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Anti-Apocalypse

Exercises in Genealogical Criticism

1994
Author:

Rowena Lee Quinby

Anti-Apocalypse

Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, the author promotes a variety of critical stances-genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and “pissed criticism”-as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality.

Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, the author promotes a variety of critical stances-genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and “pissed criticism”-as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality.

Anti-Apocalypse is an exciting, original, and important contribution to feminist and social theory. It is both theoretically and politically ambitious, using Foucault’s method of genealogy in ways that help to clarify and realize contemporary feminism’s efforts to resist unitary, dominant structures of knowledge/power.” -- Elayne Rapping, Adelphi University

As the year 2000 looms, heralding a new millennium, apocalyptic thought abounds-and not merely among religious radicals. In politics, science, philosophy, popular culture, and feminist discourse, apprehensions of the End appear in images of cultural decline and urban chaos, forecasts of the end of history and ecological devastation, and visions of a new age of triumphant technology or a gender-free utopia. There is, Lee Quinby contends, a threatening "regime of truth" prevailing in the United States-and this regime, with its enforcement of absolute truth and morality, imperils democracy. In Anti-Apocalypse, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. In doing so, she develops strategies for resisting its tyrannies.
Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby explores the complex relationship between power, truth, ethics, and apocalypse. She exposes the ramifications of this relationship in areas as diverse as jeanswear magazine advertising, the Human Genome project, contemporary feminism and philosophy, texts by Henry Adams and Zora Neale Hurston, and radical democratic activism. By bringing together such a wide range of topics, Quinby shows how apocalypse weaves its way through a vast network of seemingly unrelated discourses and practices.
Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, Quinby reveals how these power relationships produce conflicting modes of subjectivity that create possibilities for resistance. She promotes a variety of critical stances-genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and "pissed criticism"-as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality. Far-reaching in its implications for social and cultural theory as well as for political activism, Anti-Apocalypse will engage readers across the cultural spectrum and challenge them to confront one of the most subtle and insidious orthodoxies of our day.

Lee Quinby is associate professor of English and American studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America (1991) and coeditor (with Irene Diamond) of Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance (1988).

Anti-Apocalypse

Lee Quinby is a Visiting Professor at Macaulay Honors College. She is the author of Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America (1991) and the coeditor (with Irene Diamond) of Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance (1988). Here publications include articles in the American Historical Review, Criticism, and Signs.

Anti-Apocalypse

Quirky, witty, refreshing. . . . . This is a fascinating topic, and Anti-Apocalypse is a thoughtful and innovative work.

American Literature

Employing a Foucauldian line of interrogation by which forms of knowledge are shown to derive from asymetrical power relationships, Quinby explores apocalyptic representations of truth in Western culture in view of preeminent twentieth-century fin-de-siecle issues: Aids, ecological degradation, religious fundamentalism, the emergence of digital technocracies. . . . Anti-Apocalypse is an eclectic, impassioned, and in many respects convincing book that subtly critiques contemporary forms of ‘majoritarian’ thinking that erode at the possibility of genuine sustainable democracy in contemporary America.

William Merill Decker, Oklahoma State University

Anti-Apocalypse is an exciting, original, and important contribution to feminist and social theory. It is both theoretically and politically ambitious, using Foucault’s method of genealogy in ways that help to clarify and realize contemporary feminism’s efforts to resist unitary, dominant structures of knowledge/power.” -- Elayne Rapping, Adelphi University

“...a demonstration of genealogical feminism as resistance in action and everyday life. Anti-Apocalypse brings the apocalyptic to bear on what is both trivial and profound; and it holds up a number of mirrors to apocalyptic thought of the present as well as the past.” -- Frances Bartkowski, Rutgers University