P       RNCU   REPO   ODER       E            P O S T M O D E R N
P  TMOD RNCU  U EP S  ODER  ULTU E               C U L T U R E
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER  ULTU E          an electronic journal
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER       E           of interdisciplinary
Volume 14, Number 1 (September, 2003)              ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Lisa Brawley
                                    James F. English

Editors Emeritus:                   Eyal Amiran
                                    Stuart Moulthrop
                                    John Unsworth

Review Editor:                      Paula Geyh

Managing Editor:                    Claire Chantell

Editorial Board:                                           

     Nahum Chandler                 Patrick O'Donnell
     Heesok Chang                   Elaine Orr
     Ashley Dawson                  Bob Perelman
     J. Yellowlees Douglas          Marjorie Perloff
     Johanna Drucker                Fred Pfeil
     Diane Gromala                  Peggy Phelan
     Graham Hammill                 Arkady Plotnitsky
     Terry Harpold                  Judith Roof
     David Herman                   Susan Schultz
     Marcia Ian                     William Spanos
     Michael Joyce                  Katie Stewart
     Matthew Kirschenbaum           Allucquere Roseanne Stone
     Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett  Gary Lee Stonum
     Neil Larsen                    Rei Terada 
     Brian Massumi                  Darren Tofts
     Jerome McGann                  Paul Trembath
     Adrian Miles                   Greg Ulmer
     Jim Morrison
     Larysa Mykyta                                          
    Chris Bongie, Exiles on Main Stream: Valuing the 
    Popularity of Postcolonial Literature
    Christy L. Burns, Postmodern Historiography: Politics 
    and the Parallactic Method in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon
    Steven Helmling, Constellation and Critique: 
    Adorno's Constellation, Benjamin's Dialectical Image

    Peter Yoonsuk Paik, Smart Bombs, Serial Killing, and the Rapture: The Vanishing Bodies of Imperial Apocalypticism ------------------ An Exchange Leonard Wilcox, Baudrillard, September 11, and the Haunting Abyss of Reversal Brad Butterfield, Reply to Leonard Wilcox ------------------ Review Essay Claudia Brodsky Lacour, Gullivers, Lilliputians, and the Root of Two Cultures. A review of Arkady Plotnitsky, The Knowable and the Unknowable: Modern Science, Nonclassical Thought, and the "Two Cultures." ------------------ Reviews Del Doughty, Materiality is the Message. A review of N. Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines. Mediawork Pamphlet. Cambridge: MIT P, 2002. Diane Davis, Responsible Stupidity. A review of Avital Ronell, Stupidity. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2001. Valerie Karno, The Speedy Citizen. A review of Elaine Scarry, Who Defended the Country? Elaine Scarry in a New Democracy Forum on Citizenship, National Security, and 9/11. Eds. Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers. Boston: Beacon, 2003. Theresa Smalec, Theatres of Memory: The Politics and Poetics of Improvised Social Dancing in Queer Clubs. A review of Fiona Buckland, Impossible Dance: Club Culture and Queer World-Making. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2002. ----------------- Notices (WWW Version Only) ----------------- Notes on Contributors ----------------- Abstracts Chris Bongie, Exiles on Main Stream: Valuing the Popularity of Postcolonial Literature o Abstract: This essay explores the problematic (lack of a) relation between postcolonial and cultural studies. It argues that the commitment to mass popular culture characteristic of so much work in cultural studies is one that is largely absent from postcolonial literary studies. If Jamaica Kincaid has nothing but contempt for the media star Roseanne (as related in the introductory pages of the essay), this hostility is not simply a sport of her querulous nature: counterintuitive as it might sound, her dismissive attitude exemplifies the "foundational bias" of postcolonial studies. The essay attempts to tease out this modernist bias against the "inauthentically popular" through several case studies, the first of which involves Tony Delsham, the most popular writer in the French Caribbean and yet one who is completely ignored by academic critics. The reason why this is so has much to do with the surreptitious elitism of postcolonial literary studies. In the second section, the essay introduces the concept of the "postcolonial middlebrow," arguing that the consecration of a novelist like Maryse Conde has gone hand-in-glove with a dogged refusal on the part of her academic readers to engage in any discussion of the middlebrow qualities of her work--qualities that help account for her popular appeal. The essay concludes by asserting a paradoxical double imperative for the postcolonial (literary) critic that entails both a concerted turn to cultural studies and a self-conscious return to literary studies, a thorough assimilation of the former's positive assumptions about the value of the popular and a cautious reassertion of the latter's necessarily doubtful, and doubtfully necessary, claims about the value of the aesthetic.--cb Christy L. Burns, Postmodern Historiography: Politics and the Parallactic Method in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon o Abstract: In Mason & Dixon, Pynchon develops an important new method for postmodern political insight, introducing a parallactic method that allows him a dialectical representation of "America" as it was in the mid-to-late eighteenth century and as it is now, by various implications. In his use of parallax, Pynchon interweaves a critical representation of imperialism's oppressive practices with a history of science and exploration. While other writers have invoked parallax as a perspectival method in order to challenge univocal narrative form, Pynchon works the concept more radically into his fictional treatment of historiography. Avoiding any semblance of an apolitical sketch of the past--or simple didactic critique--he uses the same method that Mason and Dixon employed to chart the transits of Venus and to draw their boundary line, applying parallax to a series of triangulated views, starting with Mason's and Dixon's attempts to assess the New World and eventually delivering a temporal form of parallax, a synchronization of the past with the present. Pynchon's latest novel becomes his most political one, addressing social concerns such as racism, sexism, market culture, and agency. The novel critiques America's past (and by implication its present) while also recasting history, reinterpreting it in a way that might influence future trajectories. Pynchon continues his long-established interrogation of pragmatic America's optimism about agency, while invoking a larger cultural imaginary in search of a new national/cultural image. --clb Christopher Douglas, "You Have Unleashed a Horde of Barbarians!": Fighting Indians, Playing Games, Forming Disciplines o Abstract: We are about four or five years into the formation of a new discipline, that of digital game studies. At this early stage, digital game studies is necessarily and self-consciously concerned with its own formation, and recent commentators have differed over whether digital games should become part of an already existing discipline like cinema, literary, new media, or cultural studies or whether it needs to resist such "colonizing" attempts and develop into a discipline of its own, with a coherent object of study and institutional support. This essay agrees with the warnings against the kind of methodological blindnesses likely to result from such colonizations--that games will be understood as just a more interactive kind of film or narrative--but argues nonetheless that each of these disciplines (and others) is likely to have valuable conceptual tools that we need to carefully adapt for game studies. Moreover, it's sometimes precisely the historical baggage of the old disciplines that provides insight into the structure of game use. This essay argues that the ideological content of one series of influential games, _Sid Meier's Civilization_ series, comes to light when the historical, disciplinary blindness to forms of American imperialism in American literary studies are considered. The _Civilization_ games transform and display the symbolic Native presence in the land whose accidental, terrestrial effects in the games must be destroyed in order for the player to win the game; however, and moving beyond the kind of ideological representations found in film or narrative, in these games the users must perform their logic, a logic which is coded into the very rules of the game. Games like _Civilization_ thus rehearse a series of lessons about national destiny, race and colonization, and the moral fitness of civilizations and individuals. --cd Janet Holtman, Documentary Prison Films and the Production of Disciplinary Institutional "Truth" o Abstract: Drawing primarily upon Michel Foucault's theories regarding knowledge and power, this essay examines the discursive mode of the documentary prison film. Beginning with Foucault's brief discussion of the role of newspapers and crime novels in nineteenth- century France, the essay contemplates the similar ways in which humanist discourses might be imbricated within today's popular and documentary films and the particular ways in which social force is disseminated by documentary prison films. Steven Shaviro's conceptualization of the "double articulation" of the bodily and the textual within filmic discourse is a pivotal concept. The essay concludes with an examination of Frederick Wiseman's provocative prison documentary _Titicut Follies_, the only American film ever to be banned for reasons other than national security or obscenity (though the judge's original decision contained an argument relating to the latter, which the essay attempts to take into account). Foucault's discussion of the asignificatory "monument" in _The Archaeology of Knowledge plays an important role in the essay's conclusions about Wiseman's film and other documentaries. --jh
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