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The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature$
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Zuzanna Ladyga

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442923

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442923.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Introduction: Doing Nothing in America

Introduction: Doing Nothing in America

(p.1) Introduction: Doing Nothing in America
The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature

Zuzanna Ladyga

Edinburgh University Press

The introduction outlines a theoretical approach to the theme of laziness in literature and provides a historical genealogy of the term. It argues the pertinence of laziness as a concept-metaphor that maps an ethically problematic aspect of Western culture, namely its inability to think of “withdrawal from taking an action” outside of the morally stigmatizing categories of right or wrong. The interpretative claim is that laziness lends itself to such analysis due to its unique history as one of Western culture’s most notorious stigmas. In order to give readers the idea of the scope of the metaphorical potential of laziness, the second part of the introduction delivers a genealogy of the term, including an account of its role in religious and philosophical discourse from antiquity until today. This genealogical analysis suggests that laziness has always maintained a relation to the vocabularies of biopower, and thus laziness – as a theme, as a metaphor – marks the horizon of dissent to biopolitical norms, as well as the horizon of thinking about the sense of agency, self-affirmation and self-preservation. The aesthetics of laziness provides writers and philosophers with means to critique the Western norm of productivity and invent models of its evasion

Keywords:   Productivity, Concept-Metaphor, Acedia, Sloth, Biopolitcs, Biolopolical norm, Demon Meridianus, Hans Blumenberg, Michel Foucault, Catherine Malabou

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