Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where is liberal rhetoric?

Michael Kazin in the Times:

SOMETIMES, attention should be paid to the absence of news. America’s economic miseries continue, with unemployment still high and home sales stagnant or dropping. The gap between the wealthiest Americans and their fellow citizens is wider than it has been since the 1920s.

And yet, except for the demonstrations and energetic recall campaigns that roiled Wisconsin this year, unionists and other stern critics of corporate power and government cutbacks have failed to organize a serious movement against the people and policies that bungled the United States into recession. . . .

Michael Kazin, "Whatever Happened to the American Left?" New York Times, 25 September 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Human Rights Rhetoric

Wendy S. Hesford, Spectacular Rhetorics: Human Rights Visions, Recognitions, Feminisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

From the publisher:

Spectacular Rhetorics is a rigorous analysis of the rhetorical frameworks and narratives that underlie human rights law, shape the process of cultural and legal recognition, and delimit public responses to violence and injustice. Integrating visual and textual criticism, Wendy S. Hesford scrutinizes “spectacular rhetoric,” the use of visual images and rhetoric to construct certain bodies, populations, and nations as victims and incorporate them into human rights discourses geared toward Westerners, chiefly Americans. Hesford presents a series of case studies critiquing the visual representations of human suffering in documentary films, photography, and theater. In each study, she analyzes works addressing a prominent contemporary human rights cause, such as torture and unlawful detention, ethnic genocide and rape as a means of warfare, migration and the trafficking of women and children, the global sex trade, and child labor. Through these studies, she demonstrates how spectacular rhetoric activates certain cultural and national narratives and social and political relations, consolidates identities through the politics of recognition, and configures material relations of power and difference to produce and, ultimately, to govern human rights subjects.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Model T Bliss, Ithaca

Paul Carter, "Ithaca, New York. Interior of a shack in which a man lived for twenty-five years. His wife would not let him live with her. She was mad at him for having backed a Model T Ford over her on their honeymoon." (1936 June).

Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection. LC-USF341- 011053-B. fsa 8c51333

Monday, September 5, 2011

Political Poster Collection

A collection of political posters -- most of them from Berkeley in May 1970 -- is now online at the Penn State Libraries. I collected the posters at the time, and donated them to Penn State a couple of years ago, where they have been under development as a special collection, thanks to James Quigel, Head of Historical Collections and Labor Archives in the Special Collections Library, and the staff of the Libraries. Ellysa Cahoy at the Libraries has also been important to its development, and tells me the collection will soon be mounted on Flickr, as the Library's first-ever interactive on-line exhibit.

Thomas W. Benson Political Protest collection

Making Chastity Sexy

Christine J. Gardner, Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Even though they are immersed in sex-saturated society, millions of teens are pledging to remain virgins until their wedding night. How are evangelical Christians persuading young people to wait until marriage? Christine J. Gardner looks closely at the language of the chastity movement and discovers a savvy campaign that uses sex to “sell” abstinence. Drawing from interviews with evangelical leaders and teenagers, she examines the strategy to shift from a negative “just say no” approach to a positive one: “just say yes” to great sex within marriage. Making Chastity Sexy sheds new light on an abstinence campaign that has successfully recast a traditionally feminist idea—“my body, my choice”—into a powerful message, but one that Gardner suggests may ultimately reduce evangelicalism’s transformative power. Focusing on the United States, her study also includes a comparative dimension by examining the export of this evangelical agenda to sub-Saharan Africa.