In The Subject as Action: Transformation and Totality in Narrative Aesthetics, Alan Singer posits "narrative aesthetics" as a crucial link between post Enlightenment philosophical skepticism about human subjectivity and literary-theoretical skepticism about the autonomy of the text or artwork. Observing a vital complementarity between the narrative and the aesthetic (two realms often alienated from each other), Singer argues for the relevance of narrative logic to the critique of post-Cartesian subjectivity. Reciprocally, he demonstrates the relevance of rational norms of human agency to the study of narrative art. On one hand, Singer wants to salvage the critique of the subject from the metaphysical abstraction of idealist philosophies. On the other hand, he wants to save literary narrative from the ahistoricism and apoliticism to which it is often consigned.
Each chapter juxtaposes a set of philosophical arguments about the dynamics of human agency with close readings of narrative literature. Rather than sketch a historical overview of Western narrative, Singer focuses on formal innovations that give a strong theoretical warrant for linking narrative to the realm of human action. Singer examines aesthetic theories in the works of Aristotle, Baumgarten, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Sartre, Adorno, and Goodman as they converge with the goals of social theories espoused by Schutz, Lukacs, Althusser, Foucault, and Giddens. The philosophical arguments are then mapped onto a literary tradition through examination of texts by Thomas Nashe, Laurence Sterne, Henry James, Maurice Blanchot, William Gaddis, and John Ashbery.
Alan Singer asserts that "narrative aesthetics" must be used as a critical tool in ultimately resolving the current conflict between postmodern aestheticists, such as Lyotard, and anti-aesthetic communitarian ethicists, such as Habermas, who posit the realms of the aesthetic and the political as mutually exclusive. The Subject as Action will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the relation of narrative art to the spectrum of literary and philosophical theories that seek to define the human subject in modern culture.
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Alan Singer is Professor of English, Temple University.
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Book Description University of Michigan Press, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. University of Michigan Press, 1993. First edition. Hardbound. New/New. A perfect unread copy. FERRY. Bookseller Inventory # 1162
Book Description Univ of Michigan Pr, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0472104713