Afterlives of Modernism: Liberalism, Transnationalism, and by John Carlos Rowe

By John Carlos Rowe

In instances of liberal melancholy it is helping to have a person like John Carlos Rowe positioned issues into standpoint, consequently, 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, akin to Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison, with a watch towards stressing their transnationally engaged liberalism and their efforts to introduce into the literary avant-garde the worries of politically marginalized teams, no matter if outlined via race, classification, or gender. the second one a part of the amount comprises essays at the works of Harper Lee, Thomas Berger, Louise Erdrich, and Philip Roth, emphasizing the continuity of efforts to symbolize family political and social issues. whereas severe of the more and more conservative tone of the neoliberalism of the previous quarter-century, Rowe rescues the worth of liberalism’s sympathetic and socially engaged purpose, whilst he criticizes smooth liberalism’s lack of ability to paintings transnationally.

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Extra resources for Afterlives of Modernism: Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique

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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. Much of the appeal of Lee’s novel stems from its Southern regionalism, with the town of Maycomb, Alabama, exhibiting the charm of a vanishing Southern ruralism while hiding the ugly history of the displaced Creek people, slavery, and racism.

In sum, what is the meaning of Stein’s particular, perhaps peculiar, Euroamerican authorial identity as expressed in one of her best-known narratives, Three Lives? Among the literary modernists at the beginning of the twentieth century, Stein is notable for her rejection of the “surface”-versus-“depth” relationship typical of high modernism.  S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ezra Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, for example, offer quasi-naturalistic representa- Liberal Modernism and Transnationalism [ 29 ] tions of the modern alienation and fragmentation of Dublin and London in order to suggest the “deeper meanings” organized by their aesthetic forms and language.

For I was raised by white folks” (TL, 78). Even as Rose Johnson endorses popular racist clichés, she calls attention to the fact that the distinction between “a common nigger” and a respectable person depends on environmental influences, like proper upbringing “by white folks,” education, and marriage. To be sure, the attentive reader does not miss Stein’s association of a good education and marriage with white values, a point she will make even more tellingly in her characterization of Melanctha’s relationship with Dr.

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