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Paul S. Spalding

Abstract

Jonathan Israel appears not to credit sufficiently how ‘moderates’ could contribute in practice to the agenda of the Radical Enlightenment. General Lafayette struck compromises with the old order in France up to 1792, for instance, but only so as to promote radical values that he had pursued from youth and would continue to pursue for the rest of his long life. Liberal or centrist sympathizers, particularly those in London and Hamburg, provide another instance. During Lafayetteʼs incarceration and exile in 1792–1799, they supported him financially, maintained secret communications, plotted breakouts, and publicized his case. By defying the traditional order and helping enable his release and eventual return to public activity, they too promoted the radical agenda.

Series:

Gabriela Stoicea

Abstract

This essay explores some of the ways in which Jonathan Israel’s concept of Radical Enlightenment can be made useful for literary studies. An in-depth analysis of Sophie von La Roche’s novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim (1771) will show that although Israel offers little in the way of new insights into eighteenth-century gender relations, his pluralistic account of the Enlightenment does provide a fresh lens through which to reexamine the literary merits of female writers. It will also be argued that the benefits of pairing historiography with literary fiction run both ways – in other words, that La Roche, in turn, can help address what is missing from Israel’s thinking, namely an acknowledgment that some of the foremost intellectual debates of the time were also waged on literary ground, and also by women.

Series:

Yvonne Howell

Socialist realism was a powerful and pervasive mode of policing. By enforcing socialist realist strictures on all official narratives about the Soviet self – narratives about national identity, history, destiny, narratives about coming-of-age, relationships between family members and society, etc. – the mandated literary form reinforced a given perception of the world. When Gorbachev suspended literary censorship in 1986, the ussr was suddenly flooded with books and narratives that had been previously banned. These works were, almost by definition, not socialist realist. My paper focuses on Dudintsev’s novel White Robes [Belye odezhdy, 1987], a fictional account of the persecution of geneticists and the notorious policing of the biological sciences for ideological reasons.

Dudintsev’s overt condemnation of past policy and his heroic depiction of banned geneticists were sensational in the context of glasnost; however, this paper demonstrates that the novel retains the structural features of the classic socialist realist narrative. Therefore, although the criteria for who are the “good guys” (fruit fly experimenters) and who are the “bad guys” (Lysenkoists) have been inverted, I argue that the novel replicates a policing aesthetics, this time in the name of a romanticized Russian nationalism. This paper also engages Cristina Vatulescu’s thesis in “Police Aesthetics” by exploring the ways in which Dudintsev (a prominent writer) was influenced by the aesthetics of the police files that followed his life for decades.

Series:

Takayuki Yokota-Murakami

Etymologically, spying is related to seeing, which further establishes its connection to police interpellation through which Althusser explains the formulation of a subject before the Unique Subject. Althusserian interpellation is theorized on the basis of the Lacanian model of “specular” (mirror-like) formation of a subject, which brings us back to the act of seeing and knowing (recognizing). As Lacan was suggesting the double vision in this model (i.e., mutual seeing), interpellation always-already involves counter-interpellation. In the proletarian Japanese literature the reader finds the moment when the imperial police force step down as the Absolute Subject to the criminal subject in the oppressive regime of the Empire. Such displacement of interpellation is more patent in the colonial situation as it involves the transgression of boundaries and, consequently, is more problematic. Sometimes the interpellation is evoked not so much by a colonizing Absolute Subject, but by a fellow colonial subject. In such a case a spy can be detected and reveal his/her identity and, thus, be interpellated, but he/she can still annul its meaning since the interpellation is not performed by the Unique and Absolute Subject, which establishes itself only through the political power of the State. This paper examines three narratives springing from the history of the Japanese Empire to explore the various ways in which Althusserian-Lacanian model of interpellation is revised or dislodged.

Series:

John Zilcosky

Thinkers such as Adorno, Arendt, and Gide viewed Kafka as a predictor of the modern surveillance state, especially of Hitler’s Germany. Following Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations of nsa spying, journalists similarly cited Kafka as a prophet of today’s nsa (and British gchq). But Kafka, as always, complicates matters. As I argue here, Kafka’s information organizations seem at first glance to refute the nsa analogy, in two ways: Kafka’s bureaucracies are comically inefficient and his “victims” are not innocent. Kafka’s authorities overwhelm themselves with trivial evidence, stuffing cabinets with papers until nothing can be found, and his protagonists betray hints of possible guilt. But these two points end up paradoxically cementing the connection to the nsa, which, like Kafka’s system, has collected too much material to analyze, yet never ceases to claim that the innocent have nothing to fear. Because personal information is everywhere and because, like Kafka’s Josef K., we have all done something “wrong,” everyone is exposed to the threat that opens The Trial: to be devastatingly “slandered” out of the blue. This creates the modern paranoid subject, in our world and in Kafka’s. Kafka evokes this through plot but also through an enclosed third-person point of view, a radical form of free indirect style. This leaves us only with the protagonist’s viewpoint, yet still with the equivalent of the authoritative eye behind his/our head – a narratological “Über-Ich” (“above-I”) that is both in and outside, watching every move, also of itself, as the subject collapses.

Series:

Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason

Series:

Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason

In National Poets, Cultural Saints Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason explore the ways in which certain artists, writers, and poets in Europe have become major figures of cultural memory, emulating the symbolic role formerly played by state rulers and religious saints. The authors develop the concept of cultural sainthood in the context of nationalism as a form of invisible religion, identify major shifts in canonization practices from antiquity to the nationally-motivated commemoration of the nineteenth century, and explore the afterlives of two national poets, Slovenia's France Prešeren and Iceland's Jónas Hallgrímsson. The book presents a useful analytical model of canonization for further studies on cultural sainthood and opens up fruitful perspectives for the understanding of national movements.