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Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture

edited by Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith

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How has the pervasive spread of free market thinking affected contemporary literature?

Neoliberalism has been a buzzword in literary studies for well over a decade, but its meaning remains ambiguous and its salience contentious. In Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture, Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith offer a wide-ranging exploration of contemporary literature through the lens of neoliberalism’s economic, social, and cultural ascendance. Bringing together accessible and provocative essays from top literary scholars, this innovative collection examines neoliberalism’s…

How has the pervasive spread of free market thinking affected contemporary literature?

Neoliberalism has been a buzzword in literary studies for well over a decade, but its meaning remains ambiguous and its salience contentious. In Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture, Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith offer a wide-ranging exploration of contemporary literature through the lens of neoliberalism’s economic, social, and cultural ascendance. Bringing together accessible and provocative essays from top literary scholars, this innovative collection examines neoliberalism’s influence on literary theory and methodology, literary form, literary representation, and literary institutions.

A four-phase approach to the historical emergence of neoliberalism from the early 1970s to the present helps to clarify the complexity of the relationship between neoliberalism and literary culture. Layering that history over the diverse changes in a US-Anglo literary field that has moved away from postmodern forms and sensibilities, the book argues that many literary developments—including the return to realism, the rise of the memoir, the embrace of New Materialist theory, and the pursuit of aesthetic autonomy—make more coherent sense when viewed in light of neoliberalism’s ever-increasing expansion into the cultural sphere.

The essays gathered here engage a diverse range of theorists, including Michel Foucault, Wendy Brown, Giorgio Agamben, Bruno Latour, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gary Becker, and Eve Sedgwick to address the reciprocal relationship between neoliberalism and conceptual fields such as biopolitics, affect, phenomenology, ecology, and new materialist ontology. These theoretical perspectives are complemented by innovative readings of contemporary works of literature by writers such as Jennifer Egan, Ben Lerner, Gillian Flynn, Teju Cole, Jonathan Franzen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Salvador Plascencia, E. L. James, Lisa Robertson, Kenneth Goldsmith, and many others. Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture is essential reading for anyone invested in the ever-changing state of literary culture.

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Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture

edited by Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith

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A necessary, timely, and insightful intervention into the scholarly conversation about the relationship of literature (and other arts) to neoliberalism. Huehls and Smith have assembled a uniformly superb collection.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
344
ISBN
9781421423104
Illustration Description
1 map, 11 graphs
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Neoliberalism and Literature, by Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith
Part I
1. Fifty Shades of Neoliberal Love, by Walter Benn Michaels
2. The Microeconomic Mode, by Jane Elliott
3

Acknowledgments
Neoliberalism and Literature, by Mitchum Huehls and Rachel Greenwald Smith
Part I
1. Fifty Shades of Neoliberal Love, by Walter Benn Michaels
2. The Microeconomic Mode, by Jane Elliott
3. The New Materialism and Neoliberalism, by Min Hyoung Song
4. Realisms Redux; or, Against Affective Capitalism, by Jeffrey T. Nealon
5. The Surfaces of Contemporary Capitalism, by Jeffrey T. Baskin
Part II
6. Fictions of Neoliberalism, by Mathias Nilges
7. Totaling the Damage, by Jennifer Ashton
8. Against Omniscient Narration, by Marcial González
9. The Memoir in the Age of Neoliberal Individualism, by Daniel Worden
Part III
10. The Perpetual Fifties of American Fiction, by Matthew Wilkens
11. The Neoliberal Novel of Migrancy, by Sheri-Marie Harrison
12. Neoliberal Childhoods, by Caren Irr
13. Post-recession Realism, by Andrew Hoberek
Part IV
14. The Author as Executive Producer, by Michael Szalay
15. Neoliberalism and the Demise of the Literary, by Sarah Brouillette
16. The Humanist Fix, by Leigh Claire La Berge
List of Contributors
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Mitchum Huehls

Mitchum Huehls is an associate adjunct professor of English at the University of California–Los Angeles. He is the author of After Critique: Twenty-First-Century Fiction in a Neoliberal Age.
Featured Contributor

Rachel Greenwald Smith

Rachel Greenwald Smith is an associate professor of English at St. Louis University. She is the author of Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism.