Although numerous disciplines recognize multiple ways of conceptualizing time, Stefan Tanaka argues that scholars still overwhelmingly operate on chronological and linear Newtonian or classical time that emerged during the Enlightenment. This short, approachable book implores the humanities and humanistic social sciences to actively embrace the richness of different times that are evident in non-modern societies and have become common in several scientific fields throughout the twentieth century. Tanaka first offers a history of chronology by showing how the social structures built on clocks and calendars gained material expression. Tanaka then proposes that we can move away from this chronology by considering how contemporary scientific understandings of time might be adapted to reconceive the present and pasts. This opens up a conversation that allows for the possibility of other ways to know about and re-present pasts. A multiplicity of times will help us broaden the historical horizon by embracing the heterogeneity of our lives and world via rethinking the complex interaction between stability, repetition, and change. This history without chronology also allows for incorporating the affordances of digital media.
There is no doubt that the beginning of the twenty-first century was marked by crises of debt. Less well known is that literature played a historical role in defining and teaching debt to the public. Promissory Notes: On the Literary Conditions of Debt addresses how neoliberal finance has depended upon a historical linking of geopolitical inequality and financial representation that positions the so-called “Third World” as negative value, or debt. Starting with an analysis of Anthony Trollope’s novel, The Eustace Diamonds, Goodman shows how colonized spaces came to inhabit this negative value. Promissory Notes argues that the twentieth-century continues to apply literary innovations in character, subjectivity, temporal and spatial representation to construct debt as the negative creation of value not only in reference to objects, but also houses, credit cards, students, and, in particular, “Third World” geographies, often leading to crisis. Yet, late twentieth century and early twenty-first literary texts, such as Soyinka’s The Road and Ngugi’s Wizard of the Crow, address the negative space of the indebted world also as a critique of the financial take-over of the postcolonial developmental state. Looking to situations like the Puerto Rican debt crisis, Goodman demonstrates how financial discourse is articulated through social inequalities and how literature can both expose and contest the imposition of a morality of debt as a mode of anti-democratic control.