The Health of the State: Modern US War Narrative and the American Political Imagination, 1890-1964

ISBN : 9780190466664

Jonathan Vincent
312 ページ
156 x 235 mm

In contrast to most studies of US war writing-those focused on trauma or memory-The Health of the State examines the way writing and thinking about war advanced new, forward-looking orientations toward national belonging, political consent, and the nature and character of state sovereignty across the long US modernism (1890-1964). To tell that story, the book examines three critical phases in which military-themed narratives helped transition American political thought: Civil War remembrance during the Progressive Era, the culture of World War I and the new internationalism, and the memory of World War II as it helped to produce Cold War liberalism. Interlacing close textual reading with issues in cultural history and political theory, Jonathan Vincent considers the literary construction of the "preparedness" and, later, "national security" ethos that were integral affective catalysts to the acculturation of geopolitical realism in foreign policy as well as, domestically, projects of social regulation and control. At front and center throughout is an exploration of the unstable and dynamic nature of the "liberal tradition" in its persistent encounter with both real and imagined threats and the structures of governmental power innovated to meet them-the exceptional, supplementary power of a military hegemony once denounced by Randolph Bourne as "the health of the state." The Health of the State is an interpretive cultural history that explores the role US war writing played in the evolution of American political discourse.


Introduction: The Health of the State
Chapter 1: Paradoxical Pedagogies: Civil War Narratives and the Progressive State, 1890-1917
Chapter 2: Preparedness Nation: World War I and the Culture of Militarization
Chapter 3: A Bestial Convulsion of Civilization: Race and Nation in American Modernism
Preface to Part II: The Analogue of War and the Liberal Warfare State
Chapter 4: A Peculiar Sovereignty: Literary Antifascism and the Liberal Warfare State
Chapter 5: The Vacant Center: Cold War Liberalism and World War II Narrative
Chapter 6: Refusing Sovereignty: Impossible Subjects and the Politics of Resistance
Afterword: Security, Identity, Nonsovereignty
Works Cited


Jonathan Vincent is Assistant Professor of English at Towson University.