In this talk, Kristin Ross examines some of the methodological and theoretical problems she confronted while writing Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune in her attempt to construct the 72-day insurrection as a laboratory of political invention.
Kristin Ross is Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. Her first book, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (1988; reissued, Verso, 2008) examined cultural movement during the 1871 insurrection. Her cultural history of the French 1950s, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (1995), won the Laurence Wylie award for French cultural studies and a Critic’s Choice award; it has been published in France under the title Rouler plus vite, laver plus blanc (Flammarion, 2006). May ’68 and Its Afterlives (Chicago, 2002), a study of French memory of the political upheavals of the 1960s, was published in France as Mai 68 et ses vies antérieures (2005; re-issued, Agones, 2010). Her most recent book, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune (2015) appeared in France from La Fabrique as L’Imaginaire de la Commune.