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Modernist Time Ecology

Jesse Matz

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A new view of the way modernist fiction writers tried to solve the problem of time.

Do our fictions transform time? Do they cultivate the temporal environment? Such was the hope—or the fantasy—at work in many modernist novels for which time was not only the major subject but also an object of reparative aspiration. Aimed at a kind of stewardship of time, these fictions constitute a practice of modernist time ecology: an effort to restore those landscapes of time that have been thrown into crisis by modernity.

In Modernist Time Ecology, Jesse Matz redefines temporal experimentation in central…

A new view of the way modernist fiction writers tried to solve the problem of time.

Do our fictions transform time? Do they cultivate the temporal environment? Such was the hope—or the fantasy—at work in many modernist novels for which time was not only the major subject but also an object of reparative aspiration. Aimed at a kind of stewardship of time, these fictions constitute a practice of modernist time ecology: an effort to restore those landscapes of time that have been thrown into crisis by modernity.

In Modernist Time Ecology, Jesse Matz redefines temporal experimentation in central writers like Proust, Mann, Woolf, Ellison, and Cather, who developed literary forms to cultivate, restore, and enrich the temporal environment. He brings fresh attention to others who best exemplify this ecological motive, arguing that E. M. Forster, J. B. Priestley, and V. S. Naipaul are leading figures in this practice of temporal redress. Matz also reveals how contemporary film, social media movements, and public service efforts show what has become of the modernist interest in temporal stewardship.

Matz combines an array of disciplines—including narrative theory, sociology, phenomenology, cognitive psychology, film studies, queer theory, and environmental studies—to theorize and explain the rationale and the limits to the idea that time might be subject to textual cultivation. Modernist Time Ecology is a deeply interdisciplinary book that changes what we think literature and the arts can do for the world at large.

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Modernist Time Ecology

Jesse Matz

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Reviews

Reviews

An extraordinary, field-transforming book. Matz's great innovation is to change our sense of the force and meaning of modernist literary form. He gives us modernist literature as an arsenal in the war for time, an assemblage of means to resist the debasement of human time by modernity. Readers will be astonished by the boldness of his claims and procedures.

This transformative contribution to modernist studies lucidly explores narratives that represent and cultivate ways of living with and in time. It thereby opens a whole new field of inquiry: investigating how stories can be used to model, through their formal design, strategies for solving the time-problems that they thematize.

Jesse Matz’s interpretive and discursive work are equally strong. He situates his thinking in a profound context of literary and critical history, taking long and recently established understandings of modernist time and reformulating these in ways that are at once careful and bold, exciting and exact. Modernist Time Ecology is a book of exceptional quality and value.

After the spatial turn comes a return to time. Modernist Time Ecology is an invaluable rethinking of temporality through the metaphor of 'time ecology,' the study of time as an environment of its own. Matz rereads the time-crisis of modernity and aesthetic efforts of reparation in a creative range of writers and thinkers.

In Modernist Time Ecology, Jesse Matz combines sophisticated theorizing and insightful close reading to develop a brilliant case for the powerful effects of modernist aesthetic forms on the temporal environment. Matz gives new meaning to the old phrase 'practical criticism.'

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About

Book Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter One. The Art of Time, Theory to Practice
Chapter Two. Modernist Time Ecology
Chapter Three. Bergson, Bakhtin, and the Ecological Chronotope
Chapter Four

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter One. The Art of Time, Theory to Practice
Chapter Two. Modernist Time Ecology
Chapter Three. Bergson, Bakhtin, and the Ecological Chronotope
Chapter Four. Timescapes of Modernist Fiction
Chapter Five. Maurice in Time
Chapter Six. J. B. Priestley in the Theater of Time
Chapter Seven. Naipaul's Changing Times
Chapter Eight. Time Ecology Today
Chapter Nine. Film-Time Ecology
Chapter Ten. The Queer Prospect
Conclusion
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Jesse Matz, Ph.D.

Jesse Matz is the William P. Rice Professor of English at Kenyon College. He is the author of Literary Impressionism and Modernist Aesthetics and Lasting Impressions: The Legacies of Impressionism in Contemporary Culture.