse, and combining traditional and quantitative methods of archival research, Modern Sentimentalism demonstrates that feminine feeling, far from being peripheral to twentieth-century modernism, animates its central principles and preoccupations.
An incisive, cutting history of how white feminists from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Sheryl Sandberg upheld white supremacy, and a reckoning with the marginalized women who've continually defied them From suffragettes to sexuality, feminist history is often told as a narrative of women united in the fight against patriarchy. But there have always been limits and fault lines in the feminist movements that centered white women's rights at the expense of all others. As scholar Kyla Schuller argues in The Trouble with White Women, white women, across political classes, have used racism and other hierarchies of power to win their own rights and expand their personal opportunities. Their white feminist politics have come at a great cost, resulting in the sustained exploitation, oppression, and silencing of women of color. The Trouble with White Women details the history of white feminist icons and their counterparts from the 1840s to the present. From Margaret Sanger, who promoted racist eugenics and was in conflict with Dr. Dorothy Ferebee, to Pauli Murray, who fought for a more radical vision of feminism against Betty Friedan's homophobic and racist ideas. Today, that tradition endures. So-called feminists continue to advocate excluding trans people from the movement and promote the Violence Against Women Act that has buttressed the greatest carceral state in the world. But as The Trouble with White Women argues, resistance to these white feminist politics has continually emerged from Black, indigenous, poor, queer, and trans women and their movements for liberation. It is only by understanding this complex legacy that feminism can build a movement that honors the radical work and lives of those who suffer most under patriarchy.
Seeking ways to understand video games beyond their imperial logics, Patterson turns to erotics to re-invigorate the potential passions and pleasures of play Video games vastly outpace all other mediums of entertainment in revenue and in global reach. On the surface, games do not appear ideological, nor are they categorized as national products. Instead, they seem to reflect the open and uncontaminated reputation of information technology. Video games are undeniably imperial products. Their very existence has been conditioned upon the spread of militarized technology, the exploitation of already-existing labor and racial hierarchies in their manufacture, and the utopian promises of digital technology. Like literature and film before it, video games have become the main artistic expression of empire today: the open world empire, formed through the routes of information technology and the violences of drone combat, unending war, and overseas massacres that occur with little scandal or protest. Though often presented as purely technological feats, video games are also artistic projects, and as such, they allow us an understanding of how war and imperial violence proceed under signs of openness, transparency, and digital utopia. But the video game, as Christopher B. Patterson argues, is also an inherently Asian commodity: its hardware is assembled in Asia; its most talented e-sports players are of Asian origin; Nintendo, Sony, and Sega have defined and dominated the genre. Games draw on established discourses of Asia to provide an “Asiatic” space, a playful sphere of racial otherness that straddles notions of the queer, the exotic, the bizarre, and the erotic. Thinking through games like Overwatch, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Shenmue II, and Alien: Isolation, Patterson reads against empire by playing games erotically, as players do—seeing games as Asiatic playthings that afford new passions, pleasures, desires, and attachments.
Explores the intersection and history of American literary realism and the performance of spiritual and racial embodiment. Recovering a series of ecstatic performances in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American realism, Realist Ecstasy travels from camp meetings to Native American ghost dances to storefront church revivals to explore realism’s relationship to spiritual experience. In her approach to realism as both an unruly archive of performance and a wide-ranging repertoire of media practices—including literature, photography, audio recording, and early film—Lindsay V. Reckson argues that the real was repetitively enacted and reenacted through bodily practice. Realist Ecstasy demonstrates how the realist imagining of possessed bodies helped construct and naturalize racial difference, while excavating the complex, shifting, and dynamic possibilities embedded in ecstatic performance: its production of new and immanent forms of being beside. Across her readings of Stephen Crane, James Weldon Johnson, and Nella Larsen, among others, Reckson triangulates secularism, realism, and racial formation in the post-Reconstruction moment. Realist Ecstasy shows how post-Reconstruction realist texts mobilized gestures—especially the gestures associated with religious ecstasy—to racialize secularism itself. Reckson offers us a distinctly new vision of American realism as a performative practice, a sustained account of how performance lives in and through literary archives, and a rich sense of how closely secularization and racialization were linked in Jim Crow America.
2008 Winner, MLA First Book Prize Charting the proliferation of forms of mourning and memorial across a century increasingly concerned with their historical and temporal significance, Arranging Grief offers an innovative new view of the aesthetic, social, and political implications of emotion. Dana Luciano argues that the cultural plotting of grief provides a distinctive insight into the nineteenth-century American temporal imaginary, since grief both underwrote the social arrangements that supported the nation’s standard chronologies and sponsored other ways of advancing history. Nineteenth-century appeals to grief, as Luciano demonstrates, diffused modes of “sacred time” across both religious and ostensibly secular frameworks, at once authorizing and unsettling established schemes of connection to the past and the future. Examining mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, poetry, and fiction by Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Susan Warner, Harriet E. Wilson, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Luciano illustrates the ways that grief coupled the affective body to time. Drawing on formalist, Foucauldian, and psychoanalytic criticism, Arranging Grief shows how literary engagements with grief put forth ways of challenging deep-seated cultural assumptions about history, progress, bodies, and behaviors.
Biopolitics and International Values: Investigating Liberal Norms attempts to provide as profound an understanding of human behavior as possible. It sorts out the subjective meanings we share with other people that define our cultures and the symbolic contexts that surround us all. The book begins with a discussion of the sources of order in contemporary world politics, in particular the intellectual and moral values that have come to prevail there (the European doctrines of social justice and human rights, and the underlying assumptions they make about human fraternity, equality, liberty, and felicity). This is followed by separate chapters that examine the individualistic ethic of the American polity, counterposing the collectivist concerns of the Soviets; discuss the various meanings of equality and the ways in which it has historically been used in political and philosophic discourse. The book also looks at various attempts by political theorists to analyze liberty; examines what a biological understanding of human nature makes of that most abiding and most elusive of contemporary political aspirations; and reviews research into such areas as genetic engineering (particularly recombinant DNA) and the possible consequences this might have for society and politics.