Notions of Left Defeat and Melancholy

This is a list-in-progress compiled as part of a double project to look at

  1. the innovative poetic production of the Greek generation of the 2000s, and

2. tragedies of the revolution in modern drama.

(Terms and titles from English-language articles, essays, papers and books are listed in roughly chronological order.)


“Left Melancholy” (1931)                                                Walter Benjamin

Defeat: a Play of the Paris Commune (1937)            Nordahl Grieg

“Melancholy science” (1951)                                          T. W. Adorno

“Constructive defeatism”                                                Heiner Müller

Active [vs. passive] nihilism                                           Gianni Vattimo

“Melancholic left” (1985)                                                David Gross

“Melancholy, Ambivalence, Rage” (1997)                    Judith Butler

“Politics of Melancholy” (1998)                                     Scott Lash

“Mourning Revolution” (2003)                                     Parallax special issue

“Resisting Left Melancholia” (2003)                            Wendy Brown

Tragic post-coloniality (2004)                                       David Scott

“Postcolonial melancholia” (2004)                               Paul Gilroy

Melancholic Freedom (2007)                                         David Kyuman Kim

“Left Melodrama” (2009)                                               Elizabeth Anker

“Democratic melancholy” (2010)                                  Adrian Little

Melancholy Politics: Loss, Mourning, and Memory in Late Modern France (2011)                                                                                                   Jean-Philippe Mathy

“A Left with no Future” (2012)                                        T. J. Clark

Political melancholy                                                           Andrew Gibson

“Politics in a Tragic Key” (2013)                                      Alberto Toscano

“Sub-Modernity and the Aesthetics of Joy-Making Mourning” (2013)                                                                                    Yorgos Tzirtzilakis

“The Mood of Defeat” (2014)                                            Scott McCracken

The Highway of Despair (2015)                                      Robyn Marasco

“Don’t Mourn, Accelerate” (2015)                                    Jamie Allinson

“The Performative Dialectic of Defeat” (2015)              Athena Athanasiou

“The Courage of Hopelessness” (2015)                            Slavoj Žižek

“Power Outage: Why Left Governments Falter Once in Office” (2015)                                                                                      Stanley Aronowitz

At the end of his Metamorphosen (1944-45) Richard Strauss quotes the first four bars of Eroica’s funeral march with the annotation “IN MEMORIAM!” written at the bottom where the basses and cellos are playing the Beethoven theme. What is the old German composer mourning – the Nazi regime? Germany? Culture? Music? Other? I have not discussed this issue with my “other self” yet because I’m still waiting for Pantelis Polychronidis to read Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus (1947). When we do discuss it, this list of terms and titles will help us reflect further on a distinct, multilingual, on-going tradition of collective loss and melancholy.

December 2015

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