Literary Naturalism, New Materialism, Marxism and Psychoanalysis
Plastic Monstrosity: New Materialisms and the Legacy of Early American Literary Naturalism
My dissertation leverages the insights of recent new materialist criticism, including Catherine Malabou’s concept of destructive plasticity, to consider the way the first decade of American literary naturalism (1893-1903) both prefigures and challenges the ontological, ethical and hermeneutic questions raised by new materialist criticism. No one has yet evaluated the degree to which literary naturalism might be read as a forebear of new materialist tendencies in critical theory. One of the guiding research questions of my project, therefore, asks what these new tendencies in critical theory can learn from the first decade of American literary naturalism and how such criticism changes the interpretive and political demands we place on literary naturalism.