A Crisis of Space: Identity, Subjectivity, and Materiality in Postmodern American Fiction
AuthorStottlemyer, Eric Matthew
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The material world as it is represented in postmodern American novels accounts for subjectivity and identity in ways that remain critically unexplored. This dissertation, therefore, examines representations of space, the subject, and materiality in three postmodern American novels: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. For the protagonists in these novels, finding refuge in a material world attenuates the power exerted in socially constructed spaces. In this way, spatial relationships empower the individual character in a struggle against the discursive representations and socio-political forces that seek to define, limit, and determine identity performance as a means for maintaining social and political domination. Although these three novels contend with different subjects and time periods, representations of transience and spatial movement unify them, and in each novel transience is the means by which the subject disrupts discourses of power. Analyses of these novels indicate contemporary changes in how subjects are produced, and they also indicate how interpretations of subjectivity and identity as concepts have changed over the previous forty years.