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Restless Subjects in Rigid Systems

Risk and Speculation in Millennial Fictions of the North American Pacific Rim

Susanne Wegener

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Susanne Wegener, Restless Subjects in Rigid Systems (2014), transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, ISBN: 9783839424162

Beschreibung / Abstract

The anticipatory logic of speculation and preemptive politics of risk are increasingly gaining significance in a globalizing neoliberal world. This study traces risk and speculation as aesthetic and political-economic strategies in factual and fictional discourses emerging at the North American Pacific Rim within a decade around 2000. Its exemplary close readings in particular focus on three fictional texts (Kathryn Bigelow's Hollywood film »Strange Days«, 1995, Karen T. Yamashita's novel »Tropic of Orange«, 1997, and Larissa Lai's novel »Salt Fish Girl«, 2002) whose intricate aesthetics pass perceptive critique on concurrent political-economic discourses and their subtle reconfiguration of race, class, and gender. The speculative near-future scenarios projected by these artifacts expose the rise of risk as a new rationality of governance. At the same time they illustrate neoliberal speculation as a new paradigm of subject formation at a hyper-capitalist, millennial Pacific Rim.


Susanne Wegener (Dr. phil.) works on a postdoc project on genre and theory construction in literary criticism. Her research interests are American Studies, Narrative Theory, Critical Theory, Political Philosophy, Theory of Science, and History of Ideas.


  • Cover Restless Subjects in Rigid Systems
  • Content
  • 1 Introduction: Dealing in Futures
  • 1.1 Speculative Fiction
  • 1.2 Pacific Rim Utopianism
  • 1.3 Risk Theory
  • 1.4 The Risk of Close Reading
  • 2 Are You Paranoid Enough? Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days and the Politics of Risk and Speculation
  • 2.1 Risk Inside the “Fickle Machine”
  • 2.2 Establishing Risk
  • 2.3 State of Speculation
  • 2.4 The Lure and Trap of Lady Credit
  • 2.5 Becoming Mace
  • 2.6 The Risk Not Taken
  • 3 Live on the Edge I Say: Edgework, Risk, and Literary Form in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange
  • 3.1 Edgework – A Subtle Task
  • 3.2 Exploding the Grid? Aesthetic Control and the Space-Logic of Synchronicity
  • 3.3 Confidence Man I: Bobby Ngu and the Confidence Game of Globalized Capitalism
  • 3.4 Confidence Man II: A Medial Conquista
  • 3.5 Now You See Her /Now You Don’t: Emi, or the Erotics of Presence
  • 3.6 Edgework, Unintimidated
  • 4 Monstrous Politics: Epistemological Empowerment, Natural Science, and New Territories of Empire in Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl
  • 4.1 “The Identity of the Body Has Not Yet Been Confirmed:” Excessive Textuality and Discursive Control in Larissa Lai’s Writings
  • 4.2 Offering Odors – Epistemological Empowerment and Natural Science
  • 4.3 New Territories of Empire
  • 4.4 Until the Next Time
  • 5 Towards a Poetics of Risk and Speculation
  • 5.1 United in a State of Fantasy
  • 5.2 Paratexts
  • 5.3 Contexts
  • 6 Works Cited

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