Everyday Stories: The Literary Agenda

ISBN : 9780198727699

Rachel Bowlby
208 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
Jun 2016
The Literary Agenda
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The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The category of 'the literary' has always been contentious. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognised as a way of thinking or an arena for thought. It is sceptically challenged from within, for example, by the sometimes rival claims of cultural history, contextualized explanation, or media studies. It is shaken from without by even greater pressures: by economic exigency and the severe social attitudes that can follow from it; by technological change that may leave the traditional forms of serious human communication looking merely antiquated. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading. We live in days, no leaving them or choosing them. What's in a day? With their natural narrative arc they begin and they end, and in between we talk about how they are going or wonder 'where' they have gone. They each have their small stories, non-stories, ephemeral stories. So every day slips by, most days much like most other days. We eat, we sleep, we go to work; we endure, enjoy, continue. Day after day, day before day, it is the recurring of no particular story in endless, beginningless succession. At the same time, any single day is also a unique date, with its multi-digit identity, its moment-at last, and never again-of here and now, today. And on longer scales, the slow small shifts of ordinary days and their surrounding stories will eventually remake the days that have been and gone as the times that are no more. An ordinary day from decades, let alone centuries ago must now be a 'once' long passed away, the old days to be regretted-or to be revived in all the curiosity of their historical difference. Everyday Stories makes us think again about the ordinary life we are in, day after day and day by day: always the same, and always slightly changing. Entering into the single day, drawing out the stories that surround us, this book goes into everyday stories of many descriptions, old and new: both in literature and in that story-laden place and time we call real life.


1 The Daily Narrative Journey
2 Commuting
3 Numbered Days and Diaries
4 Single Men and Single Days
5 How Not to be Parented: Speech Creatures in Pamela and Pride and Prejudice
6 The Psychological Moment
7 Marion Milner's Days of One's Own
8 'An Ordinary Mind on an Ordinary Day'
9 Woolf's Untold Stories
10 Consuming

About the author: 

Rachel Bowlby has taught at the University of Sussex, the University of Oxford, and the University of York, as well as at Princeton University and UCL. She is the author of books on the history of shopping; on Virginia Woolf and feminist criticism; on psychoanalysis and Greek tragedy in relation to changing family forms in the contemporary world; and, most recently, on ideas of parenthood.

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