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Series:

Daniel Krier and William J. Swart

NASCAR, Sturgis, and the New Economy of Spectacle maps the structure of economies of spectacle in stock car racing and large displacement motorcycle rallying. The book traces the historical development of economic spectacles and models the structural components and moving parts that sustain them. Economies of spectatorship emerge when activities and legends in the cultural commons are privatized or enclosed as immaterial property. Once privatized, a spectacular diegesis supports a triple-circuit of profit: spectatorship markets (payments to see), sponsorship markets (payments to be seen) and trophy markets (payments to be seen enjoying). Vivid illustrations of legendary action in NASCAR and carnivalesque displays at Sturgis reveal how spectator events function as intensive sites of profit-making in contemporary capitalism.

Debord, Time and Spectacle

Hegelian Marxism and Situationist Theory

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Tom Bunyard

In Debord, Time and Spectacle Tom Bunyard provides a detailed philosophical study of the theoretical work of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. Drawing on evidence from Debord’s books, films, letters and notes, Bunyard reconstructs the Hegelian and Marxian ideas that support Debord’s central concept of ‘spectacle’. This affords a reconsideration of Debord’s theoretical claims, and a reinterpretation of his broader work that foregrounds his concerns with history and lived time. By bringing Situationist theory into dialogue with recent reinterpretations of Marx, this book also identifies problems in Debord’s critique of capitalism. It argues, however, that the conceptions of temporality and spectacle that support that critique amount to a philosophy of praxis that remains relevant today.

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John Asimakopoulos

In The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste, John Asimakopoulos analyzes the political economy of the society of the spectacle, a philosophical concept developed by Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard. Using the analytical tools of social science, while historicizing, Asimakopoulos reveals that all societies in every epoch have been and continue to be caste systems legitimized by various ideologies. He concludes there is no such thing as capitalism (or socialism)—only a caste system hidden behind capitalist ideology. Key features of the book include its broad interdisciplinary-nonsectarian approach with quantitative and qualitative data. The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste is well written and clear, making it accessible to the general public.

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Dylan Kelby Rogers

Water played an important part of ancient Roman life, from providing necessary drinking water, supplying bath complexes, to flowing in large-scale public fountains. The Roman culture of water was seen throughout the Roman Empire, although it was certainly not monolithic and it could come in a variety of scales and forms, based on climatic and social conditions of different areas. This article seeks to define ‘water culture’ in Roman society by examining literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence, while understanding modern trends in scholarship related to the study of Roman water. The culture of water can be demonstrated through expressions of power, aesthetics, and spectacle. Further there was a shared experience of water in the empire that could be expressed through religion, landscape, and water’s role in cultures of consumption and pleasure.

Edited by Nermin Ahmed Haikal and Morag Kennedy

Spectacle, Rhetoric and Power

The Triumphal Entry of Prince Philip of Spain into Antwerp

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Stijn Bussels

In 1549, Prince Philip of Spain made his entry into Antwerp together with his father, Emperor Charles V. For this occasion the rich city of commerce was transformed into a large theatrical space with triumphal arches and tableaux vivants as stage settings. The citizens and the princes acted as actors in a splendid parade, a battle array of four thousand participants, impressive tournaments and a huge firework display. This resulted in one of the most expensive and impressive festivities of the early modern period. The organizing municipality drew on various theatrical genres in an effort to bring about a renewal in the existing power relations between the Habsburg rulers and themselves, as well as the relations of the rulers with the population. Exactly how the city and the monarch were depicted was illustrative of the precious balance of power between the Habsburgs and the city fathers and of both parties toward their respective subjects. How these power relations were precisely staged in Antwerp is studied in this book.

Art and Value

Art’s Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics

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Dave Beech

Art and Value is the first comprehensive analysis of art's political economy throughout classical, neoclassical and Marxist economics. It provides a critical-historical survey of the theories of art's economic exceptionalism, of art as a merit good, and of the theories of art's commodification, the culture industry and real subsumption.
Key debates on the economics of art, from the high prices artworks fetch at auction, to the controversies over public subsidy of the arts, the 'cost disease' of artistic production, and neoliberal and post-Marxist theories of art's incorporation into capitalism, are examined in detail.
Subjecting mainstream and Marxist theories of art's economics to an exacting critique, the book concludes with a new Marxist theory of art's economic exceptionalism.

Edited by Laura Crossley and Clara Sitbon

American Nightmare

Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism

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Douglas Kellner

Explaining the Donald Trump phenomenon is a challenge that will occupy critical theorists of U. S. politics for years to come. Firstly, Donald Trump won the Republican primary contest and is now a contender in the U. S. Presidential Election because he is the master of media spectacle, which he has deployed to create resonant images of himself in his business career, in his effort to become a celebrity and reality-TV superstar, and now his political campaign. More disturbingly, Trump embodies Authoritarian Populism and has used racism, nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the disturbing underside of American politics to mobilize his supporters in his successful Republican primary campaign and in the hotly contested 2016 general election.
The Trump phenomenon is a teachable moment that helps us understand the changes and contour of U. S. politics in the contemporary moment and the role of broadcast media, new media and social networking, and the politics of the spectacle. Trump reveals the threat of authoritarian populism, a phenomenon that is now global in scope, and the dangers of the rise to power of an individual who is highly destructive, who represents the worst of the 1 percent billionaire business class who masquerades as a “voice of the forgotten man” as he advances a political agenda that largely benefits the rich and the military, and who is a clear and present danger to U. S. democracy and global peace.
The book documents how Trump’s rise to global celebrity and now political power is bound up with his use of media spectacle and how his use of authoritarian populism has created a mass movement beyond his presidency and a danger to the traditions of U. S. democracy as well as economic security and world peace.

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Edited by James Trier

Winner! 2015 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics’ Choice Book Award.
The Situationist International (SI) was a Paris-based artistic and political avant-garde group that formed in 1957, went through three distinct phases during its existence, and dissolved in 1972. In 1967, SI leader Guy Debord published his book The Society of the Spectacle, which presents his theory of how “the Spectacle” (i.e., the Capitalist system in its totality) works endlessly (though not always successfully) to transform people into spectators whose sole purposes are to consume commodities and to live de-politicized, passive, isolated, and contemplative lives. To challenge and subvert “the Spectacle,” Debord and his SI associates theorized and practiced the anti-spectacular critical art they called “detournement,” which entails reusing existing artistic and mass-produced elements to create new combinations or ensembles. As Debord wrote in 1956, detournement has the potential to be “a powerful cultural weapon in the service of real class struggle.”
In this edited book, the authors contribute chapters about how they created their own detournements and used them as central audio-visual texts in critical projects that they designed and carried out in a variety of pedagogical situations. Most of the projects involved preservice teachers in teacher education courses, and the anti-spectacular purposes include challenging Hollywood’s problematic representations of Native Americans, subverting the racist stereotypes of Latin@s in a popular children’s book, and critiquing the neoliberal agenda of the charter school movement. This book offers readers detailed accounts of pedagogical projects that can serve as examples of the critical possibilities of detournement.