Advance Look: Jeffrey Knapp on “Selma”

In recognition of the speed at which the world and its histories are changing, we’ve just posted an advance version of Selma and the Place of Fiction in Historical Films” by Jeffrey Knapp. The essay will appear in print and online in our Winter 2019 issue, but you can read it here right now.

In the essay, Knapp compares the place of historical fictionality in William Wyler’s 1940 film The Westerner and Ava DuVernay’s 2014 Selma.

“’This isn’t right,’” the essay begins, in the voice of Martin Luther King as depicted by David Oyelowo, in Selma. “Almost as soon as the man resembling Martin Luther King Jr. has begun to speak, he interrupts himself in frustration. ‘I accept this honor,’ he’d been saying, ‘for our lost ones, whose deaths pave our path, and for the twenty million Negro men and women motivated by dignity and a disdain for hopelessness.’ What does he think isn’t right? Is it the racial oppression he has been evoking? Or is it the felt inadequacy of his words to that injustice? As the man turns away from us, we find that he has been speaking into a mirror, and that he is frustrated in the immediate context by his efforts at getting dressed. ‘Corrie’ — it is King, we now understand, and he’s not alone; his wife Coretta is with him — ‘this ain’t right.’ ‘What’s that?’ she asks, entering from another room. ‘This necktie. It’s not right.’ ‘It’s not a necktie,’ she corrects him, ‘it’s an ascot.’ ‘Yeah, but generally, the same principles should apply, shouldn’t they? It’s not right.’” Read full article …

JEFFREY KNAPP is the Eggers Professor of English at UC Berkeley and author of An Empire Nowhere: England and America from Utopia to The Tempest (1992); Shakespeare’s Tribe: Church, Nation, and Theater in Renaissance England (2002); Shakespeare Only (2009); and Pleasing Everyone: Mass Entertainment in Renaissance London and Golden-Age Hollywood, published this year by Oxford University Press. He is also a contributing editor for Representations.

(Dark) Poolside Reading

Accumulating Fictions

blue-water-drops

by Peter Hitchcock

“The economic turmoil of 2007–2008 is not over: the Great Recession has a long tail that reaches into the present at every level of the economy and is of much interest to those of us attempting to think through its cultural resonance. In the wake of the ‘financial meltdown’ important lessons emerge in the space between literature and the economy. These lessons concern problems of velocity, fiction, and the subject: the complex speed of transactions, the fictiveness of fictitious capital, and the sublation of the subject in contemporary capital accumulation. Dark pools, for instance, the invisible devices at the core of this essay, form a liquidity mechanism meant to achieve efficiencies beyond the excesses that produced the crisis, particularly beyond the effulgence of regulation intended to address them. Just as British Petroleum’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has involved even more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, so finance capital is compelled not to surrender its deleterious modes of accumulation but to expand them. Every fact of economic harm becomes a fiction of anticapitalism, and every element of fictitious capital accumulation divulges the real of economic relations: the accumulation of fiction.”

So begins Peter Hitchcock‘s essay examining both the nature of the economic crisis of 2007–2008 and the intensification of finance capital in its wake. Moving between aesthetics and economics, Hitchcock considers, in particular, the emergence of the “dark pool” and its implications within a massive expansion of fictitious capital.

This essay is from Representations‘ current special issue Financialization and the Culture IndustryThe introduction to the issue by C. D. Blanton, Colleen Lye, and Kent Puckett, is available online free of charge.

 

The Secret History of Diegesis

“The Secret History of Diegesis”: A Talk by Elaine Freedgood
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 5 PM – 7 PM (300 WHEELER HALL, UC BERKELEY)

picture of “The Secret History of Diegesis“: A Talk by Elaine Freedgood

ELAINE FREEDGOOD is Professor of English at New York University. Her books include Victorian Writing About Risk: Imagining a Safe England in a Dangerous World (2000) and The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (2006). Both “The Secret History of Diegesis” and “Ghostly Reference,” just published in the Representations special issue Denotatively, Technically, Literally, are part of her current project,  Worlds Enough: Fictionality and Reference in the Novel.