Tough Enough

Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil
Author: Deborah Nelson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022645794X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 224
View: 7338

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This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches. Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness. As Deborah Nelson shows, this stance offers an important counter-tradition to the familiar postwar poles of emotional expressivity on the one hand and cool irony on the other. Ultimately, in its insistence on facing reality without consolation or compensation, this austere “school of the unsentimental” offers new ways to approach suffering in both its spectacular forms and all of its ordinariness.

Tough Enough

Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil
Author: Deborah Nelson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022645780X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 218
View: 3968

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This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches. Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness. As Deborah Nelson shows, this stance offers an important counter-tradition to the familiar postwar poles of emotional expressivity on the one hand and cool irony on the other. Ultimately, in its insistence on facing reality without consolation or compensation, this austere “school of the unsentimental” offers new ways to approach suffering in both its spectacular forms and all of its ordinariness.

Tough Enough

Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil
Author: Deborah Nelson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226457772
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 224
View: 3095

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This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches. Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness. As Deborah Nelson shows, this stance offers an important counter-tradition to the familiar postwar poles of emotional expressivity on the one hand and cool irony on the other. Ultimately, in its insistence on facing reality without consolation or compensation, this austere “school of the unsentimental” offers new ways to approach suffering in both its spectacular forms and all of its ordinariness.

Toward the Geopolitical Novel

U.S. Fiction in the Twenty-First Century
Author: Caren Irr
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231536313
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 280
View: 1131

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Caren Irr's survey of more than 125 novels outlines the dramatic resurgence of the American political novel in the twenty-first century. She explores the writings of Chris Abani, Susan Choi, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Díaz, Dave Eggers, Jeffrey Eugenides, Aleksandar Hemon, Hari Kunzru, Dinaw Mengestu, Norman Rush, Gary Shteyngart, and others as they rethink stories of migration, the Peace Corps, nationalism and neoliberalism, revolution, and the expatriate experience. Taken together, these innovations define a new literary form: the geopolitical novel. More cosmopolitan and socially critical than domestic realism, the geopolitical novel provides new ways of understanding crucial political concepts to meet the needs of a new century.

Crossing Ocean Parkway


Author: Marianna De Marco Torgovnick
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022614836X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 187
View: 6499

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Growing up an Italian-American in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of New York city, Marianna De Marco longed for college, culture, and upward mobility. Her daydreams circled around WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) heroes on television—like Robin Hood and the Cartwright family—but in Brooklyn she never encountered any. So she associated moving up with Ocean Parkway, a street that divides the working-class Italian neighborhood where she was born from the middle-class Jewish neighborhood into which she married. This book is Torgovnick's unflinching account of crossing cultural boundaries in American life, of what it means to be an Italian American woman who became a scholar and literary critic. Included are autobiographical moments interwoven with engrossing interpretations of American cultural icons from Dr. Dolittle to Lionel Trilling, The Godfather to Camille Paglia. Her experiences allow her to probe the cultural tensions in America caused by competing ideas of individuality and community, upward mobility and ethnic loyalty, acquisitiveness and spirituality.

Panic Diaries

A Genealogy of Panic Disorder
Author: Jackie Orr
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 0822387360
Category: Psychology
Page: 374
View: 1016

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Part cultural history, part sociological critique, and part literary performance, Panic Diaries explores the technological and social construction of individual and collective panic. Jackie Orr looks at instances of panic and its “cures” in the twentieth-century United States: from the mass hysteria following the 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds to an individual woman swallowing a pill to control the “panic disorder” officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. Against a backdrop of Cold War anxieties over atomic attack, Orr highlights the entanglements of knowledge and power in efforts to reconceive panic and its prevention as problems in communication and information feedback. Throughout, she reveals the shifting techniques of power and social engineering underlying the ways that scientific and social scientific discourses—including crowd psychology, Cold War cybernetics, and contemporary psychiatry—have rendered panic an object of technoscientific management. Orr, who has experienced panic attacks herself, kept a diary of her participation as a research subject in clinical trials for the Upjohn Company’s anti-anxiety drug Xanax. This “panic diary” grounds her study and suggests the complexity of her desire to track the diffusion and regulation of panic in U.S. society. Orr’s historical research, theoretical reflections, and biographical narrative combine in this remarkable and compelling genealogy, which documents the manipulation of panic by the media, the social sciences and psychiatry, the U.S. military and government, and transnational drug companies.

Bad Modernisms


Author: Douglas Mao,Rebecca L. Walkowitz
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 0822387824
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 374
View: 7160

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Modernism is hot again. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, poets and architects, designers and critics, teachers and artists are rediscovering the virtues of the previous century’s most vibrant cultural constellation. Yet this widespread embrace raises questions about modernism’s relation to its own success. Modernism’s “badness”—its emphasis on outrageous behavior, its elevation of negativity, its refusal to be condoned—seems essential to its power. But once modernism is accepted as “good” or valuable (as a great deal of modernist art now is), its status as a subversive aesthetic intervention seems undermined. The contributors to Bad Modernisms tease out the contradictions in modernism’s commitment to badness. Bad Modernisms thus builds on and extends the “new modernist studies,” recent work marked by the application of diverse methods and attention to texts and artists not usually labeled as modernist. In this collection, these developments are exemplified by essays ranging from a reading of dandyism in 1920s Harlem as a performance of a “bad” black modernist imaginary to a consideration of Filipino American modernism in the context of anticolonialism. The contributors reconsider familiar figures—such as Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Josef von Sternberg, Ludwig Wittgenstein, W. H. Auden, and Wyndham Lewis—and bring to light the work of lesser-known artists, including the writer Carlos Bulosan and the experimental filmmaker Len Lye. Examining cultural artifacts ranging from novels to manifestos, from philosophical treatises to movie musicals, and from anthropological essays to advertising campaigns, these essays signal the capaciousness and energy galvanizing the new modernist studies. Contributors. Lisa Fluet, Laura Frost, Michael LeMahieu, Heather K. Love, Douglas Mao, Jesse Matz, Joshua L. Miller, Monica L. Miller, Sianne Ngai, Martin Puchner, Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Pursuing Privacy in Cold War America


Author: Deborah Nelson
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231111201
Category: History
Page: 209
View: 2169

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Few aspects of American military history have been as vigorously debated as Harry Truman's decision to use atomic bombs against Japan. In this carefully crafted volume, Michael Kort describes the wartime circumstances and thinking that form the context for the decision to use these weapons, surveys the major debates related to that decision, and provides a comprehensive collection of key primary source documents that illuminate the behavior of the United States and Japan during the closing days of World War II. Kort opens with a summary of the debate over Hiroshima as it has evolved since 1945. He then provides a historical overview of thye events in question, beginning with the decision and program to build the atomic bomb. Detailing the sequence of events leading to Japan's surrender, he revisits the decisive battles of the Pacific War and the motivations of American and Japanese leaders. Finally, Kort examines ten key issues in the discussion of Hiroshima and guides readers to relevant primary source documents, scholarly books, and articles.

Decreation and the Ethical Bind

Simone Weil and the Claim of the Other
Author: Yoon Sook Cha
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0823275272
Category: Philosophy
Page: N.A
View: 1279

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In Simone Weil's philosophical and literary work, obligation emerges at the conjuncture of competing claims: the other's self-affirmation and one's own dislocation; what one has and what one has to give; a demand that asks for too much and the extraordinary demand implied by asking nothing. The other's claims upon the self--which induce unfinished obligation, unmet sleep, hunger--drive the tensions that sustain the scene of ethical relationality at the heart of this book. Decreation and the Ethical Bind is a study in decreative ethics in which self-dispossession conditions responsiveness to a demand to preserve the other from harm. In examining themes of obligation, vulnerability, and the force of weak speech that run from Levinas to Butler, the book situates Weil within a continental tradition of literary theory in which writing and speech articulate ethical appeal and the vexations of response. It elaborates a form of ethics that is not grounded in subjective agency and narrative coherence but one that is inscribed at the site of the self's depersonalization.

Of No Country I Know

New and Selected Poems and Translations
Author: David Ferry
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226244860
Category: Poetry
Page: 293
View: 4736

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Collects new writings as well as poems from the author's books "Strangers," "Dwelling Places," and "On the Way to the Island," and includes selections from his translations of Virgil, Horace, and the Babylonian epic "Gilgamesh"

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
Author: Blair Braverman
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0062311581
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 288
View: 7634

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A rich and revelatory memoir of a young woman reclaiming her courage in the stark landscapes of the north. By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a “tough girl”—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her. By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube brilliantly recounts Braverman’s adventures in Norway and Alaska. Settling into her new surroundings, Braverman was often terrified that she would lose control of her dog team and crash her sled, or be attacked by a polar bear, or get lost on the tundra. Above all, she worried that, unlike the other, gutsier people alongside her, she wasn’t cut out for life on the frontier. But no matter how out of place she felt, one thing was clear: she was hooked on the North. On the brink of adulthood, Braverman was determined to prove that her fears did not define her—and so she resolved to embrace the wilderness and make it her own. Assured, honest, and lyrical, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube paints a powerful portrait of self-reliance in the face of extraordinary circumstance. Braverman endures physical exhaustion, survives being buried alive in an ice cave, and drives her dogs through a whiteout blizzard to escape crooked police. Through it all, she grapples with love and violence—navigating a grievous relationship with a fellow musher, and adapting to the expectations of her Norwegian neighbors—as she negotiates the complex demands of being a young woman in a man’s land. Weaving fast-paced adventure writing and ethnographic journalism with elegantly wrought reflections on identity, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube captures the triumphs and the perils of Braverman’s journey to self-discovery and independence in a landscape that is as beautiful as it is unforgiving.

Natal Command


Author: Peter Sacks
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226733432
Category: Poetry
Page: 79
View: 2822

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Peter Sacks draws upon his life as an expatriate as well as upon his early years in South Africa, including his time spent in the military, to create a remarkably powerful book of poetry. At turns meditative and narrative, Sacks is unafraid to lay bare in vivid imagery his sense of both personal and historical losses, and his commitment to the works of mourning and of cultural repair. Even the love poems emerge from this book with the impress of both bittersweet aspiration and regret.

A Democratic Theory of Judgment


Author: Linda M. G. Zerilli
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022639803X
Category: Political Science
Page: 392
View: 3289

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In this sweeping look at political and philosophical history, Linda M. G. Zerilli unpacks the tightly woven core of Hannah Arendt’s unfinished work on a tenacious modern problem: how to judge critically in the wake of the collapse of inherited criteria of judgment. Engaging a remarkable breadth of thinkers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Leo Strauss, Immanuel Kant, Frederick Douglass, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, and many others, Zerilli clears a hopeful path between an untenable universalism and a cultural relativism that forever defers the possibility of judging at all. Zerilli deftly outlines the limitations of existing debates, both those that concern themselves with the impossibility of judging across cultures and those that try to find transcendental, rational values to anchor judgement. Looking at Kant through the lens of Arendt, Zerilli develops the notion of a public conception of truth, and from there she explores relativism, historicism, and universalism as they shape feminist approaches to judgment. Following Arendt even further, Zerilli arrives at a hopeful new pathway—seeing the collapse of philosophical criteria for judgment not as a problem but a way to practice judgment anew as a world-building activity of democratic citizens. The result is an astonishing theoretical argument that travels through—and goes beyond—some of the most important political thought of the modern period.

Last Resort

The Financial Crisis and the Future of Bailouts
Author: Eric A. Posner
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022642023X
Category: Law
Page: 272
View: 7128

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The bailouts during the recent financial crisis enraged the public. They felt unfair—and counterproductive: people who take risks must be allowed to fail. If we reward firms that make irresponsible investments, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, aren’t we encouraging them to continue to act irresponsibly, setting the stage for future crises? And beyond the ethics of it was the question of whether the government even had the authority to bail out failing firms like Bear Stearns and AIG. The answer, according to Eric A. Posner, is no. The federal government freely and frequently violated the law with the bailouts—but it did so in the public interest. An understandable lack of sympathy toward Wall Street has obscured the fact that bailouts have happened throughout economic history and are unavoidable in any modern, market-based economy. And they’re actually good. Contrary to popular belief, the financial system cannot operate properly unless the government stands ready to bail out banks and other firms. During the recent crisis, Posner agues, the law didn’t give federal agencies sufficient power to rescue the financial system. The legal constraints were damaging, but harm was limited because the agencies—with a few exceptions—violated or improvised elaborate evasions of the law. Yet the agencies also abused their power. If illegal actions were what it took to advance the public interest, Posner argues, we ought to change the law, but we need to do so in a way that also prevents agencies from misusing their authority. In the aftermath of the crisis, confusion about what agencies did do, should have done, and were allowed to do, has prevented a clear and realistic assessment and may hamper our response to future crises. Taking up the common objections raised by both right and left, Posner argues that future bailouts will occur. Acknowledging that inevitability, we can and must look ahead and carefully assess our policy options before we need them.

Readings at the Edge of Literature


Author: Myra Jehlen
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226396010
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 246
View: 2714

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Myra Jehlen's aim in these essays is to read for what she calls the edge of literature: the point at which writing seems unable to say more, which is also, for Jehlen, the threshold of the real. It is here, she argues, that the central paradoxes of the American project become clear—self-reliance and responsibility, universal equality and the pursuit of empire, writing from the heart and representing shared values and ideas. Developing these paradoxes to their utmost tension, American writers often produce penetrating critiques of American society without puncturing its basic myths. For instance, Mark Twain's Puddn'head Wilson begins as a slashing satire of racism, only to conclude by demonstrating that even an invisible portion of black blood can make a man a murderer. Throughout these essays Jehlen demonstrates the crucial role that the process of writing itself plays in unfolding these paradoxes, whether in the form of novels by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Virginia Woolf; the histories of Captain John Smith; or even a work of architecture, such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem


Author: Hannah Arendt,Gershom Scholem
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022648761X
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 336
View: 7503

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Few people thought as deeply or incisively about Germany, Jewish identity, and the Holocaust as Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem. And, as this landmark volume reveals, much of that thinking was developed in dialogue, through more than two decades of correspondence. Arendt and Scholem met in 1932 in Berlin and quickly bonded over their mutual admiration for and friendship with Walter Benjamin. They began exchanging letters in 1939, and their lively correspondence continued until 1963, when Scholem’s vehement disagreement with Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem led to a rupture that would last until Arendt’s death a dozen years later. The years of their friendship, however, yielded a remarkably rich bounty of letters: together, they try to come to terms with being both German and Jewish, the place and legacy of Germany before and after the Holocaust, the question of what it means to be Jewish in a post-Holocaust world, and more. Walter Benjamin is a constant presence, as his life and tragic death are emblematic of the very questions that preoccupied the pair. Like any collection of letters, however, the book also has its share of lighter moments: accounts of travels, gossipy dinner parties, and the quotidian details that make up life even in the shadow of war and loss. In a world that continues to struggle with questions of nationalism, identity, and difference, Arendt and Scholem remain crucial thinkers. This volume offers us a way to see them, and the development of their thought, anew.

Signs and Cities

Black Literary Postmodernism
Author: Madhu Dubey
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226167282
Category: Social Science
Page: 293
View: 3013

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Signs and Cities is the first book to consider what it means to speak of a postmodern moment in African-American literature. Dubey argues that for African-American studies, postmodernity best names a period, beginning in the early 1970s, marked by acute disenchantment with the promises of urban modernity and of print literacy. Dubey shows how black novelists from the last three decades have reconsidered the modern urban legacy and thus articulated a distinctly African-American strain of postmodernism. She argues that novelists such as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Ishmael Reed, Sapphire, and John Edgar Wideman probe the disillusionment of urban modernity through repeated recourse to tropes of the book and scenes of reading and writing. Ultimately, she demonstrates that these writers view the book with profound ambivalence, construing it as an urban medium that cannot recapture the face-to-face communities assumed by oral and folk forms of expression.

Cairo Traffic


Author: Lloyd Schwartz
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226741931
Category: Poetry
Page: 83
View: 1798

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In Cairo Traffic, his third book of poems, Lloyd Schwartz asks the Sphinx to explain the riddle "about, you know, / Time and Power and Families-the one you think you / have the answer to. Tell me your answer! / No . . . don't." The search for answers takes the poet to some surprising, often phantasmagoric places, and back again to the self, to dreams, to home, and even to the nursing home where his mother-sphinxlike herself-becomes the person asking the dark questions and providing some unexpected answers. These extraordinary narratives-funny and frightening, seductive and profoundly moving-explore the intersections of character and language, the places where common speech mysteriously transforms itself into poetry. This book, which includes several translations of contemporary Brazilian poems, confirms Schwartz's growing reputation as an intensely compelling and original poet.

Motherest

A Novel
Author: Kristen Iskandrian
Publisher: Twelve
ISBN: 1455594458
Category: Fiction
Page: 256
View: 6926

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Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, MOTHEREST is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship -- all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond. It's the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior. As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in some ways, what it means to be your own mother.

So Black and Blue

Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism
Author: Kenneth W. Warren
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226873803
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 131
View: 5947

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"So Black and Blue is the best work we have on Ellison in his combined roles of writer, critic, and intellectual. By locating him in the precarious cultural transition between Jim Crow and the era of promised civil rights, Warren has produced a thoroughly engaging and compelling book, original in its treatment of Ellison and his part in shaping the history of ideas in the twentieth century."—Eric J. Sundquist, University of California, Los Angeles What would it mean to read Invisible Man as a document of Jim Crow America? Using Ralph Ellison's classic novel and many of his essays as starting points, Kenneth W. Warren illuminates the peculiar interrelation of politics, culture, and social scientific inquiry that arose during the post-Reconstruction era and persisted through the Civil Rights movement. Warren argues that Ellison's novel expresses the problem of who or what could represent and speak for the Negro in an age of limited political representation. So Black and Blue shows that Ellison's successful transformation of these limits into possibilities has also, paradoxically, cast a shadow on the postsegregation world. What can be the direction of African American culture once the limits that have shaped it are stricken down? Here Warren takes up the recent, ongoing, and often contradictory veneration of Ellison's artistry by black writers and intellectuals to reveal the impoverished terms often used in discussions about the political and cultural future of African Americans. Ultimately, by showing what it would mean to take seriously the idea of American novels as creatures of their moment, Warren questions whether there can be anything that deserves the label of classic American literature.