Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity

Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity

Hardback

Edited by Zubin Meer, Contributions by Nancy Armstrong, Contributions by Deborah Cook, Contributions by James Cruise, Contributions by Lisa Eck, Contributions by Megan Heffernan, Contributions by David Jenemann, Contributions by Nigel Joseph, Contributions by Tom McCall, Contributions by Lucy McNeece

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  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Format: Hardback | 282 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 25mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 16 June 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Lanham, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0739122649
  • ISBN 13: 9780739122648
  • Sales rank: 1,606,087

Product description

Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity explores ideas of the modern sovereign individual in the western cultural tradition. Divided into two sections, this volume surveys the history of western individualism in both its early and later forms: chiefly from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and then individualism in the twentieth century. These essays boldly challenge not only the exclusionary framework and self-assured teleology, but also the metaphysical certainty of that remarkably tenacious narrative on "the rise of the individual." Some essays question the correlation of realist characterization to the eighteenth-century British novel, while others champion the continuing political relevance of selfhood in modernist fiction over and against postmodern nihilism. Yet others move to the foreground underappreciated topics, such as the role of courtly cultures in the development of individualism. Taken together, the essays provocatively revise and enrich our understanding of individualism as the generative premise of modernity itself. Authors especially considered include Locke, Defoe, Freud, and Adorno. The essays in this volume first began as papers presented at a conference of the American Comparative Literature Association held at Princeton University. Among the contributors are Nancy Armstrong, Deborah Cook, James Cruise, David Jenemann, Lucy McNeece, Vivasvan Soni, Frederick Turner, and Philip Weinstein.

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Author information

Zubin Meer is a Ph.D. Candidate at York University, Toronto.

Review quote

The Cultural Logic of Modernity is a refreshing and timely collection of essays on the issue of individualism, its content and its history. It combines particular case-studies with a rethinking of the terms of the modern debate on the nature of the self. It draws on the central discussion that has followed Nietzsche, and includes Lukacs and the Frankfurt School, on the challenge of finding meaning in secular modernity. It does so intelligently and informedly. -- John Carroll, La Trobe University Bringing together new and established scholars, Individualism is a fascinatingly revisionist set of essays, some remarkable, on the cultural fates of personhood - subjective identity - in, mostly, the modern West since the seventeenth century: though the collection starts with study of a newfound medieval romance that forces rethinking of the age's experience of personhood and a near-Mandevillean account of Shakespeare, and closes with analyses of Reading Lolita in Tehran and of the exclusion of exotic experience, including of the human, from post-Renaissance accounts of western history (opening to new inclusions of such experience, altering, now, contemporary practice). Between are strong essays on canonical writers from Locke and Defoe to Lukacs, Bakhtin, Kafka, Faulkner and Adorno, and less- or non-canonical artists like Margaret Cavendish, spies haunting London's streets, Grub Street and Precisionist painting. Striking is most essayists' shared precept that literature is the bestsite for pondering these historical experiences of personhood, and that what literature and accompanying practices (like philosophy and painting) show over past centuries is lack of any uncomplicated experience and understanding of the individual and o -- Timothy J. Reiss, New York University Bringing together new and established scholars, Individualism is a fascinatingly revisionist set of essays, some remarkable, on the cultural fates of personhood - "subjective" identity - in, mostly, the modern West since the seventeenth century: though the collection starts with study of a newfound medieval romance that forces rethinking of the age's experience of personhood and a near-Mandevillean account of Shakespeare, and closes with analyses of Reading Lolita in Tehran and of the exclusion of "exotic" experience, including of the human, from post-Renaissance accounts of western history (opening to new inclusions of such experience, altering, now, contemporary practice). Between are strong essays on canonical writers from Locke and Defoe to Lukacs, Bakhtin, Kafka, Faulkner and Adorno, and less- or non-canonical artists like Margaret Cavendish, spies haunting London's streets, Grub Street and Precisionist painting. Striking is most essayists' shared precept that literature is the best site for pondering these historical experiences of personhood, and that what literature and accompanying practices (like philosophy and painting) show over past centuries is lack of any uncomplicated experience and understanding of the "individual" and of the "individualism" taken adequately to describe or explain it: rather that however modern western experiences of personhood are caught up in active expansionist senses of "self," they simultaneously create various collectivities on which they depend and without whose forms of order and disorder all experience and idea of the person is without ground. -- Timothy J. Reiss, New York University The great virtue of Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity lies in its scope: with half of the essays focused on early modern writers and the second half on later modern writers, the volume as a whole makes up an extended inquiry into the connections between modernization and individualism. The contributions span from examinations the 13th-century romance Silence to Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran on the one hand, and from Locke to Adorno to C. B. Macpherson and Charles Taylor, on the other. For such a diverse collection, the separate parts are unusually disciplined, all focused on the long history of our presumptions about individualism and the consequences for our conceptions of modernity. None of these provocative essays is predicable, for each one variously challenges the familiar narrative of the rise and subsequent death of individualism. This splendid and strikingly democratic volume, with first-class contributions form emergent as well as established scholars, should be of interest to anyone concerned with the last 300 years of social and cultural theory. -- James Thompson

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Individualism Revisited Part 2 Part 1: Individualism in Early Modernity Chapter 3 Chapter 1: A Silence in the Family Tree: The Genealogical Subject in Heldris of Cornwall's Silence Chapter 4 Chapter 2: Shakespeare's Polycentric Marketplace: Why the Individual and the Community Need Not Be at Odds Chapter 5 Chapter 3: "A World of My Own Creating": Private Worlds and Social Selves in Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World Chapter 6 Chapter 4: Secrecy and Spies: London, 1650-1800 Chapter 7 Chapter 5: Infectious Fictions in A Journal of the Plague Year: Defoe and the Empirical Self Chapter 8 Chapter 6: The Other Side of Modern Individualism: Locke and Defoe Chapter 9 Chapter 7: Locke's Disciplined Self: A Postcolonial Perspective Chapter 10 Chapter 8: The Tragedies of Sentimentalism: Privatizing Happiness in the Eighteenth Century Part 11 Part 2: Individualism in Late Modernity Chapter 12 Chapter 9: Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction Chapter 13 Chapter 10: Lukacs, Bakhtin, and the Apocalypse of Self in the Modern Novel Chapter 14 Chapter 11: Camouflage Work: Precisionist Painting and the Hidden Subject of Modernism Chapter 15 Chapter 12: The Precarious Subject of Late Capitalism: Rereading Adorno on the "Liquidation" of Individuality Chapter 16 Chapter 13: The Encrypted Individual in Dialectic of Enlightenment Chapter 17 Chapter 14: The Rise and Decline of the Individual in Adorno: Exit Hamlet, Enter Hamm Chapter 18 Chapter 15: The Individual as Cheshire Cat in Reading "Lolita" in Tehran Chapter 19 Chapter 16: Re-Orienting the Human: The Esoteric Self