An appeal for the importance of theory, utopia, and close consideration of our contemporary dark times
What does any particular theory allow us to do? What is the value of doing so? And who benefits? In Invoking Hope, Phillip E. Wegner argues for the undiminished importance of the practices of theory, utopia, and a deep and critical reading of our current situation of what Bertolt Brecht refers to as finsteren Zeiten, or dark times.
Invoking Hope was written in response to three events that occurred in 2016: the five hundredth anniversary of the publication of Thomas More's Utopia; the one hundredth anniversary of the founding text in theory, Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics; and the rise of the right-wing populism that culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Wegner offers original readings of major interventions in theory alongside dazzling utopian imaginaries developed from classical Greece to our global present-from Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Alain Badiou, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Sarah Ahmed, Susan Buck-Morss, and Jacques Lacan to such works as Plato's Republic, W. E. B. Du Bois's John Brown, Isak Dinesen's "Babette's Feast," Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, and more. Wegner comments on an expansive array of modernist and contemporary literature, film, theory, and popular culture.
With Invoking Hope, Wegner provides an innovative lens for considering the rise of right-wing populism and the current crisis in democracy. He discusses challenges in the humanities and higher education and develops strategies of creative critical reading and hope against the grain of current trends in scholarship.