Joshua Clover

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Joshua Clover
BornJoshua Miller Kaplan
(1962-12-30) December 30, 1962 (age 56)
Berkeley, California
Alma materBoston University;
Iowa Writers' Workshop
GenreScholarship; Poetry
Notable worksRiot.Strike.Riot: The New Era of Uprisings, Madonna anno domini

Joshua Clover (born December 30, 1962 in Berkeley, California) is a writer and a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California Davis.

He is a published scholar, poet, critic, and journalist whose work has been translated into more than a dozen languages; his scholarship on the political economy of riots has been widely influential in political theory. He has appeared in three editions of Best American Poetry and two times in Best Music Writing, and has received an individual grant from the NEA as well as fellowships from the Cornell Society for the Humanities, The University of California Humanities Research Institute, and Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick. His first book of poetry, Madonna anno domini, received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1996.[1]


Born in Berkeley, CA, a graduate of Boston University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Clover is a Professor of English Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis, and was the distinguished Holloway poet-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley in 2002-2003.[2]

Clover's given name at birth was Joshua Miller Kaplan but via legal change he took his mother's maiden name. His mother, Carol J. Clover, is the originator of the final girl theory in a book on horror films and a professor emerita at the University of California at Berkeley.


Clover's three scholarly books in addition to many articles and book chapters have all in various ways considered changes to daily life, work, politics, and social struggle since the Sixties. Originally studying poetry, music, and film, he has come to focus since the 2008 economic crisis directly on political-economic matters. Basic concerns include the array of changes wrought by deindustrialization in the west, the decline of the United States empire and the future of global capitalism. Particular focuses run from the rise of office work to the nature of financialization, from the world after the end of the Soviet project to the transformations of social movements, all considered within the framework of Marxist value theory, with a particular interest in racialized regimes of power and struggle against state and capital.

In addition to his scholarship he has been a journalist since the Nineties. He has contributed columns, often on popular culture and politics, to various journals, including the column "Pop and Circumstance" for The Nation and "Marx and Coca-Cola" for Film Quarterly. He is a former senior writer and editor at the Village Voice and Spin. He has contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other venues, sometimes under the name "Jane Dark."


He has published three volumes of poetry in addition to shorter works for which he has won various prizes and fellowships; poems have been anthologized in multiple volumes and languages, including the Norton Introduction to Literature (10th edition, 2009). His poetry often concerns the life of great cities and the twilight character of late modernity, particularly the way it is entangled with the products of overdeveloped capitalism (especially the pleasures of popular music) and how we will have to forsake all of those pleasures for our freedom. Judith Butler has written that " In this brilliant volume, the fragmented world of a late and lost modernity has its own moving and lucid affect, its forms of aliveness." [3] Increasingly his work has concerned direct political struggle; as one reviewer noted, "Few books, let alone books of poetry, arrive boast­ing a blurb from Enter­tain­ment Weekly while simul­ta­ne­ously, and aggres­sively, declar­ing the attempt to estab­lish a Marx­ist lyric praxis."[4] Clover has also translated poetry from the Dutch and French, including the book Tarnac: A Preparatory Act, by Jean-Marie Gleize.[5]

Political Work[edit]

Clover has written extensively about the campus movements against tuition increases and student debt, about the Occupy movement, and about free speech and policing both on and off the university campus. In January 2012, he and eleven students at the University of California, Davis, engaged in a sit-in to protest the financial arrangements between U.S. Bank and the university, permanently closing the bank branch along with ending the university's particular arrangements with the bank. The protesters, who became known as the "Davis Dozen," were charged with "obstructing movement in a public place and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor."[6] One month before the trial was scheduled to begin, the Davis Dozen accepted a plea deal from the Yolo County District Attorney. Under the terms of that agreement, the protesters received an infraction notice ticket and agreed to perform 80 hours of community service.[7].


Opinion reporting done by Nick Irvin of the California Aggie brought attention to Clover's past rhetoric with regard to police violence.[8] According to the article, he stated “I think we can all agree that the most effective way to end any violence against officers is the complete and immediate abolition of the police.” It cites now protected tweets of Clover's as well as a September 17, 2015 SFWeekly interview for "The Write Stuff" column where he was asked, "What’s wrong with society today?" to which his reply was, "People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed."[9] On November 27, 2014 Clover tweeted, “I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age #letsnotmakemore.” On December 27, 2014, he tweeted, “I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?”[10] UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell stated: "The UC Davis administration condemns the statement of Professor Clover to which you refer. It does not reflect our institutional values, and we find it unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder." Clover declined to comment on his controversial views, but he did tell CBS13, “On the day that police have as much to fear from literature professors as Black kids do from police, I will definitely have a statement.” He asked that Nick Irvin “direct any further questions to the family of Michael Brown,” a reference to the fatal shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, that fed the Black Lives Matter movement.[11] On March 13, 2019 California State Assemblyman, James Gallagher, delivered 10,000 signed petitions to UC Davis calling for Clover to be fired; Gallagher, who is not from the district including Davis, also introduced a House Resolution calling for Clover's firing. These efforts failed entirely, with the university noting that "Professor Clover’s statements, although offensive and abhorrent, do not meet the legal requirement for “true threats” that might exempt them from First Amendment protection....Accordingly, the university will not proceed with review or investigation of concerns regarding Professor Clover’s public statements."[12]


  • Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings. Verso, London & Brooklyn 2016 ISBN 1784780596
  • Red Epic. Commune Editions, Oakland 2015 ISBN 978-1934639160
  • The Totality for Kids. University of California Press. 2006. ISBN 978-0-520-24599-0. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  • 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About. University of California Press. 7 October 2009. ISBN 978-0-520-94464-0. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  • Madonna anno domini: Poems. Louisiana State University Press. 1 January 1997. ISBN 978-0-8071-2147-4. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  • The Matrix (British Film Institute, 2005), 128 pp.



  • "Good Pop, Bad Pop: Massiveness, Materiality, and the Top 40", anthologized in This is Pop, Harvard University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-674-01321-2 [13]
  • "The Rose of the Name", Fence, 1998 [14]

Reviews of Clover's Poetry[edit]

  • "Matrix Reloaded," review of The Totality for Kids by Alan Gilbert, Village Voice, 2006. [15]
  • "Zoned," review of The Totality for Kids by John Palattella, The Boston Review, September/October, 2006. [16]
  • Review of The Totality for Kids by Christopher Burawa, CutBank, January 21, 2007. [17]


  • Clover wrote a regular reviews column for Spin magazine between 1999-2001 called "Show Us Your Hits."
  • Clover's article on Poetry was noted by Greil Marcus in his Salon column "Real Life Rock Top Ten"[18]


External links[edit]