Literature and Contingency: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Literature and Contingency

1st Edition

Edited by Christina Lupton, Carsten Meiner

Routledge

176 pages

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Hardback: 9780367192037
pub: 2019-02-26
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Description

This collection features leading literary critics and explores the role of language in thinking about the ways in which the world might be otherwise, and the history of contingency as a longstanding literary concept.

The defining feature of contingency lies in the suggestion that things that have already happened might have been otherwise. Central to late twentieth century European critical and sociological thinking, that argument is at the centre of this volume. The contributors to this volume explore subjects including how literature, philosophy and history all cope with contingency; the existence of contingency in genres as diverse as enlightenment fables, Aristotle, Hardy, Jane Austen, and post-war American literature; the contingency of old age and the poetics of contingency. As the chapters here illustrate, our efforts to understand each other involve a constant opening onto being otherwise; an enterprise in which the role of the literary critic remains key.

Of interest to scholars across a range of literary genres, this volume would also have applications for philosophy researchers exploring the metaphysics of contingency. This book was originally published as a special issue of Textual Practice.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Literature and Contingency

Christina Lupton

1. ‘L’essentiel, c’est la contingence’: how literature does and does not cope with contingency

Christian Benne

2. Accidental gods: figures of contingency in the enlightenment fable

Lynn Festa

3. Contingency in philosophy and history, 1650-1800

Sean Silver

4. War atmospheres

Anders Engberg-Pedersen

5. Contingency in/of the text: Aristotle, Hardy, Perec

Martin Ryle

6. ‘Without you, I am nothing’: on the counterfactual imagination in Emma

Emily Rohrbach

7. The moment of truth: Proust, Barthes, and the contingency of old age

Elizabeth Barry

8. Luck stories: stress-testing contingency and agency at the margins of post-war American literature

Robert S. C. Gordon

9. Poetics of contingency

Gillian White

About the Editors

Christina Lupton is Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Director of the Humanities Research Institute, at the University of Warwick, UK. She works on the theory of the book, and the history of reading from the eighteenth century to the present. Her recent book, Reading and the Making of Time (2018), looks at reading as an activity that is both materially defined by the codex format, and politically tied up with the history of work and leisure.

Carsten Meiner is Professor of French Literature and Culture at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He works on the critical articulations of typical French cultural phenomena, such as rebellions, gallantry, gastronomy, and intellectualism in French literary history. He is the director of the research project "Cultures of Topology: French literary history" at the University of Copenhagen. His publications include Les Mutations de la clarté (2007), Le Carrosse littéraire. L’Invention du hasard (2008), and The Cultural Life of Catastrophes (2012).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General