The introduction builds on Lewis Mumford’s notion of a “collective psychosis” of expectation, a psychic wounding produced by the anticipation of violence in cities facing imminent bombardment from the air. The ensuing account of a pre-traumatic stress syndrome offers a corrective to the field of trauma studies, which has focused almost exclusively on the aftermath of mass violence. The introduction constellates a model of a pre-traumatic syndrome in relation to allied work in “critical futurities,” including nuclear criticism, queer temporalities scholarship, and histories that seek to re-emplot or reactivate futures past. It then addresses the historiography of the interwar period, approaching its “betweenness” as both constructed retroactively and experienced by many historical actors in real time. The introduction ends with a discussion of the weak theory of modernism now structuring the field of modernist studies, and of weak theory’s special suitability for opposing total war, that strongest of strong theories
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