From every quarter we hear of a new global culture, postcolonial, hybrid, announcing the death of nationalism, the arrival of cosmopolitanism. But under the drumbeat attending this trend, Timothy Brennan detects another, altogether different sound. Polemical, passionate, certain to provoke, his book exposes the drama being played out under the guise of globalism. A bracing critique of the critical self-indulgence that calls itself cosmopolitanism, it also takes note of the many countervailing forces acting against globalism in its facile, homogenizing sense.
The developments Brennan traces occur in many placeseditorial pages, policy journals, corporate training manuals, and, primarily, in the arts. His subject takes him from George Orwell to Julia Kristeva, from Subcommandante Marcos to Julio Cortázar, from Ernst Bloch to contemporary apologists for transnational capitalism and "liberation management," from "third world" writing to the Nobel Prize, with little of critical theory or cultural studies left untouched in between. Brennan gives extended treatment to two exemplary figures: the Trinidadian writer C. L. R. James, whose work suggests an alternative approach to cultural studies; and the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, whose appreciation of Cuban popular music cuts through the usual distinctions between mass and elite culture.
A critical call to arms, At Home in the World summons intellectuals and scholars to reinvigorate critical cultural studies. In stripping the false and heedless from the new cosmopolitanism, Brennan revitalizes the idea.
About the Author
Timothy Brennan is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Table of Contents
Claims to Global Culture: America Abroad
Du Bois's Color and Democracy and the "Red" Color Line
The Public face of the "Third-World" Writer
States of Theory and the Absence of States
The Contradictions of Binary Thinking: Cosmopolitanism and Method
Nizan Fights the Watchdogs: The Obvious Must Be Explained
Cultural Studies and Colonial Progress
Anna Deveare Smith, or Authenticity without Apologoes
The Culture of the Transnational Corporation
If the Nation Is Dead, Why Doesn't Henry Kissinger Know It?
George Orwell as Julia Kristeva: The 1950s in the 1990s
Mangerial Training Manuals: What Is National in the Transnational
Gatt Poetics and the Traveling Critic: Cosmopolitanism and the Explorer's Eye
The Sublimation of Poverty: New York's Lower East Side
"Marcos" and Cortazar: Two Alternatives to Contemporary Travel Narrative
The Literary in the Light of the Nobel Prize: Morrison and Walcott
A Few Thoughts on What the Postcolonial Leaves Out
Cosmopolitanism's American Base: C. L. R. James in New York, 1950
Socialist Desire: Ernst Bloch in America
Cosmopolitanism, America, and the Cold War
The Struggle for Happiness-Winning in Desperate Times by Loving What Is
Exceptional Americanism and the U.S. Mass Culture Debate
The World Cuban: Alejo Carpentier and Cuban Popular Music
From Paris to Havana
Ethnographic Surrealism: The Red and the Black
Salsa and the Cuban Image
Reading Mass Culture through Youth
The Indigenous and the In-Between
What People are Saying About This
Timothy Brennan's At Home in the World announces a new, and extremely suggestive style of cultural and literary criticism. A superbly literate and catholic reader, Brennan is also politically and historically attuned to the enormous changes in global culture that have left behind traditional labels or categories like nationalism, literary style, and culture itself; he reveals how the transformation of the global economy, the dependency of new nations, the hybridity of national culture has given rise to a new form of cosmopolitanism that necessitates plastic, dynamic interpretations of such things as the publishing industry, local traditions and markets as they interact with media conglomerates, critical theory, and the literary career. What emerges is a highly original, totally fresh approach to how we must now study culture on a world scale, without losing touch either with the concrete circumstances of literature, or with the complex theoretical awareness that Brennan himself so brilliantly exemplifies. At Home in the World strikes me as an absolutely essential book in its wonderful range, its jargon-free investigations, and its liberated, yet disciplined, idiom of analysis. A major achievement.