After Critique: Twenty-First-Century Fiction in a Neoliberal Age

ISBN : 9780190456221

Mitchum Huehls
240 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2016
Oxford Studies in American Literary History
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After Critique identifies an ontological turn in contemporary U.S. fiction that distinguishes our current literary moment from both postmodernism and so-called post-postmodernism. This turn to ontology takes many forms, but in general After Critique highlights a body of literature-work from Colson Whitehead, Uzodinma Iweala, Karen Yamasthia, Helena Viramontes, Percival Everett, Mat Johnson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Tom McCarthy-that favors presence over absence, being over meaning, and connection over reference. These authors' interest in producing literary value ontologically rather than representationally stems from their sense that neoliberalism's capacious grasp on contemporary language and discourse-its ability to control both sides of a conceptual debate or argument-has made it nearly impossible to write beyond neoliberalism's grip. This is particularly distressing for authors invested in contemporary politics as neoliberalism renders any number of political problems circularly undecidable. Taking up four different political themes-human rights, the relation between public and private space, racial justice, and environmentalism-After Critique suggests that the ontological forms emerging in contemporary U.S. fiction articulate a version of politics that might successfully evade neoliberal appropriation. This is a politics which replaces critique and its reliance on representation with ontology and its ever-shifting configurations and assemblages.


Introduction: We Have Never Been Neoliberal: Critique's Complicity, Capitulation's Promise
Chapter 1: Turning to Presence: The Contingent Persons of Human Rights Literature
Chapter 2: Embracing Objects: Public and Private Space in Literary Los Angeles
Chapter 3: Objectifying Race: Or, What African American Literature Is
Chapter 4: Welcoming the World: Post-Ecological Fiction
Coda: Accounting 101: Reading the Exomodern

About the author: 

Mitchum Huehls is Visiting Assistant Professor at UCLA.

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