“A nimble case for pretentiousness as a willingness to take risks.” —The New York Times Book Review Pretentiousness is for anyone who has braved being different, whether that’s making a stand against artistic consensus or running the gauntlet of the last bus home dressed differently from everyone else. Pretentiousness is an essential ingredient in pop music and high art. Why do we choose accusations of elitism over open-mindedness? What do our anxieties about “pretending” say about us? “Fox also cites the work of George Orwell and Susan Sontag repeatedly, and in this book he has written an intellectually rigorous study of culture that echoes the scope of their work. His argument is convincing, and it may leave readers with a newfound respect for the term that gives his book its title.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune “This thoughtful essay will be balm to those who dare to be elitist.” —Toronto Star
Despite the presence of the Flaming Lips in a commercial for a copier and Iggy Pop’s music in luxury cruise advertisements, Jeffrey T. Nealon argues that popular music has not exactly been co-opted in the American capitalist present. Contemporary neoliberal capitalism has, in fact, found a central organizing use for the values of twentieth-century popular music: being authentic, being your own person, and being free. In short, not being like everybody else. Through a consideration of the shift in dominant modes of power in the American twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from what Michel Foucault calls a dominant “disciplinary” mode of power to a “biopolitical” mode, Nealon argues that the modes of musical “resistance” need to be completely rethought and that a commitment to musical authenticity or meaning—saying “no” to the mainstream—is no longer primarily where we might look for music to function against the grain. Rather, it is in the technological revolutions that allow biopolitical subjects to deploy music within an everyday set of practices (MP3 listening on smartphones and iPods, streaming and downloading on the internet, the background music that plays nearly everywhere) that one might find a kind of ambient or ubiquitous answer to the “attention capitalism” that has come to organize neoliberalism in the American present. In short, Nealon stages the final confrontation between “keepin’ it real” and “sellin’ out.”
A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2018 The digital age has had a profound impact on literary culture, with new technologies opening up opportunities for new forms of literary art from hyperfiction to multi-media poetry and narrative-driven games. Bringing together leading scholars and artists from across the world, The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature is the first authoritative reference handbook to the field. Crossing disciplinary boundaries, this book explores the foundational theories of the field, contemporary artistic practices, debates and controversies surrounding such key concepts as canonicity, world systems, narrative and the digital humanities, and historical developments and new media contexts of contemporary electronic literature. Including guides to major publications in the field, The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature is an essential resource for scholars of contemporary culture in the digital era.