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Writing the Limits of the Market: Transnational Novels within Neoliberalism
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Despite the global spread of the latest form of capitalism called neoliberalism, literary scholars widely privilege American and British texts when studying this economic ideology. This project, however, takes a transnational approach to a literary understanding of neoliberalism by turning primarily to the work of contemporary non-Western novelists to complicate certain assumptions about neoliberalism. Chief among those assumptions is the recent argument by political and literary theorists that neoliberalism forms a global economic totality that is impervious critique, but the novelists considered in this project explore and demonstrate precisely how that work of critique is possible. These novelists write stories that narrate the limits of the totalizing vision of neoliberal ideology and examine how its contradictions play out in different geographic and cultural locations. Different aspects of artistic work form the basis for these critiques—production, performance, and reception. Novelists considered here interrogate how literary production itself is a space to critique the violent of work of capitalism even as the artistic labor that goes into writing a novel is simultaneously supported by capitalist market economies. Other writers examine how neoliberal values produce unique performative pressures that affect the articulation and display of narrative arts. Finally, some authors focus on the moment of a narrative’s reception to consider what it means to receive and interpret neoliberalism itself, which these authors consider to be an act of writing in its own right. Taken together, these novelists envision what it means to tell stories and produce effective critiques that neoliberal ideology cannot fully subsume, all while acknowledging the immense challenge such work faces.
Shake, Nelson Thomas (2019). Writing the Limits of the Market: Transnational Novels within Neoliberalism. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from