This book, this truly great book, should be read without further delay by all those who feel concerned by the idea –past, present and future– of Europe. At first sight, it is only a book on a rather overlooked form of Modernism; that is, the Austrian Modernism of the post-World War I period (Modernism, as we know, is more commonly studied in other linguistic and geographical areas, and Austrian Modernism remains strongly associated with pre-World War I culture).
Contrary to film or sports, for instance, literature is a part of culture in which there are still heated debates on what is “good” and what is “bad”.
There are many reasons to consider this book, for now alas only available in a hardback, library-only version, the most important publication in cultural studies of the year 2015.
The founding father of situationism, a highly politicized neo-avant-garde movement that is said to have played a decisive role in the May 68 turmoil and author of the influential essay The Society of the Spectacle, Guy-Ernest Debord is considered one of the most important French thinkers of the second half of the 20th Century.
Writing without teachers is one of the few handbooks for writing and composition that is frequently used in American creative writing classes. The outcome of the notes that Peter Elbow, professor emeritus of English literature and creative writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, took during the long years during which he was experiencing a writer’s block, contains exercises that mainly aim at getting and keeping the writing going.
One of Cultural Studies more interesting scholars is Andrew Ross. Besides being an activist, being infamously involved in the Sokal affair (physicist Alan Sokal managed to get a nonsensical article published in the journal with Ross on the editorial board), and being brave enough to ethnographically immerse himself in the life of “Celebration, Florida”, a constructed town by the Disney corporation (as an alternative form of post-Sokal sabbatical reorientation), he also wrote quite a famous book on the conditions of labor in the new neoliberal climate: Nice Work If You Can Get It.
Recently there has been an impressive amount of publications in French on the cultural as well as the societal value of the humanities (Yves Citton) or, more specifically of literature (Tzvetan Todorov, Antoine Compagnon, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, among others). The new book by William Marx, a world-leading voice in the field of literary studies (see for instance his L’Adieu à la littérature, 2005), does just this and simultaneously brings forth something completely different, and that is one of the many reasons to read it urgently.