After the Postsecular

An issue of: American Literature

After the Postsecular
Journal Issue Pages: 256 Volume 86, Number 4 Published: December 2014 An issue of American Literature
The notion that something called "secularization" provides an adequate conceptual framework for the post-Enlightenment movement of bodies and belief, of thought and authority, has come under sustained and multidimensional assault. We have become, as the term goes, postsecular, to the degree we understand those assaults to have been, finally, cumulatively, fatal. Over the last decade, we have realized just how dependent the whole enterprise of modern scholarship and critique has been on the secularization thesis, as critics have worked to reimagine the anchoring categories of Americanist critical thought and make them, perhaps, productively unfamiliar by estranging them from secularizing premises. We posit an emerging line of critique that dares to suggest that we might do our thinking about modernity—including our thinking about what in fact instigates modernity—under a sign other than "the secular." The essays collected in this special issue ask what, if anything, the secular might mean in the context of US literary history.

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