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October Books

Founded in 1989, OCTOBER Books provides a forum for critical engagement with crucial moments in the development of the historical and contemporary avant-gardes. Building on the important role the journal played in introducing poststructural theory to the American art world, OCTOBER offers a platform for the innovative work of scholars today.


This expanded edition of the fall 1994 special issue of October includes new essays by Sarat Maharaj and by Molly Nesbit and Naomi Sawelson-Gorse. It also includes the transcript of an exchange between T. J. Clark and Benjamin Buchloh which presents new responses to the problems raised by this immediately popular (and now out of print) issue of the journal.

Art and Theory at the End of the Century

In The Return of the Real Hal Foster discusses the development of art and theory since 1960, and reorders the relation between prewar and postwar avant-gardes. Opposed to the assumption that contemporary art is somehow belated, he argues that the avant-garde returns to us from the future, repositioned by innovative practice in the present. And he poses this retroactive model of art and theory against the reactionary undoing of progressive culture that is pervasive today.

Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture

Surrealism has long been seen as its founder, André Breton,wanted it to be seen: as a movement of love and liberation. In Compulsive Beauty, Foster reads surrealism from its other, darker side: as an art given over to the uncanny, to the compulsion to repeat and the drive toward death.

The Optical Unconscious is a pointed protest against the official story of modernism and against the critical tradition that attempted to define modern art according to certain sacred commandments and self-fulfilling truths. Rosalind Krauss tells the story of the optical unconscious, an unruly, disruptive force that persistently haunted the field of modernism from the 1920s to the 1950s and continues to disrupt it today.

The Writings of Nagisa Oshima, 1956-1978

The First time I made a film in color... I imposed a small taboo on myself internally. It was to never shoot the color green. Nagisa Oshima is generally regarded as the most important Japanese film director after Kurosawa and is one of Japan's most productive and celebrated postwar artists. His early films represent the Japanese New Wave at its zenith, and the films he has made since (including In the Realm of the Senses and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) have won international acclaim.

André Leroi-Gourhan (1911-1986) was an anthropologist and paleontologist whose theoretical endeavors extended well beyond those realms to encompass the culture of the twentieth century and its most advanced developments. His bold and coherent revision of both analytic and archaeological methods revolutionized the study of prehistoric culture.

Informed by both structuralism and poststructuralism, these essays by art critic and historian Yve Alain Bois seek to redefine the status of theory in modernist critical discourse. Warning against the uncritical adoption of theoretical fashions and equally against the a priori rejection of all theory, Bois argues that theory is best employed in response to the specific demands of a critical problem. The essays lucidly demonstrate the uses of various theoretical approaches in conjunction with close reading of both paintings and texts.

An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture

Slavoj Zizek, a leading intellectual in the new social movements that are sweeping Eastern Europe, provides a virtuoso reading of Jacques Lacan. Zizek inverts current pedagogical strategies to explain the difficult philosophical underpinnings of the French theoretician and practician who revolutionized our view of psychoanalysis.

m/f

The Woman in Question collects some of the most memorable and important essays and editorials from m/f, the British journal that staked out new directions for feminist theory and politics from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. New introductory essays and a postscript written for this collection directly assess the relation of m/f to feminism's current concerns.

On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century

Jonathan Crary's Techniques of the Observer provides a dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of both visual modernism and social modernity. This analysis of the historical formation of the observer is a compelling account of the prehistory of the society of the spectacle."Jonathan Crary is Assistant Professor of Art History at Columbia University. He is a founding editor of Zone and Zone Books.

Essays toward the Release of Shakespeare's Will

Joel Fineman was considered one of the most brilliant literary critics of his generation, gifted in doing what the Russian formalists called "making strange." His essays are among the strongest demonstrations of how structures—whether linguistic, visual, or architectural—generate large and elaborate systems of meaning. Using examples drawn from literature—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde—Fineman creates parables of how language has come to constitute the modern subject (ourselves) as a set of its "effects."

Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism
Edited by Douglas Crimp

The literature on AIDS has attempted to teach us the "facts" about this new disease or to provide a narrative account of scientific discovery and developing public health policy. But AIDS has precipitated a crisis that is not primarily medical, or even social and political; AIDS has precipitated a crisis of signification the "meaning" of AIDS is hotly contested in all of the discourses that conceptualize it and seek to respond to it.

The Writings of Georges Bataille

Over the past 30 years the writings of Georges Bataille have had a profound influence on French intellectual thought, informing the work of Foucault, Derrida, and Barthes, among others. Against Architecture offers the first serious interpretation of this challenging thinker, spelling out the profoundly original and radical nature of Bataille's work.

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