Deforming American Political Thought : Challenging the Jeffersonian Legacy book cover
2nd Edition

Deforming American Political Thought
Challenging the Jeffersonian Legacy

ISBN 9781138182714
Published February 25, 2016 by Routledge
236 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Deforming American Political Thought offers an alternative to the dominant American historical imagination, treating issues that range from the nature of Thomas Jefferson's vision of an egalitarian nation to the persistence of racial inequality. Presenting multifaceted arguments that transcend the myopic scope of traditional political discourses, Michael J. Shapiro summons disparate disciplines and genres – architecture, crime stories, novels, films, and jazz/blues music (among others) to provide approaches to the comprehension of diverse facets of American political thought from the founding to the present. The book’s various investigations disclose that there have always been dissenting voices, articulated in diverse genres of expression that cast doubt on the moral purpose and exceptionalism of the American mind.

This highly anticipated updated second edition features a preface focusing on aesthetic theory and the contributions of artistic genres for political analysis, and a completely new chapter on critical thinking about the US western and urban encounters afforded by the two HBO series, Deadwood and The Wire respectively.

Table of Contents

1. Securing the American Ethnoscape: Official Surveys and Literary Interventions  2. The Micropolitics of Crime: Aesthetic Comprehension and the ‘Brutality of Fact’  3. Deforming America’s Western Imaginary  4. HBO’s Two Frontiers: Deadwood and The Wire  5. Constructing America: Architectural Thought-Worlds  6. Composing America  7. Democracy’s Risky Businesses: Pluralism and the Metapolitics of Aesthetics

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Michael J. Shapiro is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of political theory and philosophy, critical social theory, global politics, politics of media, politics of aesthetics, politics of culture, and indigenous politics.


'Michael J. Shapiro’s Deforming American Political Thought is committed to the transformations that concepts, practices, and media bring to those reflective sensibilities neglected by our current sciences of politics. Contrapunctal in both style and rhythm, Shapiro shows us that politics has no specific medium. By bringing to light diverse figures, objects, and voices heretofore silenced in our descriptions of American political theory, he puts to work a transversality of material cultures that partition our genres of thinking. This is interdisciplinary political theorizing at its finest.' - Davide Panagia, UCLA, USA

'Michael J. Shapiro’s Deforming American Political Thought is a masterpiece. Shapiro deploys various genres of art, various disciplines of thought and science, to reveal an America that has always been there, just beyond the ken of conventional political theory. His is a counter-history of American conventions of the political, one that shows how cultures of resistance and creative arts nurtured by minority voices find their way to the surface of our lives. He offers an alternative understanding of the American demos that challenges the conceits of the bullies of American exceptionalism, from Jefferson to the present, whether they be found in the corridors of power or corridors of colleges and universities. This isn’t so much a book to be reckoned with as it is itself a reckoning.' - Thomas Dumm, Amherst College, USA