Nasser Mufti Responds

I didn’t fully grasp it at first but, as Zach Fruit correctly points out, Forms is as historicist as it is presentist. Fruit notes that Forms is “sensitive to the present while grounded in history.” Such “sensitive presentism” is animated by the current contradictions of liberal thought, but the burden of the work looks at earlier epochs. So given that war and peace are closely related (if not the same thing) to a twenty-first century critic (“trained in postcolonial theory and ideology critique”), what would it mean to invert Forms so that it is “grounded in the present while sensitive to the past”? What does “grounded presentism” or “anachronistic sensitivity” look like? Indeed, this is the other part of Hensley’s argument, which attends to aspects of contemporary literary and cultural criticism—the “method wars.” This is probably too schematic, but it does suggest that “sensitive presentism/grounded context” concerns the literary object, while “grounded presentism/anachronistic sensitivity” concerns the way we read now.

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