Around Quitting Time - Work and Middle-Class Fantasy in American Fiction

Robert Seguin

Published by Duke Univ
ISBN 10: 0822326752 / ISBN 13: 9780822326755
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Synopsis: Virtually since its inception, the United States has nurtured a dreamlike and often delirious image of itself as an essentially classless society. Given the stark levels of social inequality that have actually existed and that continue today, what sustains this at once hopelessly ideological and breathlessly utopian mirage? In Around Quitting Time Robert Seguin investigates this question, focusing on a series of modern writers who were acutely sensitive to the American web of ideology and utopic vision in order to argue that a pervasive middle-class imaginary is the key to the enigma of class in America.
Tracing connections between the reconstruction of the labor process and the aesthetic dilemmas of modernism, between the emergence of the modern state and the structure of narrative, Seguin analyzes the work of Nathanael West, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, John Barth, and others. These fictional narratives serve to demonstrate for Seguin the pattern of social sites and cultural phenomenon that have emerged where work and leisure, production and consumption, and activity and passivity coincide. He reveals how, by creating pathways between these seemingly opposed domains, the middle-class imaginary at once captures and suspends the dynamics of social class and opens out onto a political and cultural terrain where class is both omnipresent and invisible.
Aroung Quitting Time
will interest critics and historians of modern U.S. culture, literary scholars, and those who explore the interaction between economic and cultural forms.

From the Publisher: “Rob Seguin’s Around Quitting Time makes a major contribution to discussions of class formation in the United States. His original readings of novels by Dreiser, Cather, West, and Barth brilliantly pursue the ghostly tracks of social and cultural change as they are rendered in fine narrative and linguistic detail within the domain of the literary. His mode of reading is as significant as his argument about the "classlessness" of the middle class. Indeed, Seguin demonstrates in exemplary fashion that it is possible to attend to literature as a social and political force without neglecting the specificity of its aesthetic work.”—Jan Radway, Duke University

“A remarkably positive achievement that contributes significantly to an understanding of quite a range of texts, to an understanding of specific currents of literary modernism, and most generally to an understanding of class, which—in a U.S. context especially—remains that most vexed of social categories.”—Evan Watkins, Pennsylvania State University

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Title: Around Quitting Time - Work and Middle-Class...
Publisher: Duke Univ
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