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Cultural Studies

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A Cultural History of Arousal

In Praise of the Whip: A Cultural History of Arousal is a new history of voluntary flagellation in Europe, from its invention in medieval religious devotion to its use in the modern pornographic imagination. Working with a wide range of religious, literary, and medical texts and images, Niklaus Largier explores the emotional and sensual, religious and erotic excitement of the whip, a crucial instrument of stimulation in devotional and sexual practices.

Television against Democracy

American television embodies a paradox: it is a privately owned and operated public communications network that most citizens are unable to participate in except as passive specators. Television creates an image of community while preventing the formation of actual social ties because behind its simulated exchange of opinions lies a highly centralized corporate structure that is profoundly antidemocratic.

A Critical Discourse

In Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage, experts offer a critical and theoretical appraisal of the uses of digital media by cultural heritage institutions. Previous discussions of cultural heritage and digital technology have left the subject largely unmapped in terms of critical theory; the essays in this volume offer this long-missing perspective on the challenges of using digital media in the research, preservation, management, interpretation, and representation of cultural heritage.

Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945–1968

In postwar France, the aesthetics of appropriation and collage gave cultural form to a struggle over meaning. A new wave of avant-garde experimentation used—or stole, plagiarized, and expropriated—elements from advertising, journalism, literature, art, and other sources of common discourse (the ironically named "beautiful language" of this book's title, itself an appropriation from Guy Debord's collaged Mémoires). Redeployed, often in startling or pointed juxtapositions, these elements took on newly oppositional meanings.

A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side

In February 1991, the artist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) and the philosopher Sylvère Lotringer met in a borrowed East Village apartment to conduct a long-awaited dialogue on Wojnarowicz's work. Wojnarowicz was then at the peak of his notoriety as the fiercest antagonist of morals crusader Senator Jesse Helms—a notoriety that Wojnarowicz alternately embraced and rejected. Already suffering the last stages of AIDS, David saw his dialogue with Lotringer as a chance to set the record straight on his aspirations, his personal history, and his political views.

This startlingly original (and sure to be controversial) account of the evolution of Christianity shows that the economics of religion has little to do with counting the money in the collection basket and much to do with understanding the background of today's religious and political divisions. Since religion is a set of organized beliefs, and a church is an organized body of worshippers, it's natural to use a science that seeks to explain the behavior of organizations—economics—to understand the development of organized religion.

The Ability to Choose and Its Transformation of Contemporary Life

Today most of us are awash with choices. The cornucopia of material goods available to those of us in the developed world can turn each of us into a kid in a candy store; but our delight at picking the prize is undercut by our regret at lost opportunities. And what's the criterion for choosing anything—material, spiritual, the path taken or not taken—when we have lost our faith in everything?

Writings from Utopie (1967–1978)

The Utopie group was born in 1966 at Henri Lefebvre's house in the Pyrenees. The eponymous journal edited by Hubert Tonka brought together sociologists Jean Baudrillard, René Lourau, and Catherine Cot, architects Jean Aubert, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Antoine Stinco, and landscape architect Isabelle Auricoste. Over the next decade, both in theory and in practice, the group articulated a radical ultra-leftist critique of architecture, urbanism, and everyday life.

Georges Bataille and DOCUMENTS
Edited by Dawn Ades and Simon Baker

In the Paris art world of the 1920s, Georges Bataille and his journal DOCUMENTS represented a dissident branch of surrealism. Bataille—poet, philosopher, writer, and self-styled "enemy within" surrealism—used DOCUMENTS to put art into violent confrontation with popular culture, ethnography, film, and archaeology. Undercover Surrealism, taking the visual richness of DOCUMENTS as its starting point, recovers the explosive and vital intellectual context of works by Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Giacometti, and others in 1920s Paris.

Theories of Internet Spectatorship

Internet and computer users are often represented onscreen as active and empowered—as in AOL's striding yellow figure and the interface hand that appears to manipulate software and hypertext links. In The Body and the Screen Michele White suggests that users can more properly be understood as spectators rendered and regulated by technologies and representations, for whom looking and the mediation of the screen are significant aspects of engagement.

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