Introducing contingency and that which did not happen as necessary and revealing
conditions both of Romanticism itself and of our critical relationship with it,
Counterfactual Romanticism explores the affordances of counterfactualism as a
heuristic and as an imaginative tool. Innovatively extending counterfactual
thought experiments from history and the social sciences to literary
historiography and literary criticism and theory, the volume reveals the ways in
which the shapes of Romanticism are conditioned by that which did not come to
pass. Exploring – and creatively performing – various modalities of
counterfactual speculation and inquiry across a range of Romantic-period
authors, genres and concerns, and identifying the Romantic credentials of
counterfactual thought, the introduction and eleven chapters in this collection
offer a radical new purchase on literary history, on the relationship between
history and fiction, on our historicist methods to date – and thus on the
Romanticisms we (think we) have inherited. Counterfactual Romanticism provides a
ground-breaking method of re-reading literary pasts and our own reading
presents; in the process, literary production, texts and reading practices are
unfossilised and defamiliarised. To emancipate the counterfactual imagination
and embrace the counterfactual turn and its provocations is to reveal the
literary multiverse and quantum field within which our far-from-inevitable
literary inheritance is located.
), provides a better pathway into The Recess – a text we should
not read mimetically as the imitation of an action, but narratologically, as
opening up the very logics of reading.
My aim, then, is to use The Recess to reflect on the epistemology of
the counterfactual as something more elusive and dynamic than simply
a possible world on the model of romance. For unlike Valperga, where
Euthanasia’s alternatehistory has a specific content defeated by real
history, The Recess is about the form rather than the content of the counterfactual. Female history is too criss
Travelling images critically examines the migrations and transformations of images as they travel between different image communities. It consists of four case studies covering the period 1870–2010 and includes photocollages, window displays, fashion imagery and contemporary art projects. Through these four close-ups it seeks to reveal the mechanisms, nature and character of these migration processes, and the agents behind them, as well as the sites where they have taken place. The overall aim of this book is thus to understand the mechanisms of interfacing events in the borderlands of the art world. Two key arguments are developed in the book, reflected by its title Travelling images. First, the notion of travel and focus on movements and transformations signal an emphasis on the similarities between cultural artefacts and living beings. The book considers ‘the social biography’ and ‘ecology’ of images, but also, on a more profound level, the biography and ecology of the notion of art. In doing so, it merges perspectives from art history and image studies with media studies. Consequently, it combines a focus on the individual case, typical for art history and material culture studies with a focus on processes and systems, on continuities and ruptures, and alternate histories inspired by media archaeology and cultural historical media studies. Second, the central concept of image is in this book used to designate both visual conventions, patterns or contents and tangible visual images. Thus it simultaneously consider of content and materiality.
. The latter
range from seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century anti-determinist
philosophico-theological speculation to critical military history, legal
theory and nineteenth- and twentieth-century n
arrative forms of ‘alternatehistory’ (to which numerous modes of speculative fiction belong) and to
which, as Karen Hellekson reminds us, those other terms, ‘allohistory’ and
‘uchronia’, are related.9 ‘Counterfactual thought experiments in narrating
history’ in a military context reveal knowledge that will be of service in
‘future planning’; today, Gallagher notes
era and often stands in for what would later be termed counterfactual.
‘Speculation’ appears in the opening sentence of Isaac D’Israeli’s ‘Of
a History of Events Which Have Not Happened’, an essay that could
be considered the first explicit discussion of counterfactual historio
graphy. It remains central to this sub-genre a century later, as shown by
J. C. Squire’s introduction to If It Had Happened Otherwise: Lapses Into
Imaginary History (1931), a now-classic collection of essays in alternatehistory, where he describes the contents of the volume as
Counterfactual Romanticism and the aesthetics of contingency
Damian Walford Davies
?”: Reflections on the
Function of AlternateHistory’, History and Theory, 41:4 (December
9 Martin Bunzl, ‘Counterfactual History: A User’s Guide’, The American
Historical Review, 109:3 (June 2004), 845.
10 Rosenfeld, ‘Why Do We Ask “What If?” ’, 93.
11 Niall Ferguson, ‘Introduction: Towards a “Chaotic” Theory of the Past’,
in Niall Ferguson (ed.), Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals
(New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 86 (italics in the original).
12 Ibid., p. 89.
13 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performance
knowledge of sexual protection, the effects would be far-reaching: the
‘contagion’ would spread from illicit union to the
marriage bed, right ‘from the lowest Whitechapel doxy up to the
throne itself’. 224
In this alternatehistory, the greatest manifestations of
British power would instead become an Achilles heel. The technological
advances of the industrial revolution and global imperial networks would
Sustainability in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital
shadow of the future made all the difference’ 163
images of the past and future, as is attested by his alternatehistory about
a world where the European population is eradicated by the Black Death,
The Years of Rice and Salt (2003), and his recent prehistoric novel, Shaman:
A Novel of the Ice Age (2013). The images of the past and of the future in
these works of sf are historical constructs that tell us more about their
contemporary moment than they do about either the past or the future.
Robinson has long been concerned with sustainable and unsustainable
development in light of the British tradition of minority government. Accepting the risks of considering alternatehistory or counterfactual outcomes, it is worth highlighting some of the choices that were faced by
the Government when handling the no confidence issue, to evaluate the potential
calculations that may have influenced contemporary strategy-makers. Initially
we will consider the Government’s efforts to avoid the vote, the response of both
the Government and Opposition, and the weighing up of formal approaches
to other parties or individual initiatives to secure
/full (accessed 25
3 See Gordon, Vindication, pp. 358–9.
4 Karen Hellekson, The AlternateHistory: Refiguring Historical Time
(Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2001), p. 5.
5 Gordon, Vindication, p. 361.
6 Richard Ned Lebow, ‘What’s So Different About A Counterfactual?’,
World Politics, 52:4 (July 2000), 550, 566, 569; and see Philip E. Tetlock
and Aaron Belkin, ‘Counterfactual Thought Experiments’, in Tetlock
and Belkin (eds), Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics:
Logical, Methodological, and