Get Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production PDF

By Jason Puskar

ISBN-10: 0804775354

ISBN-13: 9780804775359

This booklet 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. motor vehicle collisions and occupational accidents turned "car injuries" and "industrial accidents." through the post-Civil battle interval of racial, ethnic, and class-based hostility, probability used to be an summary enemy opposed to which society may unite. by way of generating probability, novels through William Dean Howells, Stephen Crane, Anna Katharine eco-friendly, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and James Cain documented and helped determine new modes of collective interdependence. likelihood here's hooked up now not with the aggressive individualism of the Gilded Age, yet with vital innovative and social democratic reforms, together with advancements in assurance, which had lengthy hired twist of fate narratives to form its personal "mutual society." Accident Society finds the level to which American collectivity has depended—and keeps to depend—on the literary construction of chance.

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Read e-book online Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production PDF

This e-book argues that language and literature actively produced probability within the past due 19th and early 20th centuries via categorizing accidents and losses as blameless of layout. car collisions and occupational accidents grew to become "car injuries" and "industrial injuries. " in the course of the post-Civil conflict interval of racial, ethnic, and class-based hostility, likelihood used to be an summary enemy opposed to which society may possibly unite.

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

Example text

If, in Howells’s view, the Haymarket trials perversely produced scapegoats through the methods of a “romantic novelist,” then the lack of investigation into Conrad’s death does the opposite, producing chance through the methods of a realist novelist. That is, part of what Howells seems to recognize in Hazard is that the moral underpinnings of romantic fiction, with its polarized account of virtue and vice, can be countered by realist fiction’s determined refusal even to conduct the kinds of inquiries that might lead to any assessment of blame.

The social nature of chance thus consists not of the embeddedness of some actual indeterminacy within social and material interactions but of the complex ways in which any event, especially a violent injury, might or might not be characterized specifically as a matter of chance. When March loses his hat, and almost loses his life, he converts chance back into moral choice by making it an occasion for a confession. Chance is social because it is the product of extensive negotiations about the nature and limits of responsibility, agency, causation, culpability, intentionality, and even moral choice, all of which must be reconfigured, however subtly, as soon as chance enters the conversation.

When accidents are neither controlled by identifiable and culpable agents nor surrendered to the jurisdiction of a superintending deity, they lodge ineradicably in precisely those social and economic dynamics that March detests as secondary, human made, or artificial. To situate accidents there is to involve them in all of those social and economic transactions that all agents must undergo. As a result, agents who experience certain kinds of unexpected failures, injuries, or losses frequently find themselves facing a difficult choice: the agent can choose either to be innocent or to be powerful, but not both.

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


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