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The Poetics of Insecurity
American Fiction and the Uses of Threat

AUD$143.95 inc GST

Part of Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: December 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108418768

AUD$ 143.95 inc GST

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About the Authors
  • The Poetics of Insecurity turns the emerging field of literary security studies upside down. Rather than tying the prevalence of security to a culture of fear, Johannes Voelz shows how American literary writers of the past two hundred years have mobilized insecurity to open unforeseen and uncharted horizons of possibility for individuals and collectives. In a series of close readings of works by Charles Brockden Brown, Harriet Jacobs, Willa Cather, Flannery O'Connor, and Don DeLillo, Voelz brings to light a cultural imaginary in which conventional meanings of security and insecurity are frequently reversed, so that security begins to appear as deadening and insecurity as enlivening. Timely, broad-ranging, and incisive, Johannes Voelz's study intervenes in debates on American literature as well as in the interdisciplinary field of security studies. It fundamentally challenges our existing explanations for the pervasiveness of security in American cultural and political life.

    • Provides the most in-depth exploration of the link of security and literature to date
    • Makes the narrative dimension of security accessible to readers
    • Provides an interdisciplinary approach to security
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Poetics of Insecurity is an impressive and accomplished work that analyzes a range of American narratives from the early Republic to our present moment to show how an interest in and exploration of 'security' has been central to American literature and culture. Voelz makes contributions to multiple fields, including not only American literature broadly construed, but also narrative theory; it also joins a growing body of work exploring the intersections of the literary with non-literary conceptions of security, and contributes to recent work focused on chance and/or accident in American literary history.' Steven Belletto, Lafayette College, Pennsylvania

    'The strength of Voelz's readings lies in their attentiveness to the ambivalent affective dimensions of insecurity, the intermingling of fear and desire that accompanies the contemplation of an uncertain future.' Deborah Thurman, The Review of English Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108418768
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: security and the uncertain worlds of fiction
    2. The virtue of uncertainty: securing the republic in Arthur Mervyn
    3. Harriet Jacobs's imagined community of insecurity
    4. Willa Cather and the security of radical contingency
    5. Cold War liberalism and Flannery O'Connor's 'The Displaced Person'
    6. In the future, toward death: finance capitalism and security in DeLillo's cosmopolis

  • Author

    Johannes Voelz, University of Frankfurt
    Johannes Voelz is Professor of American Studies, Democracy, and Aesthetics at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany. In 2016, he was awarded a Heisenberg-Professorship by the German Research Foundation. He is the author of Transcendental Resistance: The New Americanists and Emerson's Challenge (2010) and has edited several books and special issues, among them 'Security and Liberalism' (Telos, 2015) and 'Chance, Risk, Security: Approaches to Uncertainty in American Literature' (Amerikastudien/American Studies, 2015).

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