Danger and Vulnerability in Nineteenth-century American Literature: Crash and Burn (Paperback)Jennifer Travis (author)
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Today we speak of similar insecurities: financial, informational, environmental, and political, and we obsessively express our worry and fear for the future. Cultural theorist Paul Virilio refers to these feelings as the "threat horizon," one that endlessly identifies and produces new dangers. Why, he asks, does it seem easier for humanity to imagine a future shaped by ever-deadlier accidents than a decent future? Danger and Vulnerability in Nineteenth Century American Literature; or, Crash and Burn American invites readers to examine the "threat horizon" through its nascent expression in literary and cultural history. Against the emerging rhetoric of danger in the long nineteenth century, this book examines how a vocabulary of vulnerability in the American imaginary promoted the causes of the structurally disempowered in new and surprising ways, often seizing vulnerability as the grounds for progressive insight. The texts at the heart of this study, from nineteenth-century sensation novels to early twentieth-century journalistic fiction, imagine spectacular collisions, terrifying conflagrations, and all manner of catastrophe, social, political, and environmental. Together they write against illusions of inviolability in a growing technological and managerial culture, and they imagine how the recognition of universal vulnerability may challenge normative representations of social, political, and economic marginality.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 186
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. * CHOICE *
Jennifer Travis's deeply-researched study examines how nineteenth-century Americans sought to guard against the very technology that they hoped would keep them safe. Moving from sentimental novels to medical, sociological and business texts, Travis skillfully charts Americans' ongoing fear of vulnerability, and the lengths to which they would go to avoid it. This book has much to offer nineteenth-century scholars, but It also offers rich insight into our current struggle to negotiate technology's risks and rewards. -- Anna Mae Duane, University of Connecticut
Jennifer Travis has written an important, groundbreaking book that will generate much discussion. Her command of scholarship beyond literary studies is extraordinary. -- Paul Sorrentino, Virginia Tech
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