Twentieth Century Literature

A quarterly journal of scholarly literary criticism publishing refereed papers on all aspects of twentieth-century literature, including English-language essays on literature in other languages.

Articles from Vol. 57, No. 3-4, Fall-Winter

Beginning with Postmodernism
In the epilogue to the 2002 reprint of her influential study The Politics of Postmodernism, Linda Hutcheon remarks that "the postmodern may well be a twentieth-century phenomenon, that is, a thing of the past. Now fully institutionalized, it has its...
Break, Period, Interregnum
If it remains somewhat unclear whether we have actually gotten beyond postmodernism yet, nothing could be clearer than that we have left its peak years behind us, presumably somewhere in the Seventies and Eighties, and its onset (whenever that was)...
Cognitive Mapping, Then and Now: Postmodernism, Indecision, and American Literary Globalism
Mere belief is hostile to the whole idea of thinking. To wear credulity as one's badge of intellect is not to be a thinker as such --n+1, "A Regressive Avant-Garde" (2004) And yet, the best of Jameson's work has felt mind-blowing in the...
Integrity after Metafiction
Henry James claimed never to have "heard of a guild of tailors who recommend the use of the thread without the needle, or the needle without the thread" ("Art of Fiction" 60). This anecdote is supposed to serve as a climax to the case he makes for...
Introduction: Postmodernism, Then
From our contemporary vantage point, a case can certainly be made for the predictive or, perhaps, programmatic power of David Foster Wallace's 1993 essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction." In this essay, Wallace posits a shift away from...
Martian Ecologies and the Future of Nature
Postmodernism, then: The term no longer outlines the urgent horizon of the contemporary. It now tends to refer to a period or style just past, mildly dated in the way flip-top cell phones are: They still make them, we still use them, but they are not...
On the Graphic in Postmodern Theoretical Writing
This evictive state naturally corresponds to a plenitude of virtualities: it is an absence of meaning full of all the meanings. --Roland Barthes ("Rhetoric" 39) The word "postmodern." conjures up a number of concepts and associations that...
Postmodernism and Modernization
In my book The Twilight of the Middle Class I argue that we should "read postmodernism dialectically, as the worldview not only of middle-class privilege but of the hollowness of this privilege: of the bitter discovery of one's lack of agency and inability...
Postmodernism and the Affective Turn
Over the past decade a growing body of criticism has emerged out of the social sciences and media studies that suggests that affects are socially transmissible. Critics associated with what Patricia Clough has defined as "the affective turn" argue...
Postmodernism in Reverse: American National Allegories and the 21st-Century Political Novel
Since the 1980s, the conceptual twin--or, better, dialectical counterpart--of literary postmodernism has been the national allegory. As Fredric Jameson asserted in his controversial landmark essay, "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational...
Post-Postmodern Realism?
In his 1989 manifesto for "the new social novel," Tom Wolfe complained that contemporary American novelists were failing to take on the pressing social issues of their time. Since the 1960s--in other words, since the onset of postmodernism--American...
The Beauty of a Social Problem (E.G. Unemployment)
In his new book on volume one of Capital, Fredric Jameson remarks that in the "affluent post-war 1950s and 1960s," Marx's idea that capitalism would eventually begin to polarize society into a "smaller and smaller group of capitalists" and "an ever...
The New Cultural Geology
Paraphrasing a remark Freud makes in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, we could say: "In the last resort, what has left its mark on the development of thought must be the history of the earth we live on and its relation to the sun." --Ray Brassier,...
The Popularity of Postmodernism
The commonplaces about postmodernism are themselves burdensome commonplaces. They evacuate nuance and historical understanding, and to notice their performance in spheres both popular and academic is to cringe. (The "there is no truth" line is a prime...
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