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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Will the future unfold?

I'm bothered. I'm bothered because more people aren't talking about this book.

I'll put my cards on the table: Lawrence Grossberg was (and always will be) my teacher, my mentor. But that's not why I'm disturbed about the generally quiet reception of his important new book, "Caught in the Crossfire: Kids, Politics, and America's Future" (Paradigm Publishers, 2005). What's even more troubling is the minimal amount of attention that his argument seems to be receiving within the culture at large. The growing crackdown on kids--criminalizing, marginalizing, and otherwise mistreating them--is no more and no less than an attack on the future, Grossberg argues, an attack on "American modernity" itself. If we take seriously what Lefebvre says in the quotation atop this blog, then we should be fearful of the implications of America's war on kids. What would it mean to foreclose on the very possibility of the future, to fold it up so tightly that we no longer can find it amid all the twists, turns, pleats, knots, and layers?

Read this book, promote it, review it (not just in academic journals), and do what you can to engage its empirical and theoretical findings. It would be a cliche (is that so wrong?) to say, "do it for the children." If cliches don't get you going, then why not do it for the future?

P.S. Hey, Paradigm Publishers! Why not activate Amazon.com's "search inside" features for "Caught in the Crossfire," so that people can browse the text online?

3 comments:

MC said...

Hi Ted,
Nice to see you joining the blogosphere. Handy too as I have failed so far in my efforts to meet you in person! I'm about to write a book chapter on Larry's work which will be looking at Caught in the Crossfire. I'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts about why it isn't being talked about. It's definitely too long and complicated to be getting many non-academic readers (Larry admits this, and by not compromising on its form it took a while to get a publisher) - he needs to market it to the media based on the first chapter or two... which I agree are important. Just looking at the sales rank at Amazon tho it doesn't seem to be doing too badly... On what basis are you sensing it isn't making an impact within academic and cultural studies circles? From Australia it's hard to tell, Larry's work occupies a difficult position here. I usually put this down to his US focus, especially in this book (which isn't a criticism, it's precisely the conjunctural emphasis Larry advocates, following Stuart). Anyway, speaking of the war on kids, this post is interesting...

Ted Striphas said...

Hi Mc,

First of all, thanks for posting a comment. People keep emailing me directly with responses to my blog, and I keep asking them to post comments on the website instead. Anyway, I appreciate your reading D&R and for posting a comment publicly.

I agree that the book appears to be selling--at least on some basis. What concerns me more is that it doesn't appear to have sparked the kind of conversation Larry was hoping to spark. Who knows? Maybe I'm just over-anxious and expecting too much of a book published only this past May. I suppose, at minimum, I'd like to see it start getting reviewed; I've even suggested to Larry that he write a couple of short, spin-off pieces that would be publishable in papers and magazines. I suppose the other thing that concerns me is purely a marketing issue. I respect deeply Larry's decision to publish with Paradigm, though I fear, as a relatively new publisher, that they're not especially well-suited to getting the word out. But then again, I hope they'll prove me wrong.

--t

Ted Striphas said...

Another thing....

Having recently spoken with Larry Grossberg, I've discovered that the book apparently is doing better outside of the US than inside. Quite odd.....