A Postmodern Politics of Time
226 pp. 6x9
$52.95 cloth 978-0-8142-0617-1
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“In this sophisticated and engaging book, Mitchum Huehls boldly makes claims about the importance of temporality in a variety of postmodern texts that run counter to the current general view of postmodernism, but that is precisely why Qualified Hope may well energize a welcome counter-trend.” —John M. Krafft, co-editor of Pynchon Notes
“In Qualified Hope, Mitchum Huehls redirects the question of postmodernism from spatial to temporal assessment and provides an effective method for critiquing the political relevance of writing distinguished from pure irony. He raises an acknowledged dilemma of postmodern literature and advances an effective method by which to assess the qualified success of the works he analyzes in the ‘politics of futurity.’” —Joseph M. Conte, professor of English, University at Buffalo, SUNY
What is the political value of time, and where does that value reside? Should politics place its hope in future possibility, or does that simply defer action in the present? Can the present ground a vision of change, or is it too circumscribed by the status quo?
In Qualified Hope: A Postmodern Politics of Time, Mitchum Huehls contends that conventional treatments of time’s relationship to politics are limited by a focus on real-world experiences of time. By contrast, the innovative literary forms developed by authors in direct response to political events such as the Cold War, globalization, the emergence of identity politics, and 9/11 offer readers uniquely literary experiences of time. And it is in these literary experiences of time that Qualified Hope identifies more complicated—and thus more productive—ways to think about the time-politics relationship.
Qualified Hope challenges the conventional characterization of postmodernism as a period in which authors reject time in favor of space as the primary category for organizing experience and knowledge. And by identifying a common commitment to time at the heart of postmodern literature, Huehls suggests that the period-defining divide between multiculturalism and theory is not as stark as previously thought.
Mitchum Huehls is visiting assistant professor of English at UCLA.