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The Wreckage of Intentions
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Table of Contents

Introduction. What Is a Project?
Chapter 1. Improvement's Genre: Andrew Yarranton and the Rhetoric of Projection
Chapter 2. Company in Paper: Aaron Hill's Beech Oil Bust
Chapter 3. Projects Beyond Words: Undertaking Fen Drainage
Chapter 4. Inheriting the Future: Georgic's Projecting Strain
Chapter 5. Swift's Solar Gourds and the Antiproject Tradition
Coda. Imaginary Debris in Defoe's New Forest

Notes
Bibliography
Index
Acknowledgments

About the Author

David Alff teaches English at the University at Buffalo.

Reviews

"Elegantly organized and incisive in its analysis, The Wreckage of Intentions opens up the narrative cage that our stories of progress and modernization have locked us into. David Alff's close reading of tracts, pamphlets, and treatises that propose various improvements, from insurance to agriculture, enables us to understand the ways in which future possibility and change were imagined in early modern Britain."-Wolfram Schmidgen, Washington University in St. Louis


"In his fine new book, [Alff] recovers a rich history of social, economic and agricultural improvement ventures . . . There was a time when this sort of book would have arrived at bleak conclusions about technocratic control and domination. Alff, in contrast, prefers to dwell on possibility . . . Most projects fail, but some succeed, and a portion of the successes are utterly disastrous for the Earth and human well-being. David Alff rebalances the scales, but academic debate, itself an abiding project will surely continue."-Times Literary Supplement

"[A] superb first book . . . The combination of superb close reading and impressive scholarly research, of historical depth and literary power, features in every elegant and gripping chapter . . . Wreckage of Intentions makes a compelling argument about the power of paying attention to the debris of the past, of the might-have-beens before they were killed off. The Wreckage of Intentions makes us question the historical ground we're standing on."-Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

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