The age of the world target: self-referentiality in war, theory, and comparative work
Martin Heidegger once wrote that the world had, in the age of modern science, become a world picture. For Rey Chow, the world has, in the age of atomic bombs, become a world target, to be attacked once it is identified, or so global geopolitics, dominated by the United States since the end of the Second World War, seems repeatedly to confirm. How to articulate the problematics of knowledge production with this aggressive targeting of the world? Chow attempts such an articulation by probing the significance of the chronological proximity of area studies, poststructuralist theory, and comparative literature-fields of inquiry that have each exerted considerable influence but whose mutual implicatedness as postwar U.S. academic phenomena has seldom been theorized. Central to Chowrs"s discussions is a critique of the predicament of self-referentiality-the compulsive move to interiorize that, in her view, constitutes the collective frenzy of our age-in different contemporary epistemic registers, including the self-consciously avant-garde as well as the militaristic and culturally supremacist. Urging her readers to think beyond the inward-turning focus on EuroAmerica that tends to characterize even the most radical gestures of Western self-deconstruction, Chow envisions much broader intellectual premises for future transcultural work, with reading practices aimed at restoring words and things to their constitutive exteriority.
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aesthetic Alonso area studies argue Asia Asian atomic bomb Barthes Barthes's become chapter comparative literary comparative literature contemporary critical critique deconstruction difference differentiation discourse discussion Duke University Duke University Press Durham and London edited epistemic Erich Auerbach essay ethnic Europe European Fabian Fredric Jameson French theory Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak global grid H. D. Harootunian Heidegger Hiroshima Hiroshima and Nagasaki human identity ideological instance Japan Japanese Jusdanis kind knowledge production language and signification Learning Places linguistic litera literary studies literature's logic Masao Miyoshi means Michel Foucault military Miyoshi modern multilingualism mushroom cloud myth Nagasaki non-coincidence non-Western novel nuclear object Order of Things Post-European Culture postcolonial poststructuralism poststructuralist theory postwar practice precisely problematic question reading Rebecca Saunders reference representation resistance Rhetoric Roland Barthes scholars Second World self-referentiality semiotic simply specificity temporal theoretical Theory in America thought tion translated ture United Virilio Wellek woodcutter world literature writes York