Grotesque Relations: Modernist Domestic Fiction and the U.S. by Susan Edmunds

By Susan Edmunds

During this ebook, Susan Edmunds explores he dating among modernist household fiction and the increase of the U.S. welfare nation. This courting, which all started within the revolutionary period, emerged as maternalist reformers constructed an inverted discourse of social home tasks which will demand country safeguard and law of the house. Modernists go well with, turning the style of family fiction inside of out for you to symbolize new struggles at the border among domestic, industry and kingdom. Edmunds makes use of the paintings of Djuna Barnes, Jean Toomer, Tillie Olsen, Edna Ferber, Nathanael West, and Flannery O'Connor to track the importance of modernists' radical reconstitution of the style of family fiction. utilizing a gruesome aesthetic of innovative inversion, those writers looped their depictions of the household sphere via innovative discourses linked to socialism, consumerism and the avant-garde. those authors used their ugly discourses to accommodate problems with social clash starting from household abuse and racial violence to academic reform, public overall healthiness care, eugenics, and social defense. With the hot Deal, the U.S. welfare kingdom learned maternalist targets to disseminate a contemporary sentimental model of the house to all white electorate, effectively translating radical bids for collective social safety right into a racialized order of selective and indifferent family protection. The publication argues that modernists engaged and contested this historic trajectory from the beginning. within the method, they cast an everlasting set of phrases for knowing and negotiating the systemic types of ambivalence, alienation and clash that accompany Americans' modern investments in "family values."

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Extra info for Grotesque Relations: Modernist Domestic Fiction and the U.S. Welfare State

Sample text

Though I join other scholars in faulting our welfare state for investing a whole new order of federal power in existing hierarchies of gender, class, and race, I am not prepared to say that we would have been better off with no welfare state at all. Nor do I offer readers a better welfare state that could or should have emerged instead. Instead, I confine the political component of this book’s contribution to the act of reopening to history a set of cultural forms and a mode of political engagement that currently underwrite the false alternative between conservative and liberal family-values agendas in our country.

As it turns out, this endorsement of sentimental domesticity as a means of securing “equality of opportunity for every child born”94 has not fulfilled the hopes invested in it: the eventual foundation of a two-track welfare state has only served to reinforce the lifelong economic and cultural advantages 36 GROTESQUE RELATIONS routinely conferred on children of the largely white middle and upper classes. Our current welfare state continues to support and to veil the home’s role in reproducing race, class, and gender advantages, despite its ostensible rejection of the earlier ideal of the stay-at-home mother.

But they also associate the grotesque aesthetic with the restorative power of carnival, which reinvigorates what is high with all the saving power of the low. Similarly, modernists display a double relationship to the value of grotesque distortion as a mode of social commentary. On the one hand, distortion stands in their fiction as a measure of existing injustice and wrongheadedness. 89 Modernists’ interest in Freud and a related primitivism frequently inform this positive valuation of grotesque distortion.

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