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By Matthew Stratton

"This e-book indicates how American literary tradition within the first half the 20th century observed "irony'" turn out to be a time period to explain intersections among aesthetic and political practices. opposed to traditional institutions of irony with political withdrawal, Stratton exhibits how the time period circulated commonly in literary and pop culture to explain politically engaged sorts of writing. it's a severe common to Read more...


The Politics of Irony in American Modernism strains how "irony" emerged as a time period to explain intersections among aesthetic and political practices in American literature of the 20 th century's Read more...

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Yet for Bourne, irony is neither simply a rhetorical strategy to reveal an interlocutor’s poor reasoning nor “a pose or amusement” (103) but is simultaneously “a life of beauty” (102) and “a critical attitude towards life” (103). The life distinguished by dissenting irony rather than agreeably complacent faith, Bourne writes, is a mode of conducting serious business without grave earnestness and as such provides a welcome “rival of the religious life,” for “the life of irony has the virtue of the religious life without its defects.

Consequently, each of the following chapters takes a more limited view of the problem as represented by a variety of figures, each of whom presented themselves and were received as ironists, each of whom theorized their own work in terms of diverse political goals, and each of whose work continues to be contested politically. Over roughly the first half of the twentieth century, irony evolved as a figure for describing and revealing discourses around which power is constituted through acts of aesthetic representation and judgment; in terms of the story about irony that I’ve traced above, the figure of irony both describes and prescribes different ways of aesthetically representing the pragmatic facts and values of lived experience.

In this context, irony does not just describe particular aesthetic practices within democratic forms of governance but is a central term for reimagining the theory and praxis of democracy through the lens of a thinker popularly understood as virulently antidemocratic. The chapter offers a new reading of 20 / iron y and how it got that way canonical essayist Randolph Bourne’s “The Life of Irony” through the works of Nietzsche, pragmatist philosophers, theorists of visual aesthetics such as Lewis Hine and Alfred Stieglitz, and other sources ranging from government pamphlets to popularizing works such as H.

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