Call for Papers: Class, Culture and Public Intellectuals (journal issue)
Call for Papers Deadline:
Class, Culture and Public Intellectuals: A themed issue of Reconstruction
The year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Denning's The Cultural Front and the 20th anniversary of Alan Wald's The New York Intellectuals. Both of these publishing milestones raise important questions about the historical relationship between U.S. intellectuals and mass culture, radical left politics and academic scholarship, and the relationship between cultural production and social conflict, topics which remain of pressing concern today.
Both works broke new ground in tracking the oft-suppressed legacies of popular radical thought and culture of the 1930s, forging alliances beyond the realm of the "academy" and with wider society. Moreover, both works theorized the relationship between social theory, creative practice and progressive political movements in productive and provocative ways that challenged decades of Cold War academic thinking on this topic and have returned interest to long-ignored moments and movements. While Wald seeks to unpack the history behind the de-formation of left politics today (via a close look at the split between american CP and Trotskyist left, with its legacies for the formation of Cold War American scholarship and letters), Denning seeks to reclaim the necessity for Popular Front-era left politics for avenues of academic and political inquiry.
Over the past decade, a substantial scholarship has responded to the theoretical and empirical challenges set by these texts, as well as by the work of Barbara Foley, William J. Maxwell, Bill Mullen, Cary Nelson, Paula Rabinowitz and others. This new scholarship rejects simplistic dichotomies between Stalinism and Trotskyism, high culture and mass culture, to reveal a rich, complex, contested 20th century US social text. It interacts with the development of post-marxist identity politics and globalized social movements, as the staging area for new lines of resistance. It challenges the primacy of post-marxist identity politics as the ordering intellectual paradigm for historical and cultural inquiry, and throws a critical light on the nationalist orientation of american studies, even as it moves beyond the intellectual and political borders formed during its origins in the post-WWII era.
Recent events mean that the public intellectuals of old are not simply the subject of a rarefied academic debate. The perceived growth of neoconservative influence over US foreign policy has prompted reconsideration--however inaccurate or misplaced--of the intellectual milieu from which these "neocons" ideas emerged. Questions of "legacy" remain pertinent and pressing in public life, even today.
This special issue of Reconstruction seeks to stimulate debate about and deepen contemporary understanding of the legacies of left-intellectual and cultural production in the 20th century United States. What can be learned from earlier generations of activist-thinkers, and how can their praxis help us navigate our present "moment of crisis" in 2007?
* We welcome essays aiming to build upon, enrich, or complicate the legacy of Wald, Denning, or Foley, including book reviews, and surveys of these scholars' work or influence.
* We encourage submissions that consider the background, politics and practice of cultural formations discussed or neglected by them or other scholars of the "Old Left."
* Essay contributors are also welcome to explore neglected ideas, genres, figures and movements from the cultural formations of the interwar period--as well as its aftermath.
Abstracts (500 words) due by December 1, 2006 to: Graham Barnfield . Completed papers (5,000-10,000 words) due by May 1, 2007 (May Day!); publication expected, January, 2008.
Guest edited by Graham Barnfield, Joseph Ramsey and Victor Cohen.
About the journal: Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative cultural studies journal dedicated to fostering an intellectual community composed of scholars and their audience, granting them all the ability to share thoughts and opinions on the most important and influential work in contemporary interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction is published quarterly--in the third week of January, April, July, October--and is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.
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