An original analysis of the meaning of experience in its modern historical context.
Experience remains a politically charged and semantically ambiguous concept that arouses as much passion as it does suspicion, especially as it relates to agency and identity. Craig Ireland focuses on the eighteenth-century historical developments that led to the conceptualization of experience as a modern problem.
Combining historical findings with discourse analyses and diagnostic readings of recent subaltern and aesthetic inquiry, Ireland reveals that the term experience has been incorrectly understood. Since the 1970s, persistent appeals to experience in identity politics and cultural inquiry testify not only to the influence of a particular modern concept but, more importantly, to the historical status of modern self-identity.
The Subaltern Appeal to Experience demonstrates that addressing historical preconditions not only helps clarify a notoriously ambiguous concept but also elucidates the issues that revolve around how modes of identity-formation have changed in the face of earlier cultural and economic developments that continue to inform our late (or post) modern understandings of the self.