The University of Wisconsin Press

Essays / Literature & Criticism / Politics


Contemporary Literature and the State
A special issue of Contemporary Literature 49:4
(Winter 2008)
Edited by Matthew Hart and Jim Hansen

This special edition of Contemporary Literature investigates the connections and dissension between the literary artist and the state

Contemporary Literature and the State challenges the critical opposition between the monolithic state and the individual artist. The volume collects essays on writers as different as Samuel Beckett and Ngozi Adichie and covers historical and geographical contexts from Yorkshire to Singapore, San Francisco to Cape Town. Featuring new and established critical voices, Contemporary Literature and the State is an important new contribution to debates about the politics of literature, coming at a time when state power appears both more arbitrary and more necessary than ever.

Matthew Hart is assistant professor in the Department of English and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jim Hansen is assistant professor of English and critical theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Contemporary Literature and the State, by Matthew Hart and Jim Hansen
  • An Interview with Jeremy Cronin, conducted by Andrew van der Vlies
  • Tsotsis: On Law, the Outlaw, and the Postcolonial State, by Rita Barnard
  • The Third English Civil War: David Peace’s “Occult History” of Thatcherism, by Matthew Hart
  • Failed-State Fiction, by John Marx
  • Life, War, and Love: The Queer Anarchism of Robert Duncan’s Poetic Action during the Vietnam War, by Eric Keenaghan
  • Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe and the Theater of Pure Means, by Jim Hansen
  • The Way Ahead: The Politics and Poetics of Singapore’s Developmental Landscape, by Jini Kim Watson
  • Afterword: States of Time, by Ian Baucom

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Of Related Interest
Immigrant Fictions: Contemporary Literature in an Age of Globalization
Edited by Rebecca L. Walkowitz

the cover of Contemporary Literature and the State is white, with a color photo of girls in white skirts waving colorful banners.

October 2009

240 pp.   6 x 9 1/4

ISBN 978-0-299-23244-3
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout


Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated 3/27/2014

© 2011, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System