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 private lives of characters at a time whilst there's an unheard of, and sometimes harmful, specialize in the person in American existence. via readings of works by way of Paul Auster, Karen Tei Yamashita, Ben Marcus, Lydia Millet, and others who level experiments within the dating among feeling and shape, Smith argues for the centrality of a counter-tradition in modern literature excited by impersonal emotions: emotions that problem the neoliberal idea that feelings are the valuables of the self.
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Extra info for Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism
89 Seeing the literary intensification of affects as material effects of the relationships among textual elements within works, as well as effects of relationships among texts and readers, suggests that a critical practice of tracing affects in literary texts might form a literary counterpart to Latour’s intervention in the social sciences. Among the most destructive discursive consequences of our neoliberal present is the prevailing tendency to see all systems as functioning like market systems.
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. We can call this the Status model. It invites a discourse of genius and art-historical importance. (MD, 100) Evident in the dubbing of this model as “Status” is a critique of its basis in setting the novelist above the public.
While environmentalism is a specific focus of the works I discuss in Chapter 4, many of the works taken up elsewhere in this book, like Tropic of Orange, place nonhuman actors at the center of their plots. . 86 My use of the term “impersonal feelings” itself has direct ecological antecedents, as it echoes Jane Bennett’s description of “impersonal affects” in her work Vibrant Matter. . ”87 While her interests are particularly anchored in examinations of nonhuman agency within biological and geological processes – she explores the role of nonhuman actors in the consumption of food, the composition of minerals, and the effects of worms on human culture, among other situations – I find that Bennett’s argument that nonhuman and even inanimate objects can possess as well as transmit affects has ramifications for the study of literature.