Cultural Studies

Affective realism: Economies of feeling in postwar American by Adam Townsend Jernigan

By Adam Townsend Jernigan

Within the many years following the second one international struggle, a brand new new release of yank writers shifted the topical concentration of literary realism from the equipped struggles of commercial employees to the lines and strivings of sub-proletarian employees who worked inside unorganized, casual, and infrequently illicit traces of labor: provider paintings, family hard work, intercourse paintings, and so forth. even though students have tended to indicate that postwar novelists became their attentions towards alienated contributors and atomized suburbs, I contend that fiscal fight persevered to form American fiction in terms of a literary mode that I name affective realism. My declare is that during the Nineteen Fifties and early Sixties, realist authors could flip to the sensation, sensing, and discerning physique to discover what somatic adventure may show concerning the transitivity among fabric stipulations and the sensorium. while naturalist authors like Richard Wright grew to become to the physique so one can show how structural inequities may well generate somatic signs, realist authors like James Baldwin, John A. Williams, Mary McCarthy, Sylvia Plath, Paule Marshall, and Lorraine Hansberry became to the physique because the very capability during which to understand the latent pressures and chances created through those self same stipulations.
Writing at a time whilst carrier employees had turn into the quickest transforming into section of the
workforce, postwar realists foregrounded the primary position performed through affective hard work within the
production of the fabric and social global. whilst, they explored how a sensorium attuned to the stipulations of construction may generate an embodied intelligence approximately the way to construct lifeworlds amidst structural precarity. while neo-romantic authors just like the Beats grew to become to the physique in hopes of maintaining the subject’s autonomy from its poisonous atmosphere, realist authors approached the physique because the fundamental skill for located matters to evaluate, comply with, and perform their social and monetary surrounds. via impending the physique during this method, affective realists penetrated past the outside of sensory and emotional event, and have been capable of recognize how socioeconomic constructions have been shaping the feel of expertise itself.

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Additional info for Affective realism: Economies of feeling in postwar American fiction

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Following Eve Sedgwick’s insights about the representational capaciousness of sexuality, I argue that the sexual encounters in these books open up an interactional domain that enables the characters to re-inhabit and experiment with—to rehearse and rehash, perhaps even to rework—the power dynamics that prevail in other parts of their lives. Although hustling novels have gone almost completely neglected by literary scholars, the cinematic hustling subgenre—and especially the film version of Midnight Cowboy (1969, John Schlesinger)—has received substantive attention from queer film scholars like Parker Tyler and Michael Moon.

255-6]. 20 Although Stoker and Eliot adopt different positions on women’s workforce participation, both authors might be said to partake in the ideological work of bringing women’s employment expectations into line with the needs of capital for human labor power.

In recent years, scholars of postwar American fiction have speculated that Baldwin’s rejection of the “protest novel” may have been influenced by his early acquaintance with Cold War liberals like Robert Warshow, Philip Rahv, and Lionel Trilling. The aim of the present chapter is to complicate that critical consensus by shedding light on Baldwin’s critique of how liberalism—understood as a structure of feeling—kept Americans invested in both the practice of racial ascription and the enforcement of ascriptive hierarchies.

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