American Utopia and Social Engineering in Literature Social Thought and Political History

Author: Peter Swirski
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1136723390
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The United States today is afflicted with political alienation, militarized violence, institutionalized poverty, and social agony. Worst of all, perhaps, it is afflicted with chronic and acute ahistoricism. America insist on ignoring the context of its present dilemmas. It insists on forgetting what preceded the headlines of today and on denying continuity with history. It insists, in short, on its exceptionalism. American Utopia and Social Engineering sets out to correct this amnesia. It misses no opportunity to flesh out both the historical premises and the political promises behind the social policies and political events of the period. These interdisciplinary concerns provide, in turn, the framework for the analyses of works of American literature that mirror their times and mores. Novels considered include: B.F. Skinner and Walden Two (1948), easily the most scandalous utopia of the century, if not of all times; Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962), an anatomy of political disfranchisement American-style; Bernard Malamud’s God’s Grace (1982), a neo-Darwinian beast fable about morality in the thermonuclear age; Walker Percy’s The Thanatos Syndrome (1986), a diagnostic novel about engineering violence out of America’s streets and minds; and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (2004), an alternative history of homegrown ‘soft’ fascism. With the help of the five novels and the social models outlined therein, Swirski interrogates key aspects of sociobiology and behavioural psychology, voting and referenda procedures, morality and altruism, multilevel selection and proverbial wisdom, violence and chip-implant technology, and the adaptive role of emotions in our private and public lives.

Nature Class and New Deal Literature

Author: Professor of American Studies and Director Postgraduate Centre in the Humanities School of English and American Studies Stephen Fender
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 113663228X
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Working through close rhetorical analysis of everything from fiction and journalism to documents and documentaries, this book looks at how popular memory favors the country Depression over the economic crisis in the nation’s cities and factories. Over eighty years after it happened, the Depression still lives on in iconic images of country poor whites – in the novels of John Steinbeck, the photographs of Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein, the documentary films of Pare Lorenz and the thousands of share-croppers’ life histories as taken down by the workers of the Federal Writers’ Project. Like the politicians and bureaucrats who accomplished the New Deal’s radical reforms in banking, social security and labor union law, the artists, novelists and other writers who supported or even worked for the New Deal were idealists, well to the left of center in their politics. Yet when it came to hard times on the American farm, something turned them into unwitting reactionaries. Though they brought these broken lives of the country poor to the notice and sympathy of the public, they also worked unconsciously to undermine their condition. How and why? Fender shows how the answer lies in clues overlooked until now, hidden in their writing -- their journalism and novels, the "life histories" they ghost wrote for their poor white clients, the bureaucratic communications through which they administered these cultural programs, even in the documentary photographs and movies, with their insistent captions and voice-overs. This book is a study of literary examples from in and around the country Depression, and the myths on which they drew.

Utopia and Terror in Contemporary American Fiction

Author: Judie Newman
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1136774807
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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This book examines the quest for/failure of Utopia across a range of contemporary American/transnational fictions in relation to terror and globalization through authors such as Susan Choi, André Dubus, Dalia Sofer, and John Updike. While recent critical thinkers have reengaged with Utopia, the possibility of terror — whether state or non-state, external or homegrown — shadows Utopian imaginings. Terror and Utopia are linked in fiction through the exploration of the commodification of affect, a phenomenon of a globalized world in which feelings are managed, homogenized across cultures, exaggerated, or expunged according to a dominant model. Narrative approaches to the terrorist offer a means to investigate the ways in which fiction can resist commodification of affect, and maintain a reasoned but imaginative vision of possibilities for human community. Newman explores topics such as the first American bestseller with a Muslim protagonist, the links between writer and terrorist, the work of Iranian-Jewish Americans, and the relation of race and religion to Utopian thought.

Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture

Author: Ana M. Manzanas
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317917960
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Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture inscribes itself within the spatial turn that permeates the ways we look at literary and cultural productions. The volume seeks to clarify the connections between race, space, class, and identity as it concentrates on different occupations and disoccupations, enclosures and boundaries. Space is scaled up and down, from the body, the ground zero of spatiality, to the texturology of Manhattan; from the striated place of the office in Melville’s "Bartleby, the Scrivener" on Wall Street, to the striated spaces of internment camps and reservations; from the lowest of the low, the (human) clutter that lined the streets of Albany, NY, during the Depression, to the new Towers of Babel that punctuate the contemporary architecture of transparencies. As it strings together these spatial narratives, the volume reveals how, beyond the boundaries that characterize each space, every location has loose ends that are impossible to contain.

Of Literature and Knowledge

Author: Peter Swirski
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1134104405
Format: PDF, Mobi
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"Of Literature and Knowledge looks ... like an important advance in this new and very important subject... literature is about to become even more interesting." – Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University. Framed by the theory of evolution, this colourful and engaging volume presents a new understanding of the mechanisms by which we transfer information from narrative make-believe to real life. Ranging across game theory and philosophy of science, as well as poetics and aesthetics, Peter Swirski explains how literary fictions perform as a systematic tool of enquiry, driven by thought experiments. Crucially, he argues for a continuum between the cognitive tools employed by scientists, philosophers and scholars or writers of fiction. The result is a provocative study of our talent and propensity for creating imaginary worlds, different from the world we know yet invaluable to our understanding of it. Of Literature and Knowledge is a noteworthy challenge to contemporary critical theory, arguing that by bridging the gap between literature and science we might not only reinvigorate literary studies but, above all, further our understanding of literature.

Partial Visions

Author: Angelika Bammer
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1134980108
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Positing that a radical utopianism is one of the most vital impulses of feminist politics, Partial Visions traces the articulation of this impulse in the work of Euro-American, French and German women writers of the 1970s. It argues that this feminist utopianism both continued and reconceptualized a critical dimension of Left politics, yet concludes that feminist utopianism is not just visionary, but myopic - time and culture bound - as well.

Imagined Transnationalism

Author: K. Concannon
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 0230103324
Format: PDF, Kindle
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With its focus on Latina/o communities in the United States, this collection of essays identifies and investigates the salient narrative and aesthetic strategies with which an individual or a collective represents transnational experiences and identities in literary and cultural texts.

God s Grace

Author: Bernard Malamud
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780374529673
Format: PDF, ePub
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In his final novel, the acclaimed novelist spins an apocalyptic tale that recounts the experiences of Calvin Cohn, who, through a divine slip, is the only human being left alive after the apocalypse. Reprint.

From Lowbrow to Nobrow

Author: Peter Swirski
Publisher: McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP
ISBN: 0773529926
Format: PDF
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'From Lowbrow to Nobrow' vindicates popular fiction as an art form that expresses and reflects the aesthetic and social values of its readers.

American Exceptionalism

Author: Seymour Martin Lipset
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393316148
Format: PDF, Docs
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A study of American beliefs and how they shape our society notes how the typical citizen's commitment to such ideals as individualism, populism, and egalitarianism has led to ambivalent social practices.