A Vocabulary of the Present

384 pages

28 halftones

August, 2016

ISBN: 9781479874842



Add to Cart Available: 7/1/2016

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Joel Burges is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where he is also affiliated with Film and Media Studies, Digital Media Studies, and the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies.

All books by Joel Burges

Amy J. Elias is Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and author of Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction (2001) and co-editor of The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the 21st Century (2015). She is the founding president of A.S.A.P.: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.

All books by Amy Elias

The critical condition and historical motivation behind Time Studies                                                                                            The concept of time in the post-millennial age is undergoing a radical rethinking within the humanities. Time: A Vocabulary of the Present newly theorizes our experiences of time in relation to developments in post-1945 cultural theory and arts practices. Wide ranging and theoretically provocative, the volume introduces readers to cutting-edge temporal conceptualizations and investigates what exactly constitutes the scope of time studies.
Featuring twenty essays that reveal what we talk about when we talk about time today, especially in the areas of history, measurement, and culture, each essay pairs two keywords to explore the tension and nuances between them, from “past/future” and  “anticipation/unexpected” to “extinction/adaptation” and “serial/simultaneous.” Moving beyond the truisms of postmodernism, the collection newly theorizes the meanings of temporality in relationship to aesthetic, cultural, technological, and economic developments in the postwar period. This book thus assumes that time—not space, as the postmoderns had it—is central to the contemporary period, and that through it we can come to terms with what contemporaneity can be for human beings caught up in the historical present. In the end, Time reveals that the present is a cultural matrix in which overlapping temporalities condition and compete for our attention. Thus each pair of terms presents two temporalities, yielding a generative account of the time, or times, in which we live.


  • “All in all, the twenty contributions collected in the volume stand as an ambitious and rewarding discussion, which encourages the reader to rethink the problem of time in contemporary theory and art practices.”


  • "The many writings in this book make clear that time studies are thriving."

    Library Journal

  • “Arriving at a moment in which there is a need for new frameworks around temporality, historicity, and memory, Time offers a rich and beautiful mapping of the concept of ‘time,’ showing where we have come from in our thinking, but more importantly, where we are headed.  A true intellectual gem.”

    —Amir Eshel, author of Futurity: Contemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past