Imaginary and Its Worlds
American Studies after the Transnational Turn
Publication Year: 2013
The Imaginary and Its Worlds: An Introduction * LITERARY IMAGINARIES * Imagining Cultures: The Transnational Imaginary in Postrace America - Ramon Saldivar * The Necessary Fragmentation of the (U.S.) Literary-Cultural Imaginary - Lawrence Buell * Imaginaries of American Modernism - Heinz Ickstadt * SOCIAL IMAGINARIES * William James versus Charles Taylor: Philosophy of Religion and the Confines of the Social and Cultural Imaginaries - Herwig Friedl * The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary - Christa Buschendorf * Russia's Californio Romance: The Other Shores of Whitman's Pacific - Lene Johannessen * Form Games: Staging Life in the Systems Epoch - Mark Seltzer * POLITICAL IMAGINARIES * Real Toads - Walter Benn Michaels * Obama Unwound: The Romanticism of Victory and the Defeat of Compromise - Christopher Newfield * Barack Obama's Orphic Mysteries - Donald E. Pease * Coda. The Imaginary and the Second Narrative: Reading as Transfer - Winfried Fluck * Contributors * Index
Published by: Dartmouth College Press
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The Imaginary and Its Worlds
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This collection of essays is dedicated to conceptualizing the imaginary as a critical tool for the study of American literature and culture after the “transnational turn.” Without a doubt, the “transnational turn” (a term coined by Shelley Fisher Fishkin) is here, and here to stay: the field of “transnational American studies” is growing with breathtaking rapidity, ...
Part I: Literary Imaginaries
1 | Imagining Cultures
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In this essay I address the matter of the “cultural imaginary” and of the significant contributions to our understanding of it in the work of Win-fried Fluck in two contexts: in relation to the question of literary form and in relation to history. Doing so also allows me explain the reasons for what I take to be a radical turn in twenty-first-century fiction by ...
2 | The Necessary Fragmentation of the (U.S.) Literary-Cultural Imaginary
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Insofar as the idea—or myth—of distinctive national cultures still main-tains any credible explanatory power, to what extent does it reinforce a view of (U.S.) national literary history as distinctive and/or coherent? That is the basic question with which this essay wrestles. I argue that although the explanatory power is not trivial, neither does it guarantee national cul-...
3 | Imaginaries of American Modernism
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In American literary and cultural history, “modernism” has been consid-ered a phenomenon of uncertain status—even after it was academically institutionalized by the New Criticism of the 1950s. On the one hand, it had long been considered a provincial extension of European devel-opments, since even its leading protagonists—Eliot, Faulkner, Pound, ...
Part II: Social Imaginaries
4 | William James versus Charles Taylor
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Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the modern existential condition as a continu-ous loss of the once cosmic centrality of human existence appears to be accompanied by a complementary and opposing tendency of growing anthropocentrism and sociocentrism. The anthropocentric reduction-ism in the nineteenth-century interpretation of religious phenomena and ...
5 | The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community
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If we can’t cry for the Nation, then who? Because who else draws their grief and consternation from a larger knowledge or from a deeper and more desperate hope? And who’ve paid more in trying to achieve their better promise?Ralp.sch E.scllis.scon, T.schree D.scay.scs.sc b.scef.score t.sche Shoot.scing . . .Benedict Anderson’s concept of the nation as “imagined community” is ...
6 | Russia’s Californio Romance
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See how the metaphor of the West dissolves into foam at our feet.—Ric.schard Rodriguez.sc, Brow.scn: The Last Discovery of AmericaOn the morning of March 28, 1806, an envoy of the Russian Ameri-can Company, Nikolai Petrovitch Rezanov, decided to ignore the Spanish ban on trade with foreign ships and sailed right into the harbor of San ...
7 Form Games
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A modern society comes to itself by staging its own conditions. A modern world is a self-conditioning and self-reporting one. If, prior to the nine-teenth century, society could not describe itself, now it cannot stop de-scribing itself. Or, as the great science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem neatly put it, “In the Eolithic age there were no seminars on whether to invent ...
Part III: Political Imaginaries
8 | Real Toads
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The real toads of my title are first and foremost the ones invented by Marianne Moore in her poem “Poetry,” living in “imaginary gardens” and, eventually, abandoned there by Moore when she cut the poem to three lines: “Poetry / I too dislike it / Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it, after all, a place for the genuine” ...
9 | Obama Unwound
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Barack Obama’s 2008 mandate was crushed by the midterm elections of 2010, in which his party lost control of the House of Representatives and of state legislatures and governorships all over the country. This reversal did not prevent his re-election in 2012, but he did not win decisively or broadly enough for a renewed mandate to be assumed. Obama’s margin ...
10 | Barack Obama’s Orphic Mysteries
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This essay constitutes an effort to explain the state fantasy with which Barack Obama hegemonized an alternative to the biopolitical settlement normalizing George W. Bush’s global war on terror. In what follows, I argue that Obama has not displaced but presupposed Bush’s homeland state of exception as the political imaginary through which he trans-...
Coda: The Imaginary and the Second Narrative
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One of the most puzzling aspects about literary criticism and literary scholarship is that critics and scholars never seem to be able to agree on the meaning and significance of a literary text. This strange phenomenon is by no means restricted to notoriously difficult, ambiguous, or enigmatic texts like Hamlet or The Turn of the Screw. It can be observed through-...
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies