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Untimely Ruins

Untimely Ruins
Author: Nick Yablon
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Total Pages: 397
Release: 2010-06-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
ISBN: 0226946657

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American ruins have become increasingly prominent, whether in discussions of “urban blight” and home foreclosures, in commemorations of 9/11, or in postapocalyptic movies. In this highly original book, Nick Yablon argues that the association between American cities and ruins dates back to a much earlier period in the nation’s history. Recovering numerous scenes of urban desolation—from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons—Untimely Ruins challenges the myth that ruins were absent or insignificant objects in nineteenth-century America. The first book to document an American cult of the ruin, Untimely Ruins traces its deviations as well as derivations from European conventions. Unlike classical and Gothic ruins, which decayed gracefully over centuries and inspired philosophical meditations about the fate of civilizations, America’s ruins were often “untimely,” appearing unpredictably and disappearing before they could accrue an aura of age. As modern ruins of steel and iron, they stimulated critical reflections about contemporary cities, and the unfamiliar kinds of experience they enabled. Unearthing evocative sources everywhere from the archives of amateur photographers to the contents of time-capsules, Untimely Ruins exposes crucial debates about the economic, technological, and cultural transformations known as urban modernity. The result is a fascinating cultural history that uncovers fresh perspectives on the American city.


The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World
Author: Paul Graves-Brown
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Total Pages: 852
Release: 2013-10
Genre: Art
ISBN: 019960200X

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This Handbook is the first comprehensive survey of a rapidly expanding sub-field in archaeology, the study of the present and recent past. It seeks to explore the boundaries of this emerging area, to develop a tool-kit of concepts and methods, which are applicable to this new sub-field, and to suggest important future trajectories for research.


Remembrance of Things Present

Remembrance of Things Present
Author: Nick Yablon
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Total Pages: 415
Release: 2019-06-12
Genre: History
ISBN: 022657413X

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Time capsules offer unexpected insights into how people view their own time, place, and culture, as well as their duties to future generations. Remembrance of Things Present traces the birth of this device to the Gilded Age, when growing urban volatility prompted doubts about how the period would be remembered—or if it would be remembered at all. Yablon details how diverse Americans – from presidents and mayors to advocates for the rights of women, blacks, and workers – constructed prospective memories of their present. They did so by contributing not just written testimony to time capsules but also sources that historians and archivists considered illegitimate, such as photographs, phonograph records, films, and everyday artifacts. By offering a direct line to posterity, time capsules stimulated various hopes for the future. Remembrance of Things Present delves into these treasure chests to unearth those forgotten futures.


Ruin Memories

Ruin Memories
Author: Bjørnar Olsen
Publisher: Routledge
Total Pages: 511
Release: 2014-04-24
Genre: Social Science
ISBN: 1317695801

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Since the nineteenth century, mass-production, consumerism and cycles of material replacement have accelerated; increasingly larger amounts of things are increasingly victimized rapidly and made redundant. At the same time, processes of destruction have immensely intensified, although largely overlooked when compared to the research and social significance devoted to consumption and production. The outcome is a ruin landscape of derelict factories, closed shopping malls, overgrown bunkers and redundant mining towns; a ghostly world of decaying modern debris normally omitted from academic concerns and conventional histories. The archaeology of the recent or contemporary past has grown fast during the last decade. This development has been concurrent with a broader popular, artistic and scholarly interest in modern ruins in general. Ruin Memories explores how the ruins of modernity are conceived and assigned cultural value in contemporary academic and public discourses, reassesses the cultural and historical value of modern ruins and suggests possible means for reaffirming their cultural and historic significance. Crucial for this reassessment is a concern with decay and ruination, and with the role things play in expressing the neglected, unsuccessful and ineffable. Abandonment and ruination is usually understood negatively through the tropes of loss and deprivation; things are degraded and humiliated while the information, knowledge and memory embedded in them become lost along the way. Without even ignoring its many negative and traumatizing aspects, a main question addressed in this book is whether ruination also can be seen as an act of disclosure. If ruination disturbs the routinized and ready-to-hand, to what extent can it also be seen as a recovery of memory as exposing meanings and presences that perhaps are only possible to grasp at second hand when no longer immersed in their withdrawn and useful reality? Anybody interested in the archaeology of the contemporary past will find Ruin Memories an essential guide to the very latest theoretical research in this emerging field of archaeological thought.


Materialities of Passing

Materialities of Passing
Author: Peter Bjerregaard
Publisher: Routledge
Total Pages: 288
Release: 2016-03-17
Genre: Social Science
ISBN: 1317099427

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‘Passing’ is a common euphemism for the death of a person, as he or she is said to ‘pass away’ or ‘pass on’. This open-ended saying has at its heart a notion of transformation from one state to another, which in turn grants the possibility of grasping or approximating the passage of time and the materiality of death and decay. This book begins with the idea that since all material things - whether animals, human beings, objects or buildings - undergo some form of passing, then the specific transformation in these passages and the materiality actively given to it can offer us a grasp of otherwise precarious temporalities. It examines how human beings strive to relate to the temporal dimension of death and decay, by giving new shape and direction to being and by examining its natural transformations. Focusing on the materiality of passing, and thereby the relationship between embodiment, temporality and death, Materialities of Passing offers rich case studies from Europe, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and the Russian Far East for exploring the material, spatial and directional aspects of the very interface between life and death. As such, it will appeal to scholars of anthropology, death studies, archaeology, philosophy and cultural studies.


Sensational Internationalism

Sensational Internationalism
Author: J. Michelle Coghlan
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Total Pages: 232
Release: 2016-09-08
Genre: Political Science
ISBN: 1474411215

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In refocusing attention on the Paris Commune as a key event in American political and cultural memory, Sensational Internationalism radically changes our understanding of the relationship between France and the United States in the long nineteenth century. It offers fascinating, remarkably accessible readings of a range of literary works, from periodical poetry and boys' adventure fiction to radical pulp and the writings of Henry James, as well as a rich analysis of visual, print, and performance culture, from post-bellum illustrated weeklies and panoramas to agit-prop pamphlets and Coney Island pyrotechnic shows. This book will speak to readers looking to understand the affective, cultural, and aesthetic afterlives of revolt and revolution pre-and-post Occupy Wall Street, as well as those interested in space, gender, performance, and transatlantic print culture.


The Part and the Whole in Early American Literature, Print Culture, and Art

The Part and the Whole in Early American Literature, Print Culture, and Art
Author: Matthew Pethers
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Total Pages: 193
Release: 2024-04-12
Genre: Art
ISBN: 1684485096

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The essays in this pathbreaking collection consider the significance of varied early American fragmentary genres and practices—from diaries and poetry, to almanacs and commonplace books, to sermons and lists, to Indigenous ruins and other material shards and fragments—often overlooked by critics in a scholarly privileging of the “whole.” Contributors from literary studies, book history, and visual culture discuss a host of canonical and non-canonical figures, from Edward Taylor and Washington Irving to Mary Rowlandson and Sarah Kemble Knight, offering insight into the many intellectual, ideological, and material variations of “form” that populated the early American cultural landscape. As these essays reveal, the casting of the fragmentary as aesthetically eccentric or incomplete was a way of reckoning with concerns about the related fragmentation of nation, society, and self. For a contemporary audience, they offer new ways to think about the inevitable gaps and absences in our cultural and historical archive.


Speculative Time

Speculative Time
Author: Paul Crosthwaite
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Total Pages: 337
Release: 2024-02-29
Genre: Literary Criticism
ISBN: 0198891814

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Speculative Time: American Literature in an Age of Crisis examines how a climate of financial and economic speculation and disaster shaped the literary culture of the United States in the early to mid-twentieth century. It argues that speculation's risk-laden and crisis-prone temporalities had major impacts on writing in the period, as well as on important aspects of visual representation. The conceptions of time-and especially futurity-arising from the theory and practice of speculation provided crucial models for writers' and other artists' aesthetic, intellectual, and political concerns and strategies. The attractions and dangers of speculation were most spectacularly apparent in the period's pivotal economic event: the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The book offers an innovative account of how the speculative boom and bust of the "Roaring Twenties" affected literary and cultural production in the United States. It situates the stock market gyrations of the 1920s and 1930s within a wider culture of speculation that was profoundly shaped by, but extended well beyond, the brokerages and trading floors of Wall Street. The early to mid-twentieth century was a “speculative time,” an age characterized by leaps of economic, political, intellectual, and literary speculation; and the notion of speculative time provides a means of understanding the period's characteristic temporal modes and textures, as evident in work by figures including F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Nathan Asch, William Faulkner, Federico García Lorca, James N. Rosenberg, Margaret Bourke-White, Archibald MacLeish, Christina Stead, Claude McKay, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison.


Writing the Stage Coach Nation

Writing the Stage Coach Nation
Author: Ruth Livesey
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Total Pages: 240
Release: 2016-09-08
Genre: Literary Criticism
ISBN: 0191082260

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Why is it that so many of the best-loved novels of the Victorian era take place not in the steam-powered railway present in which they were published, but in the very recent past? Most works by Dickens, Brontë, Eliot, and Hardy set action neither in the present nor in a definitively historical epoch but rather in a 'just' past of collective memory, a vanishing but still tangible world moving by stage and mail coach. It is easy to overlook the fact that Jane Eyre, Bleak House, and Middlemarch, for example, are in this sense historical novels, recreating places and times that are just slipping from the horizon of here and now. Ruth Livesey brings to the surface the historical consciousness of such novels of the 'just' past and explores how they convey an idea of a national belonging that can be experienced through a sense of local place. The journey by public coach had long been an analogy for the form of the novel as it took shape in the eighteenth century; smooth engineered roads and the rapid circulation of print was one means by which Britain was reimagined as a modern, peaceable, and communicative nation in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. But by the later 1840s the end of the stage coach was assured and that made it a highly charged figure of a lost national modernity. In its halts, relays, stops at inns, and crossing points, the stage and mail coach system offered a different experience of mobility and being-in-place—passages of flight and anchoring points—from the vectors of the railway that radiated out from industrial and urban centres. This book opens by examining the writing of the stage coach nation in Walter Scott's fiction and in the work of the radical journalists William Hazlitt and William Cobbett. Livesey suggests that in turning to the 'just' past of the stage coach imaginary, later novels by Dickens, Brontë, and Eliot reach out to the possibility of a nation knitted together by the affect of strongly felt local belonging. This vision is of a communicative nation at its liveliest when the smooth passage of characters and words are interrupted and overset, delivering readers and protagonists to local places, thick with the presence of history writ small.


Rendering Violence

Rendering Violence
Author: Ross Barrett
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Total Pages: 228
Release: 2014-08-29
Genre: Art
ISBN: 0520282892

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Rendering Violence explores the problems and possibilities that the subject of political violence presented to American painters working between 1830 and 1890, a turbulent period during which common citizens frequently abandoned orderly forms of democratic expression to riot, strike, and protest violently. Examining a range of critical texts, this book shows for the first time that nineteenth-century American aesthetic theory defined painting as a privileged vehicle for the representation of political order and the stabilization of liberal-democratic life. Analyzing seven paintings by Thomas Cole, John Quidor, Nathaniel Jocelyn, George Henry Hall, Thomas Nast, Martin Leisser, and Robert Koehler, Ross Barrett reconstructs the strategies that American artists developed to explore the symbolic power of violence in a medium aligned ideologically with lawful democracy. He argues that American paintings of upheaval ÒrenderÓ their subjects in divergent ways. By exploring the inner conflicts that structure these painterly projects, Barrett sheds new light on the politicized pressures that shaped visual representation in the nineteenth century and on the anxieties and ambivalences that have long defined American responses to political turmoil.