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Quotidian Things: Don DeLillo and the Everyday

Lambert, Stephanie (2016) Quotidian Things: Don DeLillo and the Everyday. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis explores the politics of the everyday in Don DeLillo’s novels from 1982 to present. It contends that DeLillo’s canonization as an exemplar of postmodern depthlessness and ahistoricity has occluded his interest in mapping the connections between the particularity of daily life and the capitalist world- system. I position the theoretical framework of the everyday as a corrective to these readings, and seek to recover and foreground its Marxist orientation, whilst envisioning the everyday as a way of negotiating between deterministic applications of Marxist theory and the uncritical celebration of individualized resistance endorsed by the cultural turn. Drawing on the French sociologists Michel De Certeau and Henri Lefebvre’s theories of the everyday, the thesis extends De Certeau’s conception of the everyday as resisting the ‘grid of discipline’ and Lefebvre’s characterization of it as eluding the ‘grip of forms’ to attend to the intersection of politics and form. I conceptualise the everyday as operating at the nexus of plot and detail, digression and generic suspense, world-systemic totality and quotidian singularity. To examine the everyday is to turn to the overlooked and undervalued; DeLillo’s surpluses of quotidian detail pose a challenge to the value-logic of capital, its uneven manifestations, its invisiblized surplus populations and labour, as well as literary-critical systems of value. This thesis advances this theory of the everyday through explorations of DeLillo’s representations of waste, crowds, and terrorism, and traces lines of continuity rather than rupture between DeLillo’s work and supposedly ‘post-postmodern’ texts by David Foster Wallace and Jennifer Egan. My coda examines DeLillo’s move from digression to contraction in his ‘late style,’ arguing that this stylistic shift registers financialized exhaustion. Ultimately, this thesis pursues the claim that DeLillo’s everyday opens up utopian possibilities by challenging the value relations underlying everyday life, thereby allowing us to imagine its transformation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Stephanie Lambert
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 08:58
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 08:58
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17220

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