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The Return of Resentment

The Rise and Decline and Rise Again of a Political Emotion

Charts the long history of resentment, from its emergence to its establishment as the word of the moment.
The term “resentment,” often casually paired with words like “hatred,” “rage,” or “fear,” has dominated US news headlines since November 2016. Despite its increased use, this word seems to defy easy categorization. Does “resentment” describe many interlocking sentiments, or is it just another way of saying “anger”? Does it suggest an irrational grievance, as opposed to a legitimate callout of injustice? Does it imply political leanings, or it is nonpartisan by nature?
In The Return of Resentment, Robert A. Schneider explores these questions and more, moving from eighteenth-century Britain to the aftermath of the French Revolution to social movements throughout the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide range of writers, thinkers, and historical experiences, Schneider illustrates how resentment has morphed across time, coming to express a collective sentiment by movements across the political spectrum. In this history, we discover resentment’s modernity and its ambiguity—how it can be used to dismiss legitimate critique and explain away violence, but also convey a moral stance that demands recognition. Schneider anatomizes the many ways it has been found appropriate as a label for present-day movements, from the followers of Trump and the supporters of Brexit to radical Islamicists and proponents of identity politics. Addressing our contemporary political situation in a novel way, The Return of Resentment challenges us to think critically about the roles different emotions play in politics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Sensible Resentment in the Age of Sensibility: The Eighteenth Century
Chapter 2: Contentious Resentment: Acting out Resentment in the Early Modern Past
Chapter 3: A Specter Is Haunting Europe: The Specter of a Resentful “People”
Chapter 4: The Nietzschean Moment
Chapter 5: The Rise and Decline of the “Resentment Paradigm”
Chapter 6: The Uses of Resentment
Chapter 7: The Two Sixties and Resentment: One Without, the Other With
Chapter 8: The Return of Resentment: Anatomizing a Contemporary Political Emotion
Conclusion: Thinking about Resentment Today

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