Monthly Archives: December 2011


About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That’s up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty gauge.

see Census Shows 1 in 2 People are Poor or Low-Income from Associated Press


Here are some of the books and films I managed to consume this semester when I should have been doing other things. Though some are better than others I recommend them all.


Gain by Richard Powers

Outstanding. 2 narratives that counterpoint one another. In the first, a small soap-making company adapts to the rise of US capitalism and becomes a multinational corporation. In the second, Laura, a 40 year old mother of 2, discovers she has ovarian cancer.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

A sharply observed political novel about Thomas Cromwell, counselor to Henry VIII and a leading figure in the English Reformation.

Waverly by Walter Scott

Scott’s first novel. A young man joins the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland.

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

Set in de-industrialized Pennsylvania. A novel about crime and the social effects of a faltering economy.


Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies by Jodi Dean

The ideas are as bad-ass as the title. Way beyond the increasingly irrelevant lib/con divide.

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Take Home Final (HUM455)

Due to the false alarm during our final exam, your finals are now take home finals. Submit them to by 11.59 tonight (see id and password below). No late exams will be accepted. Also, if you haven’t turned in your final paper to yet you should do so by 8 pm this evening.

Study Guide (HUM455)

The most difficult text we read this semester– certainly the longest– is Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, which narrates the political vicissitudes of the imaginary country of Costaguana (remember the significance of that name?). In the aftermath of independence and the decades that followed, when a new liberal-nationalist order consolidated, foreign capital increasingly began to control local politics. The era, which most historians argue extends from roughly 1880-1930, is properly known as the age of neocolonialism. In contrast to sub-Saharan Africa, which only fully decolonized in the 1970s (with South Africa, after a fashion, as the major exception) Latin America nations achieved sovereignty by the earlier part of the 19th century. Paradoxically, the “postcolonial” condition Latin Americans found themselves in gave way to a new effort on the part of European nations– particularly the UK– to take up where Spain had left off. The difference, however, lay in the methods for asserting hegemony: rather than caravels and arbalists, foreign powers, represented by private corporations, used money as a means of control. For those who would explore this phenomenon more deeply, the classic text is Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America. For those who are concerned solely with acquiring enough information to do well on the final exam, read on.

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Study Guide (HUM415)

The final half of the semester took us from the UK’s system of higher education to Argentina on the verge of collapse, to the the neoliberal dystopia of a near-future South Africa. In each case the question of capital and its effects– whether on consciousness, geography, demography, or social control– arose. Given that early on in the semester we committed to an exploration of “the dark side” (a phrase which will perhaps, in years to come, owe more to Dick Cheney than Pink Floyd) it seems likely none of us were surprised at the horrors and banalities revealed. What follows is an abbreviated tour of some of the major concepts, figures and locales we encountered.

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Occcupy Theory

We have come to Wall Street as refugees from this na- 

tive dreamland, seeking asylum in the actual. That is what 

we seek to occupy. We seek to rediscover and reclaim the 

world. Many believe we have come to Wall Street to transact 

some kind of business with its denizens, to strike a deal. But 

we have not come to negotiate. We have come to confront 

the darkness at its source, here, where the Big Apple sucks 

in more of the sap from the national tree than it needs or 

deserves, as if spliced from some Edenic forbearer. Serpent- 

size worms feast within, engorged on swollen fruit. Here, the 

world is chewed and digested into bits as tiny and fluid as the 

electrons that traders use to bring nations and homeowners 

to their knees.