Below are links to Time Now posts that engage with literary theory and academic scholarship. It’s primarily for those working on academic studies of contemporary war literature, but it aims also to be accessible for any reader who might be interested. Over the years, Time Now has been cited approvingly in many scholarly articles, books, and dissertations, for which I’m flattered and grateful. But that’s also part of the design: I wrote my own dissertation on the emergence of a literary scene in antebellum-era Baltimore, and many of the ideas and precepts undergirding that project have informed my approach to contemporary war-writing, which I sensed around 2012 beginning to coalesce not just as a genre, but as a “scene,” whatever that word means to you. Also, as I wrote my own dissertation, I depended heavily on obscure chronicles that noted and described the salient publications, authors, and literary and cultural events as they occurred in Baltimore 200 years ago. I doubt Time Now is destined to survive so long, but I still hope to do some of the same work for those interested in art, film, and literature about war in Iraq and Afghanistan that the chroniclers of yore did for me as I wrote my dissertation.
The list is roughly in the order that the posts were written.
Toni Morrison’s Home: The Africanist Presence in Contemporary War Literature. Morrison’s seminal work Playing in the Dark is considered in regard to war-writing.
Toni Morrison’s Home: A Different War Story. Further consideration of Morrison’s Home and Playing in the Dark.
The Imagined Wars. Alice Fahs’ The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865 reveals many parallels with the contemporary war-writing scene.
The Civil-Military Divide Within: Going After Bergdahl. Stacey Peebles’ Welcome to the Suck: Narrating the American Soldier’s Experience in Iraq packs a potent 1-2 punch: the central themes of vet fiction-and-memoir are 1) the effort of soldiers to hold onto civilian identities as they serve and as afterwards, and 2) the realization by soldiers that they are not prepared for the horror of war by their education, training, and upbringing.
More on Stacey Peebles’ Welcome to the Suck. Further consideration of Peebles’ ideas and arguments.
Tim O’Brien’s Story Truth and Happening Truth in the Contemporary War Novel. O’Brien’s distinction between “story truth” and “happening truth” is central to consideration of war-writing sensibility, aesthetics, and reception.
Ikram Masmoudi’s War and Occupation in Iraqi Fiction. Masmoudi’s analysis of Iraqi war-writing offers much in terms of its analysis of Iraqi literature and especially the portrayal of the American invasion.
Never Trust an Officer Over 30? Elizabeth Samet’s No Man’s Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America. Samet’s work was an early-on unpacking of the stories soldiers and the military liked to tell about themselves in regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
War-Writing Anxiety of Influence: Bobbie Ann Mason and Tim O’Brien. Harold Bloom’s famous concept is explored by studying the influence on contemporary war-writers of Vietnam-era authors Bobbie Ann Mason and Tim O’Brien
The War-Writing Rhetorical Triangle. Seymour Chatman’s rhetorical-triangle formulation, important in rhetoric-and-composition and narratology studies, can be applied to war-writing as well.
War Writing: The Raw and the Cooked. Roland Barthe’s famous concept is used to analyze various styles of war-writing.
Making the SEAL Team SEAL-y: Literary Theory and Recent War Writing. Viktor Shklovsy’s famous concept of “defamiliarization” is applied to Will Mackin’s Bring Out the Dog.
Caleb Cage’s War Narratives: Shaping Beliefs, Blurring Truths in the Middle East. Cage explores several of the narratives that govern thinking (or make clear thinking difficult) about war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
War Fiction: Nicholas Kulish’s Last One In. Kulish’s novel is considered in regard to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “habitus.” “Habitus” is also explored in Iraq by the Numbers: On the Road with Michael Pitre’s Fives and Twenty-Fives.
On Larry Heinemann. I was asked to write the Dictionary of Literary Biography entry on Vietnam War writer Larry Heinemann.
Ariella Azoulay and The Photographic Situation. Azoulay’s theory of “the photographic situation” makes sense in regard to war photography and provides a foundational premise for Time Now’s own methodology.
Purnima Bose’s Intervention Narratives: Afghanistan, the United States, and the Global War on Terror. Bose’s critique of “techno-military-masculinity” as it is reflected in SEAL memoirs is excellent.
Women at War. Mary Douglas Favrus’ Post-Feminist War: Women in the Media-Military-Industrial Complex analyzes the vexed conceptual underpinnings and practical difficulties regarding women’s service in the military.
Black Voices in Contemporary War-Writing. My survey of writing by black American veterans was inspired by African-American historian Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments.
Joseph Darda’s Empire of Defense: Race and the Cultural Politics of Perpetual War. Darda’s claim that contemporary war-writing is inherently racist is considered.
Structures of Feeling in Adrian Bonenberger’s The Disappointed Soldier and Dewaine Farria’s Revolutions of All Colors. Raymond Williams’ famous concept is explored in regard to two recent war-fiction titles.
The FOB as Heterotopia (True War Stories). Michel Foucault’s famous concept is considered in reference to the graphic-memoir anthology True War Stories.