Re-thinking Ressentiment

On the Limits of Criticism and the Limits of its Critics

The charge of »Ressentiment« can in today's world – less from traditionally conservative quarters than from the neo-positivist discourses of particular forms of liberalism – be used to undermine the argumentative credibility of political opponents, dissidents and those who call for greater »justice«. The essays in this volume draw on the broad spectrum of cultural discourse on »Ressentiment«, both in historical and contemporary contexts. Starting with its conceptual genesis, the essays also show contemporary nuances of »Ressentiment« as well as its influence on literary and philosophical discourse in the 20th century.

€28.99 * $40.00 *

27 April 2016, 220 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-2128-0

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Jeanne Riou

Jeanne Riou, University College Dublin, Irland

Mary Gallagher

Mary Gallagher, University College Dublin, Irland

... with Jeanne Riou and Mary Gallagher

1. Why a book on this subject?

This book emphasises the critical potential of ideas and also examines those discursive forces that seem to undermine criticism. It sets out to examine both the genesis of the term ›Ressentiment‹ as well as its contemporary nuances. Whether due to ›ad hominem‹ argument or its equivalent in terms of non-engagement with dissenting arguments, critical positions today face increased difficulty in reaching a wider audience.

2. What relevance does this subject have in the current research debates?

At present, the humanities are undergoing what might be termed a transformation into something that is more institutionally-controlled and ›outcomes-driven‹. The ability to generate income has become a marker of success for them. In this context, the notion of academic freedom is under threat; criticism of this model is not infrequently dismissed as a form of ›Ressentiment‹. Thus, what we witness in academia is part of a wider political and discursive framework.

3. What new perspectives does your book open up?

Inquiring into the conceptual history of Ressentiment, this book also examines individual case studies of Ressentiment (or, more correctly, the charge of Ressentiment). Examples include literature, politics and protest movements, for example, the language of claim and counter-claim in the controversy surrounding Germany's proposed railway station, ›Stuttgart 21‹; the accusation of ›Ressentiment‹ in the contemporary politics of Higher Education; the strategies used for countering criticisms of ›austerity‹ in the recent economic crisis.

4. Who would you preferably like to discuss your book with?

In the nature of a study like ours, precisely because we are interested in relationships between claim and counter-claim to the ›truth‹ or validity of a point of view – in particular a critical point of view – we understand ourselves to be intrinsically addressing both those who use the term ›Ressentiment‹ to describe the motivations of others, and those who disagree with this. Additionally, we hope that this debate may help some others in what we would call a third category to understand one of the reasons why it can be difficult to defend ›unpopular‹ or left-of-field positions.

5. Your book in only one sentence:

From a range of perspectives, this book contributes to an analysis of Ressentiment and to how the charge of Ressentiment can be used and has been used to silence unwelcome critical positions.

Jeanne Riou / Mary Gallagher (eds.)
Book title
Re-thinking Ressentiment On the Limits of Criticism and the Limits of its Critics
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung
Commodity Group
SOC022000 LIT000000
Release date
27 April 2016
Kultur, Literatur
Cultural Theory, Literary Studies, Philosophy, Sociology
Ressentiment, Envy, Power, Dissent, Criticism, Culture, Literature, Cultural Theory, General Literature Studies, Cultural History, Cultural Studies

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