IU professor explores cultural and political controversies in new book

  • Oct. 8, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Professor Emeritus Patrick Brantlinger takes aim at neoliberal economists, the tea party movement, gun culture, immigration controversies and other aspects of contemporary American life in his new book "States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics."

Brantlinger, the James Rudy Professor Emeritus of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, combines a cultural studies approach with a concern for social and environmental justice, mixing journalism, satire and theory to address pressing issues.

Published by Indiana University Press, "States of Emergency" embraces the 1960s tradition of cultural studies as an alternative to classical economics. Brantlinger contends American capitalism, largely unregulated and virtually unquestioned, is exacerbating inequality, degrading the environment and producing other problems.

"I argue that class conflict is still occurring, in the U.S. as well as in Great Britain and elsewhere," he says in an IU Press podcast. "But it's a topsy-turvy class conflict, where we have plutocrats imposing their will on the poor, on all of us."

"States of Emergency" includes a dozen essays, some previously published. Topics include the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, the near monopoly in public discourse enjoyed by free-market economists, and the rise of the tea party. There are also essays on Mexico and Iraq and reflections on the writings of Marshall McLuhan and Thorstein Veblen.

It's “a good read, as can be expected from this author,” said Jan Nederveen Pieterse, author of "Is There Hope for Uncle Sam?" and "Globalization and Culture." “The themes are pertinent, the treatments are well researched, the judgment is balanced, the style is sober. While the essays are wide ranging, the contents cohere by virtue of Brantlinger’s moral passion.”

Brantlinger edited the Indiana University-based journal Victorian Studies for 10 years and chaired the IU Bloomington Department of English for four years. His books include "The Reading Lesson: The Threat of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction"; "Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture as Social Decay"; "Crusoe’s Footprints: Cultural Studies in Britain and America"; "Who Killed Shakespeare? What’s Happened to English Since the Radical Sixties"; and "Taming Cannibals: Race and the Victorians."

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