Event Title

Reading the Rust Belt: 1991-2016

Location

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

Start Date

19-4-2016 3:30 PM

Description

Over the last twenty-five years, a trend has emerged in American literature which captures the decaying landscape of the Rust Belt city. Poets, novelists, dramatists, historiographers and journalists such as August Wilson, Dean Bakopoulos, Angela Flournoy, Philipp Meyer, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Charlie LeDuff, Neil Steinberg, Nate Marshall, and Philip Levine have all sought to document the decline of the heavy manufacturing industry, and therefore, the decline of middle class and its confidence in the promise of the “American Dream.” My thesis approaches the texts produced by these authors (and many more) through the lenses of such socio-economic theories as Fordism, neo-Marxism, and cultural materialism to explore 1) the material conditions and physical detritus of the Rust Belt, 2) the formation of the cultural identity of the Rust Belt city, and 3) the literary products of that culture documenting the demise of the American manufacturing industry. By undertaking a close examination of the many literary voices produced by the Rust Belt, it is my belief that we may gain better understanding of how American identity, economy, and ideology have been constructed (and deconstructed) and culturally documented at the turn of the millennia by studying this specific geographical area.

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Apr 19th, 3:30 PM

Reading the Rust Belt: 1991-2016

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

Over the last twenty-five years, a trend has emerged in American literature which captures the decaying landscape of the Rust Belt city. Poets, novelists, dramatists, historiographers and journalists such as August Wilson, Dean Bakopoulos, Angela Flournoy, Philipp Meyer, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Charlie LeDuff, Neil Steinberg, Nate Marshall, and Philip Levine have all sought to document the decline of the heavy manufacturing industry, and therefore, the decline of middle class and its confidence in the promise of the “American Dream.” My thesis approaches the texts produced by these authors (and many more) through the lenses of such socio-economic theories as Fordism, neo-Marxism, and cultural materialism to explore 1) the material conditions and physical detritus of the Rust Belt, 2) the formation of the cultural identity of the Rust Belt city, and 3) the literary products of that culture documenting the demise of the American manufacturing industry. By undertaking a close examination of the many literary voices produced by the Rust Belt, it is my belief that we may gain better understanding of how American identity, economy, and ideology have been constructed (and deconstructed) and culturally documented at the turn of the millennia by studying this specific geographical area.