1st Edition

History of the Present The Contemporary and its Culture

By David Roberts Copyright 2021
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the demise of the grand narrative of European modernity. That once commanding narrative located the meaning of the past in the present and the meaning of the present in an ever-receding future. Today, instead, the present defines both the past and the future. The ‘contemporary’ has replaced ‘modern’ and ‘post-modern’ self-understandings. The times of the past and the future have been transformed into versions of ‘now’ while the present has acquired its own history. History of the Present describes the emergence of this ‘contemporary’ historical consciousness across a wide spectrum of cultural phenomena ranging from historiography to heritage and museum studies, and from the globalization of the novel to the rise of science fiction. The culture of the ‘contemporary’ appears particularly clearly in the merging of high and low culture along with art and fashion. This book will appeal to scholars of sociology, cultural and social theory, museum and heritage studies, and literary history and criticism.


    1. The Constitution of Cultural Modernity

    2. From the Modern to the Contemporary

    3. The Past Present: History as Trauma

    4. The Present Past: History as Heritage

    5. The Future Present: Science Fiction and the Time of the Novel

    6. The Present Future: From World Literatures to Global Literature

    7. The Present for the Present: The Museum of Contemporary Art

    8. The Absolute Present: Modern, Postmodern, Contemporary


    David Roberts is Emeritus Professor in the School of Languages and Literatures at Monash University, Australia. He is the author of Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno and The Total Work of Art in European Modernism, the co-author of Dialectic of Romanticism: A Critique of Modernism, the editor of Reconstructing Theory: Gadamer, Habermas, Luhmann, and the co-editor of Comic Relations: Studies in the Comic, Satire and Parody.