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Our Broad Present


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Acknowledgments Tracking a Hypothesis 1. Presence in Language or Presence Achieved Against Language? 2. A Negative Anthropology of Globalization 3. Stagnation: Temporal, Intellectual, Heavenly 4. "Lost in Focused Intensity": Spectator Sports and Strategies of Re-Enchantment 5. Steady Admiration in an Expanding Present: On Our New Relationship with Classics 6. Infinite Availability: About Hyper-Communication (and Old Age) In the Broad Present Notes Index

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Considering a range of present-day phenomena, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht notes an important shift in our relationship to history and the passage of time. This profound change to a key dimension of our existence has complex consequences for the way in which we think about ourselves and our relation to the material world. Gumbrecht draws on his mastery of the philosophy of language to enrich his everyday observations, traveling to Disneyland, a small town in Louisiana, and the center of Vienna to produce striking sketches of our broad presence in the world.

About the Author

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht is a German-born American literary theorist and the Albert Guerard Professor of Literature at Stanford University. He teaches at the Universite de Montreal, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and the College de France. He is the author of Production of Presence, What Meaning Cannot Convey, Living at the Edge of Time, and Making Sense in Life and Literature.


In Our Broad Present, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, one of our most insightful and influential literary and cultural theorists, has distilled from the extraordinary breadth of literary, historical, cultural, and philosophical interventions that has defined his work for the last three decades a pointed and poignant diagnosis of our contemporary ethos. As those who are familiar with his oeuvre know, Gumbrecht's distaste for the humanistic insistence on interpretation, language, and meaning and his preference for the material dimension of culture led him to embrace, with his characteristic pleasure in shirking academic trends, a term that had become almost unmentionable in the years following the ascendency of deconstruction: presence. In Our Broad Present, he puts this concept to use in trenchantly analyzing-in his now recognizable style meshing autobiography, anecdote, and at times auto-ironic musings-the gains and losses of living in a hyper-mediated world in which presence has become all the more valuable to the extent that we are losing it. -- William Egginton, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, The Johns Hopkins University Drawing on a literary lifework of astonishing breadth, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has, in Our Broad Present, put the bodily, physical presence of things and people front and center-against the perpetual drive to "go beyond" that which is right here, just in front of us. Not for him: meaning that vectors elsewhere, simulations that purport to borrow from an unreachable future, abstractions that eviscerate the corporeal. Instead, Gumbrecht wants a metaphysics, and more importantly for him, an aesthetics of insistent, stubborn, here and now-ness. Whether he is looking at sports in an age of classical gods or at a physicality that will not evaporate into language alone, Gumbrecht gives us a glimpse at the world without running from it. Our Broad Present is a spirited engagement with things in relations to embodied life by an original and independent thinker. -- Peter Galison, Harvard University Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht's latest book offers a startling assessment of present-day cultural globalization, its seduction and its dangers. It shows how our immediate access to every spatial and temporal aspect of world culture, while freeing us from the weight of history, divests our life from its concrete, palpable richness. A splendid essay by one of the liveliest contemporary thinkers, Our Broad Present is a must read for all those who care about the future of culture. -- Thomas G. Pavel, Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Gumbrecht's writing crackles with ideas. In this collection of essays, he continues his explorations of "presence" and looks at everything from classical literature to globalization, spectator sports to hypercommunication, each time with an exacting insight and engaging style all his own. The focus here is on the temporal aspects of presence as lived today. Gumbrecht sees the profound in the everyday; his descriptions of our shared experiences bring these to light as though for the first time. The essays assembled here provide a kaleidoscopic look into our "broad present," as Gumbrecht terms it, and teach us much about the times, and time, in which we live. -- Andrew Mitchell, Emory University Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht is the most imaginative and innovative critic to have emerged from the German philological tradition since the great generation of Auerbach and Spitzer. His brilliant books have expanded our concept of critical inquiry. Theoretical virtuosity, staggering breadth of learning, and sustained engagement with the texture and aliveness of cultural artifacts and practices characterize his work throughout. But Gumbrecht's intellectual signature is recognizable above all in two features: keen diagnostic sensitivity and the courage of unprotected, first-personal judgment. Both are amply in evidence in Our Broad Present. -- David Wellbery, University of Chicago This is an original contribution not only for its philosophical insights, but also for the cultural analysis of our time. -- Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona Our Broad Present is a timely and crucial contribution to the on-going debate in the humanities about the effects of globalization upon contemporary Western culture. It unfolds a rich and colorful tapestry of the emerging cultural practices that increasingly define our social communities and individual human behavior. It is a marvelous book full of original ideas by one of the most important thinkers in the humanities today. -- Carsten Strathausen, University of Missouri This brief, provocative, and at times entertaining work should interest any serious student of literature, philosophy, or modern culture.Library Journal Library Journal

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