30 September 2022
Aidan Watson-Morris, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Afflerbach, Ian. Making Liberalism New: American Intellectuals, Modern Literature, and
the Rewriting of a Political Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021).
When, and what, was liberalism? The question begets another: Which liberalism? Ian Afflerbach’s (University of North Georgia) study documents a midcentury interchange between modernist writers and liberal intellectuals, asking us to parse the genealogy of a modern—or even modernist—liberalism against its classical and neo- variants. If liberalism often plays the role of Big Other to both the academic Left and hegemonic Right as ‘the organizing political grammar of modernity’ (p. 1), an overlooked characteristic of liberal thought is its ‘self-critical intellectual enterprise’ (p. 17). To study this enterprise in its particularity, Afflerbach provides an intellectual history, bracketing the political institutions which put liberal ideas into practice. Continue reading “Book Review: Making Liberalism New”