WHY IS LITERATURE NECESSARY FOR THEORIZING MODERN TIME?

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Abstract

Aleida Assmann's Is Time Out of Joint? On the Rise and Fall of the Modern Time Regime theorizes and historicizes modern temporality by way of putting western European modernization theory into conversation with a wide range of literary references. This essay assesses the usefulness of examining modern temporality through these two discourses and explores why literary discourse seems a valuable corrective to modernization theory. Pressing further on Assmann's insights, this essay argues that modern literature is especially suited for temporal theorization because of its double commitment to, on the one hand, an absorptive aesthetics and, on the other, the linearity of its medium. Departing from Assmann, this essay also suggests that granular literary analysis—an academic practice of attention that turns a modern aesthetics into a methodology—is better equipped than the practice of survey to identify the full extent of literary aptness for temporal theorization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-351
Number of pages7
JournalHistory and Theory
Volume61
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wesleyan University 2022.

Keywords

  • Literature
  • Modernity
  • Modernization Theory
  • Temporality
  • absorptive aesthetics
  • linear time

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