Past the Post?: Screening Progress and Fascism's Return

  • David A Gerstner College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Keywords: Adorno, Situationists, Trump, Fascism


The 2016 presidential election triggers many unanticipated responses. Emotions run high. Political activists discover newfound energy. One’s place in the world has been unfixed, troubled, and unsettled. Philosophers and artists, stunned, rethink the terms for their critical positions and the formal aesthetics that shape their work. The moment is thus rife with anxiety in search of a response. As a film scholar, I find myself driven to script a response. Ironically, as I write I feel paused in time and space. My unfixedness in the shadow of the election put in motion what can best be described as quivering stasis. From my troubled place, an intellectual processing unfolded. I conjured ideas and images that invariably failed to yield a satisfactory response to what had come to pass. What had I seen? Felt? My psychical and physical response to current events might be likened to what Adorno refers to as “the capacity to shudder, as if goose bumps were the first aesthetic image” (437).

It’s not a pretty picture. But we’ve known this all along.

Author Biography

David A Gerstner, College of Staten Island, City University of New York

David A. Gerstner is Professor of Cinema Studies and Chair of the Department of Media Culture at the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. He also serves as a member of the doctoral faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. His books include: Christophe Honoré: A Critical Introduction (with Julien Nahmias, Wayne State University Press, 2015); Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic (2011, Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2012); Manly Arts: Masculinity and Nation in Early American Cinema (2006); and The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture (editor, 2006—New York Public Library “Best of Reference,” 2007). His coedited works include Media Authorship (with Cynthia Chris) and Authorship and Film (with Janet Staiger). His essays appear in numerous anthologies and journals. He is editor of the book series, Queer Screens at Wayne State University Press and completing a second volume that studies Honoré’s cinematic mothers.

Critical Theory Interventions on Authoritarianism and Right-Wing Extremist Ideology in Contemporary Capitalism