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Utopian discourse: identity, ethnicity, and community in post-Cold War American narrative.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Charles F. Tedder (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Christian Moraru

Abstract: This dissertation analyzes critical utopian discourse in nine American novelists, making the claim that in American literature, at least, we have of necessity entered a postethnic stage of the communal imagination. Beginning with theories of utopia offered by Mannheim, Ricoeur, Bloch, Moylan, and Jameson, this study claims, in its introduction, that a thoroughgoing critical utopia must rethink whose ideals count as the ideal toward which we all should work. Collectively raised by Werner Sollors, David Hollinger, Giles Gunn, and Caroline Rody, the problems of identity and solidarity call our attention to the urgency of interethnic or, differently, postethnic cooperation. Some principles for such cooperation are here outlined with the help of Elaine Scarry, Jean-Luc Nancy, Judith Butler, and Dipesh Chakrabarty. The three main parts of this study are organized along a temporal axis. Part one traces the critical reimagining of the past in novels by Tony Morrison, Philip Roth, and Leslie Marmon Silko; part two charts imaginative “present” cartography in novels by Michael Chabon, Richard Powers, and Gerald Vizenor; part three turns to future-writing and the prophetic voice in novels by Octavia Butler, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Throughout, it is argued that, due to contemporary socio-demographic and ecological dynamics, we can no longer productively imagine our ideal worlds in the interests of only one, particular community. The afterword concludes postethnic utopias urge a recursive, compassionate, and critical imagination that helps human beings tend to everyday and long-term tasks “ecosocially” as members of a broadly inclusive community.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2010
Keywords
American, Community, Contemporary, Ethnicity, Narrative, Utopia
Subjects
Literature, Modern $y 20th century $x History and criticism.
Literature, Modern $y 21st century $x History and criticism.
Utopias in literature.
Multiculturalism in literature.
Cultural pluralism in literature.
Postmodernism (Literature)