Critical Theory

Open-Access Journal Critical Times Now Available

We are pleased to announce that Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, is now available to read online. The journal is edited by Samera Esmeir and published by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, housed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Critical Times aims to foreground encounters between canonical critical theory and various traditions of critique emerging from other historical legacies, seeking to present the multiple forms that critical thought takes today. The journal publishes essays from different regions of the world in order to foster new paths of intellectual exchange and reformulate the field by accounting for its regional and linguistic inflections.

The newest issue of Critical Times opens with a special section of memorial essays and testimonies on the life, work, and legacy of Saba Mahmood. The issue also features a group of scholarly essays that reflect on the critical situations of universities in South Africa, Chile, India, and Mexico.

Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

Interested in publishing an article? Critical Times seeks to publish texts that shed light on contemporary practices of authoritarian and neo-fascist politics, nativist and atavistic cultural formations, and forms of economic exclusion, as well as spaces and forms of life where emancipatory social worlds might be imagined, articulated, and pursued. The journal publishes essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection, transnational exchange, and political reflection and practice. For more information on how to submit an article, visit the submission guidelines page.

New Books in September

Summer’s almost over, which means it’s time to start to replenishing your reading list! Celebrate the start of a new academic year with us by checking out this diverse array of books arriving in September.

Acknowledging the impending worldwide catastrophe of rising seas in the twenty-first century, Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey outline the impacts on the United States’ shoreline and argue that the only feasible response along much of the U.S. shoreline is an immediate and managed retreat in Sea Level Rise.

Brenda R. Weber’s Latter-day Screens examines the ways in which the mediation of Mormonism through film, TV, blogs, YouTube videos, and memoirs functions as a means through which to understand conversations surrounding gender, sexuality, spirituality, capitalism, justice, and individualism in the United States.

Self-Devouring Growth by Julie Livingston shows how the global pursuit of economic and resource-driven growth comes at the expense of catastrophic destruction, thereby upending popular notions that economic growth and development is necessary for improving a community’s wellbeing.

In Under Construction, Daniel Mains explores the intersection of infrastructural development and governance in contemporary Ethiopia by examining the conflicts surrounding the construction of specific infrastructural technologies and how that construction impacts the daily lives of Ethiopians.

Elizabeth Freeman’s Beside You in Time expands bipolitical and queer theory by outlining a temporal view of the long nineteenth century and showing how time became a social and sensory means by which people resisted disciplinary regimes and assembled into groups in ways that created new forms of sociality.

Terry Smith—who is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading historians and theorists of contemporary art—traces the emergence of contemporary art and further develops his concept of contemporaneity in Art to Come through analyses of topics ranging from Chinese and Australian Indigenous art to architecture.

Henry Cow by Benjamin Piekut tells the story of the English experimental rock band Henry Cow and how it linked its improvisational musical aesthetic with a collectivist, progressive politics.

Davina Cooper’s Feeling Like a State explores the unexpected contribution a legal drama of withdrawal—as exemplified by some conservative Christians who deny people inclusion, goods, and services to LGBTQ individuals—might make to conceptualizing a more socially just, participative state.

In Making The Black Jacobins, Rachel Douglas traces the genesis, transformation, and afterlives of the different versions of C. L. R. James’s landmark The Black Jacobins across the decades from the 1930s onwards, showing how James revised it in light of his evolving politics.

William E. Connolly links climate change, fascism, and the nature of truth to demonstrate the profound implications of the deep imbrication between planetary nonhuman processes and cultural developments in Climate Machines, Fascist Drives, and Truth.

Cara New Daggett’s The Birth of Energy traces the genealogy of the idea of energy from the Industrial Revolution to the present, showing how it has informed fossil fuel imperialism, the governance of work, and our relationship to the Earth.

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Disorienting Disability

Disorienting Disability,” the latest issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, edited by Michele Friedner and Karen Weingarten, is available now.

This special issue examines the stakes of orienting toward or away from disability as a category and as a method. Building on Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of “orientation” as the situating of queer and raced bodies, the contributors ask how the category of disability might also change how we think of bodies orienting in space and time. Are all paths, desire lines, objects, and interpellations equally accessible? How do we conceptualize access in different spaces? What kind of theoretical and empirical turns might emerge in disorienting disability?

Drawing on feminist studies, critical race studies, and queer studies, the contributors probe the meanings of the term disability and consider disability in relation to other categories of difference such as race, gender, and class. Essays challenge the historicity of disability; push disability studies to consider questions of loss, pain, and trauma; question the notion of disability as another form of diversity; and expand arguments about the ethics of care to consider communities not conventionally defined as disabled.

The issue’s Against the Day section, “Contentious Crossings: Struggles and Alliances for Freedom of Movement across the Mediterranean Sea,” brings together researchers and activists to reflect on struggles against the European border regime. All articles in this section are freely available for six months.

Browse the issue’s contents here, or read the introduction, freely available.

You might also find these recent books in disability studies of interest:

In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together the insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice, bringing clarity and hope to tangled, emotionally charged social issues in beautiful and accessible language.

In Black Madness :: Mad Blackness Therí Alyce Pickens examines the speculative and science fiction of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due to rethink the relationship between race and disability, thereby unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive.

Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging are commonly understood to undermine one’s sense of self in Sexuality, Disability, and Aging. She challenges narratives that register the decline of bodily potential and ability as nothing but an experience of loss.

Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, in Bodyminds Reimagined, Sami Schalk traces how black women’s speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability, showing how the genre’s exploration of bodyminds that exist outside of the present open up new social and ethical possibilities.

New Books in August

Our Fall 2019 season is off to a phenomenal start with a diverse range of titles in Theory and Philosophy, African American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, and more. Take a look at all of these great new books coming in August!

Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory by Patricia Hill Collins

Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory by Patricia Hill Collins offers a set of analytical tools for those wishing to develop intersectionality’s capability to theorize social inequality in ways that would facilitate social change.

In Animate Literacies, Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy operates at the interface of humans, nonhuman animals, and objects and has been used as a means to define the human in ways that marginalize others.

Fictions of Land and Flesh by Mark Rifkin

Mark Rifkin’s Fictions of Land and Flesh turns to black and indigenous speculative fiction to show how it offers a site to better understand black and indigenous political movements’ differing orientations in ways that can foster forms of mutual engagement and cooperation without subsuming them into a single political framework in the name of solidarity.

In The Black Shoals Tiffany Lethabo King uses the shoal—an offshore geologic formation that is neither land nor sea—as metaphor, mode of critique, and methodology to theorize the encounter between Black studies and Native studies and its potential to create new epistemologies, forms of practice, and lines of critical inquiry.

Savage Ecology by Jairus Victor Grove

Jairus Victor Grove’s Savage Ecology offers an ecological theorization of geopolitics in which he contends that contemporary global crises are better understood when considered within the larger history of geopolitical practice, showing how political violence is the principal force behind climate change, mass extinction, slavery, genocide, extractive capitalism, and other catastrophes. Watch the trailer for the book here.

In How to Make Art at the End of the World Natalie Loveless examines the institutionalization of artistic research-creation—a scholarly activity that considers art practices as research methods in their own right—and its significance to North American higher education.

Wages Against Artwork Leigh Claire La Berge’s Wages Against Artwork shows how socially engaged art responds to and critiques what she calls decommodified labor—the slow diminishment of wages alongside an increase of demands of work—as a way to work toward social justice and economic equality.

In Sounds of Vacation, edited by Jocelyne Guilbault and Timothy Rommen, the contributors examine the commodification of music and sound at popular vacation destinations throughout the Caribbean in order to tease out the relationships between political economy, hospitality, and the legacies of slavery and colonialism. 

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

Sample The Hundreds by Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart

The HundredsThe Hundreds—composed of pieces one hundred or multiples of one hundred words long—is theorist Lauren Berlant and ethnographer Kathleen Stewart’s collaborative experimental writing project in which they strive toward sensing and capturing the resonances that operate at the ordinary level of everyday experience. We invite you to sample the book by reading four pieces from it.

First Things

Every day a friend across the ocean wakes up to suicidal thoughts. Another friend takes a drink to eat clean and another eats a candy bar in bed before washing the sheets, doing laundry naked to ensure soft sleeps.
Another friend chants before going out to her analogy lab. Another hires
retired people to walk her dogs so that she can get to her trainer. Others,
desperate, rush harsh. Many people’s kids climb in. Many pets assert the
dominion of their drives. There’s stretching and the taking of medicine.
There’s accounting and anxious text checking. There’s scanning for bossy
emails and preconceptions. Lists get made. For some, there is breakfast.
Once spring rolls around there is running before the heat and catching
the first shift sitting outside the punk bakery to smoke, drink coffee, and
“break each other’s balls” before work does what work does. I asked them
about this phrase once and sparked a debate about whether it is properly
“break” or “bust.” Whatever, Professor, they laughed, yanking your chain,
busting your balls, don’t take it so serious!

Some people sleep in. Other people wake at the sun. Some people walk
into the house and see only the order in it. Some people serve other
people. Some use the quiet time to do the best things quiet time allows.
Some people waste it, which is not the opposite of using it well. When
I was little I had a task: to make coffee for the adults, measuring out the
Maxwell House, setting the breakfast table. Then I’d leave for school and
my early teachers would let me into the teachers’ lounge. A little troll
doll kid overhearing Allende, Planned Parenthood, and MLK. A confused
and sunny face taking in the voices and the concept of concepts, before
the day.

(Davis 2010; Eigen 2004; Hejinian [1980] 2002; Jacobus 1995; Perec [1974] 2008)

Swells

We write to what’s becoming palpable in sidelong looks or a consistency
of rhythm or tone. Not to drag things back to the land of the little judges
but to push the slow-mo button, to wait for what’s starting up, to listen up
for what’s wearing out. We’re tripwired by a tendency dilating. We make
a pass at a swell in realism, and look for the hook. We back up at the hint
of something. We butt in. We try to describe the smell; we trim the fat to
pinpoint what seems to be the matter here.

Words sediment next to something laid low, or they detour on a crazed
thought-cell taking off. I saw a woman standing on a sidewalk, chainsmoking
while she talked to a buff younger man. She was trying to get
him to give someone else a break because he means well or he didn’t
mean it. Maybe her son. “He don’t know no better.” She was hanging in
there, but the whole top half of her black hair was a helmet of white roots.
She was using her fast-thinking superpowers to run a gauntlet of phrases
and get out quick even though we all knew she was just buying time.
A thought hits at an angle. Subjects are surprised by their own acts. But
everyone knows a composition when they see one. A scene can become
a thing after only a few repetitions. At the Walmart in New Hampshire,
scruffy middle-aged men hang back at the register, letting their elderly
mothers pay. The men have a hint of sour and the abject; their mothers
are a worn autopilot. Women talk in the aisles about the local hospital; it’s
incapable; it misreads people, handing out exactly the wrong, killer drug.

(Ericson 2011; Sedgwick 1997; Seigworth and Tiessen 2012; Serres 1997;
Stevens [1957] 1990)

Dilations

The Hundreds is an experiment in keeping up with what’s going on.
Ordinaries appear through encounters with the world, but encounters
are not events of knowing, units of anything, revelations of realness, or
facts. Sometimes they stage a high-intensity tableau of the way things
are or could become; sometimes strangeness raises some dust. This work
induces form without relieving the pressure of form. It pushes and follows
histories out. It takes in signs and scaffolds. If our way is to notice
relations and varieties of impact, we’re neither stuffing our pockets with
ontology nor denying it: attention and riffing sustain our heuristics.
What draws affect into form is a matter of concern. Form, though, is not
the same thing as shape: and a concept extends via the tack words take.
Amplified description gets at some quality that sticks like a primary object,
a bomb or a floater. The image that comes to mind when you read
that (if images come to mind when you read) might not be what we’re
imagining — and we’re likely not imagining the same thing either. Collaboration
is a meeting of minds that don’t match. Circulation disturbs
and creates what’s continuous, anchoring you enough in the scene to pull
in other things as you go.

“Punctum” ought to mean whatever grabs you into an elsewhere of form.
There ought also to be a word like “animum,” meaning what makes an
impact so live that its very action shifts around the qualities of things
that have and haven’t yet been encountered. You can never know what
is forgotten or remembered. Even dormancy is a kind of action in relation.
Think about watching a dead thing, a thing sleeping, or these words.
Think about skimming as a hunger and defense against hunger. Think
about the physiological pressure of itching.

(Barthes [1980] 1981; Deleuze [1988] 1993; Freud [1925] 1961; Goffman 1981;
Massumi 2010; Moten 2013; Nersessian and Kramnick 2017; Posmentier 2017;
Shaviro 2016)

This is vanilla

These prose poems come from a long poetic and noetic collaboration.
The project pays attention to the relation of scenes to form, observation
to implication, encounters to events, and figuration to what sticks in the
mind. To convert an impact into a scene, to prehend objects as movement
and matter, retains a scene’s status as life in suspension, the way an extract
in cooking conveys the active element in a concentrated substance
that comes in a small brown bottle. (This is vanilla. This is almond.) The
elaboration of heuristic form on the move points to pattern, patina, atmosphere:
the object world of vestiges that scatters bumpily across the
plane of what is also a vibrant tableau. But we get it: your eyes want a
place to land on. You want to know what happened when the glances
passed or where the train of a dark sentence will go. At different speeds
we move around the effects, causes, and situational membranes. As we
proceed we sift figurative types and object relations, seeking out the gists
of things. Our styles move in proximity to currents. We get distracted
sometimes. This is a practice of tightening and loosening the object-scene
in hundred-word swatches.

(B. Anderson 2009; Diaconu 2006; Fonagy and Target 2007; Ingold 2015;
Manning 2009; Massumi 2010; Quick 1998)

Lauren Berlant is George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is author of Cruel Optimism and The Female Complaint, both also published by Duke University Press. Kathleen Stewart is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of Ordinary Affects, also published by Duke University Press.

Order The Hundreds for 30% off on our website using coupon code E19100S.

The Most Read Articles of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

TSQ_5_1_coverToward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru” by Manuel Medrano and Gary Urton

Predatory Value Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities” by Jodi A. Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy

Black Aesthetics, Black Value” by Lewis R. Gordon

Rural Voids” by Miriam Driessen

Desiring Blackness: A Queer Orientation to Marvel’s Black Panther, 1998–2016” by André Carrington

Conversational Exculpature” by Daniel Hoek

SMX_22_1(55)_coverThe Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner” by Saidiya Hartman

Collective Memory and the Transfeminist 1970s: Toward a Less Plausible History” by Finn Enke

Realism and the Absence of Value” Shamik Dasgupta

Partus sequitur ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery” by Jennifer L. Morgan

Call for Proposals: South Atlantic Quarterly

saq_117_4_cover1The South Atlantic Quarterly is accepting proposals for thematic special issues through January 31, 2019. Themes should be in line with those of journal issues published in recent years, including critical race studies, feminist and queer theory, analyses of contemporary capital and labor, social and liberation movements, critical theory, and environmental humanities. Funds are available to translate original essays not written in English.

Special issue editors are responsible for soliciting essays, working with authors, editing texts, and assuring that deadlines and word counts are met.

saq_117_3_coverProposals should include a description of the concept or theme that organizes the issue (roughly 200 words) plus names of potential authors with very brief bios. Please indicate whether authors have already been contacted. Please propose, too, a date by which the complete, edited collection can feasibly be submitted.

Issues are composed of 70,000 words total. This is often configured as eight 8,000 word essays plus an introduction, but editors are free to configure the number and length of essays differently.

Please send proposals to saq@dukeupress.edu.

New Books in December

Check out our December new releases!

978-1-4780-0292-5.jpgColin Milburn’s Respawn examines the relationships between video games, hackers, and science fiction, showing how games provide models of social and political engagement, critique, and resistance while offering a vital space for players and hacktivists to challenge centralized power and experiment with alternative futures.

Jack Halberstam’s classic Female Masculinity has been called “a landmark study” (Feminist Theory) and a “pioneering document” (Gay and Lesbian Times) and has become one of our bestselling texts of all time. We are pleased to offer a new twentieth anniversary edition of the book, which features a new preface by the author.

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In Can Politics Be Thought?—published in French in 1985 and appearing here in English for the first time—Alain Badiou offers his most forceful and systematic analysis of the crisis of Marxism in which he argues for the continuation of Marxist politics.

Containing over one hundred selections—many of which appear in English for the first time—this extensively revised and expanded second edition of the bestselling The Brazil Reader, edited by James Green, Victoria Langland, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, presents the lived experience of Brazilians from all social and economic classes, racial backgrounds, genders, and political perspectives over the past half-millennia.

Jessica A. Krug’s Fugitive Modernities traces the history and meaning of Kisama—a seventeenth-century fugitive slave community located in present-day Angola—by showing how it operated as a inspirational global symbol of resistance for fugitives on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Megan H. Glick’s Infrahumanisms considers how twentieth-century conversations surrounding nonhuman life have impacted a broad range of attitudes toward forms of human difference such as race, sexuality, and health, showing how efforts to define a universal humanity create the means with which to reinforce various forms of social inequality.

Damon R. Young’s Making Sex Public tracks the emergence of new forms of sexuality in French and American cinema from the 1950s to the present, showing how cinema transformed narratives of sexuality and how women and queers were both agents and objects of that transformation.

Prompting a reevaluation of canonical understandings of twentieth century art history, Mapping Modernisms, edited by Elizabeth Harney and Ruth Phillips, provides an analysis of how indigenous artists and art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas became recognized as modern.

The contributors to Passages and Afterworlds, edited by Maarit Forde and Yanique Hume, explore death and mortuary rituals across the Caribbean, showing how racial, cultural and class differences have been deployed in ritual practice and how such rituals have been governed in the colonial and postcolonial Caribbean.

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The contributors to Sound Objects, an ambitious and wide-ranging collection edited by James Steintrager and Rey Chow, explore sound as an object, sound studies as a discipline, and the limits of sonic objectivity.

In Worldmaking, Dorinne Kondo draws on critical ethnographic work and over twenty years of experience as a dramaturge and playwright to theorize how racialized labor, aesthetics, affect, genre, and social inequity operate in contemporary theater.

In a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Dean Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire tracks the disparate stories different groups tell about Hawaiian statehood by returning to historical flashpoints ranging from the turn of the century until shortly after 1959.

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Three New Journal Partnerships for 2019

In 2019, Duke University Press will begin publishing three journals: Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, and the Illinois Journal of Mathematics. Read on to learn more about these new journal partnerships.

CaptureCritical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory is an open-access, online journal established by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with the aim of foregrounding the global reach and form of contemporary critical theory. Its content is currently hosted here and will soon move to our website. Critical Times reflects on and facilitates forms of transnational solidarity that draw upon critical theory and political practice. It seeks to redress missed opportunities for critical dialogue between the global South and global North and to generate contacts across the current divisions of knowledge and languages in the South and across the peripheries. The journal publishes essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection that engage with social and political theory, literature, philosophy, art criticism, and other fields. It also publishes texts that shed light on contemporary practices of authoritarian and neo-fascist politics, nativist and atavistic cultural formations, economic exclusion, and forms of life where different, emancipatory social worlds might be imagined and articulated. The journal’s editors are Anuj Bhuwania, Judith Butler, Robin Celikates (Commissioning Editor), Rodrigo De La Fabián, Samera Esmeir (Commissioning Editor), Nadia Yala Kisukidi, Ramsey McGlazer, Juan Obarrio (Commissioning Editor), and Katharine Wallerstein.

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Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in China and beyond. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China. Prism actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and it encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. The journal strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories that illuminate both the unique features of each interlocutor and their shared insights into issues of universal interest. Prism is edited by Zong-qi Cai and Yunte Huang and is a new incarnation of Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC), founded in 1987 by the Centre for Humanities Research of Lingnan University.

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Founded in 1957, the Illinois Journal of Mathematics (IJM) featured in its inaugural volume the papers of many of the world’s leading mathematicians. Since then, IJM has published many influential papers, including the proof of the Four Color Conjecture, and continues to publish original research articles in all areas of mathematics. The quarterly journal is edited by Steven Bradlow and sponsored by the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The editorial board comprises a mix of preeminent mathematicians from within its host department and across the mathematical research establishment. Learn more about this publishing partnership.

Check dukeupress.edu/journals for these journals, coming soon.