Experiences of the City in Post-War American Fiction
This research project focuses on depictions of city experience in post-war American fiction. It looks particularly at how these experiences – typically construed in terms of anxiety - can be understood as revelatory of the limits of the discourses that both constitute and interact with the post-war city spaces that these texts depict. Examining, amongst others, the work of Chester Himes, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo, this project explores issues of race, the particular formation of suburbia in America after the Second World War, the relationship of literature to the law, and the biopolitical function of the city. Further, this project also interrogates how, in its consciousness of the limitations and boundaries of the space of the text itself, the often self-reflexive form of the post-war American novel can be understood as the formal articulation of this spatial anxiety.
Joel Roberts is a second year PhD student. His conference papers include ‘White Guys: Questioning the Post-Human in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest’, presented at BAAS in April 2015 with Edward Jackson, and ‘Abandoning the Freeway in The Crying of Lot 49’, presented at International Pynchon Week in June 2015. The aforementioned BAAS paper is scheduled to be published in the journal Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon in Spring 2016.