Download PDF by Jason Puskar: Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production

By Jason Puskar

ISBN-10: 0804775354

ISBN-13: 9780804775359

This publication argues that language and literature actively produced probability within the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries by way of categorizing accidents and losses as blameless of layout. vehicle collisions and occupational accidents turned "car injuries" and "industrial accidents." through the post-Civil warfare interval of racial, ethnic, and class-based hostility, probability was once an summary enemy opposed to which society may unite. via generating likelihood, novels by means of William Dean Howells, Stephen Crane, Anna Katharine eco-friendly, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and James Cain documented and helped identify new modes of collective interdependence. probability here's attached no longer with the aggressive individualism of the Gilded Age, yet with vital revolutionary and social democratic reforms, together with advancements in assurance, which had lengthy hired coincidence narratives to form its personal "mutual society." Accident Society unearths the level to which American collectivity has depended—and keeps to depend—on the literary construction of chance.

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Additional resources for Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production of Chance

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Rather than theorize freedom as a function of the powerful exercise of the will, James theorizes freedom first and foremost in terms of the powerlessness of the will. In a world without essences, metaphysics, or absolutes—a “pluriverse” as James called it—chance affirms that multiple possibilities remain in play, precisely because those possibilities so evidently lie beyond our command. Accordingly, evidence for chance frequently took rather violent form for both Dewey and James, especially by the early twentieth century.

Moreover, around 1890 and in the wake of the Haymarket trials, the production of chance became an important component of Howells’s realist fiction. Just as insurance cultivates the threat of accident in order to enroll policyholders in its “mutual society,” Howellsian realism promoted “the world of chance” precisely to facilitate the kind of social interdependence that Howells so desired. No real solution to the serious social and economic divisions that Hazard diagnoses, and that Haymarket exacerbated, Howells’s proposed link between insurance and realism held out hope that the dangerous instability of urban modernity might be put to good use, if configured as a radically alien threat against which a more inclusive society might unite.

The chapters on Peirce and the chapter on Dreiser and Cain focus on the compatibility of chance with conventional crime narratives. The chapters on Crane, Wharton, and Peirce and Green all engage pragmatism in different measures. Together, these chapters organize related sets of materials without contriving an excessively linear story of development, but while still tracing key historical changes through these decades. One of the things I have come to admire in these writers is their love of variety, which they indulge even at the expense of formal elegance or narrative cohesion.

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Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production of Chance by Jason Puskar


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