AAre we living in a post-temporal age? Has history come to an end? This book argues against the widespread perception of postmodern narrativity as atemporal and ahistorical, claiming that postmodernity is characterized by an explosion of heterogeneous narrative "timeshapes" or chronotopes.

Chronological linearity is being challenged by quantum physics that implies temporal simultaneity; by evolutionary theory that charts multiple time-lines; and by religious and political millenarianism that espouses an apocalyptic finitude of both time and space. While science, religion, and politics have generated new narrative forms of apprehending temporality, literary incarnations can be found in the worlds of science fiction.

By engaging classic science-fictional conventions, such as time travel, alternative history, and the end of the world, and by situating these conventions in their cultural context, this book offers a new and fresh perspective on the narratology and cultural significance of time.

"In this probing study we see how our sci-fi dreams remain haunted by inexorable Time and discover why postmodernist reports of the death of Time are mistaken." (Professor Penelope J. Corfield, University of London, UK)

Space is a central topic in cultural and narrative theory today, although in most cases theory assumes Newtonian absolute space. However, the idea of a universal homogeneous space is now obsolete. Black holes, multiple dimensions, quantum entanglement, and spatio-temporal distortions of relativity have passed into culture at large. This book examines whether narrative can be used to represent these "impossible" spaces.

 

Impossible topologies abound in ancient mythologies, from the Australian Aborigines’ "dream-time" to the multiple-layer universe of the Sumerians. More recently, from Alice’s adventures in Wonderland to contemporary science fiction’s obsession with black holes and quantum paradoxes, counter-intuitive spaces are a prominent feature of modern and postmodern narrative. With the rise and popularization of science fiction, the inventiveness and variety of impossible narrative spaces explodes. The author analyses the narrative techniques used to represent such spaces alongside their cultural significance. Each chapter connects narrative deformation of space with historical problematic of time, and demonstrates the cognitive and perceptual primacy of narrative in representing, imagining and apprehending new forms of space and time.

 

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the connection between narratology, cultural theory, science fiction, and studies of place.

Do posthumans have human rights? If aliens landed tomorrow, would their ethics be compatible with ours? Should animals be treated as moral agents? Can we empathize with computers?

Such questions are no longer mere speculation. They reflect the rapidly changing reality, in which the very definitions of humanity and its moral precepts are being questioned and revised in the light of advances in science and technology, social and political upheavals, and ideological shifts.

Rather than considering specific ethical challenges of the posthumanist revolution, such as cloning, animal experimentation, medical enhancement and so on, I will ask whether ethics itself can survive posthumanism. Or rather, whether empathy and the Golden Rule are adequate foundations for an ethical system that has to encompass minds and bodies different from what we used to see as “human”.

We live in an increasingly violent world. From suicide terrorists to serial killers, violent subjects challenge our imaginations. We seek answers to our questions on this subject in literature, cinema, and electronic media. In Bloodscripts, Elana Gomel examines how popular culture narratives construct violent subjectivity. Using such various narratives as mystery, horror; detective, and fantasy fiction as well as accounts of the atrocities perpetuated by serial killers and the Holocaust, Bloodscripts offers a new map of the genres of violence and links the twin obsessions of postmodern culture: crime and genocide. Bloodscripts is a stimulating, original, and accessible account of the narrative construction of the violent subject. It proposes a narrative model that will be of interest to literary critics, cultural scholars, criminologists, and anyone trying to understand the role of violence in postmodern culture.

Elana Gomel's book, The Pilgrim Soul: Being Russian in Israel, is an original and exciting investigation of the Russian community in Israel. It analyzes the narratives through which Russian Jewry defines itself and connects them to the legacy of Soviet history. It engages with such key elements of the Russian-Israeli identity as the aversion from organized religion, the challenge of bilingualism, the cult of romantic passion, and even the singular fondness for science fiction. It provides factual information on the social, economic, and political situation of the Russians in Israel but relates the data to an overall interpretation of the community's cultural history. At the same time, the book goes beyond the specificity of its subject by focusing on the theoretical issues of identity formation, historical trauma, and utopian disillusionment. The Pilgrim Soul is an important book for all collections in cultural studies, ethnic and immigrant studies, Israeli studies, and Soviet studies. It will appeal to a variety of readers interested in the issues of immigration, multiculturalism, and identity formation.

Why do Israelis dislike fantasy? Put so bluntly, the question appears frivolous. But in fact, it goes to the deepest sources of Israeli historical identity and literary tradition. Uniquely among developed nations, Israel’s origin is in a utopian novel, Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (1902), which predicted the future Jewish state. The Jewish writing in the Diaspora has always tended toward the fantastic, the mystical, and the magical. And yet, from its very inception, Israeli literature has been stubbornly realistic. The present volume challenges this stance. Originally published in Hebrew in 2009, it is the first serious, wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated exploration of fantasy in Israeli literature and culture. Its contributors jointly attempt to contest the question posed at the beginning: why do Israelis, living in a country whose very existence is predicated on the fulfillment of a utopian dream, distrust fantasy?

 

From the Talmudic sages to Bashevis-Singer, from medieval story-tellers to young contemporary Israeli writers, Jewish fantasy has been a treasure trove of the imagination, at least on a par with Greek and Norse mythologies. Yet unlike them, it has only rarely reveived scholarly attention. That is why this volume is so badly needed, and so timely, as interest in fantasy is becoming more intense worldwide.”–Emanuel Lottem, co-founder and first chairperson, Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy

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© 2023 by SAMANTA JONES