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Archives of Authority

Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War

Andrew N. Rubin
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Archives of Authority
    Book Description:

    Combining literary, cultural, and political history, and based on extensive archival research, including previously unseen FBI and CIA documents,Archives of Authorityargues that cultural politics--specifically America's often covert patronage of the arts--played a highly important role in the transfer of imperial authority from Britain to the United States during a critical period after World War II. Andrew Rubin argues that this transfer reshaped the postwar literary space and he shows how, during this time, new and efficient modes of cultural transmission, replication, and travel--such as radio and rapidly and globally circulated journals--completely transformed the position occupied by the postwar writer and the role of world literature.

    Rubin demonstrates that the nearly instantaneous translation of texts by George Orwell, Thomas Mann, W. H. Auden, Richard Wright, Mary McCarthy, and Albert Camus, among others, into interrelated journals that were sponsored by organizations such as the CIA's Congress for Cultural Freedom and circulated around the world effectively reshaped writers, critics, and intellectuals into easily recognizable, transnational figures. Their work formed a new canon of world literature that was celebrated in the United States and supposedly represented the best of contemporary thought, while less politically attractive authors were ignored or even demonized. This championing and demonizing of writers occurred in the name of anti-Communism--the new, transatlantic "civilizing mission" through which postwar cultural and literary authority emerged.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4217-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    ARCHIVES OF AUTHORITY investigates a historically decisive period in the literary and cultural interstices of the Cold War and decolonization. Contributing to a growing body of scholarship that places a renewed emphasis on transnational literary history by analyzing the particular historical and cultural determinants that structure the emergence of dominant literary formations,Archivesengages recent efforts to develop new paradigms for comparative literary historiography that have aimed to reconceive the ideal ofWeltliteratur. A concept first articulated by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1827 in a conversation with his secretary Johann Peter Eckermann, Goethe’s term did not refer to world literature...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Archives of Authority
    (pp. 11-23)

    IN MAY 2000, I wrote what was to be the first of several letters to the Central Intelligence Agency and requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, that it release all available information in its possession about the English poet Stephen Spender (1909–95). While I had no hard evidence proving that Spender was an intelligence agent, I was confident that he had played a direct role in the various institutions that emerged in the early years of the Cold War. From 1953 to 1967, Spender had served as the coeditor ofEncountermagazine— the flagship journal published by the...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Orwell and the Globalization of Literature
    (pp. 24-46)

    Perhaps no British Writer of the late imperial period has left as deep an impression on the literary and political consciousness of subsequent generations as George Orwell.¹ His work, in particularHomage to Catalonia, is esteemed for its intellectual honesty and historical acuity.² His columns on popular culture for theTribunecontributed to the emergence of cultural studies in England.³ His novels of the 1930s— AClergyman’s Daughter, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, andComing Up for Air—influenced a subsequent generation of bilious and bitter male writers of the 1950s.⁴ His writings on language have continued to shape many ongoing...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Transnational Literary Spaces at War
    (pp. 47-73)

    The Differences Between British colonial rule and U.S. imperialism were for the most part structural. Often described as an empire without a major colony, the United States exercised its postwar hegemony through brute force—military interventions, coups, and covert operations in support of groups whose interests coincided with, or did not completely threaten, the articulation of American power abroad.¹ In contrast to the European powers prior to 1945, the United States never depended entirely on the practices of direct colonial rule, even though there were several notable exceptions to this in places such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Archives of Critical Theory
    (pp. 74-86)

    According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Institute for Social Research (or the Frankfurt School, as it has come to be known) was the object of a widespread surveillance operation by the FBI as early as 1934. Almost without exception, nearly every member of the Frankfurt School in exile—Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Henryk Grossman, Leo Lowenthal, Karl Witt- fogel, Frederick Pollock, Franz Neumann, and several others—was policed and investigated; their mail and telegrams were opened and read, their telephones wiretapped, their apartments burglarized, their private affairs scrutinized, and their income taxes audited,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Humanism, Territory, and Techniques of Trouble
    (pp. 87-108)

    Few twentieth-century intellectuals have been the subject of such a large body of criticism in as wide an array of disciplines as Edward Said. A collection of books devoted to his oeuvre has emerged over the past several years.² Much of the criticism, though certainly not all of it, arises out of debates and discussions of his most internationally influential work,Orientalism.³ Yet in spite of all these attempts to define and identify an overarching methodology that can be traced throughout Said’s some twenty-five books, few have successfully, or at the very least convincingly, identified a method that endures from...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 109-140)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-166)
  12. Index
    (pp. 167-185)