Cultures of Darkness by Bryan D. Palmer
Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression

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Peasants, religious heretics, witches, pirates, runaway slaves, prostitutes and pornographers, frequenters of taverns and fraternal society lodge rooms, revolutionaries, blues and jazz musicians, beats, and contemporary youth gangs--those who defied authority, choosing to live outside the defining cultural dominions of early insurgent and, later, dominant capitalism are what Bryan D. Palmer calls people of the night. These lives of opposition, or otherness, were seen by the powerful as deviant, rejecting authority, and consequently threatening to the established order.

Constructing a rich historical tapestry of example and experience spanning eight centuries, Palmer details lives of exclusion and challenge, as the "night travels" of the transgressors clash repeatedly with the powerful conventions of their times. Nights of liberation and exhilarating desire--sexual and social--are at the heart of this study. But so too are the dangers of darkness, as marginality is coerced into corners of pressured confinement, or the night is used as a cover for brutalizing terror, as was the case in Nazi Germany or the lynching of African Americans.

Making extensive use of the interdisciplinary literature of marginality found in scholarly work in history, sociology, cultural studies, literature, anthropology, and politics, Palmer takes an unflinching look at the rise and transformation of capitalism as it was lived by the dispossessed and those stamped with the mark of otherness.


About Bryan D. Palmer

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BRYAN D. PALMER is Professor of History at Queen's University in Kingston Ontario. He is the author of several books including Descent into Discourse: The Reification of Language and the Writing of Social History, Objections and Oppressions: The Histories and Politics of E.P. Thompson, and Goodyear Invades the Backcountry: The Corporate Takeover of a Rural Town.
Published November 1, 2000 by Monthly Review Press. 416 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Palmer's canvas is hugeDit ranges from an analysis of early modern witch culture (which he connects to the later development of Puritanism) to the emergence of 19th-century semisecret fraternal orders such as the Oddfellows, the vibrant 20th-century gay male cultures of drag and sadomasochism, an...

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