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Questioning History: The Postmodern Turn to the Eighteenth Century
BucknellUniversity Press / Associated University Presses.196 pages. 1998. $28.  0838753833.

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Questioning History examines the historiography of postmodern phenomena (the metafictions of Jeannette Winterson, Patrick Suskind, Allen Kurzweil, Wole Soyinka, and others, as well as the representation of modern film and photography, architecture, and race) in relation to the eighteenth-century texts that they ventriloquize, including those of Edward Hyde, John Bunyan, John Gay, William Hogarth, Horace Walpole, Denis Diderot, Pierre de Laclos, and Johann Herder.

Contents

Introduction: the Question of History and Eighteenth-Century Studies. Greg Clingham

  1. Fictions of Enlightenment: Sontag, Suskind, Norfolk, Kurzweil. Julie C. Hayes
  2. Between Calvin and Calvino: Postmodernism and Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Allen Michie
  3. Winterson’s Fiction and Enlightenment Historiography. Greg Clingham
  4. “To invent in art and folly:” Postmodernism and Walpole’s Castle of Otranto. Lee Morrissey
  5. The History of ‘The Moving Image;’ Rethinking Movement in the Eighteenth-Century Print Tradition and the early Years of Photography and Film. Philip E. Baruth and Nancy M. West
  6. Singing the Imperial Blues: The Scriblerians after Wole Soyinka. Clement Hawes
  7. “Almost an Englishman:” Equiano and the Colonial Gift of Language. William C. Mottolese
  8. Herder and the Postcolonial Reconfiguring of the Enlightenment. Bob Chase

“The ‘historical’ emerges in this book, not simply as a distant mirror, but as a two-way intellectual street—a theoretical conduit, as it were, that allows multiple intertextures among pasts and presents which in turn participate in a never-ending historical (and historicizing) dialectic … an admirable project”

“This concern with sedimentation – how the past exists always both then and now – informs the intricate and rewarding arguments in Clingham’s essay on Winterson. He meticulously explores Sexing the Cherry and illustrates how Winterson offers the seventeenth and twentieth centuries as ‘interwover, or superimposed, and integral to the apprehension of the simultaneity of all time that conditions the whole text.’”

Gary Boire in Eighteenth-Century Fiction

"a stimulating volume.” – Clifford Siskin in SEL


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