Can you explain what Simon During stated in his essay "Literature—Nationalism's Other?"

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In "Literature--Nationalism's Other: The Case for Revision," Simon During argues that canonical literature can exist outside the context of nationalism. This is different, During suggests, than the "commonplace" among critics that "the institution of literature works to nationalistic ends." During points to the development of a "civil Imaginary," a collection of norms for personal living that are reproduced through literature. He uses eighteenth-century British literature as an example, citing the works of Whiggish writers like Henry Fielding and Joseph Addison. These writers, he argues, were engaged in an attempt to "recirculate images of the forms of social existence available to the urban bourgeoisie of the time." The important point is that these writers did not reflect a nationalist sentiment, but that of a "particular social field." During locates the origins of literature-as-nationalism in the French Revolution, in which art and literature were created to "penetrate the soul and mould the national character." In the aftermath of the Revolution, as nationalism became, During argues, a force for liberation, literature reflected this trend. But in more recent years, another development, the "global Imaginary," provides a different context in which literature can function.

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