El corazón de la nación

Fondo de Cultura Economica
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Pensadora de intersticios, la autora se centra en dos aspectos relevantes para iluminar la realidad actual: en primer término, el planteamiento de un poderoso vínculo entre la elaboración de los mundos políticos y las emociones como experiencias de articulación de "lo nacional" y de lo identitario. En segundo lugar, la clave transclasista de esta sentimentalidad que tiende a producir la fantasía de la desaparición de las igualdades y estructuras de clase.
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Fondo de Cultura Economica
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Published on
Feb 2, 2012
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Political Science / Essays
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The Female Complaint is part of Lauren Berlant’s groundbreaking “national sentimentality” project charting the emergence of the U.S. political sphere as an affective space of attachment and identification. In this book, Berlant chronicles the origins and conventions of the first mass-cultural “intimate public” in the United States, a “women’s culture” distinguished by a view that women inevitably have something in common and are in need of a conversation that feels intimate and revelatory. As Berlant explains, “women’s” books, films, and television shows enact a fantasy that a woman’s life is not just her own, but an experience understood by other women, no matter how dissimilar they are. The commodified genres of intimacy, such as “chick lit,” circulate among strangers, enabling insider self-help talk to flourish in an intimate public. Sentimentality and complaint are central to this commercial convention of critique; their relation to the political realm is ambivalent, as politics seems both to threaten sentimental values and to provide certain opportunities for their extension.

Pairing literary criticism and historical analysis, Berlant explores the territory of this intimate public sphere through close readings of U.S. women’s literary works and their stage and film adaptations. Her interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and its literary descendants reaches from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, touching on Shirley Temple, James Baldwin, and The Bridges of Madison County along the way. Berlant illuminates different permutations of the women’s intimate public through her readings of Edna Ferber’s Show Boat; Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life; Olive Higgins Prouty’s feminist melodrama Now, Voyager; Dorothy Parker’s poetry, prose, and Academy Award–winning screenplay for A Star Is Born; the Fay Weldon novel and Roseanne Barr film The Life and Loves of a She-Devil; and the queer, avant-garde film Showboat 1988–The Remake. The Female Complaint is a major contribution from a leading Americanist.

"There is nothing more alienating than having your pleasures disputed by someone with a theory," writes Lauren Berlant. Yet the ways in which we live sexuality and intimacy have been profoundly shaped by theories - especially psychoanalytic ones, which have helped to place sexuality and desire at the center of the modern story about what a person is and how her history should be read. At the same time, other modes of explanation have been offered by popular and mass culture. In these domains, sexual desire is not deemed the core story of life; it is mixed up with romance, a particular version of the story of love. In this small theoretical novella-cum-dictionary entry, Lauren Berlant engages love and desire in separate entries. In the first entry, Desire mainly describes the feeling one person has for something else: it is organized by psychoanalytic accounts of attachment, and tells briefly the history of their importance in critical theory and practice. The second entry, on Love, begins with an excursion into fantasy, moving away from the parent-child structure so central to psychoanalysis and looking instead at the centrality of context, environment, and history. The entry on Love describes some workings of romance across personal life and commodity culture, the place where subjects start to think about fantasy on behalf of their actual lives. Whether viewed psychoanalytically, institutionally, or ideologically, love is deemed always an outcome of fantasy. Without fantasy, there would be no love. Desire/Love takes us on a tour of all of the things that sentence might mean.
Alongside the O.J. Simpson trial, the affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky now stands as the seminal cultural event of the 90s. Alternatively transfixed and repelled by this sexual scandal, confusion still reigns over its meanings and implications. How are we to make sense of a tale that is often wild and bizarre, yet replete with serious political and cultural implications?

Our Monica, Ourselves provides a forum for thinking through the cultural, political, and public policy issues raised by the investigation, publicity, and Congressional impeachment proceedings surrounding the affair. It pulls this spectacle out of the framework provided by the conventions of the corporate news media, with its particular notions of what constitutes a newsworthy event. Drawing from a broad range of scholars, Our Monica, Ourselves considers Monica Lewinsky's Jewishness, Linda Tripp's face, the President's penis, the role of shame in public discourse, and what it's like to have sex as the president, as well as specific legal and historical issues at stake in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Thoughtful but accessible, immediate yet far reaching, Our Monica, Ourselves will change the way we think about the Clinton affair, while helping us reimagine culture and politics writ large.

Contributors include: Lauren Berlant, Eric O. Clarke, Ann Cvetkovich, Simone Weil Davis, Lisa Duggan, Jane Gallop, Marjorie Garber, Janet R. Jakobsen, James R. Kincaid, Laura Kipnis, Tomasz Kitlinski, Pawel Leszkowicz, Joe Lockard, Catharine Lumby, Toby Miller, Dana D. Nelson, Anna Marie Smith, Ellen Willis, and Eli Zaretsky.

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