Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Acknowledgments

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Many thanks to the contributors to this volume, and to the contributors to the “Postmodernism, Then” special issue of Twentieth-Century Literature (57.3–4 [Fall/Winter 2011]), the volume that preceded and paved the way ...

Contents

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Introduction

Jason Gladstone and Daniel Worden

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pp. 1-24

From our contemporary vantage point, a case can certainly be made for the predictive or, perhaps, programmatic power of David Foster Wallace’s 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.” In the ....

Part I. Dialogue

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Postmodern, Postwar, Contemporary: A Dialogue on the Field

Andrew Hoberek, with Samuel Cohen, Amy J. Elias, Mary Esteve, Matthew Hart, and David James

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pp. 27-56

What follows is a partial and inconclusive conversation about the state of post-1945 literary studies at the present moment. It is partial and inconclusive in the way that all conversations are, since it brings together a particular ...

Part II. The Postmodern Revisited

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Break, Period, Interregnum

Brian McHale

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pp. 59-72

If it remains somewhat unclear whether we have actually got beyond postmodernism yet, nothing could be clearer than that we have left its peak years behind us, presumably somewhere in the 1970s and ’80s, and its onset ...

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Cold War Postmodernism

Harilaos Stecopoulos

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pp. 73-80

For some time now, twentieth-century studies scholars have accepted the idea that the Cold War state co-opted modernism. The evidence is persuasive, particularly in the literary arts. One has only to recall the mid-1960s...

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How Postmodernism Became Earnest

David James

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pp. 81-92

In summer 1996 the New Yorker reported that Thomas Pynchon had become a groupie. According to this “Talk of the Town” story, the novelist had sparked some “concern in the literary world” that he’d swapped ...

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Reperiodizing the Postmodern: Textualizing the World System Before and After 9/11

Leerom Medovoi

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pp. 93-110

In my living room stands a globe that was issued some time during the post–Cold War years of the 1990s. When I compare it to an older globe I purchased in the 1970s, there are a number of striking differences; the ...

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Mapping Postmodernism and After

Emilio Sauri

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pp. 111-124

Toward the middle of Benjamin Kunkel’s Indecision (2005), Dwight B. Wilmerding tells his sister Alice, “I feel like I’m event-proof. That’s one idea for a major problem I must have” (141; emphasis in original). Recalling the ...

Part III. The Postwar Reconfigured

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The Idea of Happiness: Back to the Postwar Future

Mary Esteve

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pp. 127-140

Anybody seeking an introduction to the contemporary discourse of happiness could do worse than start with Richard Powers’s 2009 novel Generosity. As we’ve come to expect from a Powers novel, it exhibits the author’s...

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Cold War, Post–Cold War: What Was (Is) the Cold War?

Daniel Grausam

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pp. 141-152

“It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I’m pretty sure,” was the account of the Cuban Missile Crisis offered by Dana Perino, then press secretary to President George W. Bush, to National Public...

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The Forms of Formal Realism: Literary Study and the Life Cycle of the Novel

Deak Nabers

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pp. 153-164

“It is impossible to talk about the novel nowadays without having in our minds the question of whether or not the novel is still a living form” (Trilling 255). From our vantage some sixty-five years after the famous opening ...

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Perpetual Interwar

Paul K. Saint-Amour

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pp. 165-178

When the Postmodern Studies Association convened for the first time in 2006, the title of its inaugural symposium bespoke an uncertainty about its object of study. “Mid-century to Postmodern: The Postwar Era ...

Part IV. What Comes After

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Six Propositions on Compromise Aesthetics

Rachel Greenwald Smith

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pp. 181-196

In her introduction to the Norton anthology American Hybrid (2009), Cole Swensen celebrates the tendency for contemporary works of poetry to make fertile compromises between traditional and experimental forms. ,,,

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The New Sincerity

Adam Kelly

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pp. 197-208

The generation of American novelists born in and around the 1960s came to intellectual maturity during the last two decades of the twentieth century, a period that today goes under several names: postmodern, posthistorical, ...

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Influences of the Digital

N. Katherine Hayles

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pp. 209-216

To think about contemporary literature is inevitably to encounter digital media. At every stage of the production and consumption of contemporary literature, digital media are transforming the functions of writers, readers,...

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The Resurgence of the Political Novel

Caren Irr

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pp. 217-226

The flip side of a supposedly apolitical literary postmodernism has long been the national allegory. In 1986 Fredric Jameson asserted in his controversial landmark essay, “Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational...

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The Currency of the Contemporary

Theodore Martin

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pp. 227-240

What exactly is contemporary about contemporary literature? Beneath the various strands of recent history that scholars of contemporary culture are currently working to unravel, a different sort of problem shadows the ...

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Make It Vanish

Michael W. Clune

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pp. 241-250

How can you tell when we’ve entered a new period? The past starts to look different. We know this from T. S. Eliot: “What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works ...

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Slow-Forward to the Future

Ursula K. Heise

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pp. 251-260

Slow is good. Fast is bad. Or so it would seem when you listen to environmentalists, or more generally to contemporary writers and thinkers on the political left. Over the last two decades, slowness has become a master trope ...

Contributors’ Biographies

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pp. 261-266

Index

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pp. 267-273