This collection of essays addresses two major issues of contemporary culture: the problem of violence in relation to notions of "difference" and power; and the role of mediation in making possible non-conflictive play of cultural differences.
Two major issues in contemporary culture are explored in this book: the problem of violence in relation to the much-debated notions of difference, representation, and power; and the corresponding question of the role of mediation in providing communal space for a nonconflictive play of cultural differences. Focusing on topics as diverse as the semiotics of windows/TV screens, gender relations in contemporary film, the image of Mormons in popular literature, and the dynamics of representation in the fiction of Kafka, Lu Xun, Conrad Aiken, Toni Morrison, and Ronald Sukenick, this book examines the dynamics of violence and mediation from a number of perspectives—literary, philosophical, anthropological, psychological, and sociological. Contributors discuss the legitimation and regulation of violence within the social institutions of law; the systemic violence of commodity exchange within late-capitalist societies; the compensatory mechanisms of sacrificial victimage that mediate social disequilibrium; and the function of representation itself as contemporary culture's prevailing mode of mediating violence. A number of essays envision forms of mediation based on alternatives to an agonistic cultural ethos, suggesting, however, that mediation has its conceptual and pragmatic limitations, serving all too often as a way of conducting violence by other means.
Contributors include Elisabeth Bronfen, Stanley Corngold, Susan Derwin, Terryl Givens, Jerry Herron, Albert Liu, Tonglin Lu, and Mihai Spariosu.
Ronald Bogue is Professor and Head in the Comparative Literature Department at the University of Georgia. He is co-editor of The Play of the Self, also published by SUNY Press. Marcel Cornis-Pope is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.