Way Too Cool: Selling Out Race and Ethics

Paperback | September 8, 2015

byShannon Winnubst

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Life, liberty, and the pursuit of cool have informed the American ethos since at least the 1970s. Whether we strive for it in politics or fashion, cool is big business for those who can sell it across a range of markets and media. Yet the concept wasn't always a popular commodity. Cool began as a potent aesthetic of post-World War II black culture, embodying a very specific, highly charged method of resistance to white supremacy and the globalized exploitation of capital.

Way Too Cool follows the hollowing-out of "coolness" in modern American culture and its reflection of a larger evasion of race, racism, and ethics now common in neoliberal society. It revisits such watershed events as the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, second-wave feminism, the emergence of identity politics, 1980s multiculturalism, 1990s rhetorics of diversity and colorblindness, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina, as well as the contemporaneous developments of rising mass incarceration and legalized same-sex marriage. It pairs the perversion of cool with the slow erasure of racial and ethical issues from our social consciousness, which effectively quashes our desire to act ethically and resist abuses of power. The cooler we become, the more indifferent we grow to the question of values, particularly inquiry that spurs protest and conflict. This book sounds an alarm for those who care about preserving our ties to an American tradition of resistance.

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Life, liberty, and the pursuit of cool have informed the American ethos since at least the 1970s. Whether we strive for it in politics or fashion, cool is big business for those who can sell it across a range of markets and media. Yet the concept wasn't always a popular commodity. Cool began as a potent aesthetic of post-World War II ...

Shannon Winnubst is professor of women's, gender, and sexuality studies at the Ohio State University. She is the author of Queering Freedom and editor of Reading Bataille Now.

other books by Shannon Winnubst

Queering Freedom
Queering Freedom

Paperback|Apr 27 2006

$28.59 online$28.95list price
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:September 8, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231172958

ISBN - 13:9780231172950

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: A Very Uncool Book1. Excavating Categories: Foucault's Birth of BiopoliticsInterlude 1: Old School Cool2. Rethinking Difference: The Limits of InterpellationInterlude 2: Instant Cool!3. From Instant Karma to Instant Wealth: The Fantasies and Cathexes of These Neoliberal TimesInterlude 3: Neoliberal Cool4. "How Cool Is That?": Gender and the Neoliberal ImaginaryInterlude 4: The Birth of Cool5. Reading Race as the Real: The Securities and Punishments of Neoliberal CoolInterlude 5: Real Cool, Now6. Stop Making Sense: The Aporia of Race and EthicsNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In this intellectually vibrant text that reads economic doctrines, racialized class inequities, and the lasting residue of popular culture with equal grace, Winnubst uses the genealogy of cool to pen a riveting treatise on race, ethics, and the commodification of social difference. Winnubst's arguments are precise and persuasive, as rigorously crafted as they are creatively composed. This book is poised to shake up how we think, talk and teach about neoliberalism.