Partial Affinities: Fascism and the Politics of Representation in Interwar America Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Kaiser, Wilson
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Partial Affinities: Fascism and the Politics of Representation in Interwar America, is grounded in a comparatist sensibility, arguing that American culture can be fruitfully explored in its relation to socio-historical contexts extending beyond the borders of the United States. This is exemplified in the assertion, stemming from my research, that we cannot fully understand American culture without a careful investigation into our past engagements with the question of fascism. Cultural changes between the wars, such as the Great Depression, technological modernity, mass consumerism, and urbanization, all generated points of reflection that served to amplify American self-scrutiny. Americans from across the political and social spectrum mirrored their uncertainties about this period of social turmoil in their contradictory descriptions of fascism. Between the wars, Americans asked about the future of democracy, the feasibility of mass culture, and the difficulties of a diverse polity as they were posed through the fears, hopes, and fantasies that circulated around the notion of fascism. This work explores a wide variety of figures across disciplinary boundaries, as literature, film, radio, and the visual arts intersect in the political/aesthetic representations of the American cultural imaginary. The introduction addresses the scholarship on fascism in order to locate a feasible understanding of fascism for students of American culture. The first three chapters look at the development of social technologies such as mass spectacle (in the New York World's Fair), radio culture, and the changing notion of the human in the new industrial ecology of interwar America. The final three chapters focus on literary culture and everyday life in the period of fascism. In a discussion of authors ranging from John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway to Carson McCullers and William Faulkner, chapter four and six explore the pervasive concern with fascism in American interwar literature. Chapter five, on the Southern Agrarians and the New Critics, addresses their reaction to fascism as they developed a depoliticized method of literary investigation that still grounds much of our thinking about literature and culture today.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Luisetti, Federico
  • Cante, Richard C.
  • Gwin, Minrose
  • Garcia, Jay
  • Taylor, Matthew
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2011

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