What is the power of a corpse to make the room that contains it strange? What ethical losses do we incur when we’re seldom if ever in rooms with the dead? And how might the virtual spaces of the aesthetic give quarter to the strangeness of the corpse’s demand? Luminous and serious in treating these questions, David Sherman’s In a Strange Room looks at how Anglophone modernism responded to a shift in the late-modern way of death: from a time when most people died at home and were prepared by family members for burial nearby, to a time (still our own) when most people died in hospitals and were prepared, after autopsy, by professionals for burial farther from home. This shift roughly corresponded with the rise of statistics and the actuarial sciences, the birth of the insurance industry, and the waning of the church’s...
In a Strange Room: Modernism’s Corpses and Mortal Obligation by David Sherman
Paul K. Saint-Amour is professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination and Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form. With Jessica Berman he coedits the Modernist Latitudes book series for Columbia University Press.
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Paul K. Saint-Amour; In a Strange Room: Modernism’s Corpses and Mortal Obligation by David Sherman. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 September 2017; 63 (3): 359–364. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-4219963
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