Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor

Marc Dolan

Committee Members

Gerhard Joseph

Eric Lott

Subject Categories

American Literature | Cultural History | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Keywords

postmodernism, post-1945, Heller, DeLillo, Vonnegut, Pynchon

Abstract

In this dissertation I account for the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of the American postmodern novel that has long puzzled scholars by arguing that the genre must be understood as an expression of dominant masculinity threatened, not by women or people of color, but rather changes in postwar business and consumer culture. I support this claim by examining works by some of the founding American postmodern novelists—Joseph Heller, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and Thomas Pynchon—through the lens of historicism and biography. As advertising and publicity professionals in the postwar period, these men were positioned to offer a “complicitous critique” of the emerging corporatized masculinity and its cultural conditions of production (Hutcheon 2). In contrast, as I will iterate in my conclusion, contemporaneous American postmodernists outside of the typical demographic, such as Ishmael Reed and Kathy Acker, express different concerns in their own contributions to the genre.

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