The Politics of Irony in American Modernism

The Politics of Irony in American Modernism

by Matthew Stratton


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Shortlisted for the 2015 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize

This book shows how American literary culture in the first half of the twentieth century saw “irony” emerge as a term to describe intersections between aesthetic and political practices. Against conventional associations of irony with political withdrawal, Stratton shows how the term circulated widely in literary and popular culture to describe politically engaged forms of writing.

It is a critical commonplace to acknowledge the difficulty of defining irony before stipulating a particular definition as a stable point of departure for literary, cultural, and political analysis. This book, by contrast, is the first to derive definitions of “irony” inductively, showing how writers employed it as a keyword both before and in opposition to the institutionalization of New Criticism. It focuses on writers who not only composed ironic texts but talked about irony and satire to situate their work politically: Randolph Bourne, Benjamin De Casseres, Ellen Glasgow, John Dos Passos, Ralph Ellison, and many others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823255450
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Matthew Stratton is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Irony and How It Got That Way
Chapter 1: The Eye in Irony: New York, Nietzsche, and the 1910s
Chapter 2: Gendering Irony and Its History: Ellen Glasgow and the Lost 1920s
Chapter 3: The Focus of Satire: Irony and Public Opinions of Propaganda in the U.S.A. of John Dos Passos Page
Chapter 4: Visible Decisions : Irony, Law, and the Political Constitution of Ralph Ellison
Beyond Hope and Memory: A Conclusion

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