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Between Aristotle and the Welfare State

The Establishment, Enforcement, and Transformation of the Moral Economy in Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation

Sener Akturk

William Booth's 'On the Idea of the Moral Economy' (1994) is a scathing critique of the economic historians labelled as 'moral economists', chief among them Karl Polanyi, whose The Great Transformation is the groundwork for much of the later theorizing on the subject. The most devastating of Booth's criticisms is the allegation that Polanyi's normative prescriptions have anti-democratic, Aristotelian and aristocratic undertones for being guided by a preconceived notion of 'the good'. This article presents an attempt to rescue Polanyi from this charge by reinterpreting his view of the relationship between the economic and the political, while elucidating the practical meaning of a moral economy.

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In the lead article to this open issue of German Politics and Society,

Michael Werz offers an insightful and ambitious sweep of the

large questions confronting Germany and the European Union in the

context of the twentieth century's legacies. Particularly welcome are

Werz's criticisms of the increasingly crucial role that anti-Americanism

has played in the establishment of a putatively multicultural identity

in Europe. Werz demonstrates how the American experience has

great relevance for Europe and how German and European intellectuals

do their cause a great disservice by dismissing this experience as

irrelevant, inferior—or worse.

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Benjamin Abrams

If there is a single academic craft that is most sorely neglected in doctoral programs, most infrequently honed over the course of one’s career, and most inconsistently exhibited at the top ranks of the academy, it is the practice of reviewing an article. Reflecting on conversations with editorial colleagues at Contention and other broad-scope journals, this essay draws together some brief guidelines on how best to compose the three most basic components of any academic review: criticism, praise, and recommendations to the editor.

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Joyce Carol Oates Reread

Overview and Interview with the Author

Susana Araújo

More interested in enriching her oeuvre with new plots, forms and styles than in sticking to winning formulae or following the more acclaimed trends of the times, Joyce Carol Oates counteracts the prevailing notion of the isolated, minimalist and exclusivist literary genius. Her work defies pre-established views about the parameters of 'serious' writing, not only because of its astonishing prolixity but also for its ability to attract a popular readership. Oates's phenomenal productivity is uncommon in twentieth-century literature. To date (27 February 2006) Oates has written fifty novels and novellas, twenty-eight short story collections, eight poetry collections, eight volumes of drama, and eleven volumes of essays and criticism.

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Post-colonial Interdisciplinarity

Liam Connell

The concern of this issue on post-colonial interdisciplinarity is with the apparent need for interdisciplinary approaches in post-colonial analyses: analyses that take textuality as their object but which are framed around wider social or political questions of power. By necessity such analyses take the critic into territories that until the end of the 1960s were not considered the property of literary studies. Yet, however necessary this expansion of the critic’s focus has been in order to allow literary criticism to comment on the social functions of representation, it has exposed post-colonialism to a range of criticisms, many of which seem to arise from a perceived weakness in its interdisciplinary approach. For instance, as the gaze of the critic has been cast increasingly widely, many conservative commentators have come to lament the loss of the text. This concern has perhaps been less hotly contested in Britain than in the U.S., where the socalled ‘Canon Wars’ split departments. Nevertheless it seems especially problematic for post-colonial studies because even its fairly modest project of opening up the canon to writers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East has been predicated on a fundamentally political concern with wider forms of inequality, of which Eurocentric reading practices are only one facet.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

A Phenomenological Investigation of War

Joseph A. Tighe

All Quiet on the Western Front, the famed war novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, has sold more than fifty million copies, been translated into thirty languages and has been made into two English-speaking movies, one of which won an Academy Award for best picture. It has been hailed as ‘the greatest war novel of all time.’ It was banned and burned in Nazi Germany for promoting anti-war sentiment. Publishers in the United States were forced to censor certain sections of the novel deemed too emotionally charged for American audiences, and these sections remained censored until 1975. Remarque himself was considered for the Nobel Prize, but, due to protests over his candidacy, was not awarded the honor. However, regarding literary criticism of the novel, it is safe to say that ‘[d]espite the great and lasting impact of All Quiet, comparatively little has been written about it.’ What little criticism that does exist on All Quiet has been limited to mainly two models: empirical, which seek to explain the novel in terms of its structure and form; and intellectualist, which seek in the novel a universal definition of War. All Quiet on the Western Front has been somewhat of a critical anomaly: almost no critic would disagree that All Quiet is a meaningful work, but, thus far, almost no critic can give a satisfactory answer as to why.

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Delba Winthrop and Harvey C. Mansfield

Seymour Drescher is a fine economic and social historian and Tocqueville scholar; Arthur Goldhammer is among the best translators of French working today; Melvin Richter is a distinguished scholar of the history of European political thought; Cheryl Welch is a judicious analyst of French political thought. We are grateful to them for the generous spirit in which they have called to our attention some errors and difficulties in our translation of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America—and, of course, chagrined that they should have been there to find. Some of the corrections are of careless errors, for which there is no excuse. Others are of confusions caused either by our occasional failure to supply a noun to replace a pronoun whose referent is clear in French, but unclear in English, or by our inconsistent translation of the French indefinite pronoun on. These, too, we should have caught. Still other criticisms identify different choices they would have made. We respect each sort of criticism. But the corrections do not dispose of the issue of what principles should be brought to bear in translating.

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Hugh Grady

Terence Hawkes was an eminent Shakespearean and critical theorist whose career had many facets. He was also a friend and mentor to me, a man who throughout his career countered the class privilege and arbitrary power he had experienced himself at the beginning of his career and which he fought when he saw it at work against others. While his critical work developed over the years in different stages – from humanism to structuralism to poststructuralism to presentism – there were certain constants in all of them: an awareness of language as such, of the power of the critic's present in all readings of works of the past, and of the political and social dimensions of literature and literary criticism. The two of us collaborated in the promulgation of the idea of critical presentism in our 2007 anthology Presentist Shakespeares, but Terence Hawkes' presentist practice can be traced back into some of his earlier works composed well before the term was coined. His 1986 That Shakespeherian Rag can be seen as the beginning of both his pioneering work in deconstructive criticism and in ideas and practices that marked the presentism of his last several books and articles.

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Pertti Anttonen

All scholarly fields feed on rhetoric of praise and criticism, mostly self-praise and self-criticism. Ethnology and folklore studies are not exceptions in this, regardless of whether they constitute a single field or two separate but related ones. This essay discusses questions concerning ethnological practice and object formation, cultural theory and the theory of tradition (or the lack thereof), cultural transmission, cultural representation, and the ethics and politics of cultural ownership and repatriation. It draws on general observations as well as on work in progress. The main concern is with a discursive move: from tradition to heritage, from the ethnography of repetition and replication to cultural relativist descriptions and prescriptions of identity construction and cultural policy, from ethnography as explanation to ethnography as representation and presentation. In addition, the essay seeks to delineate other underlying tenets that appear to constitute our traditions and heritages - both as strengths and as long-term constraints and biases. Where is ethnology headed in its quest to transcend theories and practices? Less theory and more practice? More theory on practice? Or more practice on theory?

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'Worse Than Malone or Sacrilege'

The Exhumation of Shakespeare's Remains

James Rigney

The textual, like the literary, criticism of Shakespeare is concerned with the inter-relation of spirit and form: searching for traces of the originating hand, the distinctly Shakespearean feature that is encased in the accretions of the physical book. The presence of such idealisations is less a contradiction of the claim to objectivity than it is a necessary precondition of the method of enquiry of nineteenth and early twentieth-century textual theory. Literary criticism likewise, sought for a similar spiritual element, a pure principle of meaning locked into the words on the page. As Stephen Greenblatt remarks at the beginning of Shakespearean Negotiations: ‘I began with the desire to speak with the dead. This desire is a familiar, if unvoiced, motive in literary studies, a motive organised, professionalised, buried beneath thick layers of bureaucratic decorum...Even when I came to understand that in my most intense moments of straining to listen all I could hear was my own voice, even then I did not abandon my desire. It was true that I could hear only my own voice, but my own voice was the voice of the dead, for the dead had contrived to leave textual traces of themselves, and those traces made themselves heard in the voices of the living’.