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Felski immerses herself in the messy ambiguities, symbioses, and contradictions of the modern to a degree that is rare and bravely ambitious. The book addresses an abundance of topics—fin de siècle sociological and psychoanalytic theory, consumer behavior, the aesthetics of decadence and sexual perversion, the rhetoric of first-wave feminism. While never ungenerous, Felski dismantles some recent favored assumptions. Reading her book, one feels that we are profligate with the words 'subversive,' 'transgressive,' and 'resisting' as terms of approbation. Felski recognizes that assessing the degree and kind of resistance requires deep knowledge of the context in which it occurs.
— Gail McDonald