Occupy, blockade, circulate : narrating community in 21st century crisis fiction
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This dissertation looks at contemporary social movements and novels through the lenses of sociology and infrastructuralism. I argue that there is a growing field of novels concerned with crises of inequality and that the formal innovations in these novels are representations of how social movements understand and intervene with the infrastructural facilitation of inequality. The first chapter uses accounts of Occupy Wall Street to understand how the movement conceptualized class inequality as a result of hierarchical power and attempted to implement horizontal tactics including the people's microphone. I then look to Ben Lerner's novel 10:04 and Rachel Kushner's novel The Flamethrowers to illustrate formal experimentation with horizontal voice. The second chapter examines the concept of infrastructural blockade, which highlights people's relationship on resources taken from marginalized communities, used by the protestors at Standing Rock to illustrate the function of affective blockades to illuminate environmental injustice in Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being and Nell Zink's The Wallcreeper. The third chapter looks to the airport protests that arose in opposition to President Trump's Executive Order 13769, a proposed travel ban, to illustrate the relationship between movement of people and movement of resources, before looking to how Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad and Mohsin Hamid use fantastic transportation structures to show migration delinked from the need or demand for labor and resources. Each chapter features a social movement that emphasizes infrastructure and two novels that represent that social movement's concern in distinct ways.
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