Document Type


Author Biography

Greg Forter is professor of English at the University of South Carolina. He has published widely on US modernism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and postcolonial literatures and theory. His most recent book is Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2019).


This essay contributes to recent materialist efforts at rehabilitating the category of “nature” from critical disparagement (and misapprehension). It does so by linking nature both to sleep and to the temporal heterogeneities that contemporary capital’s construal of time seeks but fails to eradicate. To explore these matters, I bring together Jonathan Crary’s 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (2013), Andreas Malm’s The Progress of This Storm (2018), and Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers (2019). These are works that trace how capital’s assault on nature is also an assault on temporal modalities that cannot be subsumed within homogeneous, empty time. They suggest that any reckoning with contemporary capitalism must include a retrieval of temporalities that are “natural” in the sense of belonging to biophysical processes predating and shaping human practice, yet historical inasmuch as they introduce the possibility of punctures into capital’s smooth functioning: pausing, interrupting, refusing to be swallowed by, or otherwise disturbing the temporal homogeneity required and enforced by the commodity form. Crary’s text and Walker’s novel are especially compelling for the way they tether these intimations to a collective experience of sleep.