Skip to content Skip to footer

New to nonsite

The Whole Country is the Reichstag
A crucial characteristic of the current situation is that the antagonism between the pragmatic and the visionary that liberals have often used as a cudgel against left aspirations and programs—the ubiquitous “now is not the time” or “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”—is passé. The way forward, both to avert the most dangerous possibilities and to begin working seriously to change the terms of political debate, is to push for and propagate a public good framework for government.
Why Black Lives Matter Can’t be Co-opted
We absolutely do not need to figure out how to make anti-racism anti-capitalist. We need to figure out how to start trying to build a mass movement around appealing to the material needs of the broad working-class.
Against Theory, now with bots! On the Persistent Fallacy of Intentionless Speech
Arguing for the First Amendment rights of computer content, recent legal scholars Ronald Collins and David Skover have adapted Reader Response literary criticism from the 1970s, as well as related debates about literary meaning from the 1980s, to develop the idea of “intentionless free speech.” This essay examines and challenges these ideas. To think that intention can be meaningfully severed from free speech is to fundamentally misunderstand both speech and language. Siraganian situates and contextualizes this legal scholarly development in relation to both literary theory (Steven Knapp, Walter Benn Michaels, Stanley Fish, Toril Moi) and legal theory (Leslie Kendrick).
Plea Bargaining in the Shadow of Narrative
Plea bargaining is a vital element of the criminal justice system, and it deserves more attention from scholars interested in law and culture. Legal scholars have proposed reforms to curb the more extreme abuses of the plea-bargaining system in the U.S. To these recommendations, I add the suggestion that we think of plea bargaining as occurring “in the shadow of narrative.” By looking beyond the trial, the paradigmatic narrative form that has engaged scholars of law and literature, we might appreciate the significance of legal processes that conform less easily to conventional narrative representation, while also revising our understanding of what legal narrative includes.
Checking Your Privilege? Perspectives on the Politics of White Identity
Undoubtedly, economic inequality is an enormous problem in a democratic society where citizens claim to value egalitarian norms. But this puzzling juxtaposition misses some fundamental points. The first is that racial identity is not merely a “celebration of difference,” nor is it a distraction from efforts to achieve economic inequality. Suggesting that attending to identity politics is what keeps us from fighting growing inequality is just barking up the wrong tree.
Daguerre, Christian Prometheus
Who was Daguerre? The person who precipitated the fall of man into foul narcissism? Or the person who, by giving men mastery of divine light, offered them a path toward ultimate redemption? For his part, Daguerre seemed to be quite conscious of renewing Prometheus’s ancient feat, drawing upon it with evident pride.
William Morris: The Poetics of Indigo Discharge Printing
Morris was thinking of the chemical events in indigo discharge printing as analogous to the actions of human history. […] The material processes of getting the dye into the fabric are correlated by him to the politics of the world’s struggles and the prospects for a future society.
Chardin’s Pastels
In this essay I want to recover not only the academic controversy surrounding the balance between real and ideal, the beau idéal and the beau réel, but also the significance of an empiricist recasting of the role of perception in cognition and its justifiability as the necessary grounds for invention.
Bret Harte’s Birtherism: Dialect Literature and the Fiction of Native-Born Citizenship
Most constitutional scholars dismiss birther conspiracies by pointing to the birthright citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yet birthright citizenship in the United States was founded on a case of exception (“excluding Indians not taxed”), leaving the relationship between American soil and American citizenship ambiguous. It was American literature, not American law, that defined who gets to count as “born American” in this country, because only in the literary realm could the language of the soil manage to spell inclusion and exclusion at the same time. Specifically, Bret Harte’s 1868 Western frontier tale “The Luck of Roaring Camp” (called “new and fresh and spirited” by none other than Mark Twain) teaches readers just why it is that Native Americans could never count as native-born Americans, and why, as a result, the question of who gets to count as “born American” has not been laid to rest, and likely won’t be anytime soon.
Some Comments on the Claims Made For and Against Painting
Experiences of world-disclosure are accomplished by achievements in certain long-tested forms of art—what we can call the canonical forms. These forms, like easel painting or lyric poetry, have proven over long periods of time to be the appropriate sites for this activity; but, more than that, they were practices through which the value of world-disclosure had been invented and developed through history. It was on this basis that they constituted a canon not just of exemplary works in each art, but a canon of the forms of art themselves. As such, they embodied criteria that could be effective in deciding if an activity was or was not “art.” Although the existence of the canon gave no conceptual guarantee or definition of art, it was accepted as one, de facto, based on its own history, or histories.
Marxism and Criticism
What all this comes down to, then, is that Berger accepts a priori a militant and often staggeringly vulgarized brand of Marxism from which all his judgments about art derive, in language anyway. … My fundamental objection is not that Berger begins from a position of accepting Marxist theory. In the world we live in more and more critics of art may be expected to start from similar political premises. But what is imperative is that the critic define his terms; that he show with sensitivity and logical rigor the usefulness and, if possible, the necessity of employing Marxist concepts and terminology. Unless he can do this his judgments will reveal nothing more than the strength of his bias and the slovenliness of his mind: they can say nothing about the works of art in question.
Ruskin’s Broken Middle
Whenever Ruskin’s language steers toward the performative, it stages its own inability to perform. Instead emerges the quieter power of Ruskin’s constative mode—its gentle, unpossessive efficacy. Out of this come new possibilities for descriptive relation. Neither quite active or passive, the attention Ruskin’s descriptions perform might achieve a voice in some radical sense “middle,” inhabiting, however provisionally, some self-reflexive space between.
Poverty and Politics: Bolsonaro, Neoliberalism’s Authoritarian Alternative, and the Ongoing Assault on Democracy in Brazil
As the struggle against the authoritarian neoliberal regime continues to unfold, the actions of the organized labor-left in general, and the PT in particular, will be pivotal for constructing an opposition capable of defeating right-wing neoliberal authoritarianism. The heightened quality of the political conflict ahead will also challenge the way in which left and progressive forces perceive and develop political action, demanding a left capable of organizing and mobilizing resistance in multiple (institutional and non-institutional) spheres of politics simultaneously.