Can secularization really be dead? Apparently so; and it is pretty much buried, too, according to a recent issue of American Literature. There Peter Coviello and Jared Hickman rather adamantly insist that it would be “a fairly noncontroversial position at this point” to assume that “ours is a scholarly moment no longer persuaded by the clarities of [secularism's] stories of modernity, nor by the neat dichotomies nested within them” (645). But while the controversies may have subsided, those antagonisms resurface, as Justin Neuman persuasively shows in Fiction beyond Secularism. Indeed, while Neuman might agree with Coviello and Hickman that the present condition of postsecularity most usefully “refers to an epistemological and methodological reorientation from which history might look different” (646), it is precisely these methods (and the epistemic postures they perpetuate) that are currently found wanting....
david james is reader in modern and contemporary literature at Queen Mary, University of London. Author of Contemporary British Fiction and the Artistry of Space (2008) and, most recently, Modernist Futures (2012), he has edited several collections, including The Legacies of Modernism (2012) and The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction since 1945 (2015). He is currently editing Modernism and Close Reading while also completing a new book, Discrepant Solace: Contemporary Writing and the Work of Consolation, both forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
David James; Disenchanting Secularization. Novel 1 August 2016; 49 (2): 359–363. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3509099
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