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Individualism : The Cultural Logic of Modernity

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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Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity is an edited collection of sixteen essays on the idea of the modern sovereign individual in the western cultural tradition. Reconsidering the eighteenth-century realist novel, twentieth-century modernism, and underappreciated topics on individualism and literature, this volume provocatively revises and enriches our understanding of individualism as the generative premise of modernity itself.

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  • Hardback | 282 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 612.35g
  • 16 Jun 2011
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD
  • English
  • 0739122649
  • 9780739122648
  • 1,712,399

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Author Information

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

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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

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