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Call for Papers
Class, Culture and Public Intellectuals: A themed issue of Reconstruction
The year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Denning's The
Cultural Front and the 20th anniversary of Alan Wald's The New York
Intellectuals. Both of these publishing milestones raise important
questions about the historical relationship between U.S. intellectuals
and mass culture, radical left politics and academic scholarship, and
the relationship between cultural production and social conflict,
topics which remain of pressing concern today.
Both works broke new ground in tracking the oft-suppressed legacies of
popular radical thought and culture of the 1930s, forging alliances
beyond the realm of the "academy" and with wider society. Moreover,
both works theorized the relationship between social theory, creative
practice and progressive political movements in productive and
provocative ways that challenged decades of Cold War academic thinking
on this topic and have returned interest to long-ignored moments and
movements. While Wald seeks to unpack the history behind the
de-formation of left politics today (via a close look at the split
between american CP and Trotskyist left, with its legacies for the
formation of Cold War American scholarship and letters), Denning seeks
to reclaim the necessity for Popular Front-era left politics for
avenues of academic and political inquiry.
Over the past decade, a substantial scholarship has responded to the
theoretical and empirical challenges set by these texts, as well as by
the work of Barbara Foley, William J. Maxwell, Bill Mullen, Cary
Nelson, Paula Rabinowitz and others. This new scholarship rejects
simplistic dichotomies between Stalinism and Trotskyism, high culture
and mass culture, to reveal a rich, complex, contested 20th century US
social text. It interacts with the development of post-marxist
identity politics and globalized social movements, as the staging area
for new lines of resistance. It challenges the primacy of post-marxist
identity politics as the ordering intellectual paradigm for historical
and cultural inquiry, and throws a critical light on the nationalist
orientation of american studies, even as it moves beyond the
intellectual and political borders formed during its origins in the
Recent events mean that the public intellectuals of old are not simply
the subject of a rarefied academic debate. The perceived growth of
neoconservative influence over US foreign policy has prompted
reconsideration--however inaccurate or misplaced--of the intellectual
milieu from which these "neocons" ideas emerged. Questions of "legacy"
remain pertinent and pressing in public life, even today.
This special issue of Reconstruction seeks to stimulate debate about
and deepen contemporary understanding of the legacies of
left-intellectual and cultural production in the 20th century United
States. What can be learned from earlier generations of
activist-thinkers, and how can their praxis help us navigate our
present "moment of crisis" in 2007?
* We welcome essays aiming to build upon, enrich, or complicate the
legacy of Wald, Denning, or Foley, including book reviews, and surveys
of these scholars' work or influence.
* We encourage submissions that consider the background, politics and
practice of cultural formations discussed or neglected by them or
other scholars of the "Old Left."
* Essay contributors are also welcome to explore neglected ideas,
genres, figures and movements from the cultural formations of the
interwar period--as well as its aftermath.
Abstracts (500 words) due by December 1, 2006 to: Graham Barnfield
<gbarnfield_at_reconstruction.ws>. Completed papers (5,000-10,000 words)
due by May 1, 2007 (May Day!); publication expected, January, 2008.
Guest edited by Graham Barnfield, Joseph Ramsey and Victor Cohen.
About the journal: Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
(ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative cultural studies journal dedicated
to fostering an intellectual community composed of scholars and their
audience, granting them all the ability to share thoughts and opinions
on the most important and influential work in contemporary
interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction is published quarterly--in
the third week of January, April, July, October--and is indexed in the
MLA International Bibliography.
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Fri Oct 06 2006 - 15:59:02 EDT