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American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique Paperback – Sep 21 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (Sept. 21 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609380509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609380502
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #919,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“We are now supposedly in a postracial moment, with an African American president who came of intellectual age in the 1980s, yet if we are to fully confront the changing face of education and politics in this era of perpetual war, economic decline, and virulent ‘authoritarian populist’ Tea Party dissent, it is crucial to begin unraveling our recent history. Catherine Liu offers a compelling polemic for liberalism—a dirty word for 1960s New Leftists and 1990s neoconservatives alike—and any book that annoys these two poles definitely has much going for it. Bringing her considerable knowledge of critical theory about film, literature, media, and philosophy to bear on this historical problem by linking trends within supposedly left/liberal humanities scholarship to the discourse of conservative punditry, American Idyll is nothing less than brilliant.”—Paula Rabinowitz, author, Modernism, Inc.

About the Author

Catherine Liu is the director of the University of California–Irvine’s Humanities    Collective, an associate professor in Film and Media Studies and Visual Studies. She is the author of Oriental Girls Desire Romance (a novel) and Copying Machines: Taking Notes for the Automaton and coeditor of The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century Down the Royal Road.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inverted Populism in Your Superstructure? May 10 2012
By sparagmos - Published on
Format: Paperback
Graduate students, academics, and even Frank Luntz should read this book. Hearing academics preach about their street cred' and working class experiences is a real bore. If you've wondered why it's so important to them, well now's your chance to find out. When ideology soaks into the earth, then rises up into the atmosphere, ultimately, we think, it'll rain down again. Maybe Liu is the rainmaker.

Like Kenneth Burke attempting to orient himself during the thirties, she begins empirically: "Why is everyone throwing around this label 'elitist'?" It's a matter of posing, but she is historical in her approach and precise. Parts of the book are funny, but to be honest, many academics are funny too. However, they're usually unintentionally comical. You can hear snickering behind some of these lines of text.

Liu's text is densely packed, and well worth the read. Her perspective won't suit everyone; but if it does suit you, you'll really enjoy this book. If you became an academic or went to university because you loved the arts, or just the higher-level thinking in philosophy or the humanities, but were confused when you found others there avoiding those things whenever they could, you're probably from a working-class background, an aesthete, an actual elite, or simply not a joiner.

Anyway, Liu orients us as she orients herself, and I'm a reader whose glad she did it.