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An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalizationby Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Synopses & Reviews
During the past twenty years, the world’s most renowned critical theorist—the scholar who defined the field of postcolonial studies—has experienced a radical reorientation in her thinking. Finding the neat polarities of tradition and modernity, colonial and postcolonial, no longer sufficient for interpreting the globalized present, she turns elsewhere to make her central argument: that aesthetic education is the last available instrument for implementing global justice and democracy.
Spivak’s unwillingness to sacrifice the ethical in the name of the aesthetic, or to sacrifice the aesthetic in grappling with the political, makes her task formidable. As she wrestles with these fraught relationships, she rewrites Friedrich Schiller’s concept of play as double bind, reading Gregory Bateson with Gramsci as she negotiates Immanuel Kant, while in dialogue with her teacher Paul de Man. Among the concerns Spivak addresses is this: Are we ready to forfeit the wealth of the world’s languages in the name of global communication? “Even a good globalization (the failed dream of socialism) requires the uniformity which the diversity of mother-tongues must challenge,” Spivak writes. “The tower of Babel is our refuge.”
In essays on theory, translation, Marxism, gender, and world literature, and on writers such as Assia Djebar, J. M. Coetzee, and Rabindranath Tagore, Spivak argues for the social urgency of the humanities and renews the case for literary studies, imprisoned in the corporate university. “Perhaps,” she writes, “the literary can still do something.”
"A dense but rewarding series of meditations on the possibility of reading, learning, and teaching that would encourage the full flowering of cultural, sexual, and linguistic diversity and resist the homogenizing force of globalization. Working primarily in the field of postcolonial studies and comparative literature, Spivak (The Post-Colonial Critic) also draws on her experience as a trainer of elementary school teachers in West Bengal as she considers figures as diverse as Friedrich Schiller, Rabindranath Tagore, and J.M. Coetzee to argue how 'an aesthetic education' prepares individuals for participation. As usual, with its tortured grammatical structures and addiction to academic jargon, the author's writing style makes few concessions to the unprepared reader. Nonetheless, patience and a passing acquaintance with the work of some of the writers she draws on are all that is necessary to penetrate the formidable depths of her thought. The gathered texts are a testament to a fundamental faith in the power of literature that is never less than inspiring." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
This collection of essays from renowned postcolonial scholar and literary critic Gayatri Chackravorty Spivak, examines the author's evolving views on the place of the aesthetic in the development of global culture and globalized cultures. The essays span a period of almost a quarter century and trace the development of Spivak's postcolonial theories into a new discussion of the role of world language and culture in the subjugation of national, ethnic, gender, and class identities. The text covers such topics as reading the "culturally different" text, culture and feminism, translation as culture, terror and speech after 9/11, and rethinking comparativism. Spivak is a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The world’s most renowned critical theorist—who defined the field of postcolonial studies—has radically reoriented her thinking. Finding the neat polarities of tradition and modernity, colonial and postcolonial, no longer sufficient, she argues that aesthetic education is the last available instrument for implementing global justice and democracy.
About the Author
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor at Columbia University and a trainer of elementary school teachers in West Bengal.
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