From the Silent Majority to the Silent Scream: On the Political Theology of Silence

[Note: This is a transcript of a keynote address I delivered this week as part of the Münster International Summer School (Topic: “Tacet ad Libitum! Towards a Poetics and Politics of Silence”), sponsored by the Graduate School Practices of Literature at the University of Münster.]


In her book Problems of Art,[1] Susanne Langer devotes an entire chapter to the concept of creation. As opposed to the shoemaker who produces a utilitarian foot covering or the factory worker who manufactures an automobile, an artist creates an artwork. She is quick to clarify that she is not relying on the idea of artistic genius or inspiration: “Some pathetic artists create mediocre or even quite vulgarly sentimental pictures, banal songs, stupid dances, or very bad poems; but they create them” (28). By this she means that the artwork has a meaning and structure that transcends its raw materials and cannot be reduced to any merely utilitarian purpose. A painting, for instance, is not simply paint smeared on a flat surface, but “a structure of space, and the space itself is an emergent whole of shapes, visible colored volumes. Neither the space nor the things in it were in the room before” (28). And just as painting creates virtual space, so too does music create virtual movement. When musicians play a series of tones, nothing is actually “moving” in a literal sense, but we perceive the musical line going up and down, quickly or slowly. And in the context of its virtual movement, “we hear something in music that does not exist outside of it at all: sustained rest” (39).

Here Langer has in mind a note that is sustained for a relatively long period. We hear the long note as a pause in the musical “movement,” even though the vibration of sound waves continues, perhaps even at a higher rate if it is a high note that is held. But a musical piece does not rest only when a note is held. It also rests when the movement pauses or even seems to stop entirely, in those moments marked in a musical score with “rests.” Those moments of silence are just as much part of the structure of music as the notes themselves, and in some pieces they are absolutely central to its emotional impact. More broadly, the silence between movements of a classical piece is essential to punctuating the work, and I have attended many concerts where the conductor attempted to sustain the moment of silence between a piece’s end and the explosion of applause as long as possible.

In the latter two cases, the effect depends not only on the silence of the musicians, but on the silence of the audience. In fact, we could say that one of the distinctive features of Western classical music is precisely that the audience is expected to remain completely silent during the performance. As Jacques Attali points out in his strange and pathbreaking book Noise: The Political Economy of Music,[2] this norm—which emerged only in the early modern period—marks off Western classical music not only from contemporary popular styles, but also from most previous forms of music, which were more participatory. Where we could say, based on Langer’s insights, that music creates silence, Attali claims that in the broader social context “the silence greeting the musicians was what created music and gave it an autonomous existence, a reality.” The silent audience creates the space for a new form of music that is not simply “one element in the totality of life,” but its own independent realm (47).

For Attali, this norm of silence is not merely aesthetic, but political: “there was a gulf between the musicians and the audience; the most perfect silence reigned in the concerts of the bourgeoisie, who affirmed thereby their submission to the artificialized spectacle of harmony—master and slave, the rule governing the symbolic game of their domination” (47). This political symbolism only deepened as the role of the conductor became more and more central to the musical performance and musicians were treated more and more as interchangeable technicians executing the vision of the lone genius, rather than as artists expressing themselves in their own right. We could say that music enacts the ideal of perfect social harmony and control, which was shared by absolute monarchy, by the revolutionary state, and by entrepreneurial capitalism.

This account of the politics of music could initially appear to be a vulgar Marxist account of how the ideological superstructure reflects the economic base—except that, as Fredric Jameson puts it in his preface, Attali argues for “the possibility of a superstructure to anticipate historical developments, to foreshadow new social formations in a prophetic and annunciatory way” (xi). In fact, I would take it even further than Jameson, who is arguably “correcting” Attali to make him more Marxist than he is. For Attali, it is not merely a question of foreshadowing, but of causation: the perfect order and harmony achieved through the manipulation of ever more complex musical materials proved to be a workshop for the development of an entire political and economic order.

For Attali, then, music is always political—and that means that silence is always political as well. From this perspective, silence is not simply an absence or lack, nor a simple fact of nature. It always takes place within a musical-political order. It is constructed. Silence is always silencing, and that means that even the most perfect silence is not truly silent. Anyone who has ever attended a classical concert knows this. Even when the audience succeeds in restraining their applause between movements, the silence is always punctuated by coughs. In fact, in audio recordings of live events (not only concerts, but political speeches, sermons, or older sitcoms), the sound of a cough serves as a paradoxical confirmation that the silent audience is present, listening with rapt attention. The irresistible cough is the sound of silence. And it can be genuinely difficult to resist. During those silent moments, I often have the urge to cough even when I have not coughed the entire previous day. It’s as though the demand for silence prompts my body to rebel, even against my conscious wishes.

In a recent essay on the political theology of silence,[3] Beatrice Marovich also links silence to the body. In moments of silence, she writes, “we speak in an active, dynamic, kinetic, enfleshed langauge that might also be understood by a bird.” Though the Western philosophical tradition would view this form of communication as below or less than human, Marovich claims instead that “our silent voice communicates in a language that is more than human” (1)—reaching beyond the realm of the merely human to touch that of other living things by transcending the human construction of language. And that more-than-human element of silence has sometimes led theologians to claim that in it “we might also hear the voice of a god,” meaning that silence “is drawn into theological registers” (1). We could think here of the biblical passage where God speaks to the Prophet Elijah in the “sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12), or of Dorothee Soelle’s naming of God as “the silent cry.”[4]

In the remainder of this lecture, I would like to dwell on silence as a place where politics and theology converge on the body. More specifically, I want to think about how silence becomes embededded in strategies of legitimacy. I will begin by laying out my view of political theology as the study of systems of legitimation and drawing out the many parallels I find between political theology and Attali’s “political economy of music,” and more importantly, the new insights that a more musical perspective provides for political theology. With the outline of a musical political theology in hand, I will then turn to the specific example of abortion politics in the US. Drawing on Lauren Berlant’s analysis of the emergence of “fetal citizenship,” I will attempt to show how the conservative movement weaponized silence by claiming to speak for the ultimate “silent majority,” namely the unborn. I will conclude by asking whether this reactionary valence of a politics of silence is merely an abuse or perversion and whether we might need to look beyond silence as a political tool.


To understand what political theology is, we must first understand that the term itself is meant as a provocation. It brings together what secular modernity has declared must remain separate. Politics is the realm of public secular reason, theology is the realm of private conviction, and any intersection between the two is illegitimate and dangerous. This is true no matter which term receives the emphasis. Political theology—in the sense of politically-engaged theology or theologically-informed activism—brings private conviction and irrational faith into the realm of public reason. Even if the results seem to be “positive,” the intrusion of theology into politics is still suspect. By contrast, political theology—in the sense of treating politics as a religion, as with a “cult of personality” around a charismatic leader—cuts short the open-ended questioning and argumentation that should characterize the political realm by introducing indisputable “truths” grounded in irrational appeals to authority. When politics becomes a religion, it ceases to be legitimate.

When Carl Schmitt coined the term “political theology” in his book of the same title, he did ultimately intend to establish a political theology.[5] Schmitt believed that liberal democracy had descended into nihilism and that only a sovereign dictator could set things right—an insane view with well-known horrific consequences. Yet he grounded his insane and destructive claim in a much more compelling argument that the political and the theological are never really separate, that the supposed “intrusion” of theological concepts into the political sphere is not strange or illegitimate but normal. In fact, in one of the most famous passages in the book, he argues that theology is actually foundational for secular modernity: “All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.” This is normally where the quotation ends, but I believe the rest of the sentence is important for understanding what is really at stake in political theology:

All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development—in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver—but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts. (36)

Though the historical claim gets the most attention, I believe the second half of the quote is more foundational. In other words, theological concepts were able to move into the political realm over time because theological and political thoughts tend to have a parallel structure at the same time.

The question that Schmitt, in his haste to show that only a dictator can save us, does not ask is why this should be. In The Prince of This World and Neoliberalism’s Demons,[6] I argue that the reason for the parallel between the political and the theological is that both aim to organize and account for all aspects of life and that both respond to a community’s deepest convictions about how the world is and how the world should be. Once we recognize that, we can vastly expand the purview of political theology. By the political, Schmitt meant the institutions of the state, and by the theological, Schmitt meant monotheism—but we can define the political as any institutional organization of power (which would include things like the family or the economy) and the theological as any system of fundamental, unquestioned values (whether explicitly theistic or not).

Viewed in this way, political theology becomes a study of systems of legitimacy, and more specifically a genealogical inquiry into how systems of legitimacy evolve and break down. And they will ultimately break down, because systems of legitimacy have set themselves an impossible task. No human system can account for or anticipate everything that will happen, and every human system is marked by contradiction and unforeseen consequences. Both unforeseen disasters and perverse outcomes challenge the legitimacy of the system, making it vulnerable to overthrow. Reforms, which are created by the same kind of fallible human beings who designed the original system, often fail or backfire, but even when they succeed, they only stave off the inevitable. Speaking in terms of traditional theology, the problem of legitimacy is fundamentally a secularized version of the problem of evil—if the political order is so just and so powerful, how does suffering and injustice still happen? Every political theological order will develop strategies for answering that question, but in the last analysis, it is unanswerable. Suffering and injustice will occur under every imaginable order, meaning that legitimacy is always provisional at best.

Turning now to Attali’s political economy of music, I see many parallels, starting with the name he gives his inquiry. Like “political theology,” “political economy of music” is a provocation, a short-circuit between the most rarefied and abstract segment of the ideological superstructure and the hard-headed economic base. As with “political theology,” the two terms are reversible. Though he spends a great deal of time discussing the political economy of music in the most straightforward sense—analyzing how musicians get paid or how the state attempts to control music, for example—he also talks about how music shapes political economy. More than that, like Schmitt’s foundational work, it is ultimately based on the assertion that its two fields, political economy and music, are not separate and incompatible fields, but necessarily go together.

As the reference to Marxism highlights, Attali is claiming that political economy and music go together in a non-reductionistic way. Even in “the last analysis,” the means of production are not determinative of music, because music can determine the means of production. Political theology is similarly non-reductionistic—the theological or value-laden elements of a political theological order do not simply “grow out of” the institutional order of power, but both respond, at times in harmony and at times in conflict, to the fundamental deadlocks of a given historical moment. Just as music can serve as a model for a new political-economic order, so too can speculative theology serve as a model for political institutions. For instance, Agamben claims in The Kingdom and the Glory that the doctrine of divine providence served as a model for the modern idea of a free market governed by an invisible hand[7]—an argument that inspired me to define political theology in a way that encompasses power structures beyond the state. As in my conception of political theology, what is at stake in the interaction of music and political economy is legitimacy: “Primordially, the production of music has as its function the creation, legitimation, and maintenance of order” (30); “Primordially, and not incidentally, music always serves to affirm that society is possible” (31). And there is even a parallel with my claim that the problem of legitimacy is ultimately a version of the problem of evil, insofar as Attali argues that music exists as a way of channeling and controlling a primordial violence. Music must affirm that society is possible because society is always menaced by the specter of a violence that would render it impossible.

As we have already seen, for Attali silence is foundational to the musical-political order. In primitive societies, music silences the memory of primordial violence; in early modernity, music silences the masses to transform them into cogs in a machine of perfect rationality; in contemporary society, the incessant music filling every public space silences our spontaneous and potentially rebellious thoughts, replacing them with the emotional manipulation of Muzak. Here again, there is a parallel with political theology, in Agamben’s famous thesis in that the primary function of political sovereignty is to produce bare life. In Agamben’s account, bare life is at once excluded and foundational—and to reinforce the parallel, in his earlier work he had reflected a great deal on the notion that our pre-human, animal “voice” is effectively silenced by human language, while remaining foundational for our experience of language.

Overall, then, there are strong parallels between Attali’s project of a political economy of music and the project of political theology, at least in the way I understand it. The task now is to demonstrate that the parallel is productive—or, from my perspective, to show that incorporating Attali’s musical political economy adds something to political theology. Simply highlighting the role of silence and silencing in the foundations of political legitimacy is already a significant contribution. But Attali’s genealogical narrative also provides a helpful corrective to political theology by highlighting the fact that systems of legitimacy are not only undermined or transformed by negative events such as natural disasters or miscarriages of justice. Events that appear positive or beneficial can be equally destablizing if the system cannot anticipate or manage their effects.

In Attali’s account, technological advancement repeatedly plays this paradoxical role. Nowhere is this more clear than in the development of sound recording technology. Within the early modern paradigm, recording appeared to be a way of reinforcing the centralized, top-down forms of power exemplified by the classical concert, through broadcasting and archiving the pronouncements of authority figures. No one anticipated how central the playback of recordings would become—indeed, as Attali shows, it took decades before anyone took seriously the prospect of recording music. In time, though, recording took on a life of its own, replacing the hierarchical ideal of early modernity with a cacaphonous society in which power is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. A beneficial technological advance, with no apparent political implications, led to wide-reaching political transformations—a development that was possible, in Attali’s view, because of the unique relationship between politics and music.


Having established the connection between political theology and silence by means of a comparison with Attali’s political economy of music, I will now turn to my case study: abortion politics in the US. As I am sure everyone knows, abortion opponents recently won a major victory, as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the precedent that had previously guaranteed abortion rights. Now individual states are free to create their own abortion restrictions and even outright bans, many of which have already proven to be cruel and destructive within just a few short weeks.

This development is deeply upsetting to me, not only as an American and a feminist ally, but as a former member of the conservative evangelical Christian subculture whose political influence was so important to securing this devestating result. As many commentators pointed out, it was by no means obvious in advance that abortion would become the central politcal issue for conservative Christians. In the 1960s and 70s, most conservative evangelicals were more concerned about fighting desegregation than abortion, which was regarded as a Catholic issue. Even when the Roe v. Wade ruling was initially handed down, it was not a major concern among evangelical leaders. But by the 80s and 90s, when I was growing up in an evangelical household, abortion had become by far the most important political question. What happened? Many mainstream media reports essentially claim it is a result of a conspiracy—the evangelicals realized that advocating segregation made them look bad, so they searched for another issue that would allow them to seek equally oppressive results while appearing to maintain the moral high ground.

Here I would like to suggest a more complex explanation. In addition to my musical expansion of political theology, I will be drawing on Lauren Berlant’s book The Queen of America Goes to Washington City,[8] which consists of a series of essays on the paranoid conservative culture of the 1980s and 90s ushered in by the alliance of reactionary Republicans and evangelical Christians under Ronald Reagan. The longest essay, “America, ‘Fat,’ The Fetus,” provides an account of the fetus’s emergence as a major cultural figure—indeed, a celebrity—by means of intrauterine imaging techniques. Initially a scientific curiosity, this technological advance quickly led to significant political transformations, as fetal imagery became central to abortion politics. The most striking example is the film The Silent Scream, which incorporates of graphic footage of an abortion in process—including one convenient moment when the fetus moves its mouth in a way that suggests a cry of pain.

In reality, of course, the fetus did not and could not scream. It was as silent as the film imagery itself, as silent as the photographs in Life magazine. This imagery claims, very emphatically, that it is purely scientific and documentary, but one of the most striking features of Berlant’s essay is the insistence that they are legible and interpretable as art. Here I think of Langer’s interpretation of painting as an activity that creates a space that wasn’t there before. Documentary photography and filming does not “create” the space in the same way, but it does introduce something new. It creates the womb as a space, making it available in a new way and opening it to public scrutiny. Indeed, abortion opponents in the US often argue that a human being’s rights should not differ based solely on the “location” where they happen to be—by which they mean the womb, as though a living human body were an inert receptacle like a closet or a parking lot.

This dehumanizing argument is part an parcel of the anti-abortion movement’s silencing of women, whose rights and concerns do not even appear in the recent Supreme Court decision. What Berlant shows us, though, is that they silence women precisely by making the fetus speak. The silent scream is the first step in a process by which the fetus grows ever more outspoken and articulate. In the anti-abortion imaginary, the fetus keeps a diary, sings through Pat Boone’s voice, and even becomes a comedian in the Look Who’s Talking films. Is this process the result of a conspiracy to mobilize conservative evangelical voters for right-wing causes? Berlant does not explicitly address questions of causality, but it seems clear that the answer is no. No one planned this bizarre cultural development. Instead, just like the uncontrolled effects of recording in Attali’s political economy of music, the emergence of the fetus as a cultural figure is the unpredictable and uncontrollable result of a technological event that made it possible to see the fetus—literally see it—as a separate entity.

But not, crucially, to hear it. The silence of the fetus is the foundation for the entire political agenda that claims to speak—and to silence the woman carrying it—on the fetus’s behalf. Here we can inscribe the anti-abortion movement into a broader history of reactionary politics, which always perversely claims to be the voice of the voiceless. From Napoleon III’s mobilization of the small-holding peasants who, in Marx’s famous words, cannot represent themselves and must be represented, up through Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” and today’s absurd debates over “cancel culture,” reactionaries have always claimed to speak on behalf of the silenced. The problem with such strategies, of course, is that those silenced masses can actually speak, and there is always the risk that they will use their voices to say something unexpected or inconvenient. From this perspective, the fetus represents the perfect solution—the “unborn” are a “silent majority” that is and always must remain silent and will therefore never be able to contradict those who speak, and silence others, ostensibly for their sake.

As I suggested earlier, this politics of silence is centered on the control of the body. To draw on Agamben’s distinction, the anti-abortion agenda is obviously not pro-“life” in the sense of protecting and preserving zōē or vulnerable biological life, but instead seeks to impose a particular bios or way of life. Though this way of life is supposed to be “traditional,” it is in reality completely novel—and its proponents themselves do not seem to have thought through its consequences. The work of silencing women therefore takes the form of denying or shouting down their experiences. In a particularly horrific example, a ten-year-old girl who was raped and became pregnant could not obtain an abortion in her home state of Ohio, which recently enacted an abortion ban with no rape exemption. The response of right-wing commentators and politicians was to deny that it had ever happened—there was no such girl, it was all made up by evil abortion advocates. Similar things have happened when women object that blanket bans prohibit necessary care to save women who have miscarriages or experience conditions like ectopic pregnancies, where the pregnancy will never come to term. The response has again been misinformation and denial.

This pattern—already so clear and so frequently repeated only a few short weeks after the reversal of Roe v. Wade—has led some liberal commentators to suggest that conservatives actually relish the suffering they are imposing on women. That may be true for some individuals, but the more frightening truth is that abortion opponents have not seriously thought through the new pro-life dystopia they are imposing on the rest of us. In place of real public policy analysis, they engage in magical thinking. The unborn fetus is supposedly the ultimate innocent victim, who guarantees the anti-abortion activists and politicians the moral high ground. Since they are the good guys, the results of their actions must be good—anything that contradicts that core conviction must be a lie, or the woman must have had it coming, or both. This rhetorical bad faith is possible because the fetus also the ultimate projection screen. The fetal image creates a new space of silence that founds a political order in which fake news, conspiracy theories, and obviously self-serving lies create a cacophony that silences any genuine information or intelligent debate—seemingly rendering any non-violent, democratic political change all but impossible.


My choice of the anti-abortion movement as an illustration of the “politics of silence” may appear to be a provocation. Certainly “giving voice to the voiceless” is a more progressive concern, and from a certain point of view, the anti-abortion movement is deploying that rhetoric in obvious bad faith—especially since, as American liberals continually point out, their care for unborn life abruptly ends as soon as the child is born. That first cry, that first open-ended implacable demand, disqualifies the living infant as a silent projection screen. A similar dynamic can be seen in some of the more extreme left-wing attempts to “give voice to the voiceless”—above all in the claim of the revolutionary vanguard party to speak on behalf of a proletariat that does not yet fully exist as such.

It is perhaps in response to that sordid history that Dorothee Sölle, in her book The Silent Cry, aligns a mystical theology of silence—in which see sees “a No! to the world as it exists now” (3)—with a politics of resistance rather than revolution. She is hardly alone among Western political thinkers in preferring the negative political theology of resistance—I think here of the popularity, in the 90s and 2000s, of reading Melville’s short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” as a political fable. For thinkers of the left from Agamben to Žižek, his enigmatic declaration “I would prefer not to” is more radical than any revolutionary program. In the end, of course, Bartleby dies of starvation after preferring not to eat, and the system continues on as before. The same could be said for more concrete movements of resistence, such as Occupy, which famously refused to articulate any demand.

Part of the motivation here was clearly to avoid silencing anyone by claiming to speak on their behalf—hence the leaderless nature of the movement and the importance of finding consensus (no matter how long it takes). Indeed, on the contemporary left, if anything there appears to be the exact opposite of a politics of silence. Instead, the emphasis is on self-expression and sharing one’s own truth. And to connect back to Attali, something like self-expression is at work in his proclamation of the coming musical paradigm of “composition,” which will supposedly free each individual to produce their own music spontaneously. Without silencing us through hierarchical models of training or top-down regimes of recording and distribution, this new regime will somehow generate its own form of harmony. Writing in the late 70s, Attali here seems to anticipate Hardt and Negri’s gospel of the “multitude,” which will spontaneously and yet collectively seize control of social production.

Obviously that has not occurred. Instead, the combination of a politics of resistence and refusal and cacaphonous self-expression as an end in itself has resulted in a perverse self-silencing of the left—providing yet another silent projection-screen for the right. I would suggest that the problem may be a failure to distinguish between two modes of silence. The first is what we could call Suzanne Langer’s silence, the integral silence that represents a necessary articulation within the musical work itself. The second is what we could call Jacques Attali’s silence, the meta-silence of the audience that clears the space for the work to take place at all. That meta-silence is most often presupposed and unarticulated, as though we must pass over that silence itself in silence. By contrast, Langer’s integral silence calls forth a response, both emotional and analytical. It is a silence that can and must justify itself. In attempting to avoid Attali’s oppressive meta-silence, the left has refused to think through the integral silence that is part of any discursive order—the kind of silence that cannot be presupposed, but must be argued for.

The beginnings of such arguments are beginning to emerge in left-wing circles in America. It is a difficult realization in a country with a tradition of unconditional free speech and paranoia about government overreach, but many are beginning to realize that some forms of silencing are necessary to avoid an oppressive meta-silencing. For instance, even many moderate liberals are coming to realize that allowing racist speech to circulate actually undercuts the cause of freedom—much as Germans have long realized that allowing open “debate” over the Nazi Holocaust is actually destructive of a healthy public sphere. I would add climate change denial or claims of fetal personhood to the list of views that must actually be silenced (in Langer’s sense) in order to avoid a greater meta-silencing (in Attali’s sense).

Inevitably the question arises: who decides? To answer that, we must overcome the left’s own meta-silencing of itself—its great refusal to take responsibility for the course of world events by constructing its own political-theological-music paradigm to defeat and replace the order of legitimacy that is in the process of destroying us all. Here I do not wish to be misunderstood. Though I have criticized the contemporary politics of refusal as incomplete, we cannot go back on its undeniable advances. Any new paradigm will have to be much more inclusive than the nightmarish American dream to which the pro-life politics of silence is consigning us, much more collaborative and participatory than the revolutionary vanguard party, and much more democratic and deliberative than what Boris Groys has called the Stalinist Gesamtkunstwerk.[9] I do not presume to fully predict what the end result will look like, but there is one thing I am certain of: until a genuinely democratic popular movement can dare to say, “We decide,” on its own behalf and on its own authority, there will never be hope.

[1] Suzanne K. Langer, Problems of Art: Ten Philosophical Lectures (London: Routledge, 1957).

[2] Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985).

[3] Beatrice Marovich, “Hearing Nothing: A More Than Human Silence,” Political Theology (2022): 1-18.

[4] Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistence, trans. Barbara Rumscheidt and Martin Rumscheidt (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001).

[5] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

[6] Adam Kotsko, The Prince of This World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016) and Neoliberalism’s Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).

[7] Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government, trans. Lorenzo Chiesa and Matteo Mandarini (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011).

[8] Lauren Berlant, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

[9] Boris Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, trans. Charles Rougle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).