The Contemporary Condition. On Writing a Literary History of the Contemporary, or What is, or was, “the Contemporary,” and should we keep calling it that?
“The contemporary” is an established term in a range of scholarly and disciplinary discourses, but what does it mean? Interweaving sections drawn from an (apparently) hypothetical and oxymoronic project—the writing of a literary history of “the contemporary”—with a critical analysis of the term(s) “the contemporary” and “contemporary” in the work of a range of theorists, Margaret-Anne Hutton sets out to expose the inconsistencies and ambiguities in its terminological usage, and to unpick some of the knots which bind the substantive and adjective. How can “(the) contemporary” function as a critical term, and how might we map its history? [publisher's note]