Unmaking The Making of Americans: Toward an Aesthetic Ontology

SUNY Press
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 Develops the sustained, relational, dynamic, and reflective attention demanded by Gertrude Stein’s novel into a theory of reading and critical analysis.
Arguing that Gertrude Stein’s monumental novel The Making of Americans models a radically aesthetic relation to the world, E. L. McCallum demonstrates how the novel teaches us to read differently, unmaking our habits of reading. Each of the chapters works through close readings of Stein’s text and a philosophical interlocutor to track a series of theoretical questions: what forms queer time, what are the limits of story, how do we feel emotion, how can we agree on a shared reality if interpretation and imagination intervene, and how do particular media shape how we convey this rich experience? The formally innovative agenda and epistemological drive of Stein’s novel stages rich thought experiments that bear on questions that are central to some of the most vibrant conversations in literary studies today. In the midst of ongoing debates about the practices of reading, the difficulty of reading, and even the impossibility of reading, the moment has come to have a fuller critical engagement with this landmark novel. This book shows how.
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About the author

 E. L. McCallum is Associate Professor of English and Film Studies at Michigan State University and the author of Object Lessons: How to Do Things with Fetishism and coeditor (with Mikko Tuhkanen) of Queer Times, Queer Becomings, both also published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2018
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781438468013
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / Books & Reading
Philosophy / Aesthetics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Anne Fadiman
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This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide. 
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Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?

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