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    Delirious USA: the representation of capital in the fiction of Don DeLillo

    Travers, Thomas William Lynn (2020) Delirious USA: the representation of capital in the fiction of Don DeLillo. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    In this thesis I offer a new reading of Don DeLillo’s fiction through an engagement with contemporary Marxist literary theory and political economy. Beginning in the 1960s, the thesis traces the launch, expansion, and shattering of DeLillo’s narrative apparatus as it recomposes itself across the genres of the short story, the conspiratorial thriller, the historical novel, and the novel of time. Developing on theories of the novel as a capitalist epic, the thesis takes the insistent appearance of surplus populations in DeLillo’s work as an opportunity to reflect on, but also to revise and reconceptualise, Marxist accounts of the novel and its philosophy of history. The DeLillo that emerges from this thesis is less an exemplar of postmodernism and more a novelist of the dispossessed whose central representational task is the invention of a multitude. Chapter One contends that DeLillo’s early short stories from the 1960s acquire a new recognisability in the wake of his late turn towards an aesthetic of suspension. The chapter questions whether the forms of stasis depicted in DeLillo’s short fiction generate new historical futures or if they contribute to a de-collectivised eternal present that later consumes his work. Chapter Two addresses DeLillo’s off-kilter conspiracy novels and reads their discovery of pockets of uneven development through and against the concept of ‘cognitive mapping’. Chapter Three examines the formal means by which DeLillo appropriates Georg Lukács’s classic account of the historical novel and reconfigures it through an irrational historicism that hinges on the non-presupposition of the people. Chapter Four considers the extent to which the non-anthropogenic subjects of history that constrain and inform DeLillo’s twenty-first century fiction constitute political resignation or if they intimate historical futures beyond a catastrophic present. The thesis concludes with a brief reflection on passages out of DeLillo’s epic representation of capitalism.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Date of PhD award confirmed as 2020 by registry
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 16:44
    Last Modified: 01 Mar 2021 11:56
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/40479

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