Steven Fielding

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To understand contemporary politics we must understand how it is represented in fiction. This is the main argument in A State of Play: British Politics on Screen, Stage and Page, from Anthony Trollope to The Thick of It (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) a new book by Steven Fielding, Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham. The book explores how British politics has been represented in fiction from the late Victorian era through to the present. The book identifies a fascinating set of core themes, including how the political class has been defended and attacked, how the idea of populism has developed over time, along with the changing role of women in British political fiction. A State of Play does not over-claim, stressing that although an understanding of fiction is essential to understanding politics, we still don’t know the exact relationship between people’s political participation and political fiction. However, it does make a convincing case that any understanding of the British political system will be insufficient without understanding how it has been imagined and depicted. Indeed, as later chapters show, the mode of depiction itself has become an important territory for explaining British political culture. The book contains a huge range of examples, from the more well known television series, such as Yes, Minister and The Thick of It, through to obscure and perhaps forgotten books such as The Mistress of Downing Street. Overall it will be of interest to academics and the public alike.


Beth DriscollThe New Literary Middlebrow: Readers and Tastemaking in the Twenty-First Century

December 3, 2014

It is a cliche to suggest we are what we read, but it is also an important insight. In The New Literary Middlebrow: Readers and Tastemaking in the Twenty First Century (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2014), Beth Driscoll, from University of Melbourne, extends and critiques the work of Pierre Bourdieu to account for modern literary tastes and the literary [...]

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Sam FriedmanComedy and Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a ‘Good’ Sense of Humour

November 21, 2014

What is funny? What makes you laugh? We think of laughter as being universal idea that applies to everyone, no matter their age, ethnicity, gender or social class. In Comedy and Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a ‘Good’ Sense of Humour (Routledge, 2014), Sam Friedman tries to overturn our assumptions about comedy. The book draws on [...]

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Bruce FinkAgainst Understanding: Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key

November 17, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Psychoanalysis] What can possibly be wrong with the process of understanding in psychoanalytic treatment?  Everything, according to Bruce Fink.  In Against Understanding. Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key (Routledge, 2014), he argues that since understanding is part of the Lacanian imaginary, it often leads to fixed assumptions and projections on the part of [...]

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Randal MarlinPropaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion (Second Edition)

November 17, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Journalism] It’s been 100 years since the start of the First World War, a conflict that cost millions of lives. In his recently revised book, Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion (2013), Randal Marlin writes that Britain pioneered propaganda techniques to sell that war that have been imitated ever since. He tells how the [...]

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Bonnie J. MannSovereign Masculinity: Gender Lessons from the War on Terror

November 12, 2014

In the aftermath of 9/11, the American political landscape and its discourses took a peculiar turn. America’s national sovereignty-conceived as the expression of its indomitable masculinity-had been challenged. Its mythical invulnerability had been crushed. The response of the United States to these events was both disturbing and enlightening. It revealed the darker underbelly of the [...]

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Marisol SandovalFrom Corporate to Social Media: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility in Media and Communications Industries

November 5, 2014

What would a truly ‘social’ social media look like? This is the core question of From Corporate to Social Media: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility in Media and Communication Industries (Routledge, 2014),  the new book by Marisol Sandoval. The text is concerned with the emergence of a seemingly open and democratic space, social media, which is in [...]

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Kathrin YacavoneBenjamin, Barthes, and the Singularity of Photography

October 29, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in French Studies] Kathrin Yacavone‘s Benjamin, Barthes, and the Singularity of Photography (Bloomsbury, 2014) is an engaging study that explores connections between two of the most significant thinkers of the twentieth century: Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and Roland Barthes (1915-1980). Considering Benjamin’s influence on Barthes’ later work on photography, the book also opens up the [...]

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William VineyWaste: A Philosophy of Things

October 15, 2014

What is waste? William Viney‘s Waste: A Philosophy of Things (Bloomsbury, 2014) explores the meaning of waste across a variety of contexts, including literature, sculpture and architecture. The text begins by stressing the importance of time to our understanding of waste, as opposed to more traditional conceptions that are grounded in spatial distinctions. Rather than looking at [...]

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Vernadette V. GonzalezSecuring Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai’i and the Philippines

September 22, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Asian American Studies] Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez‘s Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai’i and the Philippines (Duke University Press, 2013), examines the intertwined relationship between tourism and militarism in Hawai’i and the Philippines. Dr. Gonzalez questions dominant narratives of tourism as a tool of development by focusing on tourism as a means of both [...]

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