The Left at War

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NYU Press, Nov 1, 2009 - Social Science - 349 pages
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The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s belligerent response fractured the American left—partly by putting pressure on little-noticed fissures that had appeared a decade earlier.

In a masterful survey of the post-9/11 landscape, renowned scholar Michael Bérubé revisits and reinterprets the major intellectual debates and key players of the last two decades, covering the terrain of left debates in the United States over foreign policy from the Balkans to 9/11 to Iraq, and over domestic policy from the culture wars of the 1990s to the question of what (if anything) is the matter with Kansas.

The Left at War brings the history of cultural studies to bear on the present crisis—a history now trivialized to the point at which few left intellectuals have any sense that merely "cultural" studies could have something substantial to offer to the world of international relations, debates over sovereignty and humanitarian intervention, matters of war and peace. The surprising results of Bérubé’s arguments reveal an American left that is overly fond of a form of "countercultural" politics in which popular success is understood as a sign of political failure and political marginality is understood as a sign of moral virtue. The Left at War insists that, in contrast to American countercultural traditions, the geopolitical history of cultural studies has much to teach us about internationalism—for "in order to think globally, we need to think culturally, and in order to understand cultural conflict, we need to think globally." At a time when America finds itself at a critical crossroads, The Left at War is an indispensable guide to the divisions that have created a left at war with itself.

 

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Contents

On Time
1
1 Nowhere Left to Go
9
2 Root Causes
41
The Hard Road to Debacle
97
4 Cultural Studies and Political Crisis
153
5 What Is This Cultural in Cultural Studies?
209
Equality and Freedom
249
Notes
255
Works Cited
293
Index
315
About the Author
341
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Michael Bérubé is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State University. In 2012, he served as the President of the Modern Language Association. He is the author of several books, including Employment of English:Theory, Jobs, and the Future of Literary Studies (NYU Press, 1997), The Left at War (NYU Press, 2009), What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and “ Bias” in Higher Education (2006), and Life as We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (1996).

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