From Landscape to Body : The White Body in Contemporary American Fiction [abstract]
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"Whiteness," as both a field of study and an even an identity, has very often been viewed through its connections to postmodernity, most particularly with the assumption that whiteness equals a body situated within a rootless mass culture1. Such an assumption, based in colonialist and Enlightenment ideals, obscures the construction of the white subject in favor of seeing whiteness as an empty "center" that defies description. As Richard Roediger famously asserted, "whiteness describes, from Little Big Horn to Simi Valley, not a culture but precisely the absence of culture. It is the empty and therefore terrifying attempt to build an identity based on what one isn't and on whom one can hold back." In this paper, I complicate such assumptions by looking at the ways in which two novels, Affliction by Russell Banks and Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk, use the white body and its connection to landscape as a way of writing power and powerlessness in fiction.
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