1st Edition

Modernity Reimagined: An Analytic Guide

By Chandra Mukerji Copyright 2017
    208 Pages 111 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    208 Pages 111 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Winner of the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Book Award in 2012, Chandra Mukerji offers with this remarkable new book an explanation of the birth and subsequent proliferation of the many strands in the braid of modernity. The journey she takes us on is dedicated to teasing those strands apart, using forms of cultural analysis from the social sciences to approach history with fresh eyes. Faced with the problem of trying to understand what is hardest to see: the familiar, she gains analytic distance and clarity by juxtaposing cultural analysis with history, asking how modernity began and how people conjured into existence the world we now recognize as modern.

    Part I describes the genesis of key modern social forms: the modern self, communities of strangers, the modern state, and the industrial world economy. Part II focuses on modern social types: races, genders, and childhood. Part III focuses on some of the cultural artifacts and activities of the contemporary world that people have invented and used to cope with the burdens of self-making and to react against the broken promises of modern discourse and the silent injuries of material modernism.

    Beautifully illustrated with over 100 color photographs in its 10 chapters, MODERNITY REIMAGINED is not just an explanation, an analysis of how modern life came to be, it is also a model for how to do cultural thinking about today’s world.

    Preface: Origins and the Analysis of Modernity

    Part I. History of Modern Social Forms

    Chapter One: Modern Selves and Fashion

    Medieval Identity

    The Black Death

    Modern Subjectivity

    Burgundian Fashion and Moral Worth

    Italian Fashion and the Distant Self

    Spanish Fashion and the Christian Warrior

    Dutch Fashion and Consumer Culture

    French Fashion and The Theater of Power

    Fashionable Dress and Modern Selves

    Chapter Two: Communities of Strangers and Infrastructure

    Print Infrastructure and the Wars of Religion

    The Parisian Water Supply

    Chapter Three: Cultural Imaginaries and Modern States

    Immersive Theater and Political Spectacle

    Learning by Doing

    The Power of the Artisans

    The Modern State

    Chapter Four: Discursive Modernity and Global Industrial Capitalism Philosophical Modernities

    Modern Nation States

    Modern Cities

    The Experimental Self

    Part II Genealogies of Modern Social Types

    Chapter Five: Geopolitics and Discourses of Race

    Monogenesis and Moral Differences (Cell A).

    Monogenesis and Degree of Civilization (Cell B)

    Polygenesis and Difference of Temperament (Cell C)

    Polygenesis and Racial Supremacy (Cell D)

    The Legacy of Racial Imaginaries

    Chapter Six: Property, Labor and Discourses of Gender

    Gendered Differences

    Natural Man and Artificial Women

    Gender, Property and Labor

    Gender Culture and Industrial Labor

    Chapter Seven: The Ascent of Man and Discourses of Childhood

    Modern Versions of Childhood

    Developmental Childhood

    Animals and Monsters

    The Problem of Modern Selves

    Part III Popular Tools of Modern Life

    Chapter Eight: Digital Games and Navigating Modernity

    Games as Pedagogical Tools

    Serious Games of Military Simulation

    Mazes and Serious Games of Life

    Digital Maze Games and Modern Subjectivity

    Mage and Minions

    Spiderman II-3D

    Monument Valley

    Games of Modern Life.

    Chapter Nine: Philosophical Media and Critiques of Modernity

    No Country for Old Men

    Einstein's Wife

    Where the Heart Is

    Independence Day

    Thought Experiments and Philosophical Machines

    Chapter Ten: Escape Routes and Restlessness

    Aesthetic Escape Routes

    Political Escape Routes

    Escaping Material Modernity

    The Restless Self and Grief


    Appendix A. Teaching Resources




    Chandra Mukerji is known among students and scholars of culture as one of the titans of the field, primarily because she crosses intellectual and disciplinary boundaries with ease, and also because she has written so many prize-winning books that have astonished colleagues for their range and original insight. She has won the American Sociological Association’s distinguished book award, the Merton Award from the SKAT section of the ASA, and the Douglas prize from the Culture section, all for different publications, but each examining important historical examples of how materiality shapes social life. In tandem with her scholarly publications, she also teaches a broad array of courses at University of California, San Diego to undergraduates – where she encourages students to "theorize about culture" --examining material, social, and organizational forms in original ways.