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ABSTRACTS
ISSUE 73:

READING AFTER EMPIRE

C.L.R.JAMES, VANITY FAIR AND THE AUDIENCE

Andrew Smith

This essay considers what we can learn about the role of the audience or the reader from the work of C.L.R. James. Beginning with a brief consideration of James' theorisation of audiences, it moves on to discuss his own reading practice and, in particular, his relationship to Thackeray's Vanity Fair. It is argued that in important ways James' love of Thackeray reflects and informs the construction of his own novel, Minty Alley, as well as the critical populism of his politics more generally.
KEYWORDS: C.L.R. James, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Minty Alley, Audience, Marxism
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ARTICULATING EMPIRE: NEWSPAPER READERSHIPS IN COLONIAL WEST AFRICA

Stephanie Newell

Focussing on locally-owned newspapers in colonial West Africa, this essay presents a history of reading in the colonies which experiments with reading beyond, or reading outside, the anti-colonial nationalist perspective that prevails over newspaper history. The essay asks what kind of 'information' about the values, attitudes, aspirations and articulations of diverse colonial readerships can be extrapolated from the indigenous press, and about the manner in which 'non-readers' in West Africa interacted with printed forms, including the newspaper.
KEYWORDS: West Africa, newspapers, reading public, colonialism, orality, nationalism

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DECODING DIASPORA AND DISJUNCTURE: ARJUN APPADURAI IN DIALOGUE WITH DAVID MORLEY

Arjun Appadurai and David Morley

The dialogue begins with a discussion of the development of processes of globalisation in recent years, offering a critique of some of the more hyperbolic claims about the death of geography. The discussion then moves to the question of the new conditions for the production of localities, and the role of new technologies in these developments. Further issues considered concern the politics of mobility, the question of differential modes of circulation and of continuing patterns of sedentarism and in some sectors of society. The relation between migrancy as a differentiated material process, and as a metaphor is discussed and these issues are then related to contemporary political debates in the USA, in the UK, India and South Africa. As the dialogue develops, attention turns to the question of how best to theorise the activity of audiences in different cultural locations in relation to particular structures of cultural power. The discussion also covers the particular status of readers and audiences within the context of postcolonial theory and concludes with a debate about questions of race, class, empire, consumption and resistance.
KEYWORDS: Globalisation, technologies, audiences, mobilities, circulation, migrancy
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THE NEW LITERARY FRONT: PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF READING ARABIC FICTION IN TRANSLATION

Vron Ware

The novel Girls of Riyadh (Banat Al-Riyadh) by Saudi author Rajaa Alsanea, first published in English by Penguin in 2007, provides a valuable prism through which to examine an array of geo- political forces that govern the movement of literary texts between Anglophone and Arabic-speaking reading publics. This investigation seeks to contribute to the developing feminist scholarship on reading books by and about Muslim women, not just in the light of the long history of Orientalism but more specifically in the context of neo-imperial wars in the twenty-first century. The essay explores a wider range of questions posed by the subject matter, style, translation and marketing of this book. As the novel is written as a series of emails to an online chat room, it raises timely questions about how technology is mediating the social lives of young people across the Arabic-speaking world. The publication and promotion of this book is discussed in the context of the 2008 London Book Fair in which Arabic literature was the market focus. The role of the British Council in the event provides a window to examine the mechanisms of public diplomacy which provide the context for understanding the convergence of the Anglophone publishing industry with media corporations, NGOs and policy makers. The essay then asks how we are to read modern Arabic fiction in translation, since it is virtually impossible to approach it outside these tentacles of geo-political power.
KEYWORDS:culture, diplomacy, Arab, gender, fiction, books
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READING FOR THE NATION: 'THIRD-WORLD LITERATURE' AND ISRAEL/PALESTINE

Anna Bernard

The lack of attention to reading and reception in postcolonial literary studies makes it easy to forget that one of the field's earliest points of reference is a theory of reading. Fredric Jameson's controversial 1986 essay on 'Third-World Literature', which famously distinguishes 'first-world' from 'third-world' writing, also posits a difference between 'first' and 'third' world readers by arguing that the 'first-world' reader is seriously limited as a reader of 'third-world' texts. This essay returns to Jameson, and to the idea of national allegory, as a way of understanding and responding to the popular and academic reception of Palestinian and Israeli literature. Although metropolitan readers have generally been very willing to read both Palestinian and Israeli texts as national allegories in something like the sense described by Jameson, readers of Palestinian and Israeli women's writing have tended to privilege these writers' gender over their nationalism. Drawing on the work of two of the most internationally recognizable female novelists from Israel/Palestine, Orly Castel-Bloom and Sahar Khalifeh, the essay argues that national allegory should be understood as a reading and a writing practice, one that writers of both genders anticipate and emphasize in contexts where the nation's political and imaginative force remains urgent and immediate.
KEYWORDS: Fredric Jameson, national allegory, Palestine, Israel, women's writing, Sahar Khalifeh, Orly Castel-Bloom
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NOT READING BRICK LANE

Bethan Benwell, James Procter and Gemma Robinson

When someone becomes or does not become a reader - and how we make a claim to or refuse these kinds of identity - clearly matters within globalised cultures, where the challenges of literary representation quickly become problems of cultural misrepresentation. Yet precisely because not reading would appear to amount to nothing, its significance remains unexplored. In order to trace the conjunctural and multiple meanings of not reading, this essay explores the embattled reception surrounding Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane (2003) and its adaptation into film (2007), and locates not reading within a longer history of book controversies that is overshadowed by the Rushdie Affair. Our paper argues that, far from mere negation, not reading is an intensely productive site of cross-cultural negotiation and conflict without which the contemporary significance of global readerships and reading acts makes only partial sense.
KEYWORDS: Not reading, book controversies, Monica Ali, Brick Lane, Rushdie Affair, hierarchies of reading
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AFTERWORD: RESPONSIBLE READING AND CULTURAL DISTANCE

Derek Attridge

This essay asks how we can account for the experience of inventiveness when we read a work that arises from, and on its initial publication spoke to, a significantly different cultural context from our own. To what extent does a responsible reading of such a work imply a project of countering any sense of inventiveness that arises solely from the cultural distance between the contexts of production and of reception? If so, how can this be achieved? How can we know if it has been achieved? If, on the other hand, it is legitimate to capitalize on effects of inventiveness that arise from cultural difference, how can we avoid reducing the work to an example of pleasurable exoticism? The example of Alaa al-Aswany's novel The Yacoubian Building is used to discuss these issues, concluding that the inevitable disparity that arises under such circumstances need not disqualify a reading; the responsibility of the reader is not to undertake a reconstruction of the original moment of reception in the home culture but to allow the norms of the host culture to be challenged by whatever is experienced as inventive in the work.
KEYWORDS: cultural difference, responsibility, inventiveness, production, reception, al-Aswany
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ABSTRACTS

1: REMEMBERING FANON Spring 1987
2: INTELLECTUAL JOURNALISM Summer 1987
3: TRAVELLING THEORY Winter 1987
4: CULTURAL TECHNOLOGIES Spring 1988
5: IDENTITIES Summer 1988
6: THE BLUES Winter 1988
7: MODERNISM/MASOCHISM Spring 1989
8: TECHNO-ECOLOGIES Summer 1989
9: ON ENJOYMENT Winter 1989
10: RADICAL DIFFERENCE Spring 1990
11: SUBJECTS IN SPACE
Summer 1990
12: NATION, MIGRATION AND HISTORY Winter 1990
13: NO APOLALYPSE YET? Spring 1991
14: ON DEMOCRACY Summer 1991
15: JUST LOOKING Winter 1991
16: COMPETING GLANCES Spring 1992
17: A QUESTION OF HOME Summer 1992
18: HYBRIDITY Winter 1992
19: PERVERSITY Spring 1993
20: THE ACTUALITY OF WALTER BENJAMIN Summer 1993
21: POST-COLONIAL INSECURITIES Winter 1994
22: POSTCOMMUNISM: RETHINKING THE SECOND WORLD Spring 1994
23: LACAN AND LOVE Summer 1994
24: ON NOT SPEAKING CHINESE: DIASPORA AND IDENTITY Winter 1994
25: MICHEL FOUCAULT: J'ACCUSE Summer 1995
26: PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CULTURE Autumn 1995
27: PERFORMANCE MATTERS Winter 1995-1996
28: CONSERVATIVE MODERNITY Spring 1996
29: TECHNOSCIENCE Summer 1996
30: CULTURAL MEMORY Winter 1996
31: UNCIVIL SOCIETIES Summer 1996
32: LEGAL FICTIONS Autumn 1997
33: FRONTLINES - BACKYARDS Spring 1998
34: DREAMING IN THEORY Summer 1998
35: THE ETHICS OF VIOLENCE Autumn 1998
36: DIANA AND DEMOCRACY 1999
37: SEXUAL GEOGRAPHIES Spring 1999
38: HATING TRADITION PROPERLY Summer 1999
39: COOL MOVES Winter 1999-2000
40: CULTURE/CHINA Spring 2000
41: THE FUTURE OF DIALOGUE Autumn 2000
42: THE RUINS OF CHILDHOOD Winter 2000
43: MOBILITIES Spring 2001
44: MASS OBSERVATION AS POETICS AND SCIENCE Autumn 2001
45: 'THE RENDEZ-VOUS OF CONQUEST' Winter 2001
46: THE PROSTHETIC AESTHETIC Spring 2002
47: AFTER FANON Summer 2002
48: JEAN LAPLANCHE AND THE THEORY OF SEDUCTION Winter 2002-2003
49: COMPLEX FIGURES Spring 2003
50: REMEMBERING THE 1990s Autumn 2003
51: THE SHORT CENTURY Winter 2003-2004
52: CULTURES AND ECONOMIES Spring 2004
53: INTELLECTUAL WORK Summer 2004
54: READING BENJAMIN'S ARCADE Winter 2004-2005
55. FOUCAULT TALK Spring 2005
56: CRITICAL REALISM TODAY Autumn 2005

57: THE SPATIAL IMAGINARY Winter 2005-2006
58: OF BORDERS AND DISCOS Summer 2006
59: AFTER IRAQ: REFRAMING POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES Autumn 2006
60: EUGENICS OLD AND NEW Spring 2007
61: KRACAUER
Summer 2007
62: ZIDANE'S MELANCHOLY Autumn 2007
63: HAPPINESS
Winter 2007-2008
64: EARTHOGRAPHIES: ECOCRITICISM AND CULTURE Spring 2008
65. AFTER '68: THE LEFT AND 21st C. POLITICAL PROJECT Autumn 2008
66. POSTMODERNISM, MUSIC AND CULTURAL THEORY Spring 2009

67. READING LIFE WRITING Summer 2009
68. DELEUZIAN POLITICS?
69. IMPERIAL ECOLOGIES
70.
LIVING LIFE IN PICTURES 2010
71. HANNAH ARENDT 'AFTER MODERNITY' 2011
72. PSYCHOANALYSIS, MONEY AND THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS 2011
73. READING AFTER EMPIRE

74. FOOD ON THE MOVE
75. LOVE, LOSS AND REVOLUTION
76. THE ANIMALS TURN
77. BERNARD STIEGLER
78. MATERIALITIES OF TEXT
79. TOUCHES, TRACES AND TIMES
80/81. NEOLIBERAL CULTURE

 

 

 



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