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The signs and codes of petromodernity: Genres of the oil encounter in selected American fiction 1927-2010

The signs and codes of petromodernity: Genres of the oil encounter in selected American fiction 1927-2010
The signs and codes of petromodernity: Genres of the oil encounter in selected American fiction 1927-2010
This thesis considers how a selection of twentieth century and contemporary American literary fiction contributes to a wider understanding of the relationship between discourses of masculinity, race, and class, and the boom-and-bust cycles of oil extraction, speculation, and abstraction. Through a critical engagement with the thought of Stephanie LeMenager, Fredric Jameson, Andreas Malm, and Imre Szeman, it traces the different ways in which the literary fictions of Teddy Wayne, Winifred Sanford, Attica Locke, Raymond Chandler, and Upton Sinclair make use of generic conventions and literary modes such as the bildungsroman, American regionalist literature, and detective fiction to articulate the gendered, racialized, and class dynamics of oil extraction, consumption, and abstraction at particular moments in time. While the thesis is organised chronologically, it also traces the uneven combination and recurrence of certain generic modes across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in ways that seem to complicate broad attempts to align genre and literary history. The recurrence of such generic modes is significant, I suggest, because it can help to illuminate the ways in which the formal conventions of fiction mediate the temporal cycles of oil extraction and speculation in particular times and spaces, and the specific social antagonisms that they set in motion. By foregrounding the energy unconscious in twentieth- and early twenty-first century American culture, in other words, the generic conventions of these literary fictions encourage readers to identify and question the predominant cultural norms of space, energy and freedom that underpin the ‘common sense’ understanding of petromodernity, and the dominant idea that oil is an energy form we cannot do
without.
University of Southampton
Carter, Dan
d86f104d-5b09-465d-a603-600166bcda9f
Carter, Dan
d86f104d-5b09-465d-a603-600166bcda9f
Morton, Stephen
3200c49e-fcfa-4088-9168-1d6998266ec1
Primorac, Ranka
8e175d18-8ea8-4228-8637-671427202b10

Carter, Dan (2022) The signs and codes of petromodernity: Genres of the oil encounter in selected American fiction 1927-2010. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 276pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis considers how a selection of twentieth century and contemporary American literary fiction contributes to a wider understanding of the relationship between discourses of masculinity, race, and class, and the boom-and-bust cycles of oil extraction, speculation, and abstraction. Through a critical engagement with the thought of Stephanie LeMenager, Fredric Jameson, Andreas Malm, and Imre Szeman, it traces the different ways in which the literary fictions of Teddy Wayne, Winifred Sanford, Attica Locke, Raymond Chandler, and Upton Sinclair make use of generic conventions and literary modes such as the bildungsroman, American regionalist literature, and detective fiction to articulate the gendered, racialized, and class dynamics of oil extraction, consumption, and abstraction at particular moments in time. While the thesis is organised chronologically, it also traces the uneven combination and recurrence of certain generic modes across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in ways that seem to complicate broad attempts to align genre and literary history. The recurrence of such generic modes is significant, I suggest, because it can help to illuminate the ways in which the formal conventions of fiction mediate the temporal cycles of oil extraction and speculation in particular times and spaces, and the specific social antagonisms that they set in motion. By foregrounding the energy unconscious in twentieth- and early twenty-first century American culture, in other words, the generic conventions of these literary fictions encourage readers to identify and question the predominant cultural norms of space, energy and freedom that underpin the ‘common sense’ understanding of petromodernity, and the dominant idea that oil is an energy form we cannot do
without.

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Submitted date: September 2021
Published date: September 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 469166
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/469166
PURE UUID: bf0d9d59-20ef-4a87-b765-0454495da981
ORCID for Ranka Primorac: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1127-1175

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Date deposited: 08 Sep 2022 17:05
Last modified: 09 Sep 2022 01:42

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Contributors

Author: Dan Carter
Thesis advisor: Stephen Morton
Thesis advisor: Ranka Primorac ORCID iD

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