Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Cruel Optimism has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ships direct from Amazon! Qualifies for Prime Shipping and FREE standard shipping for orders over $25. Overnight and 2 day shipping available!
Trade in your item
Get a $6.88
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Cruel Optimism Paperback – October 27, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$24.95
$18.58 $15.99

Up to 50% off select Non-Fiction books
Featured titles are up to 50% off for a limited time. See all titles
$24.95 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Cruel Optimism
  • +
  • The Affect Theory Reader
  • +
  • Ordinary Affects
Total price: $69.86
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

Review

Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant’s brilliant new book, lays bare the price of our habitual ways of thinking about subjectivity, temporality, affect, attachment, and political investment. Exploring the condition of precarity that mocks the good life (or at least the better life) that hard work and good behavior are supposed to make possible within liberal democracy, Berlant’s bold analyses of the impasse of the present and her unflinching determination to follow a thought to its necessary end make clear why this is a crucial, indeed a necessary, book at this moment—and also why it will inform our critical discourse for years to come.”—Lee Edelman, author of No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive


“Lauren Berlant elegantly weaves together readings of contemporary art, literature, and film to reveal how our persistent aspirations for the good life are continually thwarted. Reading this book is an exciting theoretical experience but it also has a very practical, immediate, everyday quality. Berlant gives us something like a how-to guide for living in the impasse, that is, the affective and political conditions of our present.”—Michael Hardt, co-author of Commonwealth


“This brilliant book will be much read and much cited. Lauren Berlant is widely regarded as one of the most important and original critics of contemporary cultural logics. Here she offers a genuinely new angle on familiar processes through her subtle yet forceful reading of cruel optimism, the psychic and structural dynamics that keep people proximate to objects, fantasies, and worlds that seem to diminish them.”—Sara Ahmed, author of The Promise of Happiness


“Lauren Berlant is not shitting on you or your dream. OK, yes, her latest book is called Cruel Optimism. . . . . Yes, the University of Chicago professor will break down everything you hold dear: food, love, politics, family, virtuous New Year’s resolutions. And yes, within a few pages, there’s that creeping sensation that, whatever makes you tick, it’s got you on the fast track to ruin and disappointment. . . . Nevertheless . . . Cruel Optimism is less brutal analysis than a dark, lush still-life of American fantasies and our Quixotic lunges toward them. An affective portrait of the 99%.”
(Caitlin Hu Bitch)

“This is Berlant at her most revolutionarily queer, questioning what would happen if we stopped thinking of ourselves in terms of identity categories, and instead reorganized our sense of self around the specific objects and ideas to which we are attached and the affects that they produce in us.”
(Chase Dimock Lambda Literary Review)

Cruel Optimism is a must read for any scholar interested in exploring the affective dimensions of precarity. . . . Cruel Optimism does precisely what Berlant’s work always does - it changes the conversation in such a way that it makes you wonder why we weren’t talking about these things all along.”
(Anna E. Ward New Formations)

“If you are looking for some new language to use to describe the current crisis of hope, read Cruel Optimism. . . . It is a wild, deeply witty examination of our attachments to food, love, politics, family, and pop culture.”
(Kate Clinton The Progressive)

About the Author

Lauren Berlant is George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture and The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship, both also published by Duke University Press, as well as The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life. She the editor of the books Intimacy; Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion; and (with Lisa Duggan) Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and National Interest.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (October 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822351110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822351115
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her theoretically nuanced readings of literature, film, art, resistance, and everyday life, Berlant offers a lyrical and original recalibration of the vocabularies affect theorists might employ to reflect on the intersections between socioeconomic difference, fantasy, and desire as well as the biopolitical valences of these intersections.
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I'm only four chapters in but am enjoying the book. It's accessible for non-academics who read it recreationally, and it's less scatter-brained than Zizek's works written for a wide audience. It quickly contextualizes other authors' views such that the uninitiated reader isn't lost. That said, it's not as fluffy as cultural studies written for the NYTimes bestseller list (and that's a good thing).
Comment 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pick up this beautiful edition and read even just a chapter for study—you will be introduced to a new, cutting-edge field of cultural research that hardly anyone is discussing (yet).

This book opened my eyes in a new way to the psychological problems inherent to attachment and even goal-setting. Buddhism has been discussing attachment for millennia, but I honestly think this is a new approach (not to mention excellent commentary of the distressing state of politics and economics in the new millennium). Be forewarned: this is one of the densest texts ever written; it is an immense challenge to read, but will garner the persistent reader two to five revelations per page. It's a book to be read over and over until it becomes a study guide for your exploration of the human psyche.

ONE THING not readily apparent before purchase, and truly not even until I was about twenty pages into the book: this book, by and large, is mostly a critique of very specific yet obscure works of art, literature, filmmaking, etc. I find that type of focus incredibly boring and beside the point; I am unfamiliar with the works discussed and have no intention of purchasing them all.

It's so much more interesting and helpful when Lauren is just riffing; she is such a genius that if she would just stop with all the analysis of other works and TALK we would all be a lot wiser. Thankfully she does just that for about 30% of the book.

In summary, though the focus is a bit scattered, the book is immensely profitable intellectually.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Subtle, insightful and creative. Berlant's work opens up a variety of avenues for reconsidering assumptions of and attachments to what we consider to be a "good life."
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A foundational text for Affect Theory
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Cruel Optimism
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Cruel Optimism