The conference "A Cultural History of Capitalism" will take place on April 7-8, 2017 at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb.
A detailed, wide-ranging analysis of what constitutes a cultural history of capitalism is indispensable for a functional grasp of recent Croatian cultural and political history, as well as of the current positioning of Croatia in Europe and the world. We intend to examine and explore the complexity of this totality as refracted through cultural histories of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as a horizon truly necessary for understanding Croatian cultural history. Our intent is to investigate complex interrelations of the sophisticated Victorian variant of capitalism and its American mutations, both in the nineteenth- and in the twentieth-centuries. This applies primarily to the Cold-War America, when capitalism contrasted to socialism becomes a totalizing formula to regulate various economic and political structures, but also the sphere of culture where public versus private is defined. Thus caught in contrast to and against socialism, capitalism is definitive to life in communities in socialism as well, and therefore in the former Yugoslavia; this then sediments into a difficult genealogy which burdens capitalism when, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it enters formerly socialist countries, now as a platform for understanding and regulating postsocialism.
Confirmed speakers: Marijan Bobinac, Tomislav Brlek, Sven Cvek, Martina Domines Veliki, Boris Dundović, Catherine Eagan, Kimberly Engber, Grant Farred, Stipe Grgas, Tvrtko Jakovina, Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Tatjana Jukić, Tihana Klepač, Borislav Knežević, Danijela Lugarić, Christine Magerski, Ljubica Matek, Wolfgang Müller-Funk, Tanja Petrović, Iva Polak, Vanja Polić, Russell Reising, Mark Metzler Sawin, Ronald Schleifer, Jelena Šesnić, Jelena Spreicer, Slavica Troskot.
FRIDAY, 7 APRIL (room A-101)
9:30-11:00 Stipe Grgas, “Spatiality and the Question of Capital”
Christine Magerski, “From life-business to the art of life. A new stage in the history of capitalist culture?”
Borislav Knežević, “Does Capitalism Have a Civilization? J.A. Schumpeter's View”
11:00-11:30 Coffee Break
11:30-13:00 Tvrtko Jakovina, “The Second Cold War and the End of History (1980s-1990s). The Decade of Yugoslav Decadence and the Peak of American Power”
Tatjana Jukić, “Capitalism MacGuffinized and the Truth of America: Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest“
Grant Farred, “Foucault: Race, Communism and Modernity”
14:30-16:00 Ronald Schleifer, “The Advent of the Corporation in Britain and the United States in the early Twentieth Century: Economic Class and Social Class in Theodore Dreiser and H. G. Wells”
Russell Reising, , “Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and the Emergence of Moderno-Capitalist Ontology”
Kimberly Engber, “Representing Resistance as American Women’s Work”
16:00-16:30 Coffee Break
16:30-18:00 Renata Jambrešić-Kirin, “Women revolutionaries between 'heretical histories' and anticommunist hysteria”
Tanja Petrović, “Miners’ Bodies and Class Imagination in Socialist Yugoslavia and its Aftermath”
17:30-18:30 Sven Cvek, “Class and Culture in Factory Newspapers”
Tomislav Brlek, “'Economics is a Very Dangerous Science' – Keynes and the Indispensability of Humanities”
9:30-10:30 Martina Domines Veliki, “Wordsworth, Shelley and the Fear of the Masses”
Ljubica Matek, “The Evil Double and the Origins of Capitalist Realism: Why is an Alternative to Capitalism Still Unthinkable?”
10:30-11:30 Jelena Šesnić, “Sentimental Women in the Post-revolutionary American Geoculture of the 1790s”
Danijela Lugarić, “L. N. Tolstoy's ‘Victorian Russia’: Notes on “the English Theme” and Class Cultures in Anna Karenina”
11:30-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Wolfgang Müller-Funk, “Cultural patterns of Capitalism. A Close Reading of Joseph Schumpeter and Georg Simmel”
Marijan Bobinac, “From England to Austria and Croatia: Transfer of Technology and Strokes of Fate. Heimito von Doderer’s Novel The Waterfalls of Slunj”
13:00-14:00 Boris Dundović, “The Governor’s Palace in Rijeka as an Architectural Manifestation of the Hungarian Socio-Political Body at the Close of the Nineteenth Century“
Jelena Spreicer, “The Alternative History of Capitalism in Hannes Stein's Novel Der Komet (2013)”
15:00-16:30 Tihana Klepač, “Wakefield’s A Letter from Sydney and Gentlemanly Capitalism”
Iva Polak, “Of Brothels and Colonies and ‘Dumb Deals’: Australia’s Migration Policy as a Precursor to Trump’s Wall and Executive (Dis)Orders”
Vanja Polić, “Capital Matters in Michael Crummey’s Novel Galore”
16:30-17:00 Coffee Break
17:00-18:30 Mark Sawin, “Pickup Truck? Hell Yes!: The Truck as Cultural Dissent in Suburban America”
Catherine Eagan, “Mat Johnson's Pym, a Modern Slave Narrative, and the Chains of Neoliberalism“
Slavica Troskot, “Bitter sweet history of plantation labor and the irony of freedom in All I Asking for is my Body by Milton Murayama”
Marijan Bobinac (University of Zagreb)
From England to Austria and Croatia: Transfer of Technology and Strokes of Fate. Heimito von Doderer’s Novel The Waterfalls of Slunj
In his novel Die Waterfalls of Slunj (1963), Heimito von Doderer constructs an exceptionally diverse and character-rich plot which takes place in the decades around the year 1900 in Vienna and at various other locations in the Habsburg Monarchy, i.e. also in Croatia. The plot is set in motion by the decision of an English industrialist to set up a plant for the production of agricultural machinery in Austria. However, the plot does not honor its initial promise of a long-winded portrayal of economic, social and political circumstances; Doderer’s concern is rather a demonstration of superordinate, fateful correlations which point to the characters’ “cluelessness and diffidence” regarding “the fate of others” (Schmidt-Dengler). Even though the novel focuses on private, everyday occurrences, numerous references to contemporary developments in the history of mentalities, the judicial system as well as in the spheres of economy, engineering and technology suggest that the coordinates of its narrative universe are constructed in accordance with historical reality. In this respect, the novel discusses not only the conditions specific to the so-called ‘Austrian version of capitalism’, but also its repercussions for the imperial periphery and, by extension, for Croatia as well. However, by virtue of an uncritical portrayal of relationships of dominance in line with those actually present in the Habsburg Monarchy, the author delineates the “Other” in accordance with preconceived cultural stereotypes. Consequently, the novel can be read in the context of a retrospectively oriented utopia, in which the positive representation of the Habsburg Empire and the omission of political history point to Doderer’s discontent with both his own and Austria’s Nazi past.
Tomislav Brlek (University of Zagreb)
“Economics is a Very Dangerous Science” – Keynes and the Indispensability of Humanities
If Keynes was the greatest economist of the twentieth century, it was due to the fact that he was not an economist at all. Insisting that economics was a moral science, as opposed to a numerical one its leading lights over the past half-century would have us believe, Keynes consequently always placed it within the purview of philosophy. In what is arguably his most learned essay in political economy “The End of Laissez-faire” of 1926, writing of the situation in which “Europe lacks the means, America the will, to make a move,” when there is concomitantly “no party in the world at present which appears to me to be pursuing right aims by right methods,” since, on the one hand, “material poverty provides the incentive to change precisely in situations where there is very little margin for experiments,” even as “material prosperity removes the incentive just when it might be safe to take a chance,” he draws the conclusion most apt in our present situation, with the final end of laissez-faire in sight: “The next step forward must come, not from political agitation or premature experiments, but from thought.”
Sven Cvek (University of Zagreb)
Class and Culture in Factory Newspapers
In socialist Yugoslavia work and labor were central to the legitimacy of the state and government, and represented the basis of social and political rights. Such position of labor was underpinned by social and cultural institutions that either disappeared or underwent dramatic transformation with the restoration of capitalism. This talk traces the emergence of regional class cultures in relation to print and literacy in the 19th century, and offers a look at one subsequent institutional development under socialism - factory newspapers. Starting from the oldest factory newspaper in Croatia/Yugoslavia, I will offer reflections on the ways in which a cultural form participated in the longer process of class formation.
Martina Domines Veliki (University of Zagreb)
Wordsworth, Shelley and the Fear of the Masses
This paper will take into consideration the new historicist readings of Wordsworth and Shelley to focus on the sublime power of money and the way it affected their writings. In this sense, Wordsworth’s potential for democratization will be questioned along the lines of his experience of the sublime in The Prelude and his agrarian humanism in The Excursion while Shelley’s fictional radicalism is going to be tested against his views on political economy as expounded in A Philosophical View of Reform and his hope for a peaceful revolution in The Mask of Anarchy and Prometheus Unbound. Read against the rising culture of radical oratory exemplified by William Cobbett and Henry Hunt and their experiences and true involvement in helping the labouring poor, the two poets’ ideas on the condition of England would prove to be imbued with reactionary rather than radical potential. Thus, Wordsworth would prove to be Shelley’s teacher in the aesthetic experience of the sublime, a cultivated taste that is class-related and as such seeks to preserve the social status-quo rather than embrace the dangers of true radicalism and the consequences of helping the poor. The political economy of the day will be viewed in the paper as ‘an invisible hand’ influencing the two poets’ involvement in socio-political reality – an invisible force visible in its effects.
Boris Dundović (University of Zagreb)
The Governor’s Palace in Rijeka as an Architectural Manifestation of the Hungarian Socio-Political Body at the Close of the Nineteenth Century
After the Croatian-Hungarian Settlement of 1868, Rijeka became territory of the Kingdom of Hungary and its only maritime outlet. Administered and fuelled by Hungarian capital, Rijeka saw a period of astounding economic development, primarily with the expansion of the urban fabric, which completely changed not only the landscape and the overall appearance of the town, but also its social and cultural structure. Built primarily by Hungarian architects, the monumental buildings served principally as tools of political assertion and symbols of the power of the Hungarian socio-political body.
The construction of the new Governor’s Palace was announced when Count Batthyány was appointed Governor of Fiume in 1890. The design and construction of the future Palace were entrusted to Alajos Hauszmann, a prominent Hungarian architect and professor at the Budapest Polytechnic. Hauszmann was revered for his rich architectural oeuvre, for buildings which exerted a profound influence on the development of Hungarian architecture of the period and which had already become well-known symbols of Budapest as a modern capital. Viewed by the authorities as a displaced part of a single Hungarian territory (a colony) and driven by the increasing intensity of the town’s economy, Rijeka symptomatically strived to adopt features of a modern Hungarian city.
The carefully chosen location provided the authorities with an ideal setting for the Palace, designed as a monumental Palladian villa with a dominantly elevated position and a sublime presence in the city panorama. To ensure the desired position in the cityscape of Rijeka, the new complex necessitated a complete urban reconstruction of the upper town area.
This paper aims to demonstrate the intricate and multiply coded mechanism of the Governor’s Palace as an instance of Hungarian hegemony and colonialism. It is part of the author’s research conducted within the Heritage Urbanism project funded by the Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ-2032).
Catherine M. Eagan (Las Positas College)
Mat Johnson's Pym, a Modern Slave Narrative, and the Chains of Neoliberalism
Mat Johnson’s novel Pym (2011) is a comedic, fantastical reflection not just on the power of whiteness but on the power of neoliberalism, a power more significant, Johnson implies, than the power that holds human bodies in bondage. Living as we are in a world where a real estate mogul and reality television star is now President of the United States, where post-Great Society and post-socialist economies are struggling, and where white nationalism is surging, one might hope that Johnson's riff on Edgar Allan Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838), would provide a multicultural, liberationist alternative to Poe's narrative of white racial anxiety. Instead, Johnson's protagonist, recently fired tenure-track, African-American professor Chris Jaynes, is ultimately unable to “affect the entire social fabric of the most powerful nation in the world” (Johnson 8) with his scholarship on the Africanist presence in whiteness. Jaynes hopes, however, that he can at least honor the legacy of Pym's mixed-race fellow crewman, Dirk Peters, who, he discovers, protects Tsalal, the south pole island of the novel that is incongruously populated by Africans, from the predations of colonialism. Whether Jaynes succeeds is an open question given the novel's cryptic ending, but Johnson's larger point in the novel is that Jaynes' quest, pursued in Antarctica with a crew of African Americans, is thwarted at every turn by the crew members' interest in their own self-aggrandizement. As Lester Spence argues in Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, African-American politics is currently so committed to the pursuit of success that resistance is neutered. Johnson provides less of a way forward, than a brilliant critique of how deeply neoliberal ideas penetrate.
Kimberly Engber (Wichita State University)
Representing Resistance as American Women’s Work
Some of the resistance to recent political changes in the U.S. culminated in a January 21, 2017 Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and led to related marches around the country and around the world. The women’s march generated a global visual vocabulary of resistance carried by men, women, and children. Men’s signs proclaimed “I’m With Her” with arrows pointing in all directions. Other signs called the crowd to intersectionality, directly addressing the lack of diversity early in the organization stages of the march and addressing perceptions of the women’s movement today as still too narrowly focused on empowering relatively privileged white middle class women. Many signs reflected and aimed to reclaim language used against women during the presidential election. The questions of whether and to what extent this visual vocabulary will be effective and of what future there is for women’s resistance in the U.S. and globally remain unanswered. I propose that it will be equally useful in this moment to establish a history of representing resistance as American women’s work. I will examine literary representations of resistance from mid-nineteenth century women writers such as Margaret Fuller through popular early- to mid- twentieth century girls’ books such as the Nancy Drew mysteries, the series books by Canadian writer Lucy Maude Montgomery, and Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to essays by Adrienne Rich that trace the formation of women’s studies as a “counterdiscipline” within the U.S. university of the 1970s and 1980s. This is proposed as an exploratory rather than a focused examination, undertaken to establish an initial, broad framework for considering how and with what consequences resistance has been represented as gendered work.
Grant Farred (Cornell University)
Foucault: Race, Communism and Modernity
. . . the modern state can scarcely function without becoming involved with racism at some point, within certain limits and subject to certain conditions.
~ Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended.
This fellow is a catastrophe, but that’s no reason not to find him interesting as a personality and a destiny.
~ Thomas Mann, “Brother Hitler.”
Racism, Foucault declares in his 1976 lecture on biopower, is endemic to the state. Racism signals a break within the biological hierarchy of the state in so far as it reserves, this break which we might, as a conceptual insufficiency, signal as the disciplinary power of the state, to itself the right to decide between what must live and what must die. On this matter Foucault is universalist, his denunciation of “state racism” extending from the neo-liberal to the socialist state, describing the latter as “not a truly ethnic racism, but racism of the evolutionist kind, biological racism”. The possibility of, to cast the matter as a political slogan, no socialism without racism is a sobering, disconcerting one – but, given how “ethnically-derived” violence has been the order of the day from certain regions in the old Soviet bloc to Zimbabwe or Angola, it is almost necessary to suggest that it would be very difficult to distinguish “ethnic racism” from “biological racism,” a rather unpleasant political truth. There is something evocative for our discussion, both as a historical genealogy and as a call to the urgencies of our conjuncture, about Thomas Mann’s call to understand “catastrophe.” Both Foucault and Mann are addressing Nazism and it is apartheid, of course, that “succeeds” – or, takes its place alongside – Nazism as a political logic. It is Nazism that establishes, as Foucault argues, “distinction among races, the hierarchy of races, the fact that certain races are described as good and that others, in contrast, are described as inferior; all this is a way of fragmenting the field of the biological that power controls”. Racism breaks the “field of the biological” and as such orders the population in its terms – the division is simple, between superior and inferior, between the Über- and the Untermensch. This presentation takes up Foucault as a thinker of race.
Stipe Grgas (University of Zagreb)
Spatiality and the Question of Capital
I raise the question of capital because, notwithstanding the reinsertion of capitalism into the discourses of the humanities and the social sciences, as evidenced for example by our research project, capital itself has not, in my opinion, been adequately addressed. One possible reason for this lacuna is the privileging of knowledge that engages this or that historical mutation of capital. On the present occasion I argue for a spatial approach to the issue not in the sense of geographically differentiating capitalism – as the subtitle of our project does – but of asking what does capital as such do to space. In my presentation I will focus on Marx's Grundrisse and show how in that text we find a convincing and still relevant account of the dynamic of capital. In my conclusion I will attempt an explanation why Marxist thinkers and affiliated political projects downplayed Marx's spatiality and ignored his explosive insights into how capital works.
Tvrtko Jakovina (University of Zagreb)
The Second Cold War and the End of History (1980s-1990s): Decade of Yugoslav Decadence and the Peak of American Power
The departure of Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980), the President-for-Life and Marshall of Yugoslavia from the political scene, coincides with the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union intervened militarily in the neighbouring country towards the end of December 1979. Afghanistan was a non-aligned, socialist country and it was not, much like Yugoslavia, a member of the Warsaw Pact. The US media could not but stress the coincidences. Both, President Carter (1977-1981), who communicated frequently with Tito, as well as well as President Roland Reagan (1981-1989), who was much more ideologically rigid, did not basically change US policy towards the SFRY at the time when Tito was replaced by the collective head of state, the Presidency of the SFRY, when the state entered deep economic and soon a political crisis, as well. The change in the US approach had been clearly indicated only by Warren Zimmerman, the last US ambassador to Belgrade. But the change occurred only following the dramatic changes in Eastern Europe. At the time, the US diplomat warned that Yugoslavia continues to be important to Washington, however, that State Department policy would be much harsher regarding human rights compliance and democratisation. In the last ten years of the Cold War the USA and Yugoslavia have had extremely intensive relations, but this is also the time when the country, which had been used to the image of being important, was also dissolved.
The topic of this article are the relations of the socialist country in crisis, a country outside the influence of Kremlin and the United States of America, that has tolerated and maintained the Yugoslav system for decades. Yugoslav socialist, non-aligned system was convenient for the USA in the Cold War conflict with Moscow, regardless of the fact that objective empathy towards Yugoslav communism by the US political elite was not strong. The article shall demonstrate the important points of international relations on the basis of Yugoslav-US relations, and the important role of the so-called small countries on the global political scene in the Cold War era.
Renata Jambrešić Kirin (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb)
Women revolutionaries between ”heretical histories” and anticommunist hysteria
Anna Kuliscioff (1857-1925), Angelica Balabanoff (1869-1965), Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952), Elena Stasova (1873-1966), and Inessa Armand (1874-1920), were among distinguished revolutionaries who, widely travelling and linking Western and Russian leftist intelligentsia, agitated for the communist cause and proletarian revolutions across Europe. Their Yugoslav counterparts – sisters Gabrielle, Serena and Barbara Seidenfeld, born in Rijeka at the end of the 19th century, Angela Vode (1892-1985), Milena Mohorič (1905-1972), and Herta Haas (1914-2000) – also acted conspiratorially and revolutionary in a transnational milieu under the constant threat of social stigma, prison, exile, and later even Stalinist reprisals. Predominantly coming from bourgeois families, those remarkable women used their sociocultural capital, professional competences (knowledge of languages, typing, shorthand or coding skills), and abilities of cultural translation and class transition to cross and transcend physical and mental, moral and sexual, national and class borders and barriers of bourgeois society. Unlike women who used their university education to maintain or increase their social status, female revolutionaries with huge self-abnegation and zeal devoted their lives to dangerous political work and the world revolution. However, most of them are not part of the socialist or leftist “Parthenon,” but of “heretical histories” that, according to Ranciere, depict those persons, thoughts and actions that have been covered up or silenced by archives, academic institutions and public intellectuals. Only a few entered political history whereas an army of "absolute comrades" (E. Stasova’s alias) – countless Comintern’s couriers, secretaries and treasurers, as neglected "maids of revolution” – fall into oblivion. The aim of the paper is to explore in what way is the coordinated damnatio memoriae of “red heroines” result of their unusual party criticism and disloyalty, their feminist favoring of dialogue, oral communication and speeches, their thwarted political ambitions, or their lifestyle and political agency which – in pre-socialist as well as in post-socialist contexts – symbolize a threat to pillars of capitalist culture and nation-state (order, religion, family).
Tatjana Jukić (University of Zagreb)
Capitalism MacGuffinized and the Truth of America: Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest
In North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock mobilizes his story around the slick advertising world of New York City, to then move it across the United States until its rationale has been fully revealed and enacted on Mount Rushmore—as if to suggest that North by Northwest entails somehow the rationale of America. Cary Grant is crucial to this logic, because his journey across the States, which coincides with his near-Oedipal quest for a self, reveals America to be precisely the “new continent” which gives rise to a “new man”: the expression Hannah Arendt quotes from John Hector St. John de Crèvecœur and John Adams, but uses to describe a Jeffersonian ideation of America.
Structural to this proposition is the fact that Cary Grant starts off as an advertising agent, a Mad man, whose work and intelligence, indivisible, serve to process work and intelligence into a MacGuffin, so that the idea of a MacGuffin is shown to assimilate Oedipal structures, as well the political economy of capitalism. In Slavoj Žižek’s words, MacGuffins in Hitchcock designate “‘nothing at all’, an empty place, a pure pretext whose sole role is to set the story in motion.” It is only that in North by Northwest the MacGuffin, inseparable from Grant, is revealed to entertain a peculiar intellectual intensity, so that Oedipal structures and the political economy of capitalism are not simply assigned over to a “nothing at all”; instead, the MacGuffin turns out to entail the labor of metaphor at its purest. As MacGuffins are routinely defined in contradistinction to the story, it follows that narrative raison in Hitchcock’s cinema remains heterogeneous and exterior to the ideation reducible to metaphor. Tellingly, the story of North by Northwest assumes the Cold War as its framework, to which capitalism is constituent insofar as it mobilizes socialism as an autoimmune response. Hitchcock, however, suggests that America, not socialism, may be an autoimmune response to capitalism: not any America but the revolutionary, Jeffersonian one, with its chthonic, metonymic debris (with its toxic continental cornfields, exploding oil, impassive rocks…), which weighs upon capitalism and sexuation alike, as they complete their transition into metaphor.
Tihana Klepač (University of Zagreb)
Wakefield’s A Letter from Sydney and Gentlemanly Capitalism
The ending of protection and the institution of a new monetary model ended the supremacy of the landed aristocracy, with a new type of capitalism, the one based on services and finance, becoming dominant after 1850. Peter J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins posited a theory of gentlemanly capitalism (or New Imperialism) claiming that British imperialism was driven by London’s City and landed interests. However, the focus shifts from manufacture and geopolitics as a basis of such capitalism to the expansion of the empire as orchestrated from the City. The position of London as a “world city” depended on international peace and free trade which is why the policy of appeasement was introduced. As the empire grew, the settled nations progressed from the coastlines into the interior where the crown land was awarded to the deserving few. In turn, they were the prime financial agents of gentlemanly capitalism. Dependence on British financial institutions, capital and trade was so great in Australia that Cain and Hopkins describe it employing Wakefield’s term of Australia being an “extension of an old society.” Wakefield’s A Letter from Sydney is a prime example of an apology of gentlemanly capitalism published in 1829.
Borislav Knežević (University of Zagreb)
Does Capitalism Have a Civilization? J.A. Schumpeter's View
In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy Joseph A. Schumpeter argued that capitalism was the fundamental force in the creation of contemporary civilization. Fostering a specific form of rationality, capitalism helped along the development of modern science, but also of the social actors and material conditions and even of the culture and the way of life of contemporary civilization. In addition, Schumpeter sought to demonstrate that the very civilization created by capitalism contained a logic of its decline, one which he saw as a cultural logic of capitalism. In discussing Schumpeter’s views on civilization and capitalism, I will seek to single out and examine some of the problematic assumptions driving his argument, and especially the problems that derive from his account of the origin of modern rationality, as well as those that derive from his central concern with the interrelationship between the economic and the cultural. Schumpeter’s analysis contains propositions about capitalist contradictions which are formally not unlike those that can be found in Marxian teleological assumptions about history (while Schumpeter’s writing was at the same time informed by a critique of Marxian political economy). On the other hand, I will argue that the interesting theoretical potential of Schumpeter’s analysis lies particularly in his curiosity about the changing character of the historical interactions between the economic and the cultural.
Danijela Lugarić (University of Zagreb)
L. N. Tolstoy's “Victorian Russia”: Notes on “the English Theme” and Class Cultures in Anna Karenina
In her diary, Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya writes: “I know when Lyovochka turns to reading English novels, then he will soon turn to writing” (Tolstaya 1978 I: 10; see Mandelker 1993: 58). Tolstoy’s admiration for the Victorian novel and his engagement with the English literary tradition are well documented in his diaries and personal correspondence. He considered England to be the only civilized country in Europe and viewed English society (and particularly the Victorian version of idealized family life) as a kind of utopia. As Stiva describes, Lyovin shares the “Dickensian” prejudice towards Anna’s behavior. The (unnamed) English novel which she reads on the train ride from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and while waiting for her unloved husband to come home, has a far-reaching impact on her future life. The influences of Victorian literature were so considerable that Anna Karenina is sometimes described as a novel about the “Victorian Russia”. However, as the Russian literary scholar B. Eikhenbaum notes in his seminal study Lev Tolstoy: 70-ye gody (1974), this relationship is by no means straightforward: “At first sight, it appears as though the novel is grounded in the European model: it combines traditions of the English family novel, and the French adultère novel… but Anna Karenina… doesn’t represent the European traditions, but, instead, it overcomes them.” Other researchers also show that the legacy of the English novel in Anna Karenina is ambivalent: on the one hand, English literary tradition is a source of inspiration; while on the other hand, it stands for values which are destructive, alien, false, and even dangerous. The most “eye-catching” in this respect is the motif of the train, which in popular consciousness of the time was associated with England, due to the fact that England was the first country to implement a mechanized rail transport system critical to the Industrial Revolution. In Tolstoy’s novel, this motif plays a paramount role: it is not only a destructive force in the personal lives of its protagonists, but also symbolizes the erasure of an old Russian way of life in favor of the industrial, “English” way of life, which, curiously enough, Anna – at least according to Dolly's perception – develops at Vronsky’s estate.
The intention of this paper is to extend the analysis of these intercultural and intertextual connections by focusing on the fact that the English theme in Anna Karenina is closely linked with the literary representations of class cultures, which gained visibility after the radical changes (such as emancipation of the serfs and educational reforms) after the Crimean War. The English theme emerges, namely, not only in relation to the symbolism of the train (the widespread train system in Russia not only introduces industrial, “English” lifestyle, but also reinforces social mobility and therefore establishes modern class system), but especially in relation to the protagonists’ (conspicuous) consumer habits, i.e. in relation to their public display of economic/societal (class) superiority. To that end, this paper aims to map out some of the aspects of class in Anna Karenina, especially with regard to the ways in which it draws on the Victorian intertext (and the fact that it was the Victorian literature that introduced the modern class system) in order to portray class struggle, class hierarchy and class consciousness in Russian society of the time.
Christine Magerski (University of Zagreb)
From life-business to the art of life. A new stage in the history of capitalist culture?
Using the perspective of cultural sociology, this paper examines the relationship between capitalism, lifestyle and art. After introducing the concepts of “life-business” and the “art of life,” coined by Zygmunt Bauman, the debate over modernity is consulted, since that debate has garnered a more fine-grained critical apparatus than those found in current cultural history, especially when it comes to the impact of capitalism on individual life. Yet, the debate over modernity underemphasizes the important role that art plays in understanding the relationship between capitalism, culture and lifestyle. Hence, in this paper, an empirical contribution from cultural history is considered as a way to close the gap. Drawing upon the history of Bohemian culture in particular, the paper sketches the turn from “life-business” to the “art of life.“ In its outline here, this turn from business to art as the principal norm-driving element constitutes a cultural history that has reached the stage of the aestheticisation of society.
Ljubica Matek (University of Osijek)
The Evil Double and the Origins of Capitalist Realism: Why is an Alternative to Capitalism Still Unthinkable?
To return today to discussions of R. L. Stevenson's seminal novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) might seem as a redundant decision since the text has long ago become a household name across Western culture(s). And yet it seems particularly relevant to revisit Stevenson's text in the light of Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism (2009) and the ideas of pervasiveness and inevitability of capitalism as the best/the only possible type of social and economic organization. In his novella about doubles, Stevenson has proposed a class dichotomy between the (desired) norm (the upper-class rich) and the abjectionable Other (the working class), as well as suggested the only possible path for scientific research, namely that which is in line with the demands of the capitalist market, itself a reflection of the social and economic ideology of the dominant class, revealing any deviating research paths as abominable and immoral. By designating Jekyll's alternative personality as his aesthetic, social, and moral opposite (an “evil“ double), Stevenson has labelled the ways of the upper-class Victorians as morally right, as well as denounced human desire, a polymorphic and unappeasable phenomenon, as a threat to the established social system. In addition, the novella can be seen as depicting a double moral standard according to which Hyde's transgressions are seen as immoral and unacceptable, whereas Jekyll's are justified and viewed with compassion and understanding. This double standard establishes Jekyll's social position as affirmative and desirable, and he becomes the victim of the deplorable “evil” Other who injures the dominant order. The class dichotomy thus represented, between the entitled and respectable gentlemen and the uncultured angry mob, continues to persist as the accurate image of capitalist ideology.
Wolfgang Müller-Funk (University of Vienna)
Cultural Patterns of Capitalism. A Close Reading of Joseph Schumpeter and Georg Simmel
With regard to capitalism, the Anglo-Saxon and the Continental-European seem to represent different symbolic spaces. Culturally speaking, the first lives more or less in capitalism; in contrast, capitalism had always had problems of legitimation (to speak with Habermas) in many European countries up to the present. The marginal intellectual acceptance of Marxism in the UK or in the US is a symptom of this cultural difference. Discussing the influential Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter and the German philosopher Georg Simmel, one can understand capitalism not only as an economic model, but moreover as a form of civilization and culture. Both thinkers are interesting because of what I call "ambivalence". So they are different both from Marxist theory and the various theories which tried to legitimate capitalist economy. By the way, Austria has created economic thinkers from both camps such as the Austro-Marxist Rudolf Hilferding, who inspired for example Lenin´s influential writings on imperialism but also the liberal-conservative Austrian School of National Economy (von Mises, von Hayek).
Tanja Petrović (Institute of Culture and Memory Studies, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Miners’ Bodies and Class Imagination in Socialist Yugoslavia and its Aftermath
In this paper my aim is to challenge both, the idea of capitalist and socialist societies of the second half of the 20th century as clearly separate and economically and ideologically opposite, as well as the understanding of class as a stable, fixed and exclusively economically defined category. Focusing on visual representations of miners in socialist Yugoslavia and post-Yugoslav societies in the media, popular culture and art, the paper scrutinizes discrepancy between ideological centrality of the miner’s figure and their experience of marginality, suffering, and bodily deterioration. It argues for the necessity to think of class as an outcome of cultural representations, and imagination, and a result of moral and affective economies that cater to the interests, needs, and desires of particular social groups.
The analyzed material reveals miners’ class identity as fluid, ambiguous, and largely defined by the needs and imagination of those who (in capitalism) are usually labeled “middle class”. It is “middle class”, or society in general, who nurtured fascination with nude, aestheticized working bodies of labor, but remained uninterested in real feelings these bodies experienced at the margins of social life.
The fact that the Yugoslav socialist imagination of the miners’ bodies fit into much broader representational frameworks of the time, as well as the continuity between such representations and pre- and post-socialist periods within the local histories of labor and class relations, point to the economies of class-based desire, self-perception, and morality as driving forces for class identity articulation. Looking at class dynamics from such a perspective helps de-essentialize Yugoslav socialism, as it reveals socialist Yugoslavia as not so different from capitalist societies in the second half of the 20th century. This perspective, even more importantly, exposes class relations and cultural production that both constitute and reflect these relations as complex, dynamic, and irreducible to dialogue with “the socialist regime.”
Iva Polak (University of Zagreb)
Of Brothels and Colonies and “Dumb Deals”: Australia’s Migration Policy as a Precursor to Trump’s Wall and Executive (Dis)Orders
Discussing the principles of heterotopia, Foucault argues that brothels and colonies are two “extreme types of heterotopia”, adding thereto that the boat, as “a floating piece of space”, has not only been “the great instrument of economic development” and the greatest depository of imagination, but also “the heterotopia par excellence”. Drawing on Foucault’s premise of the boat as a space without a place which fluctuates between heterotopia of illusion (i.e. brothel) and compensation (i.e. colony), the paper will show how the boat in the recent history of Australia has served to lay bare “Global Capitalism without a Human Face” (Suvin), which has become the determining factor of the consensus reality. By tracing the history of Australia’s highly controversial migration policy concerning people attempting to illegally arrive to Australia by boat, which dates from 2001 and the “Tampa Affair” (which implies that Trump is “catching up” with Australia’s harsh deterrence policies), the paper will argue that in the context of Australia’s contemporary history the boat constitutes an uneasy nexus between the point of departure (heterotopia of crisis) and the point of arrival (heterotopia of deviation). The paper will demonstrate how the 21st-century heterotopia of deviation (the islands of Nauru and Manus turned into de facto concentration camps) also changes the discourse about the “things transported”: since the “things transported” do not guarantee the often evoked metamorphosis between money and commodity (the commodity in question defies cost-benefit analysis as it is no longer in circulation and generates economic loss), the heterotopia of deviation needs to be additionally justified by the state apparatus with the paraphernalia of the uncanny. This explains why the refugees inhabiting the “offshore detention centres” of Nauru and Manus have not been described by successive Australian governments solely as “irregular maritime arrivals” (denoting their lack of value), but also as potential “terrorists”, “radical Muslims” or, at best, “social problems” if they are given a chance to flock Australia’s shores (which denotes their negative value). Finally, to add a recent “Trumpian” take on the situation, the paper will refer to Obama-Turnbull “dumb deal” (Trump’s tweet) according to which the USA will arrange resettlement of Australia’s refugees housed on the two islands.
Vanja Polić (University of Zagreb)
Capital Matters in Michael Crummey’s Novel Galore
The paper will explore the roles of capital and capitalism on Newfoundland as portrayed in Michael Crummey’s novel Galore (2009). Conceived as magic realist and advertised as “a portrait of the improbable medieval world of rural Newfoundland”, the novel follows several generations of two rival families. The book is in this sense a Newfoundland compendium of inheritance and memory (Sugars), of legend and folklore which reveals itself as inextricably connected to the capitalist beginnings of the island’s settlement. However, the transgenerational narratives of the two families also reflect the early permanent, predominantly white, settlement of the island induced by the rich cod fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland. The paper will therefore analyze the key role of fishing and the workings of capital and capitalism in the colonization of Newfoundland. These capitalist strains are, for example, in Galore personified in the character King-me Sellers, named after the move in the game of checkers, the name which also reflects his prime interest in wealth and power over the community of Paradise Deep. Sellers is the man who owns the fishing fleet and keeps the fishermen in his debt at his local store. The backdrop for capital and capitalism is provided by the novel’s magic realism, most obvious in the forces of legend, irrationality and eccentricity personified by the Widow Devine, a healer and reputed witch who does not obey the laws of King-me Sellers. Thus in the novel the concepts of belonging, community and identity rooted in legend are inextricably intertwined with the capital/ist matters of fishing and colonization, and as such will be the subject of this paper.
Russell Reising (University of Toledo)
Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and the Emergence of Moderno-Capitalist Ontology
Theodore Dreiser’s remarkable first novel, Sister Carrie, has frequently been a battle ground over which conflicting scholarly theories and practices have been waged. Championed by the likes of V. L. Parrington but demonized by Lionel Trilling, Dreiser’s style has struck many as cumbersome, even turgid, but the novel has remained as a core text for those theorizing and/or periodizing American literature. While I personally believe Dreiser to be a much better writer than do many of my Americanist colleagues through the years, I will not debate that issue in this talk. Rather, I will focus on Dreiser’s thinking: about modernity, about capitalism, about cultural transformation, about social change, about the emergence of a modern urban environment and its impact on individual being. Drawing on Marshall Berman’s still useful All That is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity, I will suggest that Dreiser’s titular Carrie embodies, in her very instability, incoherence, transience, and veritable shape shifting, a fundamentally new brand of capitalist ontology, one that not only revises past notions of selfhood (Franklinian, Emersonian, etc.), but positively negates them by embodying a radically new, unmoored sense of self, one almost free from what Dreiser understands as the trammels of identity.
Mark Metzler Sawin (Eastern Mennonite University)
Pickup Truck? Hell Yes!: The Truck as Cultural Dissent in Suburban America
In 1925 Ford introduced the Model T Runabout with Pickup Body for $281. At that time half of all Americans lived in rural areas and 13.5 million people (1/4 of workers) were farmers. Further, in 1920 only 1% of America’s 3 million miles of roads were paved. The pickup was built for these farmers, people who hauled livestock, drove dirt roads, and went to town once a week. But America changed. Following WWII America rapidly urbanized, and thanks to new mechanized farming methods, the number of farmers the nation needed dropped precipitously. By the end of the 20th century only 18% of Americans were rural, less than 2% lived on farms, and 3 million miles of paved roads handled 99% of all traffic. Given this huge demographic change, logic would suggest that the pickup truck would have become a thing of the past as necessary to most Americans as a hay wagon. But instead of dropping, pickup truck sales grew, and amazingly, since the year 2000, American truck sales have exceeded American car sales 15 out of 16 years! Why? I will use a range of cultural documents to illustrate how pickup trucks have become a method of dissent in suburban America. As America suburbanized, Americans began to feel less independent, less self-sufficient, and less powerful. Men felt this especially keenly as “manly” work, both farm and factory, dried up at the same time their daughters and wives increasingly went to school, got jobs, and gained social and political power. The pickup truck has become the physical manifestation of the spirit of dissent against this “new normal.” Long before Trump rallied multitudes behind “Make America Great Again,” Americans had already voted with their feet, and they did so by climbing into their trucks.
Ronald Schleifer (University of Oklahoma)
The Advent of the Corporation in Britain and the United States in the early Twentieth Century: Economic Class and Social Class in Theodore Dreiser and H. G. Wells
This paper examines the nature of corporate culture at the beginning of the twentieth century, particularly in the United States and Britain, in relation to the horizons of knowledge, everyday life, and aesthetic experience. In particular it examines the similarities and differences between the new corporation in Britain and America in relation to long-term structures of social class in Great Britain as contrasted with greater class mobility in relation to economic class in the United States. In both the United States and Britain the beginnings of consumer cultures occasioned by the second industrial revolution in the late nineteenth century transformed what I call an economics of need into the organization of labor and production in relation to the consumption of life-enhancing, rather than life-sustaining commodities, an economics of desire. But the long history of social class in Britain as opposed to the relative absence of social class in the United States inflected the structure and experience of corporate culture in the two nations in significantly different ways. The United States began by socially organizing itself in terms of class mobility – this is easily discernable in the organization of the Virginia colony in the seventeenth century – while British society, like European societies more generally, was organized in terms of caste stability. These differences are readily discernable in two great economic novels of the early twentieth century, Theodore Dreiser’s depiction of the capitalist magnate, Frank Cowperwood in The Financier and The Titan, and H. G. Well’s depiction of the marketing magnates, George and Edward Ponderovo in Tono-Bungay. In this paper, I focus on two different manifestations of the institutions of corporate production and corporate life that arose, as we know it, in the early twentieth century, in order to demonstrate the relation between post-classical economics and value.
Jelena Spreicer (University of Zagreb)
The Alternative History of Capitalism in Hannes Stein's Novel Der Komet (2013)
In his essay Future City (2003), Fredric Jameson challenges the assumption that it would be easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism by asserting that the act of writing can be utilized in order to construe “feeble signals of time, of otherness, of change, of Utopia” (Jameson 2003: 76). One such signal emanates from the parahistoric novel Der Komet (The Comet, 2013) by the German-American author and journalist Hannes Stein. The point of divergence from the history of the 20th century is the first assassination attempt on Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. Instead of proceeding with the visit, the heir to the Austrian throne returns to Vienna and curbs centripetal tendencies in Austria-Hungary by granting all provinces a substantial amount of autonomy. By reinforcing the empire’s pull factors, Franz Ferdinand divests the 20th century not only of war and genocide, but also of the exponential growth of capitalist economy after WWII. As this paper will show, Stein’s Habsburg uchronia is fatally undermined not only by the imminent danger of apocalypse in the form of a comet plummeting down on the pacifist population of the modern-day Danube Monarchy, but also by the dual structure of the novel, which precludes any possibility of historical otherness. However, the postmodern “felix Austria” is more than mere textual exercise: it opens a discourse on the alternative to the notion of the modern nation, that inexorable centripetal force behind the demise of the Habsburg Monarchy, which was, paradoxically, created by the monarchs themselves in the attempt to establish a single market within their own borders.
Jelena Šesnić (University of Zagreb)
Sentimental Women in the Post-revolutionary American Geoculture of the 1790s
Early and post-Revolution U.S. American literature has recently been revisited as a feature of an intense circulation of cultural goods in the Atlantic sphere, rather than seen as a nationally bounded phenomenon (Armstrong and Tennenhouse). Furthermore, texts focusing on women (and occasionally also authored by women) and displaying female body as a locus of sentimentality, seduction, sensibility and consumption, figure as an important token of that exchange, even as they serve as allegories of a number of new social dispensations in the young Republic.
In a recent study on the rise of the American novel in the 1790s, Stephen Shapiro uses the world-system notion of geoculture to account for the belated but creative re-appropriation of the conventions of French and British sentimental traditions into the American novel under the conditions obtaining in the Atlantic semi-periphery of the chain of eastern seaboard harbors (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore). Even though Shapiro's archive doesn't explicitly engage women writers, his reading of some geocultural elements, notably, sensibility, sentimental cultural production, sensational consumption, and slavery (Shapiro’s terms) seems to encourage this line of inquiry into female authors of the period. My focus will consequently be on two popular sentimental novels of the 1790s, Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple and Hannah Webster's The Coquette. Rather than functioning simply as cautionary tales, the novels, which center on seduction and thus demarcating the scope of female agency, should also be understood as creative responses to as well as generators of many realignments in personal identities and social relations of the early Republic. The question remains, however, if the small cohort of women writers inscribes the stock geocultural elements in the same way as their male counterparts in the period and so simply submit their female-centered plots to the economic and cultural imperatives of an emerging class of merchants, or if they allow for an expanded application of the borrowed cultural elements. Concurrently, my discussion will engage the possibility that sentimentalism, as one of the key articulations of the bourgeois emerging in the 18th century, be considered as a philosophical template which aligns the “democratic sentiment” (Gross) with the currents of commerce.
Slavica Troskot (University of Zadar)
Bitter sweet history of plantation labor and the irony of freedom in All I Asking for is my Body by Milton Murayama
A year after the end of the American Civil War Mark Twain wrote about the importance of the plantation economy for the Hawaiian Kingdom, in his letters for Sacramento Union, stating that “the plantations build up the whole kingdom, while the whaling trade only build up Honolulu and one or two smaller seaports” (91). On the mainland before the War sugar production was connected to slavery extension to the South, so Louisiana in the 1830s “proved ideal for growing sugarcane profitably…supplying the nation with about half of its sugar supply” (Outline, 127). Comparing conditions of sugar production and having in mind the abolition of slavery Twain proposed coolie labor as a cheap economic solution for California bravely stating that: “You will not always go on paying $80 or $100 a month for labor which you can hire for $5.” (271). Coolie or Chinese “ku-li” meaning bitter labor was in its core a direct response to the end of the African slave trade. The economy of the Islands, annexed by the United States in 1898, was dominated by the five large firms the so called Big Five (Leonard, 553-569). If history tells us what was, then literature, as some would agree, tells us how thing were. Voiceless for decades the plantation workers finally became visible in literature thanks to the novel from 1975 All I Asking for is my Body by Milton Murayama. This was not the first fiction, about this topic coming from the descendant of Asian workers, having in mind writer Jon Shirota (Lucky Come Hawaii, 1968) and Shelley Ota (Upon their Shoulders, 1951), but according to Hawaiian literary historian Stephen Sumida “The novel was unprecedented, yet when I first read it in 1975… Murayama’s story, his characters, and certainly the language were as familiar to me as if they were my own.” (115). The aim of this presentation would be to remind us how this novel offers a valuable insight into harsh life of the generations of underpaid laborers and their families from the nineteenth century that continued long after the annexation and deep into the twentieth century, conditions of life that according to Murayama, Ray Stannard Baker called “the last surviving vestige of feudalism in the United States” (33). In the short and complex story of difficult living and working conditions an additional curiosity appears, that of a worker named according to his region of origin, Three-Quarter Dalmatio.