Tense Future falls into two parts. The first develops a critical account of total war discourse and addresses the resistant potential of acts, including acts of writing, before a future that looks barred or predetermined by war. Part two shifts the focus to long interwar narratives that pit both their scale and their formal turbulence against total war's portrait of the social totality, producing both ripostes and alternatives to that portrait in the practice of literary encyclopedism. The book's introduction grounds both parts in the claim that industrialized warfare, particularly the aerial bombing of cities, intensifies an under-examined form of collective traumatization: a pretraumatic syndrome in which the anticipation of future-conditional violence induces psychic wounds. Situating this claim in relation to other scholarship on "critical futurities," Saint-Amour discusses its ramifications for trauma studies, historical narratives generally, and the historiography of the interwar period in particular.
The introduction ends with an account of the weak theory of modernism now structuring the field of modernist studies, and of weak theory's special suitability for opposing total war, that strongest of strong theories.
Paul K. Saint-Amour is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. President of the Modernist Studies Association, he currently coedits the Modernist Latitudes series published by Columbia UP. His previous books include The Copywrights: Copyright and the Literary Imagination (Cornell UP, 2003) and the edited volume Modernism and Copyright (OUP, 2010).
Acknowledgments ; Introduction: Traumatic Earliness ; I. Bukimi ; II. The Precincts of Time ; III. Collective Psychosis ; Facing Trauma ; Critical Futurities ; Three Interwars ; Weak Modernism ; Part One ; 1. On the Partiality of Total War ; The Case of L. E. O. Charlton ; Intimations of Totality ; Interwar Air Power Theory ; Rival Preemptions of Law and War ; National Totality and Colonial Air Control ; Bombing Display I ; Bombing Display II ; 2. Perpetual Suspense: Virginia Woolf's Wartime Gothic ; Morphologies of Suspense ; Mark Time ; Mrs. Dalloway and the Gaze of Total War ; The Years: Immunities Lost and Found ; <"Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid> " ; 3. Fantasias of the Archive: Hamilton's Savage and Jenkinson's Manual ; A Promise of Terror to Come ; Savage Foreclosures ; Declining Fertility ; Jenkinson's Manual ; War Archives: Theory and Performance ; Thoughts on Archives in an Air Raid ; The Death Drive of the Archive ; Part Two ; 4. Encyclopedic Modernism ; Against Epic ; Revisiting the Encyclopedie ; The Eleventh ; Encyclopedic Narrative ; Modern Epic ; Pace Bersani ; 5. The Shield of Ulysses ; Ulysses' Encyclopedism ; Encyclopedia Prophetica ; Urban Violence and Amity Lines ; Theater of Total War ; Scattering ; 6. War Shadowing: Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End ; Uncyclopedia Britannica ; Total Worry ; Futures in Furniture ; Conclusion: Perpetual Interwar ; Appendix: Chapter Abstracts ; Bibliography ; Index