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Afterlives of Modernism

Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique

In times of liberal despair it helps to have someone like John Carlos Rowe put things into perspective, in this case, with a collection of essays that asks the question, “Must we throw out liberalism’s successes with the neoliberal bathwater?” Rowe first lays out a genealogy of early twentieth-century modernists, such as Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison, with an eye toward stressing their transnationally engaged liberalism and their efforts to introduce into the literary avant-garde the concerns of politically marginalized groups, whether defined by race, class, or gender. The second part of the volume includes essays on the works of Harper Lee, Thomas Berger, Louise Erdrich, and Philip Roth, emphasizing the continuity of efforts to represent domestic political and social concerns. While critical of the increasingly conservative tone of the neoliberalism of the past quarter-century, Rowe rescues the value of liberalism’s sympathetic and socially engaged intent, even as he criticizes modern liberalism’s inability to work transnationally.

224 pages | 6 x 9

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory


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Table of Contents

Preface • Introduction: The Inevitable Intimate Connection • LIBERAL MODERNISM AND TRANSNATIONALISM • Naming What Is Inside: Gertrude Stein’s Use of Names in Three Lives • John Dos Passos’s Imaginary City in Manhattan Transfer • Faulkner and the Southern Arts of Mystification in Absalom, Absalom! • Our Invisible Man: The Aesthetic Genealogy of U.S. Diversity • POSTWAR LIBERALISM AND THE NEW COSMOPOLITANISM • Racism, Fetishism, and the Gift Economy in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird • Alien Encounter: Thomas Berger’s Neighbors as a Critique of Existential Humanism • Buried Alive: The Native American Political Unconscious in Louise Erdrich’s Fiction • Neoliberalism and the U.S. Literary Canon: The Example of Philip Roth • Bibliography • Index

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