The New Republic
Stuart Hall, the Jamaican immigrant who became one of the premier left wing intellectuals in the United Kingdom during the last half century, was a pioneering theorist on the rise of the right wing in modern politics, an major exponent of postcolonial theory, and a founder of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline. In this ironically titled review of two new important books of Hall's writing, Vernon offers a compelling portrait of this important figure.
In Banking on Words, Arjun Appadurai argues that the 2008 financial crisis was, in essence, a failure of language. Narendar Pani finds that argument somewhat overstated, while at the same time acknowledging this book's "path-breaking" analysis of the role language has come to play in the way markets behave and are managed.
The City Paper
The idea that "everything and everybody everywhere should operate as if they were a business" has emerged a working definition of contemporary neoliberalism. Another way of putting it is that "everything and everybody everywhere" should actually be a business. Lester K. Spence shows how this philosophy pains most of us while focusing on neoliberalism's effects on black politics. Brandon Soderberg offers an introduction to Spence's argument.
The New Republic
The worldwide cultural revolution initiated by the invention of records and record players has been vast and helps define what it has meant to be both "modern" and "post-modern." In this new book, Michael Denning surveys the scope and breadth of this revolution. Noise Uprising, says reviewer Tim Barker, "offers an ambitious, if somewhat speculative map of the connections" between the dizzying array of styles and genres of modern popular, vernacular music.
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"Humans are the most curious among animals," writes Caspar Henderson in this review of Alberto Manguel's meditation on inquisitiveness. "Even very young humans are better" than other animals, even the smartest ones, "at noticing the novel, the accidental and the serendipitous and at using that experience to imagine new opportunities.' Henderson's review is a kind of "three-cheers" for this special quality that is among those that distinguish our species.