By John Carlos Rowe
In occasions of liberal melancholy it is helping to have anyone like John Carlos Rowe positioned issues into viewpoint, subsequently, with a suite of essays that asks the query, “Must we throw out liberalism’s successes with the neoliberal bathwater?” Rowe first lays out a family tree of early twentieth-century modernists, resembling Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison, with an eye fixed towards stressing their transnationally engaged liberalism and their efforts to introduce into the literary avant-garde the troubles of politically marginalized teams, no matter if outlined through race, classification, or gender. the second one a part of the quantity comprises essays at the works of Harper Lee, Thomas Berger, Louise Erdrich, and Philip Roth, emphasizing the continuity of efforts to symbolize household political and social matters. whereas severe of the more and more conservative tone of the neoliberalism of the earlier quarter-century, Rowe rescues the worth of liberalism’s sympathetic and socially engaged reason, while he criticizes glossy liberalism’s lack of ability to paintings transnationally.
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Extra resources for Afterlives of Modernism: Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique
My interpretation links Lee’s racial politics with class issues, specifically her criticism of the impact of modern capitalism on Southern society, especially in the changing small towns Lee knew so well. By linking race and class, Lee actually goes far beyond the identity politics that would overtake subsequent debates within various ethnic studies. Yet by focusing primarily on her white protagonists, she also paves the way for the neoliberal appropriation of racial/ethnic discourse, often by invoking related class concerns, as conservatives in the 1990s did in various states by insisting that class deprivation and racial discrimination be linked in such programs as affirmative action.
Melanctha Herbert had not come yet to know how to use religion” (TL, 79). This passage occurs early in the story, when Stein is still introducing Rose and Melanctha to the reader. Much later in the narrative, Dr. Jeff Campbell, who is strongly attracted to Melanctha but profoundly confused by her behavior as well as his desire for her, compares his love for her with a religious feeling: “And then certainly sometimes, Melanctha, you certainly is all a different creature, and sometimes then there comes out in you what is certainly a thing, like a real beauty.
Stein’s efforts to distinguish poetic, emancipatory language from ordinary, conventional language led her throughout her career to rely on a wide variety of metaphors to call attention to the ways poetic language invests humans with identity and ordinary language commodifies us. Sometimes these metaphors are closely related, as in Stein’s use of “sentence diagraming” in “Poetry and Grammar,” in order to force the reader to choose and thereby activate a certain potential for poetic expression or conventionality lurking in every linguistic performance.
Afterlives of Modernism: Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique by John Carlos Rowe