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Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form: Book by Paul K. Saint-Amour

Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form

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ISBN: 9780190200954    Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc Year of publishing: 2015     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 368        Language: English
Tense Future falls into two parts. The first develops a critical account of total war discourse and addresses the resistant potential of acts, including acts of writing, before a future that looks barred...Read more
Tense Future falls into two parts. The first develops a critical account of total war discourse and addresses the resistant potential of acts, including acts of writing, before a future that looks barred or predetermined by war. Part two shifts the focus to long interwar narratives that pit both their scale and their formal turbulence against total war's portrait of the social totality, producing both ripostes and alternatives to that portrait in the practice of literary encyclopedism. The book's introduction grounds both parts in the claim that industrialized warfare, particularly the aerial bombing of cities, intensifies an under-examined form of collective traumatization: a pretraumatic syndrome in which the anticipation of future-conditional violence induces psychic wounds. Situating this claim in relation to other scholarship on "critical futurities," Saint-Amour discusses its ramifications for trauma studies, historical narratives generally, and the historiography of the interwar period in particular.
The introduction ends with an account of the weak theory of modernism now structuring the field of modernist studies, and of weak theory's special suitability for opposing total war, that strongest of strong theories.
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About the author: Paul K. Saint-Amour
Paul K. Saint-Amour is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. President of the Modernist Studies Association, he currently... Read more
Paul K. Saint-Amour is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. President of the Modernist Studies Association, he currently coedits the Modernist Latitudes series published by Columbia UP. His previous books include The Copywrights: Copyright and the Literary Imagination (Cornell UP, 2003) and the edited volume Modernism and Copyright (OUP, 2010).
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Review:
By moving our vision from earth to sky, from soldiers in the trenches to civilians under air raids, Paul Saint-Amour makes rich and surprising our understanding of the twentieth-century and its...Read more
By moving our vision from earth to sky, from soldiers in the trenches to civilians under air raids, Paul Saint-Amour makes rich and surprising our understanding of the twentieth-century and its literature. Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, and we ourselves emerge in the arresting light of this first modern collective anxiety. Elaine Scarry, author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom This book is a tour de force, introducing an entirely new approach to the modernist imagination. Saint-Amour makes us hear the undertones of menace in interwar literature, thereby reconfiguring modernist fiction as meditations on disasters to come. Jay Winter, author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History Paul Saint-Amour reinterprets culture during the years between World War I and World War II as an era of anxious anticipation. Thoughtful, penetrating, and important, Tense Future expands our understanding of war's destructive power. Mary L. Dudziak, author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences Tense Future moves fluently through the cultural records of the First World War, interwar, Second World War, and Cold War. Creating a wholly new archive, Saint-Amour does nothing less than shift the tense of imaginative action in the literature of major record: from memory, which Paul Fussell established as its primary imaginative circumstance, to anticipation; from reverie to dread. Our way of reading the literature of a century of war will be changed by this comprehensive and compelling account. Vincent Sherry, author of Modernism and the Reinvention of Decadence
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