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Archives of Authority:
Empire, Culture, and the Cold War
Andrew N. Rubin

Winner of a 2013 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Nonfiction, Lannan Foundation

Hardcover | 2012 | $47.95 | £39.95 | ISBN: 9780691154152
200 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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Combining literary, cultural, and political history, and based on extensive archival research, including previously unseen FBI and CIA documents, Archives of Authority argues 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.


"Archives of Authority is a valuable and thought-provoking work. . . . Archives of Authority will be of great interest to literature scholars, postcolonial theorists, and Cold War specialists across the disciplines. Its critique of cultural instrumentality and appeal for a Said-inflected humanism speak to the stakes of intellectual inquiry, reminding us that in exposing the process by which an unjust world is made, we arm ourselves with the tools to build a different one."--Kirsten Weld, Journal of Archival Organization


"This is a brilliant and highly original investigation of how Cold War politics shaped the emergence of world literature and new forms of cultural authority, literary consecration, and political surveillance in the aftermath of the Second World War. Eye-opening and provocative, Archives of Authority is indispensable reading for all serious scholars of world literature, Cold War cultural politics, and globalization."--Anne McClintock, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Examining the period after World War II, when the United States took on an imperial role previously played by Britain, this remarkable book shows the ways in which Western cultural policies, in opposition to Soviet cultural-political efforts, helped literary culture establish certain authors, while excluding others from attention, leading to a new phase of world literature. The research is extensive and impressive."--Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh

"Enacting a kind of literary archaeology, Rubin's illuminating and necessary book traces the administration of literary culture and its shift from Anglo to American imperial power. Systematic without being sensationalistic, Rubin's journey through the archive allows us to see the epochal changes of Cold War culture that are still with us in ever greater relief."--Ammiel Alcalay, CUNY Graduate Center

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1
Archives of Authority 11
The Archive and the Juridical 12
States of Exception 13
States of Criticism 17

Chapter 2
Orwell and the Globalization of Literature 24
Communist Crypts 28
The "Communist Menace" 34
The Translation of Authority 37
Translation and Modes of Domination 44

Chapter 3
Transnational Literary Spaces at War 47
The Sun Never Sets on the British Writer 47
The Time of Translation 58
London Calling 60
Literary Diplomacy 65

Chapter 4
Archives of Critical Theory 74
Accommodations 80

Chapter 5
Humanism, Territory, and Techniques of Trouble 87
Terrain of Philology 90

Notes 109
Bibliography 141
Index 167


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