New PDF release: Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production

By Jason Puskar

ISBN-10: 0804775354

ISBN-13: 9780804775359

This booklet argues that language and literature actively produced probability within the past due 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." 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 perhaps unite. by way of generating probability, novels by way 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 this is hooked up no longer 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 coincidence narratives to form its personal "mutual society." Accident Society finds the level to which American collectivity has depended—and maintains to depend—on the literary construction of chance.

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

Sample text

That belonged to God; and no doubt it was law, though it seems chance. But what I object to is this economic chance-world in which we live, and which we men seem to have created” (436). This is, of course, an entirely conventional mode of providentialism, surprising here only because it seems so untenable, given that the particular “chance of life and death” that killed Conrad came directly from the “economic chance-world” in the form of a bullet fired during labor unrest. March sounds like those nineteenth-century ministers who refused to put lightning rods on church steeples, because doing so might defy Providence.

But what I object to is this economic chance-world in which we live, and which we men seem to have created” (436). This is, of course, an entirely conventional mode of providentialism, surprising here only because it seems so untenable, given that the particular “chance of life and death” that killed Conrad came directly from the “economic chance-world” in the form of a bullet fired during labor unrest. March sounds like those nineteenth-century ministers who refused to put lightning rods on church steeples, because doing so might defy Providence.

The reader is left to imagine whether the bullet fired from the police van was deliberately fired at Conrad as he rushed to Lindau’s aid, whether an officer fired on him in error, or whether he was accidentally hit by a stray bullet. No one considers who the killer might have been, why he might have shot Conrad, or even whether the police as an institution should or could be held accountable. The death of Conrad at the scene of labor unrest marks the novel’s most explicit return to the scene of the Haymarket trials, but Howells’s most telling commentary on the events of 1886 lies not so much in deciding whether or not Conrad had been killed deliberately but in the novel’s utter disinterest in that question.

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


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