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Rhythm

Rhythm

Chapter:
(p.49) III Rhythm
Source:
Forms
Author(s):
Caroline Levine
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691160627.003.0003

This chapter makes a threefold argument for paying a richer and more detailed attention to rhythms, both social and aesthetic. It starts with the importance of attending to the temporal forms that structure historicist literary and cultural studies scholarship. It argues that the heterogeneity and endurance of social rhythms invites a new kind of sociocultural analysis, asking us to reimagine the social landscape as characterized by contending rhythms that extend forward and backward in time. The second part of the chapter asks how we might put this kind of analysis to use. It focuses on one example from the late 1920s, when avant-garde artists managed to alter US law by cannily recognizing the work of multiple social rhythms. It makes the case that despite their power to coerce and organize, rhythms, like bounded wholes, can be put to strategic ends and have the potential to work with and against other forms to surprisingly transformative political effect. Finally, the chapter asks how a new approach to rhythm might help us to rethink the relations between literary forms and social arrangements.

Keywords:   social rhythms, aesthetic rhythms, temporal forms, sociocultural analysis, literary form, social arrangement

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