By Rachel Greenwald Smith
Rachel Greenwald Smith's impact and American Literature within the Age of Neoliberalism examines the connection among American literature and politics within the 20th- and twenty-first centuries. Smith contends that the illustration of feelings in modern fiction emphasizes the non-public lives of characters at a time whilst there's an remarkable, and infrequently harmful, concentrate on the person in American lifestyles. via readings of works by way of Paul Auster, Karen Tei Yamashita, Ben Marcus, Lydia Millet, and others who level experiments within the courting among feeling and shape, Smith argues for the centrality of a counter-tradition in modern literature desirous about impersonal emotions: emotions that problem the neoliberal suggestion that feelings are the valuables of the self.
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Additional info for Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism
James finds that most readers seek practical outcomes from works of fiction as either didacticism or amusement. ”1 Experimentation and readerly payoff, in other words, are seen as being at odds with one another. Readers want what is familiar to them; but for James, if fiction is to be successful as an art form, it should seek out the unfamiliar. In sketching out this dissonance, James draws two opposing paths for the future of the genre: one that sees fiction as essentially conservative, reinforcing the expectations and desires of an existing readership; and one that sees fiction as essentially disruptive, challenging those expectations through aesthetic invention.
A Mrs. M – reportedly said in this letter. ”10 Franzen reports being paralyzed by letters like Mrs. M – ’s because of his adherence to two divergent models of literary value. Like James before him, Franzen still sees some credence in the argument that fiction writing is an art form that should not be subject to the demands of a general readership. In this model, he muses, the best novels are great works of art, the people who manage to write them deserve extraordinary credit, and if the average reader rejects the work it’s because the average reader is a philistine; the value of any novel, even a mediocre one, exists independent of how many people are able to appreciate it.
103). While in general the notion that reading can be a form of self-improvement is not new, neoliberalism ushers in a shift as to precisely what reading fiction is imagined to offer the individual. Whereas liberal self-improvement was more likely to be seen as necessitating processes of self-realization that in turn required separation from structures of attachment, neoliberal self-improvement is more often understood to necessitate strategic alliances with others. As a result, the neoliberal novel is envisioned as having value for its capacity to provide a feeling of emotional connection rather than merely for its focus on the interior life of a discrete individual.
Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism by Rachel Greenwald Smith