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|Title:||"Floundering between Worlds Passed and Worlds Coming": The Charm of the Unstable Balance in Henry Adams|
|Abstract:||At the turn of the century, Henry Adams flounders between the past and the future, trying to keep up with scientific discoveries and predict the outcome of new social forces. For most critics, Adams's predictions express an entropic view of history or justify the ends of the American empire. This article addresses the role of time in Adams's historical theorization as a critique of his contemporary capitalist and imperialist discourses. Through a close reading of Adams's historical essays, I show how the immeasurability of time frustrates his attempt to triangulate the future, and shapes his theory of history. For Adams, the future is inherently unpredictable insofar as the historian should ask "how long" man will keep developing new phases and "what direction" his genius can take. Adams poses this question in "The Education", as the historian becomes the modern intellectual who faces the new socioeconomic forces while keeping a critical mind against their ends. Adams thus reinstates the importance of social critique when the limits between knowledge and power are hard to define.|
|Appears in Collections:||Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics|
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