After critique. Twenty-first-century fiction in a neoliberal by Mitchum Huehls

By Mitchum Huehls

After critique' identifies an ontological flip in modern U.S. fiction that distinguishes our present literary second from either postmodernism and so-called post-postmodernism. This flip to ontology takes many types, yet typically After Critique highlights a physique of literature-work from Colson Whitehead, Uzodinma Iweala, Karen Yamasthia, Helena Viramontes, Percival Everett, Mat Johnson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Read more...

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taking on 4 diverse political themes-human rights, the relation among private and non-private house, racial justice, and environmentalism-After Critique means that the ontological varieties emerging Read more...

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Extra resources for After critique. Twenty-first-century fiction in a neoliberal age

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On the other hand, neoliberal rhetoric is quick to idealize leftist cynicism, readily portraying the entrepreneurial subject’s big payday as either a win for a worker freed from his exploitative labor relationship with the university or as a moment of economic and social uplift. Neoliberalism speaks the language of the greater communal good as a cover for its systematic exploitation of individual-objects, and it speaks the anti-exploitative Introduction 13 language of social justice as a cover for its championing of entrepreneurial individual-subjects.

If we accept the shift from normative to serial culture that Foucault, Cherniavsky, and Barnett each describe, then surely our tactical responses to and Introduction 19 strategic engagements with neoliberalism must also move from the critical to the ontological. Rather than engaging neoliberalism through the critical discursive terrain that it has already captured, why not develop procedures and techniques that adopt its more serialized and networked formulations of meaning and value? What if we engaged neoliberalism on its own ontological terms, if we allowed for the simultaneity (rather than the mutual exclusivity) of subject and object?

The experimentalists championed the slippery, subjective play of language while the multiculturalists grounded their meaningful politics in the objective world. This is the first half of the circle, completed when the positions reversed: multiculturalists emphasized subjective identity while the experimentalists highlighted opaque textuality as material object. With both multiculturalism and experimentalism able to serve as either the subjective or objective foil to the other, it’s little surprise that critique Introduction 31 was ascendant during the postmodern era.

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