Attention Equals Life: The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture

ISBN : 9780199972128

Andrew Epstein
384 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2016
Send mail

Attention Equals Life examines why a quest to pay attention to daily life has increasingly become a central feature of both contemporary American poetry and the wider culture of which it is a part. Drawing on theories and debates about the nature of everyday life from a number of fields across the humanities, this book traces the modern history of this preoccupation and consider why it is so much with us today. Attention Equals Life argues that it is no coincidence that a potent hunger for everyday life explodes in the post-1945 period. This deep cultural need should be seen as a reaction to the rapid and dislocating cultural, political, and social transformations of this epoch, which have resulted in a culture of perilous distraction, interruption, and fragmented attention. The book argues that poetry is an important, and perhaps unlikely, cultural form that has mounted a response, and even method of resistance, to a culture gradually losing its capacity to pay attention. It examines why a compulsion to represent the everyday becomes predominant in the decades after modernism, why it has so often led to unusual, challenging projects and formal innovation, and why poetry, in particular, might be an everyday-life genre par excellence. The book considers the variety of forms this preoccupation takes, and examines its aesthetic, philosophical, and political ramifications. By exploring the use of innovative strategies, unusual projects, and new technologies as methods of attending to dailiness, Attention Equals Life uncovers an important strain at the heart of twentieth and twenty-first century literature.


Introduction: The Poetics of Everyday Life Since 1945
Chapter 1: The Crisis of Attention, Everyday Life Theory, and Contemporary Poetry
Chapter 2: Each Day So Different, Yet Still Alike: James Schuyler and the Elusive Everyday
Chapter 3: The Tiny Invites Attention: A. R. Ammons's Quotidian Muse
Chapter 4: Writing the Maternal Everyday: Bernadette Mayer and her Daughters (Hoa Nguyen, Susan Holbrook, Laynie Browne)
Chapter 5: There is No Content Here, Only Dailiness: Poetry as Critique of Everyday Life in Ron Silliman's Ketjak
Chapter 6: Everyday Life Projects in Contemporary Poetry and Culture (Kenneth Goldsmith, Claudia Rankine, Brenda Coultas, Harryette Mullen)
Conclusion: Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Beyond
Works Cited

About the author: 

Andrew Epstein is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Florida State University. He is the author of Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.