Fetishism and Its Discontents in Post-1960 American Fiction

Hardcover | July 15, 2010

byChristopher Kocela

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Fetishism and Its Discontents argues that post-1960 American fiction utilizes fetishism as a strategy for expressing social and political discontent and for negotiating traumatic experiences. Through close readings of novels and short stories by Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, Ishmael Reed, John Hawkes, and Tim O’Brien, among others, Christopher Kocela moves away from the entrenched, Freudian constructs of fetishism and uncovers a new understanding of the fetish as a parallax object that testifies to often threatening differences in racial, gender, and class perspectives.  The first detailed study of its kind, this book brings originality and rigor to a culturally timely topic.   

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Fetishism and Its Discontents argues that post-1960 American fiction utilizes fetishism as a strategy for expressing social and political discontent and for negotiating traumatic experiences. Through close readings of novels and short stories by Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, Ishmael Reed, John Hawkes, and Tim O’Brien, among others, Chri...

Christopher Kocela is Associate Professor of English at Georgia State University.  His essays have appeared in Postmodern Culture, LIT, Genders, Pynchon Notes, The Journal of Popular Film and Television, and in essay collections devoted to contemporary literature and culture. 
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.2 × 5.76 × 0.87 inPublished:July 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230102905

ISBN - 13:9780230102903

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Table of Contents

PART I: Fetishism from Theory to Fiction * A Parallax History of Fetish Theory * No Ideas but in Fetishes: Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo * PART II: Fictions of the Female Fetish * Queering Lesbian Fetishism in Pynchon’s V. * Resighting Gender Theory: Butler’s Lesbian Phallus in Acker’s Pussy * PART III: Pomo-Pornologies * Domesticating Fantasy: S/M Fetishism and Coover’s Spanking the Maid * Narrating the Death Drive:  Automotive SinthoMosexuality and John Hawkes’s Travesty * Conclusion: Longing on a Large Scale: Underworld and Europe Central

Editorial Reviews

“This is a smart, incisive critical elaboration of thinking on fetishism across an impressive range of theoretical and fictional texts. Christopher Kocela adroitly argues both sides of the parallax view on fetishism—the jouissance of the fetishist, and the pleasures of signification in the theorist’s quest for meaning. Reminding us that the very notion of fetishism emerged in Western thinking through the stories of traders in the European-African encounter of the fifteenth century, Kocela persuasively contrasts that initial encounter narrative with how post-1960 American fiction opens up new imaginative approaches to interpreting not only sexual politics of fetishism but the very limits on Enlightenment thinking. Teasing apart how theories of fetishism have become conflated with telling a certain story about fetishism, Kocela’s lucid, robust, and engaging readings conclusively demonstrate the theorizing power of fiction as well as the narrative force of theory.”— E. L. McCallum, Associate Professor of English, Michigan State University“This lively and original study of fetishism in post-1960 American fiction is noteworthy for its ambitious scope, scrupulous research, cultural timeliness, and striking insights into the role played by literary texts in a contemporary moment.”—Ellen E. Berry, Professor of English and Culture Studies, Bowling Green State University“This lively, elegant, and provocative analysis puts zip back into the study of postmodern narrative, reminding us how radical that experimental fiction once seemed and indeed remains. Kocela's ‘revisionist fetish theory’ reclaims and historicizes fetishism as a subversive strategy and a constructive means of reimagining and negotiating sexual, racial, and class difference. For all his theoretical sophistication, Kocela also has the refreshing modesty to acknowledge that fiction by Reed, Pynchon, Acker, Coover, and Hawkes, while frequently appropriating theory by the likes of Freud, Lacan, and Butler, always exceeds it.”—John M. Krafft, Associate Professor of English, Miami University-Hamilton